This blog was published on BuddhistDoor
Though he lived in the sixth century, Zhiyi (538–597) has a lot to teach the modern practitioner of meditation, whether Buddhist or secular. He is best known as the founding patriarch of the Tiantai school of Buddhism, widely considered to be the first native East Asian school, and thus a precursor to Chan and other later developments. Among the foundational writings of Tiantai are several treatises on meditation composed by Zhiyi.
Although it is popular to think of meditation as a solution for all kinds of illness, Zhiyi knew it was more complicated. In his Shorter Treatise on Samatha and Vipasyana (in Chinese, Xiao zhiguan), Zhiyi suggests not only that not all illnesses can or should be treated with meditation, but that meditation itself can be a cause of illness: one might be unskillful in harmonizing the mind, body, and breath, and thus fall ill. But he does advise eight different healing meditation practices.
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