Ten Steps to Zen Meditation from Dr. Michael Saso

I’m going to “steal” from another blog here, which I generally avoid doing, in order to draw attention to it and what it has to say. Dr. Michael Saso has posted a synopsis version of the ten steps in shamatha and vipassana practice according to Zhi Yi, the famous ancestor (what my lineage of practice calls the “patriarchs”) of Tendai Buddhism.

I found this an excellent enough summary that I wanted to repeat it here and draw attention to Dr. Saso’s quite enjoyable and informative, if occasional, blog posts.

Ten Steps to “Zen” (Samatha Vipassyana) meditation

(Adapted from Zhi Yi’s writings, on Mt. Tiantai, 560-580)

  1. never harm, or say bad things about anyone;
  2. Purify the five sense (ears, eyes, nose, taste, touch) of “me only” feelings;
  3. Purify the heart of “me only” desires, and the mind of all images;
  4. Harmonize breathing, eating, sleeping, and daily living by “centering;” (i.e., be focused on "Transcendent” presence within)
  5. The joy of “Stop-samatha” “Look-vipassyana” prayer is overwhelming:
  6. stop all judging; to look at others with compassion;
  7. A true spiritual path overflows with love & compassion;
  8. Discern “good,” and “bad” spirits, to heal them;
  9. True love/compassion really does heal others;
  10. Follow any and all spiritual paths that teach compassion.

I wanted to add that Kalavinka Press has wonderful translations available of Zhi Yi’s (Chih-i) writings in both printed and PDF formats. They have his The Essentials of Buddhist Meditation and The Six Dharma Gates to the Sublime available. Both are excellent meditation manuals and well recommended to me by my local Tendai priest (and occasional teacher), Rev. Keisho of the California Tendai Buddhist Monastery when he was teaching meditation locally. Zhi Yi’s works have been used by many in both China and Japan over the centuries as guides to practice.