Chan is widely known as Zen in the west. In the general impressions of the West, Chan is mysterious, philosophically profound, and a mind-twisting riddle. Yet, to the minds of the awakened, an ordinary mind is the mind of Chan, nothing special or mysterious. Just like the verse on the doorway of the Chan Hall at Chung Tai Zen Center of Houston, “Chan is ordinary. Drinking tea or eating a cake all manifests the Old Way. Teaching ought to be on the mark. Uttering words or applying a staff all carries the ultimate message.”
Chan is about seeing the true nature of one’s own mind and being the master in all conditions. Grand Master Wei Chueh once explained, “No matter how much external circumstances change, if one can see through the outer manifestation and let go of vexations, delusions, and attachments, with the mind always in equanimity and suchness, having clarity and true understanding, then that is Chan.”
Ordinary people do not have ordinary minds, for ordinary people have too many confusions, worries, and afflictions in their minds. Even when conducting daily activities, the minds of ordinary people are not in equanimity and suchness because of self-centered judgments and unneeded discriminations. A disturbed, confused mind is not the tranquil, pure mind of Chan.
When learning to realize the equanimity and suchness of the Chan mind, one learns to handle problems and difficulties in life in accordance with Reality and with the transcendence of the Middle Way. As a result, one comes to understand that Chan is deeply rooted in daily life, and indeed Chan is the essence of life; Chan is everything and everything is Chan.