Healing Experiences of Vipassanā Practitioners in Contemporary China, Case study 1

Elsa Ngar-sze Lau 劉雅詩

Ngar-sze Lau is a PhD candidate at the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster University. Her thesis examines the emergence of Theravāda meditation communities in contemporary China.

This is a case study that is part of a series of linked posts:
Introduction, case 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Case 1: Lu Hongji

Lu Hongji, a Chinese medical doctor from Shanxi in his 40s, is who has received benefits from vipassanā meditation of Mahāsi’s method. He started exploring various Buddhist practices, including canhuatou in Chan practice, since 1996. When Pa-Auk Sayadaw visited Guangdong Province in 1999, he became interested in the meditation practices of Theravāda traditions. With the encouragement from a friend who visited Myanmar, he traveled to Myanmar two times. He recalled: “In the first visit I had stayed at the meditation center of Chanmyay Sayadaw for over four months. In 2014 I had spent nearly four months at the meditation center of U Paṇḍita Sayadaw, who is famous for the strict rules for meditation practices. In the beginning I misunderstood that vipassanā was the same as qigong. Only after I have committed to the practice that I can fully understand the method. Now I understand that it is a unique practice. But it is connected with the practice of observing the mind from Chan tradition. I practice walking meditation to reduce the sense of sleepiness before sitting meditation. Each time after serious practice, my body is soften. I can feel the warmth in the abdomen area. The mind has become gradually awake and serene. With right mindfulness, insight developed from vipassanā meditation arise to deal with all kinds of thoughts in the mind. Practicing vipassanā has brought me an experience of great change in my life. For instance, I stop pursuing those materialistic goals which tire me. I am contented with the inner peace at the present moment.”

Lu Hongji emphasized that it is important to learn meditation from an experienced teacher with skillful instruction skills. He said, “A good teacher can guide students to overcome any difficulties during meditation. Meditation can improve physical health. Once I gave meditation instructions to a few young people. The body of a student was weak. While he was practicing sitting or walking meditation, his body moved obviously. Strong reaction during meditation reflects that the body is weak.” He explained that, “[From the perspective of Buddhism], physical movement is a reaction of the wind element. That is also an imbalance of the four elements (the earth element, the water element, the fire element and the wind element). From the perspective of Chinese medicine, practicing meditation gives rise to positive energy (Ch. yangqi). The physical reaction is due to the interaction of the energy and the blocking area in the body.” Although meditation can heal the body, Lu reminded that one cannot strive in meditation practice. Meditators should prepare their body with a balance of four elements before the development of the mind.

Comments