Question on meditation

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

Question on meditation

Postby kaiel » Mon Jan 09, 2012 9:35 pm

One of the reasons I am drawn to Buddhism is the "you can see for yourself" aspect through meditation, as opposed to the "believe it cause the bible says so" approach of my former religion. In fact I find this quote below to be amazing, as Buddha obviously wasn't some guy trying to simply attract followers.

"Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.....etc..."

That being said, as I begin to practice, how do I know which meditation is best for a beginner, how will I know I am not a beginner any longer? As those who practice, did the meditation validate for you the teachings of Buddhism?
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Re: Question on meditation

Postby Paul » Mon Jan 09, 2012 9:54 pm

kaiel wrote:That being said, as I begin to practice, how do I know which meditation is best for a beginner, how will I know I am not a beginner any longer?


There are well developed curricula of study & practice in all lineages from beginner to completely enlightened. So pick one you like and follow that. Nearly all will begin with mindfulness of breathing or resting on a visual object like a small stone. Do it for ten minutes or so and build up. Gradually you will get better at applying your attention and understanding your mind. It's similar to the progress people have when weight training or other forms of sport/exercise.
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The training now is simply this: lets your six senses be at ease and free." - Princess Parani
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Re: Question on meditation

Postby tomamundsen » Tue Jan 10, 2012 12:28 am

kaiel wrote:how do I know which meditation is best for a beginner

You don't know until you try.

kaiel wrote:how will I know I am not a beginner any longer?

That's a really loaded question, but I think one good metric is once you realize that everything is meditation and it doesn't only happen on the cushion.

kaiel wrote:As those who practice, did the meditation validate for you the teachings of Buddhism?

Yes, some things for sure. No-self and impermanence, yes. Karma and re-birth, maybe a little, but less so.
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Re: Question on meditation

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Jan 10, 2012 2:40 am

kaiel wrote:That being said, as I begin to practice, how do I know which meditation is best for a beginner, how will I know I am not a beginner any longer? As those who practice, did the meditation validate for you the teachings of Buddhism?


Generally, meditation begins with calming the mind (shamatha) and, in my experience basic mind-calming meditation is pretty much the same whether you are studying Theravada, Zen (Mahayana), Vajrayana. However, some schools emphasize chanting rather than quiet meditation. Some combine mind-calming with vippassana (analytical introspection) and there are some differences regarding the focus of one's meditation. But since calming the mind is essential, this is usually where everyone starts. If you are told to start with something else, some elaborate head trip, you might want to look somewhere else.

As far as being a beginner, I don't think that ever really ends. I have had more than one teacher talk about meditation always being 'fresh' and always, in a sense, being a beginner. There is always the next subtle layer of mental crap to cut through. However, as time passes you will find that it takes less time for your mind to become settled and focused, and that you can remain focused and relaxed for much longer periods. So, as you may recall the first few times meditating, the mind gets restless. This should pass after a while.

I don't know if meditation 'validates' the teachings. For me, it's life's problems that validate the teachings. But meditation is essential. Everything is somewhat speculative until you practice it, and meditation is the practice. There is tremendous power in giving yourself permission to just sit, sit and really stop all the mental running around, even for a few minutes. My understanding is (buddhism teaches)that the mind's original state is calm and clear. Some schools say "empty and luminous" or "unmoving" or whatever. It means that at the core, there is something that is not shaken by what blows by, just as a big stone Buddha statue just sits there, unmoving in the rain and wind and hot sun. Through meditation you find this Buddha, and that's where you return to. I guess, in that sense, it does validate the teachings.
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Re: Question on meditation

Postby catmoon » Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:31 am

There are many forms of meditation, but there is one form that is found almost everywhere meditation is practiced; meditation that takes the breath as its object. Why not start there?
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Re: Question on meditation

Postby Mr. G » Tue Jan 10, 2012 12:24 pm

kaiel wrote:That being said, as I begin to practice, how do I know which meditation is best for a beginner, how will I know I am not a beginner any longer? As those who practice, did the meditation validate for you the teachings of Buddhism?


I think you need to connect with a tradition first. Meditation styles are different in traditions. I'd reccommend reading "Buddhist Thought: A Complete Introduction to the Indian Tradition" by Prof. Paul Williams. It'll give you the fundamentals of Buddhism, and it covers traditions ranging from Theravada to Mahayana to Vajrayana. Find one you connect to, and then members here will be able to assist in the direction you want to go.
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Re: Question on meditation

Postby Huifeng » Tue Jan 10, 2012 12:37 pm

kaiel wrote:One of the reasons I am drawn to Buddhism is the "you can see for yourself" aspect through meditation, as opposed to the "believe it cause the bible says so" approach of my former religion. In fact I find this quote below to be amazing, as Buddha obviously wasn't some guy trying to simply attract followers.

"Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.....etc..."

That being said, as I begin to practice, how do I know which meditation is best for a beginner, how will I know I am not a beginner any longer? As those who practice, did the meditation validate for you the teachings of Buddhism?


Good for you!

Sorry if this is pointing out the obvious, but before you engage in meditation practice, first make sure that you have a basic handle on the five precepts.

While finding a teacher is highly recommended, a bit of "mindfulness of breathing" and "loving kindness" meditation are usually pretty standard. These go well together with the six types of mindfulness - of the Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, generosity, morality and the devas.

All the best! :)

~~ Huifeng
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Re: Question on meditation

Postby Tarpa » Sat Mar 03, 2012 8:37 am

There's nothing religious about meditation, what's called shamata / shinay / calm abiding / one pointedness, start there.
Unique Buddhist meditation uses that foundation of stability to focus, develop insight into the nature of mind and phenomena,what's called insight meditation, vipassana, lahktong.
Start with shamata and if you desire to explore Buddhadharma then you will develop insight through studying it, and then practicing it.
Resolve all doubts about what ever practice you are doing, ask questions, do it properly, and have confidence you are doing it properly, then you can truly settle into it properly.
The path is work, if you put the work in you will get result, otherwise what's the point of all the hard work ?
If you apply specific antidotes in a specific way to specific delusions and obscurations you will attain specific results.
Realization isn't an all or nothing affair, it comes in bite size chunks along the path.
At first it's really about familiarization with the path, practice, terminology, and gaining some comprehensive general understanding, through study and practice you will gain confidence.
Happy trails.
The nonexistence of the transcendence of suffering
is what the protector of the world has taught as the transcendence
of suffering.
Knots tied on space
are untied by space itself.

May I never be seperated from perfect masters in all lives,
and delightfully experiencing the magnificent dharma,
completing all qualities of the stages of the paths
may I quickly attain the state of Vajradhara
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Re: Question on meditation

Postby Tarpa » Sat Mar 03, 2012 9:10 am

His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Spiritual Progress

What is progress? How do we recognize it? The teachings are like a mirror before which we should hold our activities of body, speech, and mind. Think back to a year ago and compare the stream of activities of your body, speech, and mind at that time with their present condition. If we practice well, then the traces of some improvement should be re...flected in the mirror of Dharma.

The problem with having expectations is that we usually do not expect the right things. Not knowing what spiritual progress is, we search for signs of it in the wrong areas of our being. What can we hope for but frustration? It would be far better to examine any practice with full reasoning before adopting it, and then to practice it steadily and consistently while observing the inner changes one undergoes, rather than expecting this or that fantasy to become real.

The mind is an evolving organism, not a machine that goes on and off with the flip of a switch. The forces that bind and limit the mind, hurling it into unsatisfactory states of being, are impermanent and transient agents. When we persistently apply the practices to them, they have no option but to fade away and disappear.

Ignorance and the "I"-grasping syndrome have been with us since beginningless time, and the instincts of attachments, aversion, anger, jealousy and so forth are very deeply rooted in our mindstreams. Eliminating them is not as simple as turning on a light to chase away the darkness of a room. When we practice steadily, the forces of darkness are undermined, and the spiritual qualities that counteract them and illuminate the mind are strengthened and made firm. Therefore, we should strive by means of both contemplative and settled meditation to gain stability in the various Lam Rim topics.(p.176)

--from The Path to Enlightenment by H.H. the Dalai Lama, edited and translated by Glenn H. Mullin, published by Snow Lion Publications
The nonexistence of the transcendence of suffering
is what the protector of the world has taught as the transcendence
of suffering.
Knots tied on space
are untied by space itself.

May I never be seperated from perfect masters in all lives,
and delightfully experiencing the magnificent dharma,
completing all qualities of the stages of the paths
may I quickly attain the state of Vajradhara
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Re: Question on meditation

Postby Meditator » Fri May 04, 2012 10:08 pm

how will I know I am not a beginner any longer?
If a person who has been meditating for 20 years on and off and not getting benefit out of meditation, is he still a beginner? If a person who has been meditating for 20 years straight, but full of arrogance and ego, is he advanced?

Don't worry about the level or status, just sit and meditate. Be mindful of your breathe, your thoughts and your action. Pay no attention to the past as it is now over, pay no concern of future as it yet to come.
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Re: Question on meditation

Postby kirtu » Fri May 04, 2012 10:27 pm

kaiel wrote:One of the reasons I am drawn to Buddhism is the "you can see for yourself" aspect through meditation, as opposed to the "believe it cause the bible says so" approach of my former religion. In fact I find this quote below to be amazing, as Buddha obviously wasn't some guy trying to simply attract followers.


Nonetheless meditation cannot just be done by anyone as they wish. Another aspect to the Buddha is that he was a master doctor curing the affliction of suffering.

That being said, as I begin to practice, how do I know which meditation is best for a beginner,


The only object of meditation that is appropriate for all people is following the breath. You will need to interact with a teacher for anything other than that (and you should get proper instruction on following the breath for a teacher as well).

how will I know I am not a beginner any longer?

Once you have attained a very high level of practice called the 1st bhumi characterized by a particular direct experience (of course lots of people imagine that they do experience that when they really haven't).

As those who practice, did the meditation validate for you the teachings of Buddhism?


Yes, but there are lots of non-Buddhist mediators. Meditation alone is a tool.

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"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
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Re: Question on meditation

Postby Meditator » Fri May 04, 2012 10:45 pm

Kirtu, are you on River Rd , NW of Potomac by any chance?
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Re: Question on meditation

Postby kirtu » Fri May 04, 2012 11:03 pm

Meditator wrote:Kirtu, are you on River Rd , NW of Potomac by any chance?


Hi, no.

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