Posted in meditation

Development and Acceptance

It’s a really good feeling sometimes when we think our meditation is working. If we’ve been struggling for a while and then we are suddenly able to stay with the breath or stay with our experience for several minutes, that can be a satisfying experience.

We spend so much time in the daydream, not being fully present that when we step into this moment it can be a shock to our system sometimes. And that can create it’s own problems. Once we have a moment of clarity, we might tend to cling to it. It can be very discouraging when some of our meditation sessions feel successful and others do not. It’s so hard to maintain a passive attitude sometimes.

What I want to encourage you to do is accept whatever your experience is in your meditation practice. This can be very challenging. We want to have feelings of satisfaction or frustration and just notice them, just be aware of them and be with them. If we attach a lot of significance to either experience, then our practice could suffer. We want to be with these feelings and not cling to the satisfaction but also not push away the frustration. The fact is that sometimes our sit will feel really successful and other times it will feel like a failure.

Your attention will improve over time. This is about training the mind. No one expects you to be great at this right away. No one is great at this right away. Our minds naturally wander and get lost. What we want to try to do is have a passive attitude so we aren’t really hard on ourselves when we get off track. We want to try to learn how to gently bring the mind back.

New meditators sometimes feel like their minds are just too crazy to meditate and that sort of misses the point. We’re not meditating because it’s easy to still the mind and be present. We’re meditating because it’s hard.

Hopefully with practice it gets a little easier to simply notice when our minds are wandering and to just bring them back to the present moment without getting caught up in it.

 

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Posted in buddhism, way of the bodhisattva

Shantideva on the first 5 Perfections

In “Way of the Bodhisattva” Shantideva starts going through the six perfections, our method for practicing the bodhisattva path. This section is only going to be about the first five. The sixth perfection, the Perfection of Wisdom, is something we will be saving for later.

The teaching of the Six Paramitas was created early in the history of Mahayana Buddhism.

Paramita is usually translated as “perfection” and that’s how I’m going to translate it. It doesn’t mean we do any of this perfectly (obviously) it just means that cultivating these virtues is very important.

5.9

If transcendent giving is

To dissipate the poverty of beings,

In what way, since the poor are always with us,

Have former buddhas practiced perfect generosity?

5.10

The true intention to bestow on every being

All possessions–and the fruits of such a gift:

By such, the teachings say, is generosity perfected.

And this, as we may seem, is but the mind itself.

This is about the perfection of generosity. The Perfection of Generosity is about more than simply giving things. It’s an expression of non-attachment to possessions, but it also represents other forms of giving, such as giving our time to others, helping them with difficult tasks, or just listening when someone needs to be heard.

5.11

Where could beings

Be placed to shield them from suffering?

Deciding to refrain from harming them

Is the perfection of virtue.

The Perfection of Virtue is not necessarily about living according to rules. We have plenty of rules in Buddhism. Living by rules is important, but more important, in this context, is the idea of living in harmony with others. We should strive to bring harmony to all of our relationships, whether personal or professional. If we set an example of virtue we can make the world a better place.

5.12

The hostile multitudes are vast as space–

What chance is there that all should be subdued?

Let but this angry mind be overthrown

And every foe is then destroyed.

This refers to the tool we use against aggression, the perfection of patience.

The Perfection of Patience represents not only patience with ourselves and others, but also tolerance and endurance. It represents our ability to “weather the storm”, to bear hardship without letting it get us down and, especially, to avoid lashing out at others because of our personal difficulties.

5.13

To cover all the earth with sheets of hide–

Where could such amounts of skin be found?

But simply wrap leather around your feet,

And it’s as if the whole earth has been covered!

This is a famous verse, often quoted from the Way of the Bodhisattva. Our problems can’t be solved by making the world a perfect place. They can only be solved by working on ourselves and figuring out how we can better respond to the world around us.

5.14

Likewise, we can never take

And turn aside the outer course of things.

But only seize and discipline the mind itself,

And what is there remaining to be curbed.

Controlling our minds, controlling ourselves, is all we can really do. Shantideva implores us to discipline our minds.

5.15

A clear intent can fructify

And bring us  birth in a better realm.
The acts of body and of speech are less-

They do not generate a like result.

This is a little bit less clear, but the clear intent Shantideva refers to is the perfection of diligence.

The Perfection of Diligence is about tirelessly overcoming obstacles, walking the path even when it’s difficult and it would be simple to give up. Without diligence we might not have the determination necessary to continue to walk the path when things get difficult.

5.16

Recitations and austerities,

Though they may be long,

If practiced with distracted mind,

Are futile.

We can practice and practice, but we really need to be better at avoided distraction. The perfection of concentration is about taming our minds, so we can weather the storms of life with a clear and direct focus.

The Perfection of Concentration represents those practices that are dedicated to helping us improve our ability to focus and concentrate. These include several meditation and mindfulness practices. We are cultivating our mental stability and our ability to contemplate things clearly without getting held back by distractions or preconceptions. We are training our minds so we can have focus, composure, and tranquility.

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Posted in meditation

Dhyana: Mind Development

This is meditation, the cultivation of unified awareness focused on the present moment, the eternal now. In meditation there is no difference between the knower, the knowing, and the known. We are trying to cut through delusion. Our goal is full enlightenment, inner peace, and the dissolving of self-made barriers. Liberation from the self is what we aim at, transcending the illusion of separation. Delusion is in the mind, so the mind must be purified through training.

The process of mental cultivation is often expressed in two stages. The first is Concentration, where the mind is trained to see things clearly, without preconceptions, emotional baggage, or thoughts of the self. The second is where we transcend the limitations of our minds. Only through deep cultivation of a well developed mind can we come to a state of no-mind, which can also be called all-mind. In the course of the first stage advanced states of consciousness are reached and transcended. But it’s in the second stage that we really transform ourselves.

Concentration is the basic training of our minds. Contemplation transcends our minds. In the early stages these two things are sometimes practiced separately. Later they are merged as one.

Concentration starts with attention. It starting with a full and complete mindfulness of whatever is going on in the moment. We don’t think of the simple act of paying attention as “spiritual” but in a Buddhist context it is. It adds an additional level when we turn this concentration inward. This is contemplation, when we turn our attention inward, we can learn all sorts of things about ourselves and the world around us. Only when we have trained our minds to focus is meditation possible. On the Buddhist path our motivation must be transcending delusion, training our intuitive minds so that we can come to Enlightenment. In meditation there is a quieting of the mind that takes place. Our thoughts can be steadied and brought under our control.

We can come to a state in which there are thoughts without a thinker, where our every thought and perception isn’t automatically colored by our preconceived ideas and emotional baggage. Without constant reference to “I” we can come to a state of clear serenity. In this serene state compassion can become the center of our being.

Zen aims directly at sudden and direct Enlightenment. This comes first in flashes and later as a developed quality of the mind.

Posted in meditation, Uncategorized

Simplicity in Shamatha

Shamatha is a simple meditation style. The point is to free ourselves from delusion. We dwell in delusion all the time, but as long as we understand that and cultivate discipline, shamatha can help us transform ourselves. It’s about being here now. When we aren’t fully present we make all sorts of mistakes.

Shamatha is based on stabilizing our body, speech and mind. We want to have mindfulness of physical experience, mindfulness of emotions, and mindfulness of discursive thoughts.

To free ourselves from delusion we practice. We sit and meditate. Through meditation we develop a state of awareness, both when we’re meditating and off the cushion in daily life. In shamatha we let go. We pay attention to the things that arise and we simply let them go.

In shamatha we are just dwelling in mindfulness. We are engaging in one pointed awareness. Mindfulness manifests in us in a sense that we are actually present in what we’re doing. We train our minds to just pass through, instead of attaching to them.

Our development of awareness is based on our mindfulness practice. We strive to be present, just being, just here. Shamatha is the point at which we behave like a Buddha. It is simple and doable. Being here without preconceptions or discursive thoughts or daydreams is possible. Mindfulness isn’t really religious or even spiritual, it’s just being here. As you go it becomes more natural.

Meditation is about experiencing reality in being as real as possible in our own existence. We train our minds to experience reality directly. By practicing meditation we are following the Buddha’s example and going through what he went through. It’s important to remember that he was a regular person like us, not a god or a spirit.

SIMPLE SHAMATHA INSTRUCTIONS

Set a timer. You want to set a time for your sit, rather than just sit until you feel like getting up.

Sit and arrange yourself. Posture is important. Your head and shoulders need to be straight and uplifted. Keep your back straight and never slouch. When we slouch we start to lose our awareness. Upright sitting helps our back be free of strain and helps us avoid sleepiness. Sit with your legs either in the half lotus or just the cross-legged position. Relax your eyes. Don’t focus on anything.

Put your hands in either the cosmic mudra or the relaxing mind mudra. The cosmic mudra consists of placing on hand on top of the other, face up. Gently touch your thumbs together, making a circle. The relaxing mind mudra consists of simply resting your hands on your knees.

Feel the cushion beneath you and make yourself as comfortable as possible.  Feel yourself breathing. Keep your mouth slightly open, so you’re breathing through both your nose and your mouth.

Feel the breath coming into and going out of your body. As we pay attention to the in breath and the out breath, we can feel our awareness expand. Every time a stray thought or distraction comes into your mind, bring your attention back to your breathing. Simply bring your attention back to your sensation of breathing every time a thought comes into your mind.

Just be here.


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Posted in Mahayana, Uncategorized

The Six Perfections

The six perfections are: generosity, virtue, patience, diligence, concentration, and wisdom.

 

The Perfection of Generosity

The perfection of generosity represents more than just giving material things. Obviously, it does represent giving money or items to the needy. It also represents giving your time, things like helping a friend move or spending time comforting someone who is suffering from a loss.

We can also give someone less tangible things, like our love, respect, or patience. We can offer stability, being reliable. If we make plans with someone and keep those plans, we are giving them stability. We can give someone space when they want to be alone, or quiet when they are being bothered by too much noise.

The practice of generosity is beneficial to us. It increases our confidence and self-esteem. It also helps lessen our attachments. If we give material things, it helps us lessen our attachment to material things. Cultivating generosity is helpful in developing love, joy, and compassion.

 

The Perfection of Virtue

This perfection represents ethical behavior, morality, self-discipline, integrity, and nonviolence. The essence of this perfection is that through our love and compassion we do not harm others. We are devoted to being virtuous in our thoughts, speech, and actions. This practice of ethical conduct is an important aspect of our path.

We abstain from killing, stealing, lying, divisive speech, harsh speech, gossip, and greed. We follow this path so that we can enjoy greater freedom, happiness, and security in our lives, because through our virtuous behavior we are no longer creating suffering for ourselves and others. We must realize that unethical behavior is always the cause of suffering and unhappiness. Practicing the perfection of virtue, we are free of negativity, we cause no harm to others by our actions, our speech is kind and compassionate, and our thoughts are free of anger.

When our commitment is strong in the perfection of virtue we naturally become more positive.

 

The Perfection of Patience

This perfection is the enlightened quality of patience, tolerance, forbearance, and acceptance. The essence of this perfection of patience is the strength of mind and heart that enables us to face the challenges and difficulties of life without losing our composure and inner tranquility. We embrace and forbear adversity, insult, distress, and the wrongs of others with patience and tolerance, free of resentment, irritation, emotional reactivity, or retaliation.

We cultivate the ability to be loving and compassionate in the face of criticism, misunderstanding, or aggression.

The ability to endure, to have forbearance, is an important part of the path. In practicing this perfection of patience and forbearance, we never give up on or abandon others—we help them cross over the sea of suffering. We maintain our inner peace, calmness, and equanimity under all circumstances, having enduring patience and tolerance for ourselves and others.

With the strength of patience, we maintain our effort and enthusiasm in our Dharma practice.

 

The Perfection of Diligence

The fourth perfection is diligence. It involves continuing to persevere when the path is difficult. It includes right effort, enthusiasm, and the energy needed to overcome unwholesome thoughts and attitudes as well as the cultivation of positive virtues, study of Dharma and the choice of right actions.

Diligence requires eagerness and sharp interest in the path. It requires active bodily or mental strength to improve our personality for individual enlightenment and supreme Buddhahood for the sake of all sentient beings. We need the energy of diligence to stay on the path.

When we are on the right path, we will be diligent in studying ourselves, in seeing the true reality, and in having the sustained energy needed to attain Buddhahood. Through diligence we can generate great compassion to help others and ourselves.

 

The Perfection of Concentration

This perfection represents concentration, meditation, contemplation, and mental stability. Our minds have the tendency to be very distracted and restless, always moving from one thought or feeling to another. This can cause us to be heavily attached to our thoughts and emotions. The perfection of concentration means training our mind so that it does what we want it to. We stabilize our mind and emotions by striving to be mindful and aware in everything we do. When we train our minds in this way we achieve focus, composure, and tranquility.

Concentration allows the deep insight needed to challenge our delusions and attachments that cause confusion and suffering. This development of concentration requires diligence. In addition, when there is no practice of meditation and concentration, we cannot achieve the other perfections, because their essence, which is the inner awareness that comes from meditation, is lacking.

To attain wisdom, compassion, and enlightenment, it is essential that we develop the mind through concentration, meditation, and mindfulness.

 

The Perfection of Wisdom

This perfection is the enlightened quality of transcendental wisdom, insight, and the perfection of understanding. The essence of this perfection is the supreme wisdom, the highest understanding that living beings can attain, beyond words and completely free from the limitation of mere ideas, concepts, or intellectual knowledge.

The Perfection of Wisdom is the supreme wisdom that knows emptiness and the interconnectedness of all things.

The Perfection of Wisdom is a result of contemplation, meditation, and rightly understanding the nature of reality. The sixth paramita is what truly ties the other five together and is often considered the most important.

In a way, the Perfection of Wisdom is the sum of the other five perfections. If one is able cultivate generosity, patience, virtue, diligence, and concentration, this will naturally lead to the cultivation of wisdom. Wisdom represents an awareness of the truth of our nature. It is our intuition, our innate understanding that everything is interconnected, that we are one with everything. Just as a wave in the ocean is never really separate from the water although for a time it appears to be, so are we.

We are all waves and the universe is our ocean. When we act in accordance with this fact, then we are dwelling in nirvana. Recognizing our interconnectedness is unleashing our Buddha Nature. We have this wisdom already, we just have to clear away the delusion and unleash it.

 

 

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Posted in Uncategorized

The Seven Factors Of Enlightenment

This is one of the oldest Buddhist teachings.

These are the seven things considered most important qualities in helping us on the path.

Buddhism is full of lists because lists are easy to remember. This is one of the most important lists and it’s emphasized in just about every Buddhist tradition. You’ll notice that some of these are related to one another, and that’s okay.

Mindfulness is an awareness to the reality of things. It is considered an antidote to delusion. It’s a clear and relaxed awareness of what’s going on around us. It involves being in the present moment instead of distracted remembering the past or thinking about the future.

Investigation involves investigating the Dharma for ourselves. The Buddha said, “Believe nothing no matter where you read it or who said it unless it agrees with your common sense and observation.” He was suggesting that we aren’t practicing the Dharma because he said so, but to see if it works for ourselves. The Buddha really wanted us to think.

Diligence represents not giving up. I tell people that the easiest thing in the world is not meditating. I’m at home early in the morning and no one is around and I have to make the choice to meditate. I could easily not do it and watch Netflix. In the modern world, we have millions of ways to distract and entertain ourselves. But I cultivate the quality of diligence. It means not giving up, pursuing the path with determination. When I was a kid I remember teachers talking about a quality called stick-to-it-iveness. I didn’t believe that was a word and I still don’t. But, that is the same thing as diligence.

Joy represents positive thinking. If you are excited about chanting a mantra or meditating, you are using the factor of joy. We aren’t practicing Buddhism because we think we are supposed to. We are practicing to transform ourselves, to transform our suffering and to bring some contentment to our lives. That is something to get excited about.

Tranquility refers to our ability to relax. This is important on the Buddhist path because if we have a lot of anxiety about the path, that can cause problems too. So, the cultivation of Tranquility represents our ability to manage our stress and anxiety. When we take a deep breath when we are upset or angry or nervous, we are engaging Tranquility.

Concentration is our ability to focus. When we count our breaths during meditation, that is Concentration. We are trying to keep our minds on our breathing. When we really strengthen our ability to concentrate, it gives us real insights into our lives. But, it is something we have to strengthen over time. Improving our concentration obviously helps us in a lot of other ways such as focusing on something we have to study for school or some new project at work.

Equanimity is probably the deepest one of the seven factors. It represents facing the difficulties of life without getting needlessly attached to them. When something bad happens and I get stressed out or angry about it, I am often making the situation a lot worse. If I face a problem with Equanimity, then I am not letting the problem be bigger than it is. We have a tendency in our lives to make things bigger than they are. Equanimity is our ability to resist that.

So, these are the Seven Factors of Awakening. My favorite is diligence. What’s yours?

Posted in zen

The Zen Method of Awakening

All things are connected and impermanent.

The world is a reflection of the mind and the Zen method is nothing other than an effort at an intuitive understanding of these facts. There is nothing else to it.

The mind realizes its own essence and in this way no longer perceives itself and the outer world as two separate and unconnected realities.

Zen masters of ancient times told their students to “lay it all down” and “have no concern for the world.” There are many stories of people becoming enlightened only from hearing a word or seeing an action at an appropriate moment, usually delivered by a master. But much of this activity is the result of a long-term meditation practice in which the practitioner has spent time building up their inner potential.

Experiences of awakening, the dropping away of body and mind, can occur during meditation, but it can also occur during ordinary life. In any case, this cannot happen without some cultivation of the ordinary mind.

The Zen method of awakening doesn’t engage the ordinary, intellectual, conscious flow of our minds. As our minds are deluded, delusions would get in the way. Instead, the Zen method seeks to engage the empty “mind ground” directly. All of our perceptions and thought patterns are products of the ordinary state of mind and we are seeking to disengage from them.

We are, instead, turning our gaze firmly within, away from externals, so that the essence of our true nature can be realized and integrated with, challenging our perception of duality and attaining realization that all things exist in a deep emptiness.

A Zen practitioner is considered a spiritual warrior who declares a firm intention to transcend our deluded nature now.

Seated meditation is an important practice that can be done anywhere.

A seated physical posture must be chosen that can be held for around 25 minutes. We must declare our dedicated intention to transcend both time and space. The illusion of time and space manifests in our minds as boredom and agitation. We must overcome these.

The practitioner must set the mind upon its true nature and not get distracted by anything while in the act of meditation. Over time, the spiritual sense of detachment spreads from existing during meditation to existing more and more often.

The body must sit on the floor in a way that is straight and upright. The legs should be arranged in a folded manner. The spine should be straight and the shoulders should not slump. The face should be relaxed and the eyes should be gently closed. The left hand should lie on top of the right hand in the lap, with the tips of each thumb touching. This posture is said to allow energy to flow without being hindered.

Breathing should be deep, with each breath entering and leaving through the nose.

Posture and position are used to guide us through the gate on our spiritual journey. Once the gate is entered, the meditation method is used to deliver us to our true nature.

At the beginning concentration is probably weak, but practice will strengthen it. The mind must be taught how to focus on a single point. This point, when turned inward, digs through our delusion. The simplest way this can be developed is by the practice of following the breath.

Inward and outward breathing must be followed in every moment and an awareness develops. The breath itself emerges and disappears but with practice we develop a perception of the spaces in between. Concentrating the mind on the breath focuses it inward, toward its own true nature.

The truth is our true nature is always present, but we can’t see it. So, this method removes the false barrier created by our delusion so that the emptiness that contains all things can be glimpsed.

Sometimes reliance on the breath is not always powerful enough. In ancient times, meditators would practice for a long time, but only meeting an enlightened master who could give some kind of demonstration or teaching could enlighten them. That said, the student must always have the potential built up. The teacher is only pointing at what is already there. Preparatory meditation was always essential to working with a teacher.

Zen practitioners can use many different meditation methods. Master Hsu Yun used the hua tou method, which is asking yourself over and over, “who am I?”

Some people like to meditate staring at a complicated mandala. And some like to chant, either vocally or in their minds. The outward form isn’t that important, although I have found following the breath to be the most effective method for me.

What’s important is that we should be disciplined and gather the mind to a focus so that effort can be applied with unceasing determination.

Posted in tattooed buddha

Perform Only Virtuous Actions

 

“Do not commit any non-virtuous actions.

Perform only virtuous actions.

Subdue the mind thoroughly.”

-The Buddha

 

This is chanted in a lot of Buddhist temples.

To me it’s the shortest possible explanation of Buddhism.

People sometimes ask me about Buddhism, mainly because I write about Buddhism on the internet and I have cool Buddhist tattoos (I think). When they do, I like to start by talking about that quote. Some people would start by talking about The Four Noble Truths or the Eightfold Path, or even the story of the Buddha’s life.

That quote written above, is direct and to the point.

The first two are pretty simple, in fact. Well, they sound simple. That last one sounds a little bit harder, which it is.

Do not commit any non-virtuous actions.

I’d like to explain this in terms of Sila, morality. In Buddhism we often talk about morality in terms of the Five Precepts (there are lots of lists in Buddhism. Get used to it).

The Five Precepts are:

1.  Abstain from killing any living beings.

2.  Abstain from taking what is not given.

3.  Abstain from sexual misconduct.

4.  Abstain from lying and false speech.

5.  Abstain from the abusive consumption of intoxicants and drugs.

These Precepts are not commandments. They’re rules that we observe only because we realize that such actions cause harm to others and to ourselves.

We can think of them in a positive way instead of a negative one:

1.  The practice of Harmlessness and Compassion.

2.  The practice of Kindness and Generosity.

3.  The practice of Faithfulness and Responsibility.

4.  The practice of Truthfulness and Pleasant Speech.

5.  The practice of Self-control and Mindfulness.

Perform only virtuous actions.

I’d like to explain this in terms of Dana, generosity. This means giving or helping others. This can be done in many ways. We can give kind and encouraging words, we can give someone our time and we can listen to someone who needs it.

Of course we can also volunteer our work to good causes and give material charity as well. There are so many ways we can help others.

Subdue the mind thoroughly.

I’d like to explain this in terms of Bhavana, mind cultivation/meditation. Meditation is said to purify the mind and make it easier to develop generosity, compassion and wisdom. Through deep meditation we can come to fully know ourselves. Through it we are able to really see things as they truly are.

Meditation is the form of spiritual practice that led the Buddha to Enlightenment. Even a short meditation, 20 minutes per day, can change your life.

All of Buddhist teachings can be summed up, I think, in these three things. Sometimes they’re written even more succinctly:

“To avoid all evil. To do good. To purify one’s mind.”

~ the Buddha.

This is it—the cultivation of morality, wisdom, and concentration.

It seems simple, but of course we can spend all of our lives cultivating these things. This is the simplest and most direct way to explain what Buddhism is all about.

 

 

 

 

Posted in tattooed buddha

How to Follow the Breath

meditate

 

This is probably the most common form of meditation practice.

First, establish the time of the meditation. Set a timer for an amount of time that you think you can do. A lot of people like to start with just 5 or 10 minutes and try to do more after they have an established meditation practice.

Find a comfortable place to sit. Adjust your posture so that your spine is erect without being stiff. Allow the rest of your body to relax. Rest your hands in your lap or on your legs. Allow your eyes to gently close. Bring your full attention to the feeling of sitting still. Allow your breathing to be natural. Bringing attention to your head, release any tension that you feel in your face.

Scanning the body slowly downward, relax your neck and shoulders.

Feel the rising and falling of your chest with each breath. Bring your attention all the way down your body to the places of contact with the floor (or chair if you’re sitting in one). Feel the pressure and density of your relaxed upright body.

Bringing your full attention to the present moment, acknowledge everything you’re experiencing. Thoughts are happening, hearing is happening, and there are probably mental and emotional sensations. Allow these experiences to be as they are, but bring your attention to the sensation of breathing. Bring your awareness of your breath to the foreground in your mind. Take a few moments and investigate where you can feel the air entering and leaving your body.

Breathing in, know that you are breathing in.

Breathing out, know that you are breathing out.

We can focus on this by counting one with each inhalation and two with each exhalation. Every time a thought or feeling arises to distract us, we can notice it and bring our attention back to one on the next inhalation.

It sounds very simple and it is. One of the most important things is to have a passive attitude, to not be upset with ourselves and starting thinking we can’t do it when things get difficult.

If you can do this simple practice for 10 minutes, every day for a week, your life will change.

 

http://thetattooedbuddha.com/meditation-instructions-how-to-follow-the-breath/

Posted in tattooed buddha

Meditation Primer: Tranquility and Insight

Meditation is a general term that’s used for several different spiritual practices.

The goal of these practices is to bring the meditator to a state of heightened awareness and/or to bring a state of awakening or enlightenment.

If we practice with determination we can come to non-dualistic states of mind. This can lead to enlightenment.

Most types of meditation that are taught in Buddhism fall into one of two categories. They are Concentration and Insight.

Concentration

This is sometimes called calm abiding or tranquility. This type of meditation can be done in several different ways. One is a mindless repetition of a word or phrase (such as OM or RAM), another is by staring at an object like a mandala or a flame (like you do around a campfire).

But there is one way that is simpler than all the others. This is the practice of following the breath. In this practice we just follow the pattern of our breathing and any time our thoughts distract us, we pull our attention back to our breathing. Often counting breaths is recommended as a point of focus, but that isn’t necessarily important. If we spend a lot of time engaged in this practice we will have better focus and we will be able to enter a deeper state of calm.

Insight

This type of meditation can also be done in several different ways. It is normally done in addition to concentration practices. In this type of meditation we are trying to deeply analyze something—often ourselves. If we were using this in breathing meditation we would minutely examine the breath that’s coming into and exiting our bodies, rather than simply following it. Another version of this is the hua tou.

In hua tou practice, we are constantly asking ourselves a question (usually a difficult to answer one like ‘who am I’ or ‘what is this’). These seem like easy questions, but it quickly becomes clear that they are not when we sit and analyze them.

Another example is the zen koan, in which a teacher asks a student to answer a seemingly nonsensical riddle, like “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” The purpose of these practices is to challenge our delusions and force our minds to think in a nondualistic way.

With these two practices our consciousness can awaken to it’s true nature, which is luminous and free.

 

http://thetattooedbuddha.com/a-meditation-primer-tranquility-and-insight/