“In complete silence, words are forgotten; total clarity appears before you.” -Hongzhi
Silent Illumination (mozhao) is a formless meditation practice.
It’s an approach to practice that emphasizes our true nature as fully enlightened. The practice of Silent Illumination is a fundamental practice of Tsaotung Ch’an Buddhism.
Silent Illumination is what’s called an objectless and still meditation. It’s said that in this practice we can step outside of duality and experience enlightenment manifesting itself.
The practice was introduced by Hongzhi Zhengjue in the twelfth century. It was referred to derisively as a heretical teaching by a master in another tradition. “Silent Illumination” was meant to be a derogatory term, but Hongzhi decided to take the name as a positive thing.
In the practice of Silent Illumination we aren’t striving for an Enlightenment experience. We are just trying to enter a state beyond thought where Enlightenment can manifest on it’s own. We’re just being here now with what is.
Silent Illumination is distinct from other forms of practice because there is no point of focus. We aren’t following the breath or a mantra or anything else. In Silent Illumination we are simply paying attention to our experience as it is.