Buddhism & Meditation
"Meditation means simple acceptance."
~ Choje Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche
The Buddha was not a God, but rather an exceptional human being who awoke to the true nature of reality; or as commonly expressed, attained enlightenment. The word, “Buddha” means, “fully Awakened One” and this in turn refers to a mind that has awoken from the sleep of ignorance. When Buddhist practitioners bow or prostrate to statues of the Buddha, or figures of Buddhist art, this is not with the intention of requesting rewards or forgiveness in return for worship. Instead, this action of respect is to remind oneself of one’s own potential and to rejuvenate one’s motivation to follow the Buddha’s example on the path to liberation....
What Did The Buddha Teach?
The Buddha’s teachings were passed orally and committed to memory through generations of the Sanga (disciples or companions on the path). These teachings are now known as Sutras. Underpinning them all is the fundamental importance of loving kindness and non-violence.
The Buddha’s teachings can be condensed to the following:
Refrain from harm;
Perform virtuous actions;
Train your mind (meditation)
The Three Vehicles
In this context the word, “vehicle” is used as these traditions incorporate means to travel and move along the path of liberation. It is very important to note that these three; Theravada, Mahayana and Vajryana, are not in contradiction with each other, but are all interconnected and fundamental parts of the whole body of Buddhism and the Buddha’s teachings.
The Theravada vehicle is synonymous with Hinayana, and is known as the “Basic” or “Foundational” tradition of Buddhism. The focus is on individual liberation; with the premise that we have to first overcome our own obscurations and difficulties before we can be of true benefit to others...
What are the benefits of meditation?
The practice of meditation is believed to have originated in India. However, it has been incorporated and adapted by many religions around the world and is an integral part of multiple cultures in today’s societies. Meditation, in this context, can be defined as being aware of what is happening, while it is happening, without preference. The practice involves anchoring our attention to sound, the breath, or a sensation in the present moment, and returning our attention to the chosen support when our mind wanders in distraction or thoughts. As one continues to strengthen the ability to hold oneself in the present, mindfulness is developed.
Meditation & its relation to Buddhism
Within Buddhism there are various schools with specific approaches. However, all Buddhist schools are based on the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni who lived about 2500 years ago. A vast amount of the Buddha's teachings are still available today.
As a religion Buddhism has a doctrine with a large variety of liturgies, rituals, prayers, etc. Some people feel attracted to this and focus on practicing Buddhism as a religion.
Another aspect of Buddhism is more scientific and philosophical. From this angle Buddhism is a science or philosophy of mind; it examines and analyses what exists and how things exist. With 'things' we mean external things but also, and more importantly, our mind and the notion of "I".
Some people explore this aspect of Buddhism mainly through study, contemplation and analytical reasoning. Others take a more experiential approach to examining the mind and examine their own mind. Still others combine these methods.