Buddhist Meditation

Buddhist MeditationIt goes without saying just how important meditation is to the Buddhist religion. To state the obvious meditation  is the core of the Buddhist practice. Buddhist meditations have a variety of techniques derived from ancient Buddhist texts. Buddhist meditation has evolved over a span of many thousands of years. These techniques helps to develop some great virtues of the human mind, namely mindfulness, concentration, tranquility and insight.

The benefit derived from these techniques is not only confined to Buddhists. Buddhists consider meditation as a path towards attainment of Enlightenment and Nirvana. Non-Buddhists pursue these techniques for purely mental and physical well-being and non-religious spiritual aims. Even medical science has adopted Buddhist meditation techniques to deal with the various aberrations of human mind.

These Buddhism meditation techniques have been adopted all over the world including the west for health and spiritual reasons. One reason for such a wide acceptance is these techniques do not have any authoritative doctrines.

Among various Buddhist traditions, Theravada tradition contributes to over ninety methods in developing mindfulness meditation and concentration collectively. Likely, the Tibetan tradition also has abundant meditation techniques which have elements of visionary qualities.

According to the Pali Canon School, Buddhist meditation can be practiced to develop right mindfulness, right concentration, and right view.

There are various inferences or suttas. Among them in the Sattipathana sutta, Buddha has framed four ways of attaining mindfulness. They are the body, feelings, state of the mind, and mental objects. He has further divided them into different parts:

Body (kaya)

  1. Breathing
  2. Postures
  3. Clear comprehending
  4. Reflections of repulsiveness of the body
  5. Reflections on material elements
  6. Contemplations regarding to the cemetery

Feelings (vedana)

Mind (citta)

Mental content(dhamma)

  1. The hindrances
  2. The aggregates
  3. The sense-bases
  4. The factors of enlightenment
  5. The four noble truths.

Buddha has framed two qualities of the mind, which is attained through meditation, namely serenity and insight. Collectively they are called the swift messengers of Nibbana.

Buddha has preached forty methods of meditation which will develop concentration and consciousness. Moreover, he has advised to choose the most suitable path among the forty methods, which align with ones mental makeup. One should seek a knowledgeable individual for guidance.

Buddhist meditation techniques have also incorporated practices from others like Zongmi Typology, which has been utilized by the Chinese and others. According to this, all meditation techniques appear to be the same externally. But they differ on a wide basis internally in the motive and purpose. They have five categories of meditative techniques: ordinary, outside way, small vehicle, great vehicle and supreme vehicle.

According to a meditation teacher Kamalashila of western Buddhist order, there are five basic methods of meditation:

1. Mindfulness of breathing

2. Metta bhavana including all four Brahma-viharas

3. Contemplation of impermanence including contemplation of decomposing corpse, reflection on death, reflection of Tibetan book of the dead’s “Root Verses”, Contemplation of mental states and external objects

4. Six element practice

5. Contemplation of conditionality.

To make sense of all this, Buddhist meditation techniques are well suited for anyone interested in advancing their meditation practice. You may practice them for a number of reasons, such as general well-being and spiritual advancement.

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