Types of Meditation ?

Discussion in 'Comparative Studies' started by GlorytoGod, Mar 17, 2009.

  1. GlorytoGod

    GlorytoGod There is a River

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    What are the different types of meditation from different faiths ? and how do they differ ?

    For example how does Buddhist meditation differ from Yogic or from charismatic soaking ?

    what do you reckon.
     
  2. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    I can't speak to yogic or charismatic soaking...

    In our church we do mostly guided meditations, actually not my style, but piano playing, someone providing words to ponder while we sit quietly eyes closed and contemplate.

    For myself most of the time I just sit in silence (and find out how much noise is going on around me) and attempt to find the silence, the place where I no longer hear the noise or contemplate time, or the itch, or my knees...

    I've spent some time with some Buddhists with a walking meditation and a breathing meditation. In both cases it was important to stay in the world, eyes partially open, posture correct, be aware of the world, focus on breathing, or steps, when mind wanders return to focus on breathing or steps. The goal was to go from bell to bell without losing focus.

    I enjoy all that I've tried. I currently get the most out of the silence. I look forward to one day taking the time to first serve and then to 'sit' at a temple, a ten day Vipisaanna Meditation.
     
  3. GlorytoGod

    GlorytoGod There is a River

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    i learnt to meditate with gnostics where you focused on a candle and visualized in your heart, was good. I also dabbled in some budhist meditation but that was actually more contemplation IMO.

    These days I have just started again on a daily meditation and I tend to focus on the breath, or Jesus or the divine life within me.
     
  4. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Prayer is meditation in the Christian Tradition:

    Generally:
    Lectio
    Meditatio
    Oratio
    Contemplatio.

    Catholic:
    Vocal Prayer
    Discursive Meditation
    Affective Mental Prayer
    Acquired Recollection
    Infused Recollection
    Prayer of Quiet
    Prayer of Simple Union
    Prayer of Ecstatic Union
    Prayer of Transforming Union
    (from The Way of Perfection of St Teresa of Avila)

    Orthodox:
    Bodily Prayer
    Prayer with Attention
    Prayer of Feeling
    Prayer in the Spirit
    And beyond ...

    Thomas
     
  5. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Am I right in thinking you're not entirely unaware of zen practice? If so would you have any comments to make about comparing any or all of the above? :)

    s.
     
  6. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Meditation is often said to be fundamental to Buddhism, hardly surprising since it is a “factor” of the Noble Eightfold Path.

    There are many "types" of Buddhist meditation and they can of course be categorised in different ways (if one wishes to :D). Common divisions might be samatha and vipassana, another might be meditation with an object as compared to meditation that is objectless. No doubt any method of categorisation can be criticised.

    Further, the same “type” of meditation may have two different names just because they belong to different traditions. For example, just two names for objectless meditation are shikantaza or dzogchen, the former being from Zen Buddhism, the latter from Tibetan Buddhism.

    And then there’s auditory meditation (mantras) as practiced in Pure Land Buddhism and Nichiren Buddhism…Don’t know of any latter practitioners on this board and Tariki seems a very occasional visitor to elucidate / correct my reference to Pure Land. :(

    Some notions of Buddhist meditation seem to have been purloined by the secular world and / or New Age movement (or is that just window dressing I see) as a “vehicle” for mental health or “chilling out” whilst at a health spa. It may look like asset-stripping, given its “proven” ability under scientific examination, but that is not its function of course within Buddhism.

    Finally, on a general note I could recommend a book called The Experience of Meditation (ed. Jonathan Shear) which contains expert summaries of major traditions such as Zen, Sufism, Christianity and Yoga.

    s.
     
  7. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Well I've dabbled ...

    Ooh, good question. I agree with you, I wish we had Vajradhara or Tariki or someone around, as I can't speak for the Zen tradition ... can't really speak for the Christian one either, when it comes to prayer ... I'm not a prayer champion, like some I know.

    What I can say, I think, is fundamentally, Zen is 'self power' whilst Christianity is 'other power' — as much as people might bang on about 'the Christ within', Christ is not parcelled out in dribs and drabs, a bit in here and a bit there, and an overt personalist viewpoint merely renders Christ an abstract projection of the idealised self.

    Nor do we appropriate Christ to ourselves as some adjunct to our nature, as neoGnostics, pan(en)theists, theosophists, etc., are wont to do — as if He has no concrete self-being.

    "In him we live and move and have our being" means that He is the constant reference point of our being, the ontological source (Logos) of all created things (logoi) he is the ground of our being, and our being is grounded in Him, but He is still other than 'me', as it were — he and I are not synonymous. He is the star around which all turns, He is our spiritual Sun that governs all life.

    +++

    The linear process of Lectio Divina are:
    Read (of) ... Reflect (on) ... Respond (to) ... Rest (in) ... but it is important to remember that these four also happen simultaneously, in different degrees.

    For the Christian, this rest is not 'in' the self at all, but in the soul, which opens onto its own higher good, which is in God.

    Nor is it in 'nothing', the unknown, or the West's concept of 'the Void'. For all Eckhart's apparent Zen-ness, and his possible-pantheist interpretation (but then he was talking to Dominican monks, not the public, so assumed something of his audience) ... to think that Eckhart was not orthodox, or not a churchman, that as a mystic (and we have no evidence whatsoever that he ever actually had a mystical experience — his mysticism is speculative, not experiential) he was not bound by the rule of faith ... is nonsense, and Eckhart himself would be the first to carpet anyone suggesting any such thing — a large part of his ministry was 'reforming' German monasteries and convents of a certain neo-pantheism and quietism ...

    No, what the Christian experiences in deep prayer is 'home', of being 'right where I should be' ... if that's being in the 'moment', then OK, but in my experience, time is not a factor ...

    (At this point I must declare a certain reservation towards the World Council for Christian Meditation — I find their teaching somewhat 'wooly' to piggy-back on the popularity of Buddhism — 'centering prayer' that is not Trinocentric is not Christian, basically.)

    Having said all that ... I think the 'rest' in Lectio is the 'stillness' or 'quiet' of a realised Zen sesshin ... ? Breakthrough in Zen is not 'oh, I don't exist!', what's that old joke about the neophyte sitting in zazen who blurts out with delight, 'Look! I'm not thinking!' ...

    ... resting in the real ... that's what we're all aiming for ... 'going with the flow' can imply just being swept along, aimless, mindless, pointless ... lost ... but resting in the real, that's something else:

    I've noticed when driving or riding my bike that sometimes 50mph can seem really fast, I've really got to concentrate on what I'm doing, and can just about keep up ... other times I can do twice that and everything's slow and easy ... I think prayer is often like that ... sometimes just getting through the prayers (I have a regime I follow) takes effort ... sometimes one can just finish, sit back, and let go ...

    In my martial arts days, I remember being in a pub, talking to some people at a table, when I reached out for something and accidently knocked a bottle off the table's edge. without any sign on my part, my reaching turned seamlessly into a sort of aerobatic half barrel-roll and the falling bottle landed in the palm of my hand, I put it back on the table and carried on talking without dropping a syllable.

    It wasn't showing off, it was just ... being in time with things ... the whole point of MA, indeed any sport, training ... I was aware of it, and quietly thought to myself 'hey, that's impressive' ... so thought also, it transpired, at least two female witnesses, who like the bottle, I was told, were at that moment in the palm of my hand.

    Tragically, I was told that three days later ... not 'in time' at all!

    +++

    What we must never do, in any tradition, is expect a result.

    Christ demands everything ... and what does He give us in return?

    Us. We get us back, not the we that we think we are, but the original we that rests, like the blueprint of us, in Him.

    (Any old hot rodders here — what's the process when you get an auto engine and rebuild it to the maker's ideal spec, blueprinting? — ah! In computer-speak it's optimising!)

    So we get optimised by Him, conformed to the original and immaculate image of ourselves ... conformed to the reality of ourselves ...

    Here I think is the area of fruitful dialogue ... through the process we shed off the relative, contingent and ephemeral, and settle in the real...

    +++

    Prayer is, after all, what we're made for. It's man's highest endeavour ... after that, everything else is just cosmetic.

    Thomas
     
  8. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    All I can say is that I was unknowingly trained in Zen practice by my sen sei, but didn't receive any special training in any of the Christian practices when I became a Christian. I hope the two are compatible.
     
  9. Paladin

    Paladin Purchased Bewilderment

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    Beautifully written Thomas. You know even when I fundamentally disagree with you, I still stand in awe of what you write. :)

    Absolutely, the older I get ( and that seems to be happening at an exponential rate) the less I want to quibble over difference in views, here you have written something that I can agree with down to the core.

    About Zen and "Self-power" and Christianity using "Other-power" I'm not sure what to think as I have never considered this in that context. Sure, I have explored God as self and God as other but all I am left with after a year of contemplation is that it is both and neither. Not trying to be cute here, this is all that is left in my head. :)
     
  10. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    Pleasant surprise or grace? :)
     
  11. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Sorry SG — I forgot you when I was thinking of other voices ...

    ... there's something of the Holy Spirit about the way you operate. I should pay more attention.

    Thomas
     
  12. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    That's language for ya!

    I'm not sure about the East, perhaps SG can shed some light, but in the West, God spoke before he did anything else ... then there's Aum ... so we all set up logic structures, and they're tied to language structures ... but although the Cosmos speaks to us all, its not in the kind of language we're used to (still musing here) ...

    Is meditation a 'right-brain' thing? Just let the old logical left have a rest?

    I heard a brain-man say that when you see someone at the Mall or in a station that you were at school with 30 years ago, you recognise them ... that's not a left brain thing, it's a clear example of right-brain activity, it doesn't analyse or compare, it takes the whole scene in one bite, it doesn't say, 'what would X look like older, greyer, a bit ...' it just says, 'there's X'.

    +++

    I was looking up why we don't see stars on pictures of the moon, or the space shuttle, and read that astronomers pointed their instruments at the 'dark' spots of space, not the 'dark matter' bits, but the empty bits ... and found little glimmers of 'light' on the plates (go with it, the tech. details passed me by) ... and worked out that each little glimmer was something way out beyond the distant reaches of space ... and that each little something was a galaxy of possibly a couple of million stars, or a couple of hundred million stars ...

    ... way out there ... and if you were there still looking in the same direction, at another dark patch, there's be another glimmer of light ...

    ... I mean surely, isn't there some point when you've just got to sit back and think, "this is ridiculous!" ... aren't there times when all you can do is ... laugh?

    Thomas
     
  13. Nick_A

    Nick_A Interfaith Forums

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    Meditations differ within traditions as well. This is why we have to consider the purpose of meditation. For some it is to quiet the mind and lessen bodily tensions bringing about a heathier state of relxation.

    Others use it as a form of self hypnosis or avenues of escapism common in guided meditations.

    Others meditate for the purpose of creating a void. This requires conscious attention rather than going with the flow. This void allows for a connection with something greater than ourselves that is a help for making "presence" possible in everyday life.

    The Purpose of Meditation


    Quote:
    Buddhist monk, scholar, and author Thich Nhat Hanh puts it similarly in his inspiring book, Being Peace:

    Meditation is not to get out of society, to escape from society, but to prepare for a re-entry into society. We call this “engaged Buddhism.” When we go to a meditation center, we may have the impression that we leave everything behind–family, society, and all the complications involved in them–and come as an individual in order to practice and search for peace. This is already an illusion, because in Buddhism, there is no such thing as an individual

    So the bottom line is first to define your goal. Then find the quality of meditation that furthers it
     
  14. Paladin

    Paladin Purchased Bewilderment

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    Yes, laughing, that's it more than anything else. It was while contemplating these things you bring up that I finally thought " all this argument, all this contrived, complex structure, and all the time everything just is"
    Maybe that is all meditation can do, is pare down everything to just that one thing, and so by paying attention to just this, the forms, the language, the vehicle that brought us to where we are doesn't matter.
    What matters is "this"

    The language makes it hard to communicate this though, I seem to remember a story called "Flatland" written about one hundred years ago. In the story a two dimensional creature is visited by a being from the third dimension, the poor little fellow was amazed but found he couldn't quite articulate what "above" and "below" meant to fellow beings that only knew forward backward and side to side. What heresy he must have been accused of!
     
  15. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    ah...aum...the eastern I am...

    So now that is a meditation or contemplation for ya...

    Now if you buy the above...God spoke before he did anything else... do ya really buy it. Existed forever no beginning no end, and didn't do anything until he spoke in the metaphor?

    So medidtate on that.

    What was G!d doing just before he spoke?

    and the millenia before that?

    we humans being a blip in the time of the earth...ie if 'since he spoke was a day we came into existence what...30 seconds ago?

    but in G!ds eternal existence the time since creation is a blip...

    so what was the all encompassing nonanthropomorphic being doing/thinking/contemplating/meditatinig before he spoke??

    meditate on that....
     
  16. Nick_A

    Nick_A Interfaith Forums

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    Heresy? he's lucky he wasn't killed. Socrates admits the posibility in the cave analogy:

    That is why Christianity must be hated by the "World."
     
  17. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Thank you for this most effusive stream, Thomas! I shall read it some more.


    In the meantime...


    Yes, it is common in Buddhism to classify Zen as one of the sects or schools that see salvation as through “one’s own endeavour” (jiriki in Japanese) whilst schools such as the Amidists (Pure Land / Realm) see salvation as relying on “another’s strength” (tariki in Japanese).

    I’m sure this self-power / other-power dichotomy is as useful as misleading though. For example, Pure Realm may be considered to be essentially faith-based but for Eihei Dogen (the reforming founder of Soto Zen), Zen Buddhism was a religion (requiring faith) as well as being a philosophy.

    This also reminds me of PoO’s comment on the Smorgasboard thread:

    "I think partially what is curious to me is the difference between religions which seem to emphasize individual transcendence, with the support of community, versus group transcendence. For example, the notion in Christianity of the members being part of the Body of Christ- that the group transcends together- rather than the church being the support for the individual (though for many, it is)."

    http://www.interfaith.org/forum/smorgasbord-religion-being-of-a-11104-2.html

    s.
     
  18. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    And yes, to echo yourself and Thomas:

    “You must purify, cure, grind down, or brush away all the tendencies you have fabricated into apparent habits. Then you can reside in the clear circle of brightness.

    This awakening, or buddhahood, is not something created or achieved, neither nonexistent nor existent. The essential practice, as understood in the Zen tradition, is simply to wake up to this, what Honghzi calls the empty field.”

    -Cultivating the Empty Field – The Silent Meditation of Zen Master Honghzi.
    s.
     
  19. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Wil —

    You get into metaphysics now ... God doesn't do, God is. Both Hebrew and Hellenic metaphysics would argue that.

    There was no 'before', as time is a constituent of the created and finite universe, it is not a constituent of God. God is outside temporal and spatial determination.

    Thomas
     
  20. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    too funny...I agree, you are the one the mentioned doing, and time (spoke. before, did), not I, so why did you say....

    to which I replied "If you buy that...what did he do before" So my question was if you believe he did this first...what did he do before...to which you answered...he doesn't do...I's confused

    I don't buy that G!d spoke, or the he or that he does....ie G1d does for us what G!d does thru us...
     

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