Through Da Chan Qi, the monks undergo a major change in their inborn qualities of mind. The sense of “omnipotence” and transcendental joy that they experience cannot be described with words. Just imagine going through forty-nine days (7-day sessions) of contemplating the same “Hua Tou” (concentration on a topic of contemplation), as if no different from their regular same way of living, and always hearing the sounds made by bells or the discipline staff or other ritual objects. Therefore, after tens of days of meditation, one becomes aware of the omnipotence of a greater spiritual existence and become more at ease with the physical one.
Da Chan Qi is different from ordinary meditation sessions, and not every monk in the monastery can enter the Meditation Hall to participate. Da Chan Qi has certain prerequisites: one must have met a certain level cultivation in meditation; be physically fit with strong legs and feet, so as to be able to sit comfortably in a cross-legged position for long periods of time; and participants must understand the rules of the Meditation Hall since every monk who enters the hall aims to be liberated from cycles of life and death and achieve realization with a set timeframe.
Studying and practicing Chan Qi is a regular aspect of a monk’ s daily life and meditation is the best way to cultivate and practice Chan. Without a doubt, the best way to study and practice Chan is for the monastery’ s monks to assemble together to meditate according to the rules taught by previous masters. This is the most diligent and progressive method to meditate and is referred to as “Da Chan Qi”.
According to Shaolin Temple’ s rules, summer is mainly for expounding and studying sutra, winter is mainly for Chan Qi and sitting in meditation. During the cold weather of winter with the grains in storage, it is easier for people to reign in their mind, and is therefore, the perfect time for Chan Qi. In the past, many masters and achieved practitioners had attained enlightenment when they were undergoing Chan Qi in the meditation hall.
Patriarch Bodhidharma once said, “Our mind must be like a wall in order to reach realization, without grasping of external appearance and with equanimity of mind.” This statement refers to Mahayana’ s Wall-Gazing dharma gate, whereby we use one thought to overcome all the tens of millions of thoughts.