Is There an Alternative Way to Practice Samadhi If One Is Unable to Sit in the Seven-Point Meditation Posture of Vairocana?
Q1: This question is from Lianhua Fengshun of Taiwan. Homage to H.H. Living Buddha Lian-sheng, I wish to ask Grandmaster the following:
If one has bad knees that cause pain when one sits cross-legged, not to mention the Seven-Point Meditation Posture of Vairocana. Is there an alternative way for one to practice Samadhi in order to attain the Root Guru Yoga? Thank you Grandmaster.
A1: This disciple is asking whether it is possible for one to practice Root Guru Yoga if one is unable to sit in the Seven-Point Meditation Posture of Vairocana. If so, what are the alternatives? My short answer is, yes, it is possible. It is fine to sit in a half lotus position if you find it difficult to sit in the full-lotus position. After all, not many people are able to sit in a full lotus position. Take Grandmaster for example. I am not tall and my legs are relatively short. People who have long legs will find it easy to sit in a full lotus position. The longer one’s legs, the easier it will be. Yogis who have been stretching their legs are also easy for them to sit in the full lotus position. One with short or thick legs will be difficult to sit in the full lotus position. Some who have problem knees will feel sore when in the full lotus position. They should then sit in the half lotus position. Therefore, if it is really difficult for one to be in a full lotus position, one may just practice in a half lotus position.
What is a half lotus pose? It is a sitting position where one leg rests on top of the other leg. One may also be in Burmese sitting position if sitting in a half lotus pose is also hurting. What is in Burmese sitting position? It is to keep one’s heels as close as possible to the sacral chakra, the closer the better. If even this is impossible, then I suggest that one should just sit in any position, such as sitting on a chair. Some people have no trouble sitting in a full lotus position. In fact, they can sit comfortably in a full lotus position on a small, round stool. Some people find it easy while others find it challenging. As a matter of fact, it does not mean to force one to do it. Most importantly, the individual needs to feel comfortable while sitting in an upright and chest up meditative position. Try to lean back. Slightly higher at the back will straighten up your back, enabling your spine to be straight and posture to be upright.
To be honest, Grandmaster’s posture is not good when Grandmaster is writing essays. Without fail, I have a habit of placing my other hand this way every time I write essays. This habit has led to my bad posture. To stand up from my chair, I have to use both hands to support my body. Fortunately, my hands are relatively strong. What about my legs? I still do exercises to keep them strong. In particular, I practice Zhan Zhuang (standing like a post) and the horse stance.
In terms of legs, it is truly difficult to be in full lotus. I can manage half lotus, but find the full lotus position extremely challenging as well. Therefore, the truth is, regardless of the position, one is able to attain spiritual union in Guru Yoga or any practice as long as one’s mind is focused. The important point is the heart and mind.
Why is it easy to receive spiritual union in meditation when one is in the Seven-Point Posture of Vairocana? One reason is that, in this pose, one's spine is naturally straight. In contrast, with other postures, one has to pay special attention to maintain a straight back before one’s mind is subdued. By attaining oneness in mind, one is said to have accomplished the Yoga of One-Pointedness. Following this, spiritual union is easily attained. In the absence of the concentration of mind, the Seven-Point Posture of Vairocana can only reduce one’s thoughts. Spiritual union will still not be attained if one is unable to attain oneness in mind.
Therefore, start externally from sitting in a full lotus position until one’s mind is concentrated and becomes one. Until then, one is able to attain spiritual union with the personal deity, Root Guru, or the deity of any practice. This is only external. The Seven-Point Posture of Vairocana is just external. The emphasis is still inside, your heart and mind, your eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind. This is the main point. Hence, it is simply not true that those who cannot perform the Seven-Point Meditation Posture of Vairocana will not attain spiritual union.
This is the answer to Lianhua Fengshun of Taiwan’s question. Even if you cannot sit in the Seven-Point Meditation Posture of Vairocana, you may still sit in the half lotus position, in Burmese sitting position, or any position such as sitting upright on a chair. They are all the same.
Translated by TBTTs
Translator: Lynn Ang
Editors: Gareth Jones and DJ Chang