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Writings by Jack Risk

The Path of Meditation: Principles and Practice — a book by Jack Risk

Built around an extended metaphor of walking a path, this book introduces concepts and methods that will guide you in your meditation. The author draws on his years of working with Master Yap Soon Yeong and, in addition, presents the richness of the Chan and Zen traditions. The text is enlived with an abundance of quotations from meditation masters and the poetry of Zen. You will find much here to inspire your practice. There are also many helpful summaries and overviews of topics to make learning easier. More than a simple introduction to meditating, The Path of Meditation presents a thorough view of many of the features, traditional and not-so-traditional, that make meditation so exciting.

A copy of The Path of Meditation will be included in the registration price for meditation training with Jack Risk.

190 pages © 2015

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • Contents
  • List of Figures (29)
  • List of Tables (14)

Chapter 1 Opening the Gate of Practice

  • A Journey of Self-discovery and Freedom
  • An Aside on Christian Contemplative Prayer
  • Reconciling the Religions
  • Signposts – Terms, Concepts and Analogies
  • Notes

Chapter 2 The Journey Ahead – Why Meditate?

  • Health Benefits
    • Traditional Chinese Medicine
    • Western Medicine
    • Neurobiology of Meditation
  • People Can Change
    • Personal Change
    • Social Change
  • To End Suffering – The Four Noble Truths
  • Notes

Chapter 3 Planning Your Route

  • Before You Leave Home
  • Terms for Meditation
  • Attending to Your Mind
    • Thoughts Are Not the Real Mind
    • Our Mirror Minds
    • How do we Know? – Three Ways of Knowing
  • Knowing Where You Are Going
    • Samsara
    • Suchness and Nirvana
  • Notes

Chapter 4 Packing Your Gear

  • Items for Your Backpack – Three Schools
  • 1. Dealing with Unreal Phenomena – Yogacara
    • Three Truths Alaya – The Store Consciousness
    • The Senses and Phenomena
    • Eightfold Mind
  • 2. Everything Is Emptiness – Madhyamaka
  • 3. You Are Already Enlightened – Buddhanature
  • Notes

Chapter 5 Preparing Yourself for the Journey

  • Rules of the Road – Virtues and Passions
    • Moral Responsibility and Self-control
    • Ten Virtues
    • Passions – The Three Poisons
  • Attitude
    • Have Faith
    • Aspiration and Determination
    • Meditation is a Method of No Method
    • Hold an Intentionless Resolve
    • Take Seriously the Law of Cause and Effect – Karma
    • Set Realistic Expectations
    • Create a Setting for Your Practice
    • Establish a Daily Practice
  • What Meditation is Not
  • Notes

Chapter 6 Setting Out – How To Meditate

  • Posture
    • Qigong Meditation Postures
    • Chan Meditation Postures
    • Eyes Open or Closed
    • Adjunct Practices
  • Meditation Skills
    • Calming the Mind
    • Relaxation
    • Anchoring and Bodily Awareness
    • Staying Alert
    • Emerging from Meditation
    • Correcting Problems
  • Other Forms of Practice
  • Qigong and Chan/Zen Environments for Meditation
  • Notes

Chapter 7 On the Road – The Heart of the Practice

  • The Skill of Detachment
    • The Meaning of the Term Detachment
    • The Practice of Detachment
    • An Aside on the Christian View of Detachment
  • Attaining Samadhi
    • Mindfulness and Introspection
    • Keeping to the Middle of the Path – Balancing Clarity and Stability
  • The Skill of Emptiness
    • The Meaning of the Term Emptiness
    • An Aside on Apophatic Spirituality
    • The Concept of Emptiness
    • The Practice of Emptiness
    • Cessation and No-Mind
  • Calming and Insight – The Two Wings of Meditation
    • Silent Illumination
    • The Two Wings in Flight
  • Notes

Chapter 8 Making Headway

  • Skills to Keep Yourself on Track
    • Perseverance – Daily Practice
    • Zeal
    • Vigour
    • Diligence and Determination
    • Mindfulness
    • Single-Mindedness
  • Pitfalls to Avoid
    • Desire
    • Anger and Ill Will
    • Lethargy and Sleepiness
    • Agitation, Restlessness, Boredom
    • Frustration
    • Regretfulness
    • Doubt
  • Making Progress
    • Calmness and Peace
    • Joy
    • Physical and Mental Pliancy
  • Becoming a Better Person
    • Moral Behaviour
    • Clarity of Mind
    • Diminishing of Desires
    • Loving-Kindness Toward Others, Friendship
    • Compassion
    • Empathetic Joy
    • Equanimity
  • Notes

Chapter 9 Passage to the Interior

  • Crossing the Boundary to the Spiritual Realm
    • Getting Below the Line
    • Default Mode
  • Things You Might Encounter Along the Way
    • External and Internal Phenomena
    • Pain in Meditation
    • Emotional Releases
    • Disturbing Thoughts
  • Meditation and Healing
    • Self-Healing
    • Healing Others
  • Notes

Chapter 10 Entering the Gate

  • Hitting Your Stride
    • Three Marks of Existence
    • Three Gates
    • Reaching Suchness
  • Landmarks to Gauge Progress – The Six Gates to the Sublime
    • First Gate: Counting
    • Second Gate: Following
    • Third Gate: Stabilizing
    • Fourth Gate: Examining
    • Fifth Gate: Turning Around
    • Sixth Gate: Clearing Out
  • Notes

Chapter 11 The Path Ahead

  • Life and Death Considerations
  • Enlightenment
  • Practice-Realization
  • Ordinary Mind
  • Notes

Appendix – Meditation Checklist

Appendix – Freddie the Fingerling: A Meditation Parable

Appendix – Chan Poetry

  • Song of the Mind (Xin Xin Ming) by Niutou Farong (594-657)
  • Faith In Mind (Xin Xin Ming) By Jianzhi Sengcan (d. 606)
  • Silent Illumination By Hongzhi Zhengjue (1091-1157)
  • Contemplating Mind By Hanshan Deqing (1546-1623)

Bibliography

Index

 

Introduction to the Heart Sutra by Jack Risk

Introduction to the Heart Sutra

By Jack Risk

The Heart Sutra provides a concise introduction to a host of meditation terms and concepts.

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Hint: If you are reading the article on your computer, you can click on underlined hyperlinks to jump to the cross-referenced topics. Clicking on footnote references takes you to the footnotes.

What Is "Letting Go"?

What is "Letting Go"?

Comments by Jack Risk and Master Yap Soon Yeong

This article collects comments by Jack Risk and Master Yap Soon Yeong on the topic of letting go which appeared first on the CFQ Forum in October 2011. Master Yap's comments are a slightly edited version of his posting.

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Jesus and Healing

Jesus and Healing

By Jack Risk

This article is written from the point of view of a CFQ healer who is also a Christian theologian and student of the New Testament. It attempts to express some of my thoughts on what the gospel records indicate about the historical Jesus' approach to healing. It is not a systematic explication of CFQ healing techniques.

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The Power to Heal: Jesus Answers Charges of Satanism

The Power to Heal: Jesus Answers Charges of Satanism

By Jack Risk

This article continues the analysis of Jesus and healing but from a more particular perspective. In Mark 3:22–27 he is charged with being in league with Satan. His response goes a long way to dispelling fundamentalist concerns about energy healing.

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Recent Scientific Literature on Meditation and Qigong

Research Abstracts

The amount of scientific research being conducted on meditation and qigong has expanded greatly over the last several years. By sampling some abstracts you can get a sense of how the researchers are coming to terms with approaches to healing that differ significantly from normal western medicine.

I have assembled some abstracts on meditation and qigong in this first article.

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This listing of abstracts of qigong research is available online.

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Recommended Films

A List of Movies on Themes Related to Meditation

Film Year Filmmaker Description
Unmistaken Child: A Tibetan Monk's Search for the Reincarnation of his Beloved Teacher 2008 Nati Baratz This amazing documentary tells the complete story of the discovery of a reincarnated tulku. A monk who had served his beloved guru for many years is followed on his journey through the highlands of Nepal as he searches for the child who embodies the guru's reincarnation. There are many revealing insights into Tibetan culture and religion. Along the way the bodhisattva ideal (foreswearing nirvana for the sake of liberating others) and the meaning of bodhicitta (the desire to attain Buddhahood—out of compassion for other beings and to acquire the skill to liberate them) are exemplified. You will be amazed at the sagacity of the toddler Rinpoche. (Tibetan with subtitles.)
Enlightenment Guaranteed: Two Strangers in a Strange Land 2002 Doris Dörrie A comedy about two very different brothers, both with unhappiness in their lives, who take off from Germany for a Zen retreat in Japan. The story of how they are both changed by the experience serves, on another level, as a parable of the search for enlightenment. (German with subtitles.)
Into Great Silence 2005 Philip Gröning In loving detail this film documents the everyday lives and prayerful practices of the Carthusian community of the Grande Chartreuse, a monastery high in the French Alps. The monks normally receive no visitors and have little outside contact. The filmmaker was able to gain permission sixteen years after his initial request and filmed on sight over a period of six months. Beautifully shot and meditative in its impact.
Baraka 1992 Ron Fricke Fricke has made several cinematographic essays. This beautiful film presents images suggestive of the worldwide and cross-cultural appeal of various forms of meditation—and of the world's need for it.
Why Did Bodhidharma Leave for the East? 1989 Bae Yong-kyun Intriguing and artful. The title is a play on one of the most famous Zen koans. Several other koans, along with allusions to the classic ox herding paintings, are woven into the narrative of a boy, a young monk and a Son (Zen) abbot. A filmic presentation of the path to enlightenment. (Korean with subtitles.)
I ♥ Huckabees 2001 David O. Russell A Hollywood comedy about Zen. Who would have thought? A cast of characters struggling with their entanglement in Samsara are given glimpses of Nirvana.
Amongst White Clouds 2004 Edward A. Burger I loved reading Bill Porter's two books about his travels to interview Buddhist and Taoist hermits in the Zhongnan mountains of China. A young filmmaker has followed in Porter's footsteps and given us a rare look into the lives and minds of a few of these dedicated seekers of enlightenment. Stirring examples of single-minded practice. And quite a bit of genuine wisdom. (English and Chinese with problematic subtitles.) Free on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FumyvVOVbaY.
Healing and the Mind with Bill Moyers 1993 PBS This documentary was shot in Beijing during the height of the renaissance in Traditional Chinese Medicine. There are intriguing segments on herbal healing, qigong, acupuncture and taiji. The film is dated and Moyers' skepticism leaves much unrevealed but we get a glimpse of the promise of Chinese medicine before Western ideas crowded it out in China. The episodes on qigong healing and qigong meditation are illuminating. Free on Youtube at The Mystery of Chi.
Judson Brewer: You're Already Awesome. Just Get Out of Your Own Way! 2013 TED Talks Talk discussing research on default mode and meditation training. Free on Youtube at You're Already Awesome. Just Get Out of Your Own Way!

Suggested Reading

Good Places to Start — Introductory Books on Meditation

Author Title Publisher Date Description
Lamrimpa, Gen How To Practice Shamatha Meditation Snow Lion 2010 A general and practical introduction to meditation to calm the mind.
Sheng-yen Hoofprint of the Ox Oxford University Press 2002 An excellent introduction to Chan Buddhism (Zen) with lots of traditional material and detailed instructions.
Sheng-yen Illuminating Silence: The Practice of Chinese Zen Watkins Publishing 2002 Insights into some of the deeper aspects of Chinese Chan meditation practice.
Kapleau, Philip The Three Pillars of Zen Teaching, Practice and Enlightenment Beacon Press  1989 An inspiring treatment of Japanese Zen.
Hanh, Thich Nhat Zen Keys Doubleday 1995 An introduction to meditation from a traditional Zen perspective.
Yap Soon Yeong and Chok C. Hiew Energy Medicine in CFQ Healing: Healing the Body, Transforming Consciousness Writer's Club Press 2002 Master Yap's major book containing the story of his discovery of CFQ, the principles of his approach to qigong and meditation, and several highly informative chapters on healing specific conditions.
B. Alan Wallace Tibetan Buddhism From The Ground Up: A Practical Approach For Modern Life Wisdom Publications 2016 A general and informed introduction to meditation in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

Good Books about Meditation and Some of the Chan/Zen Classics

Author Title Publisher Date Description
Aitken, Robert Taking the Path of Zen North Point Press 1982 A general introduction to Zen practice.
Bercholz, Samuel and Sherab Chodzin Kohn Entering the Stream: An Introduction to the Buddha and His Teachings Shambhala 1993 An anthology of selections from classic Buddhist texts.
Blofeld, John The Zen Teaching of Huang Po: On the Transmission of Mind New York: Grove Press 1958 The translations still hold up. Wonderful teachings that are enjoyable and instructive to read.
Bodhi, Bhikkhu In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon Wisdom Publications 2005 A selection of passages from the four major Pali collections (Nikayas) of discourses of the Buddha.
Broughton, Jeffrey Lyle Zongmi on Chan Columbia University Press 2009 Classic writings by a key figure in Chinese Chan. Zongmi was also a leaderin Huayen philosophy. He championed the Sutra of Complete Enlightenment and a balanced view of sudden vs. gradual enlightenment. He advocated sutra study in combination with meditation practice.
Cleary, Thomas The Flower Ornament Scripture: A Translation of the Avatamsaka Sutra Shambhala Publishing 1993 The largest religious work in world literature. In reality a compilation of several sutras. Sets out the bodhisattva path. Reflects the enlightened view of reality of bodhisattvas, that is to say, it can be a bit mind-blowing.
Cook, Francis H. Three Texts on Consciousness Only Translated from the Chinese of Hsüan-tsang Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research 1999 Contains English translations of Demonstration of Consciousness Only (Cheng wei-shi lun) by Hsüan-tsang, The Thirty Verses on Consciounsess Only by Vasubandhu and The Treatise in Twenty Verses on Consciousness Only by Vasubandhu
Dharmamitra, Bhikshu The Essentials of Buddhist Meditation: The Essentials for Practicing Calming-and-Insight and Dhyana Meditation by the Great Tiantai Meditation Master and Exegete Sramana Zhiyi Kalavinka Press 2008 A foundational classic from the sixth century. Zhiyi was a leader in Tientai philosophy but his manuals on meditation underpin the teachings of many schools.
Dharmamitra, Bhikshu The Six Dharma Gates to the Sublime: A Classic Meditation Manual on Tranditional Indian Buddhist Meditation by the Great Tiantai Meditation Master and Exegete Sramana Zhiyi Kalavinka Press 2008 A foundational classic from the sixth century. Zhiyi was a leader in Tientai philosophy but his manuals on meditation underpin the teachings of many schools.
Hakeda, Yoshito S. The Awakening of Faith: Attributed to Asvaghosha Columbia University Press 1967

A Chinese text that very succinctly outlines a view of reality based on suchness and the buddha nature Tathagatagarbha). Provides a synthesis of the Yogacara and Madhyamaka perspectives and guidelines for practice.

Available online at: http://www.fodian.net/world/1666.htm

Hsuan Hua The Śurangama Sutra Buddhist Text Translation Society 2012 Accessible translation with helpful commentary by a modern Chan teacher. Available online at: click this link.
Egan, Charles Clouds Thick, Whereabouts Unknown: Poems by Zen Monks of China Coumbia University Press 2010 An interesting introduction to Chinese Chan poetry and a wonderful selection of translations.
Foster, Nelson and Jack Shoemaker The Roaring Stream: A New Zen Reader Ecco Press 1996 An anthology of classic texts.
Hanh, Thich Nhat Zen Keys Doubleday 1995 An introduction to meditation from a traditional Zen perspective.
Horsely, Richard A. and Tom Thatcher John, Jesus and the Renewal of Israel William B. Eerdmans Publishing 2013 Horsely has been providing the most incisive views of the historical Jesus and the movements around him for over a quarter century. This recent book advances a bold synthesis and reorients our approach to John's gospel at the same time. A consistent picture of the real Jesus is emerging that is very different from the traditional one of Jesus as the other-worldly saviour who is God's sacrifice for our sins.
Keenan, John P. The Meaning of Christ: A Mahayana Theology Orbis Books 1989 Keenan is an Anglican priest and Christian scholar of Buddhism. He re-reads Christian beliefs from the perspective of Zen and prominant Mahayana Buddhist schools of philosophy (Yogacara and Madhyamika).
McDaniel, Richard Bryan Zen Masters of China: The First Step East Tuttle Publishing 2012 A good place to start. Stories of Chinese Chan Buddhism.
McDaniel, Richard Bryan Zen Masters of Japan: The Second Step East Tuttle Publishing 2013 A second volume retelling the stories of Japanese Zen.
Mu Soeng The Diamond Sutra: Transforming the Way We Perceive the World Wisdom Publications 2000 A useful commentary on this classic of Prajnaparamita literature.
Muller, Charles A. The Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment: Korean Buddhism's Guide to Meditation State University of New York Press 1999

A classic Zen text on meditation, extremely popular in Korean Son.

Available online in an alternative translation by Peter Gregory at: https://www.bdkamerica.org/digital/dBET_ApocryphalScriptures_2005.pdf

Palmer, Martin with Elizabeth Breuilly The Book of Chuang Tzu Penguin 1996 Along with the Lao-tzu, one of the essential texts of the Taoist tradition that influenced Chan.
Pine, Red (Bill Porter) Lao-Tzu's Taoteching with Selected Commentaries of the Past 2,000 Years Copper Canyon Press 2009 Pungent and concise translations of these wonderful poems. Pine also gives a collation of useful quotations from Zen and Taoist commentaries. This is the classic source for the idea of non-doing (wu wei), of emptiness and stillness, of self-cultivation, and of the importance of softness. "The weakest thing in the world / overcomes the strongest thing in the world / what doesn't exist finds room where there's none / thus we know help comes with no effort / wordless instruction / effortless help / few in the world can match this" (43)
Pine, Red (Bill Porter) The Diamond Sutra: The Perfection of Wisdom Counterpoint 2001 Classic teachings about emptiness from a Prajnaparamita text almost two thousand years old.
Pine, Red (Bill Porter) The Heart Sutra: The Womb of Buddhas Shoemaker and Hoard 2004 Translation of one of the most popular--and shortest--of Mahayana sutras. Elaborates in a few verses the doctrine of sunyata (emptiness). Pine's commentary is useful and he extends it with selections from traditional commentaries.
Pine, Red (Bill Porter) The Lankavatara Sutra: Translation and Commentary Counterpoint 2012 A formative text for Chinese Chan. It set out Yogacara teachings and makes clear how karma and the mind are connected. In so doing it clarifies what the goal of meditation is.
Pine, Red (Bill Porter) The Platform Sutra: The Zen Teaching of Hui-neng Berkeley: Counterpoint 2006 The only work by someone other than the Buddha to be called a sutra. Known as the sixth patriarch of Chinese Chan, Hui-neng is fundamental to the tradition. Pine has provided excerpts from classic commentaries to help explicate each passage.
Pine, Red (Bill Porter) The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma New York: Weathhill 1987 Bodhidharma was the man who introduced the tradition of zen meditation into China. His teachings stand as one of the pillar documents.
Sheng-yen Attaining the Way: A Guide to the Practice of Chan Buddhism Shambhala 2006 General instructions in Chan meditation. Contains translations of works by three Chinese teachers and a short work by Sheng Yen.
Sheng-yen Dharma Drum: The Life and Heart of Chan Practice Shambhala 2006 A general introduction to Chinese Chan by an important modern teacher.
Sheng-yen Faith in Mind: A Commentary on Seng Ts'an's Classic Shambhala 2006 The Hsin Hsin Ming is a classic Chinese Chan poem that clarifies many essentials.
Sheng-yen Hoofprints of the Ox: Principles of the Chan Buddhist Path as Taught by a Modern Chinese Master Oxford University Press 2001 A general introduction to Chinese Chan by an important modern teacher.
Sheng-yen Song of Mind: Wisdom from the Zen Classic Xin Ming Shambhala 2004 Commentary on the Xin Ming by Niutou Farong, a classic Chinese Chan poem.
Sheng-yen The Poetry of Enlightenment: Poems by Ancient Ch'an Masters Dharma Drum Publications 1987 Poems that sum up Chan teachings.
Sheng-yen There Is No Suffering: A Commentary on the Heart Sutra Dharma Drum Publications 2001 A deeply meaningful treatment that relates the teachings of the Heart Sutra to our meditation practice.
Suzuki, Sunryu Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice Weatherhill 1970 A classic of modern Zen. Collected talks by the beloved Japanese monk who founded the Zen Center of San Francisco.
Tanahashi, Kazuaki Moon in a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen North Point Press 1985 An anthology of some of Dogen's most famous writings. Poetic and deep.
Watson, Burton The Vimalakirti Sutra Columbia University Press 1997

This sutra stands near the top of Mahayana sutras for its clarity and directness in presenting the dharma. It features a lay person giving instruction to bodhisattvas. This edition has a fluent, accessible translation but could use more notes.

Available online in an alternative translation by Robert Thurman at: http://www.buddhasutra.com/files/vimalakirti_nirdesa_sutra.htm

And in another by John R. McRae at: https://www.bdkamerica.org/digital/dBET_Srimala_Vimalakirti_2004.pdf

Yampolsky, Philip B. The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch Columbia University Press 1967 The standard translation of Huineng's classic of Chinese Chan literature.
Yap Soon Yeong and Chok C. Hiew Energy Medicine in CFQ Healing: Healing the Body, Transforming Consciousness Writer's Club Press 2002 Master Yap's major book containing the story of his discovery of CFQ, the principles of his approach to qigong and meditation, and several highly informative chapters on healing specific conditions.

Free Sutras Online

Longer List of Books on Meditation, Qigong and Related Subjects

Click the link below to go to a separate page that contains a larger bibliography.
You will be able to sort the list according to Rating, Category and Classification as well as Author, Title etc.
Have fun searching for items that interest you.

bibliography

What One Master Says

Even if you consume as many books
As the sands of the Ganges
It is not as good as really catching
One verse of Zen.
If you want the secret of Buddhism,
Here it is: Everything is in the Heart!

- Ryokan

Contact

(204) 298-8586

(902) 680-0372

contactjackrisk.ca

 

Kentville, Nova Scotia, Canada