TABLE OF CONTENTS
1 Eliminating the View of the Body
2 Correcting Your Mind, Body, and Behavior
3 Cultivating Genuine Samadhi
4 An Overview of Cosmic Realms
5 The Sequence for Transforming Mind and Body
6 Samadhi and the Realms Resembling Samadhi
7 Zen School Models for Cultivating Samadhi
8 Entering, Abiding, and Leaving Samadhi
9 The Four Intensified Practices
10 Bodhisattva Practices
11 The Five Skandhas
12 Liberation from False Thought
13 Contemplation on Provisional Existence
14 Carrying Out Vows
This is the second half of Nan Huai-Chin's How To Cultivate and Practice the Buddha Dharma, a series of lectures on cultivating enlightenment, translated into English from the Chinese through the excellence of J. C Cleary. The first half of the lecture series, which establishes the proper framework and appropriate references for understanding the path to enlightenment, can be found in the companion volume, Working Toward Enlightenment, also published by Samuel Weiser.
Whenever I read these lectures, which touch upon aspects of cultivation science which are rarely revealed, I get extremely worried. In my library are several thousand books on cultivation from all sorts of teachers, on all sorts of subjects, and from all sorts of schools--Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Taoist, Buddhist, Moslem, New Age, whatever--but none of them are conversant with the materials presented in these lectures. So when I read this book and reflect on what is currently available from other sources, both new and old, it becomes readily apparent that Nan Huai-Chin's grasp of cultivation principles and practices is absolutely incredible, far beyond almost anything else available to the seeker. If this individual isn't an expert I don't know who is--but that's an opinion you'll have to form yourself. Certainly his views on Zen serve to redefine the field and I personally know of no contemporary who can stand up to him in terms of theory, practice, or attainment in this field.
And so I get scared, scared because Nan Huai-Chin is advancing in years and this great resource and treasure house will one day no longer be available for consultation, when his teachings are just beginning to become available in English. Until now, the Western world has for the most part been unaware of the existence of this great master, who can just as readily discuss the important questions of science, logic or philosophy as he can discuss history, religion, morality and cultivation. Nan Huai-Chin always answers questions according to the preparation of his questioner: those who have learned a lot are given more than those who know very little. As Westerners tend to be more probing and more science oriented than Asian counterparts, and as the genuine cultivation route in the West definitely needs to be unearthed from beneath the rubble of New Age chaos, my hope is that the Western experts in this field will discover his existence and ask the definitive questions before it's too late. As these lectures show, this is definitely the individual who can establish the proper frame-work for cultivation practice to last hundreds of years, enabling cultivation to prosper with the respect it is due, assuming its rightful place in society. But if the truth and insights of cultivation are not made known at this juncture, when religion carries less importance than science--which is reducing behavior and everything else to chemicals, genes and physics and when the New Age movement is propagating wild and crazy notions as the practice of self-cultivation, the pathway to self-realization may be cut off. Such are my personal fears.
So when I read this series of lectures on the cultivation pathway and know what else Nan Huai-Chin has to offer, I am sad that so few know it's available. If we are lucky enough to break the historical pattern, Nan Huai-Chin's knowledge can become widely disseminated so people qualified to ask the important questions can clarify matters before the chance no longer exists.
Some may feel that such concerns are basically propaganda, but it is impossible to read the material in these lectures and deny that the author is a worthwhile source to be consulted. The insights on Zen alone, not to mention a simplification of Esoteric Buddhism and the scientific analysis of Taoism, correct many mistaken notions prevalent today. Furthermore, it is astounding to realize that this material was provided in impromptu lectures! In the past Zen monks would travel all over the country in order to find a master with even a bit of experiential insight, who could help point them in the right direction for cultivation. How rare to find a master who was an expert on other matters as well. This is the opportunity presently before us, and I hope it is put to good use.