Meditation comparisons.

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

Meditation comparisons.

Postby Demarous » Tue Jun 30, 2009 6:35 pm

I have only had experience with the Theravada teachings on meditation.

Is Mahayana or Vajrayana any different? What is the aim ? Techniques? :shrug:

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Re: Meditation comparisons.

Postby sraddha » Wed Jul 01, 2009 3:01 am

Demarous wrote:I have only had experience with the Theravada teachings on meditation.

Is Mahayana or Vajrayana any different? What is the aim ? Techniques? :shrug:

Demarous.


In whatever I've read about the classical Mahayana/Vajrayana and Thervada, Mahayana sutras incorporates the Nikaya meditations -i.e. the 10 recollections -- the Mahayana generally has an emphasis on the Buddha anusmriti which are found in most Mahayana sutras.

Recollection of the Buddha (Pali Buddhānussati, Skt. Buddhanusmrti, Tib. Sans- rgyas -rjes-su dran pa)
Recollection of the Dhamma (Pali Dhammānussati, Skt. Dharmanusmrti, Tib. Chos- rjes- su dran pa)
Recollection of the Sangha (Pali Saṅghānussati, Skt. Sanghanusmrti: Tib. dge -hdun- rjes- su dran pa)


However, to that Mahayana and Vajrayana add Dharanis, Mantras, Yantra and visual meditation.

Of course, in the Mahayana/Vajrayana tradition the aim becomes more for the attainment of Bodhisatvahood/Buddhahood.
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Re: Meditation comparisons.

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jul 01, 2009 3:08 am

Greetings sraddha,

sraddha wrote:However, to that Mahayana and Vajrayana add Dharanis, Mantras, Yantra and visual meditation.

Does that include bodhicitta cultivation, or is that something different?

Metta,
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Re: Meditation comparisons.

Postby sraddha » Wed Jul 01, 2009 4:02 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings sraddha,

sraddha wrote:However, to that Mahayana and Vajrayana add Dharanis, Mantras, Yantra and visual meditation.

Does that include bodhicitta cultivation, or is that something different?

Metta,
Retro. :)


Hi Retro,

The cultivation of the 4 Brahmaviharas and the perfection of Silas and Paramitas and ultimately realizing anatma through concentration, results naturally in effortless Bodhichita.

Here's are beautiful verses from Shantideva, that you can compare with the Brahmaviharas as taught in the Theravada :smile: :


http://www.bodhicitta.net/Shantideva-chap-3.htm
In the spiritual energy that relieves

The anguish of beings in misery and

Places depressed beings in eternal joy

I lift up my heart and rejoice.



In the goodness producing illumination

I lift up my heart and rejoice.



I rejoice in the beings who have gained

Eternal liberation from suffering.

And I rejoice in those attained to Buddhahood

As well as in their offspring, the noble Bodhisattvas.



In the ocean-like virtue of the Bodhimind

That brings joy to all beings

And in accomplishing the well-being of others,

I lift up my heart and rejoice.



To the Buddhas of the ten directions

I join my hands in respect

Let blaze the light of Dharmas truth

For the beings lost in darkness



To the Buddhas considering parinirvarna

I join my hands in prayer

Do not abandon the beings in sorrow

But remain and teach for countless ages.



May any spiritual energy thus generated

By my devotion to the enlightened ones

Be dedicated to dispelling the misery

Of living beings without exception.



As long as diseases afflict living beings

May I be the doctor, the medicine

And also the nurse

Who restores them to health.



May I fall as rain to increase

The harvests that must feed living beings

And in ages of dire famine

May I myself serve as food and drink.



May I be an unending treasury

For those desperate and forlorn.

May I manifest as what they require

And wish to have near them.



My body, every possession

And all goodness, past, present and future

Without remorse I dedicate

To the well-being of the world



Suffering is transcended by total surrender

And the mind attains to nirvana.

As one day all must be given up,

Why not dedicate it now to universal happiness?



My bodily powers I dedicate

To the well-being of all that lives.

Should anyone wish to kill, abuse or beat me,

The responsibility is purely their own.



Should anyone wish to ridicule me

And make me an object of jest and scorn

Why should I possibly care

If I have dedicated myself to others?



Let them do as they wish with me

So long as it does not harm them.

May no one who encounters me

Ever have an insignificant contact.



Regardless whether those whom I meet

Respond towards me with anger or faith,

May the mere fact of our meeting

Contribute to the fulfilment of their wishes.



May the slander, harm

And all forms of abuse

That anyone should direct towards me

Act as a cause of their enlightenment.



May I be a protector to the helpless,

A guide to those travelling the path,

A boat to those wishing to cross over;

Or a bridge or a raft.



May I be land for those requiring it,

A lamp for those in darkness,

May I be a home for the homeless,

And a servant for the world.



In order to fulfil the needs of beings

May I be as a magic gem,

An inexhaustible vase, a mystic spell,

A cure-all medicine, and a wish granting tree.



May I act as the mighty earth

Or like the free and open skies

To support and provide the space

Whereby I and all others may grow.



Until every being afflicted by pain

Has reached nirvanas shores,

May I serve only as a condition

That encourages progress and joy.



Just as all previous Buddhas

First gave rise to the precious Bodhimind

And just as then carefully followed

The stages of the Bodhisattva disciplines.



Likewise for the sake of sentient beings

Do I now myself generate the Bodhimind,

And likewise will I train myself

In the disciplines of a Bodhisattva.



They who out of wisdom

Have seized the supreme Bodhimind

Praise, glorify and rejoice in it,

That it may grow to fulfilment.



From today I will reap the fruit of life;

Having well won the state of man,

Today I am born in the Buddha-family

And am now a child of the Buddhas.



Thus in future I should make every effort

To live in accord with the Bodhisattva Ways,

And never should I act as would bring shame

To this noble faultless family.



Like a blind man fumbling in garbage

Happens to find a rare and precious gem,

Likewise I have discovered

The jewel of the precious Bodhimind.



Thus was found this supreme ambrosia to dispel

The Lord of death, destroyer of life;

An inexhaustible treasure able to cure

The poverty of all sentient beings.



It is the highest of medicines

To quell the ills of the living,

And it is a tree giving shade

To those wandering on the paths of life.



It is a strong and mighty bridge

By which beings can cross from misery,

And it is a moon to shine in the mind

To clear away the pains of delusion.



The Bodhimind is a great radiant sun

To disperse the darkness of unknowing,

And it is the very essence of butters

Gained from churning the milks of Dharma.



For all guests on the roads of life

Who would take the very substance of joy,

Here is the actual seat of true happiness,

A veritable feast to satiate the world.



Thus today in the presence of all awakened Ones

I invite every living being to this festival

Giving both immediate and lasting joy.

May the gods and all others rejoice.
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Re: Meditation comparisons.

Postby Demarous » Thu Jul 02, 2009 9:43 am

Thanks for that, that was beautiful.

What about the techniques though, as in Theravada for example, the focus can be on the breath following it in and out of the body.

What are you actually focusing on, or trying to visualise for basic practice?

Metta,
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Re: Meditation comparisons.

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jul 02, 2009 10:19 am

Greetings,

Further to Demarous' question, what meditation practices can be learned without a teacher, and which one's strictly require a teacher's guidance?

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Re: Meditation comparisons.

Postby sraddha » Fri Jul 03, 2009 3:27 am

I began my Mahayana practice with the Bhaisajya Guru Dharani and I continue to practice it. However, as Mahayana does not reject the Aghama (Nikayas) it's core teachings are restated in many of the Mahayana Sutras.


The Buddha, Dharma, Sangha Anusmriti or recollection of the Buddha and anapansmriti (breath meditation) are also the most basic teachings in Buddhism and is common in both schools.

āryatriratnānusmṛtisūtram
http://www.uwest.edu/sanskritcanon/dp/i ... 9ae02cd9ee

:anjali:
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Re: Meditation comparisons.

Postby Demarous » Fri Jul 03, 2009 10:58 am

Thanks for that Sraddha, i am very interested in learning about all types of buddhism and there beliefs, practices etc, so this is very helpful to me. :smile:

Metta,
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Re: Meditation comparisons.

Postby sraddha » Sat Jul 04, 2009 12:04 am

You are very welcome! I found that reading the actual suttas/sutras with the translations are very helpful in gaining understanding.

Unfortuneatly, modern Mahayana/Vajrayana does not emphasize the Aghama/Nikaya teachings as much as Classical Mahayana/Vajrayana did. The Aghamas formed the foundational teachings in classical Mahayana. If you read Nagarjuna's and Ashvaghosha, they have a solid knowledge of the Nikayas and Mahayana sutras.

:smile:
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Re: Meditation comparisons.

Postby bjones » Tue Dec 22, 2009 7:59 pm

useful for comparison-- this site contains some notes on the aims of meditation, taken at a mahayana monastery: http://cgarriott.bol.ucla.edu/nmsm/
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Re: Meditation comparisons.

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Thu Jan 07, 2010 7:09 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Further to Demarous' question, what meditation practices can be learned without a teacher, and which one's strictly require a teacher's guidance?

Metta,
Retro. :)


For example counting breaths and watching the breath is always fine.

Calm Abiding meditation is slightly more complex and is usually is taught by an instructor (like a lay practitioner who has been given permission by his teacher to teach it) but it doesn't actually require a guru or transmission from a lama.

And there are some mantras than can be said without transmission. I just got permission to say one last night in fact, but I haven't directly received the mantra.

There are some sadhanas, like Chenrezig practice, that one can do but usually it's done with the expectation that someone will receive lung at some point.

Best,
Laura
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Re: Meditation comparisons.

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Thu Jan 07, 2010 7:15 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Does that include bodhicitta cultivation, or is that something different?

Metta,
Retro. :)


Hi Retro,

Was this sufficiently answered for you?

Best,
Laura
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Re: Meditation comparisons.

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Thu Jan 07, 2010 7:22 pm

Demarous wrote:Thanks for that, that was beautiful.

What about the techniques though, as in Theravada for example, the focus can be on the breath following it in and out of the body.

What are you actually focusing on, or trying to visualise for basic practice?

Metta,
Demarous.



Here are some methods of meditation. However I am not a meditation instructor! This first site has some interesting methods. Here is a simplified explanation/instruction for counting the breaths. There are more complicated methods as well, but this is a brief explanation:

WATCHING THE BREATH - THE REAL BASICS

After the preliminaries, concentrate on the tip of your nose, and feel the breath going in and out.
To help your concentration, you can count every out-breath as one, and count from 1 to 10. When you arrived at 10, simply start at 1 again. All the attention is with the feeling of the nose and the counting, nothing more, nothing less.

Regularly check yourself if you are still concentrated, do not get angry when distracted, simply return to counting from 1.

Just before the end of the session, release the concentration on the counting and the tip of your nose, and simply be aware of how you feel for a minute or so.

Then dedicate the positive energy of the session to whichever goal you like, use for example above prayers.

Source: http://www.viewonbuddhism.org/Meditations/basic_meditation.html#0
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Re: Meditation comparisons.

Postby meindzai » Mon Jan 25, 2010 10:17 pm

I've done a lot of comparisons between what I learned/studied in Zen and what I came across in Theravada. (Having done retreats in both sorts of centers.) Something I enjoy discussing actually.

Concentration (samatha/shamatha)practices tend to be pretty consistent across Zen, Theravada, and I think most Buddhist schools, really. Counting or focusing the breath on a *particular* area. The difference I have found though is that in Zen, there are teachers that will require you to build up a very solid foundation of concentration before you do anything else, whereas modern Theravada teachers (or "vipassana teachers") tend to very quickly want to get people onto insight (vipassana/vipashyana).

Secondly would be something like Shikantaza ("just sitting") or Silent Illumination (we can quibble about whether those are different or the same, but for my purposes here I'm lumping them together). I identify these very much as insight (vipassana/vipashyana) practices, though they do build samadhi in a less direct way. It is sometimes called shamatha/vipashyana. (Somebody let me know if my Sanskrit spellings are off)

A major difference here is what I would call the "attitude" towards what exactly is being cultivated. Zen is less goal oriented and requires an attitude of trust that the process will unfold. One is not necessarily "developing" anything but "taking the backwards step" and allowing one's Buddha Nature/Innate Enlightenment (not a Theravada teaching) to be realized.

The last major one would be any kind of koan introspection, which is of course an animal all on it's own. A koan is a word, phrase, story, etc. which does not have any immediately recognizable meaning, or has a meaning beyond what is immediately recognizable but which can't be figured out the way we normally think. (Not a great description here).

Koan introspection is taking a koan as an object of meditation. On one hand it is a super-intense concentration practice becuase you are basically short-circuiting your minds linear processes, and on the other hand it is an insight practice since one "breaks through" a koan and is said to achieve some sort of insight as a result, which is not an "answer" but a very intuitive understanding of...something. Some koans are are more focused "mu" and some are more gradually unfolding like the Hwadu's of Korean zen (correct my Korean also) such as "who am I?" and "What is it?"

Koans are unique to zen and shouldn't be done without a teacher. Or rather, if your'e doing them without a teacher you're not really doing them. It's not that something "bad" will necessarily happen (though I suppose you could go a bit crazy) but the point of them is that the teacher has experienced and can recognize the kind of insight into that koan, which determines whether you "pass" or not. Most of the time they'll tell you you're full of crap and to go back to the cushion, which is where some of the intense investigation and concentration come in.

My only koan experience was in korean zen where I was given the question "who am I?" which is actually a kind of nonsense question, since all schools of Buddhism teach anatta/anatman/notself. It was a funny experience. i thought "ok, I know all about the aggregates and not-self. This should be noooo problem." But I basically ended up recognizing a lot of the things I was identifying with as a self, which was valuable, though I ended up abandoning the practice since I wasn't able to get to a teacher for awhile. I also found my mind was kind of scattered with it, which is what I find when doing vipassana practices, so I always come back to basic samatha.

-M
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