Matticus wrote:Also, I don't really have a lineage. I've obtained most of my knowledge from reading the work of Master Nan Haui Chin. I don't really know If that would really qualify him as my Guru, but I can actually picture his photograph fairly well. Would that be appropriate or should I choose an Image of Buddha or Boddhisattva or something. One more thing, I stumbled onto the practice of Kasina last night, focusing on a candle seems like a reasonable way of practicing holding a sustained image in my mind. Any thoughts? Again, thank you all!
Matticus, you are to be congratulated on your interest in meditation and your efforts at practice! Going it alone can be darn near impossible. My suggestion, and I suspect a lot of others' suggestion as as well, is, if at all possible, to find a meditation teacher to help with your practice.
- Since you are interested in the teachings of Master Nan Haui Chin (I'm not familiar with him or his teachings--I had to look him up just now), have you looked into whether he has any direct disciples that also teach?
- Does he teach in a particular tradition that you are attracted to (Chan, Taoism)? If so, have you looked to see if there are teachers in the tradition that you gravitate to?
- Have you looked to see what your local area has to offer for meditation practice and instruction? I know that sometimes it can be hard to find a local resource to learn meditation. Please do take a look around and see what you can find, you may be surprised!
In the interim, there are a few books on meditation that I can recommend. They are not hard to read, and are extremely valuable in their own right:
- Mindfulness in Plain English: Revised and Expanded Edition by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana: http://www.amazon.com/Mindfulness-Plain ... in+english. It takes a Theravada view, but is still very nice.
- Opening the Hand of Thought: Foundations of Zen Buddhist Practice by Kosho Uchiyama Roshi: http://www.amazon.com/Opening-Hand-Thou ... of+thought. Gives a wonderful perspective on Zen practice with instructions and view. Generally applicable to sitting practice
If you are looking for a thorough discussion of various meditation practices known as shamatha (tranquility) and vipashana (insight) I would recommend
- The Practice of Tranquillity & Insight: A Guide to Tibetan Buddhist Mediation by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche as an excellent starting point: http://www.amazon.com/Practice-Tranquil ... nd-Insight.
Some basic meditation practices like watching the breath or a candle are fine for now, but, in the long run, you will need to make a connection with a teacher. Specifically regarding a visualization of Master Nan Haui Chen. Yes, in my opinion that would be fine--especially if you feel devotion and respect toward him. You are using your mind's energy to visualize him. Every time you manifest his form into your mind, you will be receiving his blessings. I encourage you to ask him to bless and guide you to the teacher and teaching you should now follow to deepen your practice. And don't stop looking until you've found that teacher, teaching, and community you can take refuge in.