1) Harmonizing body and mind through identification with the breath; allowing the whole body to breathe. Absolutely essential first step (first gear). Our life cannot effectively be navigated by the mind (as we know it), the heart (as our emotional center) or by our natural bodily functions only; we desperately need to have all faculties involved and work together. Only then can we rebel against the dictatorship of our own self-centered mind and activate the master. A well balanced posture that is relaxed and yet alert at the same time, with the center of gravity located in the lower abdomen, serves as an indispensable support. First let the body sit, then let the mind sit.
2) Samadhi; allowing our innate energy to flow by stopping to identify with the continuous stream of thoughts, memories, feelings and other sensations. Cutting through addictive patterns of the mind. Passive aspect: just letting go (being fed up helps); active aspect: turning away from these patterns by looking in, by turning one’s own light inward. After an initial insight into our true nature, koans can be useful to deepen this insight by discovering deep layers of delusion (fueled by greed anger and ignorance) and finding proof for their inherent emptiness. Various degrees of realization of the absolute.
3) Clear Observation, active use of prajna insight. Testing the depth of our samadhi by letting our inner light shine upon ‘objects’, whether physical or mental. Active aspect: welcoming things into the light; receptive aspect: allowing things to emerge naturally. Either way: seeing through conditioned patterns and discovering the innate buddha nature in everyone and everything. Koans can again be helpful to break through tenacious addictions of the self-centered mind, to undo emotional knots and behavioral patterns that block the natural expression of our true nature as love and compassion towards all life. Various degrees of realization of the relative.
4) Meditation in Action, bodhisattva activity. Following through on one’s clear observation, and navigating life’s circumstances coming from our innate wisdom rather than from the conditioned self. Various degrees of success in this aspect, therefore:
Endless practice; returning to harmonizing body and mind (1), developing samadhi (2) that is strong enough to shed clear light (3) on life situations, so we learn how to respond as a bodhisattva (4).