Meditation: Discipline, Concentration and Insight (Words of Wisdom)

The Meditation Room at Enkoji Temple in Kyoto, Japan. Photo by Paul Crouse

In this post, the ancient Chinese zen writer Hush-yen talks about the three qualities needed to follow the Buddhist path: discipline, concentration and insight.  

He shows how each of these qualities by themselves is a dead end, but used together are the keys for controlling your mind.

This is a wonderful explanation of how to find balance in our meditation practice, and in our lives.

Three Types of Learning
The Buddhist path has its source in three types of learning -- discipline, concentration, and insight.  Discipline holds the mind with regulations, concentration illuminates the mind with stillness, insight clarifies the mind with wisdom.
If one has insight without concentration or discipline, then one remains unrestrained, uselessly engaging in verbalization without being able to stop repetitive routines and shed birth and death.
If one has concentration without discipline or insight, then one remains an empty stillness and uselessly lingers in the blank emptiness and cannot elucidate the great teachings to guide people.
If one has discipline but no concentration or wisdom, then one continues clinging, uselessly getting mired in rules, unable to unify right and wrong and equalize others and self.
Nevertheless, insight is concentration, and concentration is discipline: discipline can produce concentration, concentration can produce insight.
Insight, concentration, and discipline originate in the one mind. If the mind fundamentally it does not exist, where do discipline, concentration, and insights come from?
So it exists without existing, vast as cosmic space: all worlds of the whole universe, all the plants, trees, and forests, the birds, beasts, and people, as well as the eighty-four thousand troubles of the world, are all none other than this mind.
When the mind is not aroused, this is discipline; when the mind is unmoved, this is concentration; when the mind is not obscured, this is insight. (1)

(1)  From “The Teachings of the Zen”, Translated by Thomas Cleary. © 1998. Reproduced here under the doctrine of fair use.

Paul Crouse

Paul Crouse is a spiritual teacher and advisor, life coach, writer, speaker and photographer based in Kyoto, Japan. He helps people who consciously want to change their lives for the better. He helps people build a strong inner foundation, while helping them to clarify and achieve their goals. He works with people worldwide via video calling or face-to-face in Kyoto. He also leads workshops and seminars, both online and in person, for organizations and companies.