Meditation practices

Discussion in 'Eastern Religions and Philosophies' started by iBrian, Nov 2, 2003.

  1. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    I realise that meditation is now essentially widespread as a tool and practice - but as I lean towards believing it began and developed in the East as a direct companion to the study and practices of Eastern philosophies, then I'll pose my question here. :)

    Firstly, how does a person actually meditate?

    Secondly, how many different types of meditation are there, that have very real traditional roots?

    Thirdly, how would a person find a technique that best suits them?
     
  2. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

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    Catholic meditation

    I studied in Catholic schools from tender childhood up to college levels, and lost my faith or rather became a postgraduate Catholic.

    For college I lived in a campus where there is a community of priests of the most learned kind who practice meditation daily.

    I was so good with my studies and good also with my personal life that the priests running the school expected me to join them; I was encouraged to take more theology courses than the minimum needed. And I used to join them in their devotions, also and specially in their meditation sessions, individual and common.

    So, I should know about Catholic meditation. I used to read also treatises of asceticism and mysticism, the masters of the Catholic Church on contemplation, and all that.

    Looking back: it was just thinking with imagination and excitation of your emotions: sorrow, joy, admiration, etc., keeping God's presence or Jesus' or Mary's in your consciousness. Sometimes I would doze on and off, and imagine myself to be in some kind of ecstatic state.

    As I said, looking back, it was just thinking. I developed the habit of thinking; so that even today when I am in bed I would think and think and think about many things and everything. One of my continuous thinking is what religion is essentially all about.

    About Buddhistic meditation, I really don’t know Adam and Eve from it. Once some Hindu missionaries dropped by my place to talk to me about meditation, and I politely told them that I had been that route already, in the Catholic system; and I didn’t think there’s anything basically different from what they would teach me. Besides, I told them that a very good course in logic and critical thinking can be good for getting enlightened in one’s mind.

    What I like to find out now is exactly what Buddhists are meditating on or about. With Catholics meditation is centered on God, the saints, the spiritual life, the how of virtues and the bane of sins. On a very high level, one imagines the kind of existence that is entirely devoid of all sense impressions. That’s the kind that gets me dozed off.

    No wonder I decided I was not destined for the Catholic priesthood, notwithstanding all the cajolings of the campus fathers. In addition, for all their learning and sharp mind they appeared to me to have put themselves into a dungeon of their own making in regard to knowledge and life, with their vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, including intellectual obedience.

    Susma Rio Sep
     
  3. emong

    emong New Member

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    Buddhist Meditation centers on nothingness to gain knowledge of the interconnectedness of all things. Since Buddhism is not a religion, there are no mandates for reflecting on anything. You missed out greatly when you assumed it paralleled Catholic meditation and turned down the instruction.
     
  4. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Brian,

    thanks for the post.

    there are several different ways in which a person can meditate and as such, i shall have to be brief and rather general with my replies.

    meditation is, primarily, a means of monitoring the interior self... a method to see where thoughts arise from and go to, a means to exploring who we are, why we are that way and what we can do to change that should we choose to.

    in any event... the most typical type of meditation that one sees is called "sitting meditation" (Zazen in Zen). This type of meditation is engaged in either by oneself (in retreat or at home) or in a group (sangha) or other setting. one picks a quiet place that they can be uninterrputed for at least 20 mins.

    in the west, the most common image is that of a person sitting in the so-called Full Lotus posture, with right ankle on left thigh and left ankle on right thigh. this can be a difficult posture, however, it is the one that is held up in the classics as the best posture to use. this gets into some highly specialized areas that i think we should leave alone for now... it should be kept in mind that one can engage in this type of meditation or others, such as walking meditation.

    also, though the Full Lotus posture is recommended, you can also use the Half Lotus or Lotus posture. one can also sit in a chair without crossed legs or sit cross-legged. the important aspect of the posture is that it should be one that you can maintain easily enough for about 1 hour and that it's condusive to staying awake. discipline is important in the practice and some of these "rules" are reflections of that.

    once you've found a posture, the most widely used method is called "breathing meditation". in essence, you focus your attention on the lower diaphram and breath in and out with a smooth, easy rythym to a count of 4... in, 2, 3, 4... out, 2, 3, 4.

    the eyes, when beginning, can be closed. however, after some practice you should open your eyes for meditation, keeping them lightly lidded and slightly downward gazing. your hands can be in the traditional mudra of meditation (left hand in lap, right laying on top with thumbs lightly touching, or the Indian style where the hands rest on the thighs and the forefinger and thumb touch.

    as for a technique to employ... usually, that is best left to an individual teacher and student to determine. however... i shall present a very powerful method that is completely endorsed by the Three Schools.

    during your meditation, do the counted breath for awhile... usually it takes 20 mins or so for the mind to calm down. you don't have to do anything really to make this happen other than focusing your attention on your breathing. when a thought arises, observe it as if you were on a stream bank and the thought was a piece of flotsam on the stream floating by. no attachment to it.

    after about 20 mins or so, your mind will be calm (though it may not appear like it very much at the beginning :0) enough to engage in the technique. using your minds eye... look into the source of your thoughts.. from where do they arise? where do they go? who is thinking these thoughts? keeping thinking backwards like this and eventually you will have attainment.
     
  5. Chronicles

    Chronicles New Member

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    Thanks for that - those words in particular make great sense to me. At the moment I have a number of stresses that are really building up. I need to be able to find a way to relax myself internally.

    The quote above makes most sense - I leerned long ago how to "fall within" and "tune in" (for lack of a better phraseology) - - - but seldom now remember to do so.

    I'm going to see if I can set some time aside and do something - tune in, do beathing exercises, and generally try to focus on internal calming.

    Many thanks for the comments - I'll tune in now, and see how things go. :)
     
  6. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste brian,

    i wish you success in your endeavor :)
     
  7. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

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    mechanics of meditation

    Can we really come to the interconnectedness of all things with meditating on nothing?

    On the level of physics and chemistry, aren't all things interconnected? And when you consider that every action of man impacts on every other action of every other man actually existing or still to appear; there is certainly the interconnectedness of all things.

    That all things are interconnected is a fact, whether you meditate or not on it, it is still so. That you meditate on nothingness and arrive at the knowledge of this fact, I believe the semantics here has to be further worked out.

    In the preceding posts Vaj has given us some very instructive steps for Buddhistic meditation, dwelling on the posture and the breathing aspects.

    Let me see now, we have in our mind the following faculties: memory, imagination, various ways of thinking: deductive, inductive, trial and error, etc., and also the big affective faculty of the will for consenting or dissenting or being indifferently situated -- neither pro nor anti.

    Does Buddhistic meditation have any place for the above enumeratied faculties of the mind -- specifically; because whether any meditation system brings these faculties in or not explicitly, the fact is that meditation has to do with the mind; and the mind actively is the functioning of the above enumerated faculties.

    Susma Rio Sep
     
  8. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Susma and all,

    let me clarify something that emong said... as it's important and can cause one to miss the mark.

    it's not "nothingness" that one mediates on, it's emptiness. there is a vast difference between those two things in Buddhist philosophy.

    in any event.. on with the post :)

    yes, we can really experience interconnectedness with all things when we meditate on emptiness.

    i'd agree with you... science is coming to the opinion more and more often that all things have an interconnectedness to them. for instance:

    Leibniz says: Each portion of matter may be conceived of as a garden full of plants, and as a pond full of fishes. But each branch of the plant, each member of the animal, each drop of its humors, is also such a garden or such a pond.

    H.P. Stapp says: An elementary particle is not an independently existing, unanalyzable entity. It is, in essence, a set of relationships that reach outward to other things..

    indeed... the missapprehension is in the word "nothingness" instead of the word "emptiness". emptiness in Buddhism is a very specific term and means a very specific thing. depending on the school that one practices, the meaning will go from coarse to subtle. emptiness means that objects are devoid of an inherent existence and only exist in dependence on their causes and conditions. the point of the meditation on emptiness is not to understand this intellecutally, rather, to actually have the experience of being connected to all things.

    intellectual understanding and practice is used in a very specific way in Buddhist practice and takes a back seat to Buddhist experience of the practice.

    hmmm... the Buddhist exposition of mind is more vast than what you've outlined. remember, we've been looking at this for a very long time, nearly 2,500 years. the mind isn't seen in the same way in Buddhism.. it's nothing more than the physcial residence of the consciousness. the consciousness is where Buddhist praxis is pointed towards.

    unfortunately, i do not have the time right now to go into great depth about mind and consciousness in Buddhist philosophy, however, i will attempt to provide more information in the next upcoming days, in this regard.
     
  9. Tang_kuanu

    Tang_kuanu New Member

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    hi

    hi guys i recently join this forum just wanna say hi to the people at christain forum.com and i wanna ask what to expect in buddhist medittaion? and how do you do it?
     
  10. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Tang,

    welcome to the forum.

    what to expect? hmm... well... that's a hard one to answer as there are several different types of meditation that one can do, such as absorbtion meditation or insight meditation.

    in any event, the working guidelines for this generally say that one should not practice with the idea of "gain" or "loss", one should have no fixed ideas in their heads. if you have never eaten an orange, no matter what i say about it, your experience of it will be different than mine. that is good way to think about the Buddhist meditations. we can talk about it to some degree but our experience of it is what is important.

    how to do them. well... this gets into an area that i can only touch on briefly, and i have have already done so in this thread. to wit:

    also, though the Full Lotus posture is recommended, you can also use the Half Lotus or Lotus posture. one can also sit in a chair without crossed legs or sit cross-legged. the important aspect of the posture is that it should be one that you can maintain easily enough for about 1 hour and that it's condusive to staying awake. discipline is important in the practice and some of these "rules" are reflections of that.

    once you've found a posture, the most widely used method is called "breathing meditation". in essence, you focus your attention on the lower diaphram and breath in and out with a smooth, easy rythym to a count of 4... in, 2, 3, 4... out, 2, 3, 4.

    the eyes, when beginning, can be closed. however, after some practice you should open your eyes for meditation, keeping them lightly lidded and slightly downward gazing. your hands can be in the traditional mudra of meditation (left hand in lap, right laying on top with thumbs lightly touching, or the Indian style where the hands rest on the thighs and the forefinger and thumb touch.

    as for a technique to employ... usually, that is best left to an individual teacher and student to determine. however... i shall present a very powerful method that is completely endorsed by the Three Schools.

    during your meditation, do the counted breath for awhile... usually it takes 20 mins or so for the mind to calm down. you don't have to do anything really to make this happen other than focusing your attention on your breathing. when a thought arises, observe it as if you were on a stream bank and the thought was a piece of flotsam on the stream floating by. no attachment to it.

    after about 20 mins or so, your mind will be calm (though it may not appear like it very much at the beginning :0) enough to engage in the technique. using your minds eye... look into the source of your thoughts.. from where do they arise? where do they go? who is thinking these thoughts? keeping thinking backwards like this and eventually you will have attainment.
     
  11. Tang_kuanu

    Tang_kuanu New Member

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    hey very interesting

    hey very interesting i will try it and another question is it alright to sit cross leg for the rest of the night? like if your meditating then accidently fall asleep in that position is it dangerous to sleep cross leg sitting up?
     
  12. Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine

    Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine Junior Moderator, Intro

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    Zdrastvuitsye, hola, shalom, salaam, Dia dhuit, hej, namastar ji, konbanwa, squeak, meow, :wave: to Tang_kuanu.

    Vajradhara, a question: what if the student/practitioner goes o.o.b. during meditations? I was taking classes on relaxation and meditation in school and, when it came time to do meditations, I tended to, um, "travel" shall I say. I haven't practiced meditation because I have this problem, and I'm afraid that if I tried doing so alone or with another teacher who couldn't "travel", I may become "caught outside" shall we say (I must admit, I'm a very nervous practitioner of Eastern meditations.)

    Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine
     
  13. emong

    emong New Member

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    That's an interesting conundrum, "fear of meditation".
    What would being "caught outside" be like. Would the soul that is "outside" really have a fear of not being able to return.
    Somehow having the "problem" of being purely spiritual does not lend itself to "feeling fear". At least that's how I see it.
     
  14. sjr

    sjr New Member

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    Phyllis,
    What a wonderful expirence,where did you go? What did it feel like when you returned? Try a westernized meditation where you create an observer, an observer of breath, an observer of thoughts, an observer of feelings. A sort of non attatchment.STOP THE INTERNAL DIALOGUE and Have fun.

    SJR
     
  15. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Tang,

    thank you for the post.

    in the Vajrayana tradition, that is how you sleep during your retreat period. the only real danger, that i can see, is that your circulation may become restricted during the rest period. however, that is not something that is normally reported as a problem during the retreat period so may be nothing to worry about at all.
     
  16. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Phyllis,

    thanks for the post.

    hmm... let me ask you.. have you had training in OOB projection or astral travel? have you taken any TM classes?

    in any event... there are several techniques that one can employ to stay "grounded" as it were, depending on your tradition.

    as you can imagine, the adivce that i give is from a Buddhist/Taoist point of view, if your practice currently does not have these elements in it, some of it may not make much sense, but you should feel free to take the principle and apply it to your situation.

    the most simple is the counted breaths meditation, where one simply counts the breaths. if you find that your mind starts to wander or sink (get drowsy) there are several antidotes that you can apply. when the mind starts to wander and drift think to yourself what will happen to your loved ones, what will happen to everyone you know and this will cause your mind to become focused again. if you are starting to sink into torpor the antidote is to bring to mind the golden body of the Buddha or a point of light or other equally uplifting image.

    however... meditation is a skill and as such, one gets better the more they practice. it is important to practice correctly which is why a teacher is often recommended.
     
  17. Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine

    Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine Junior Moderator, Intro

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    In a word: no. The instructor of the class I took utilizes some Eastern meditation techniques including the breathing technique, but I was unfortunately beyond what she had previously dealt with. The relaxation and meditation class was the first time I had any experience with anything like this. :eek: I really felt like a :p during those particular classes (I made one class somewhat timid in trying any sort of meditations since they were taking the introductary class for the first time and it was my second or third time I sat in on it.)

    Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine
     
  18. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Phyllis,

    thank you for the post.

    you have probably practiced in the past which is why your ability is mature now.

    there are some very good texts that can provide some information for you in this regard... as well as some teachers, however, i am loath to recommend specific teachers as that is generally a personal process.

    most of the texts that i can recommend on this subject are, naturally, from the Buddhist and Taoist points of view. specificall, the Vajrayana point of view of the Buddhists and the Complete Reality School of Taoism.

    there is one technique that surpasses the others and i've briefly touched upon it in a post called Secret of the Golden Flower. i shall add to that post as time permits. however, as the teachings therein are secret, i shall have to be a bit loose with some terminology and some instruction.

    if you are interested in any of the texts, let me know and i'll post them here.
     
  19. Chronicles

    Chronicles New Member

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    I would certainly be interested in postings of the text - especially if I can reproduce them on the Taoism section of the main website - which I'm in the midst of updating.

    I really should touch upon meditation techniques. Feel free to recommend other texts for the Taoism section - simply having the Tao Te Ching there makes it feel a little empty.
     
  20. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste all,

    hmm...

    well... as i said, my particular inclinations are towards a specific school of Taoist praxis... that being said, i do have some knowledge of the other schools texts... so, i can at least tell you what they are :)

    as for the school of Taoism that i follow... i have, to paraphrase the Terminator... detailed files.

    there are some Taoist texts that are used regardless of the school... perhaps the three most important, besides the Tao Te Ching are...

    I ching

    Chaung-tzu

    Yin Convergence Classic

    the rest of the texts that i have are specific to a school of Taoist praxis called Complete Reality.

    in the fair use act, i can excerpt sections of the text for our comments and discussion, though we cannot reproduce the entire texts.
     

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