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13307Re: [Buddhism_101] Meditation, Concentration and Mindfulness

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  • John Pellecchia
    Sep 2, 2011
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      Well stated, Ken.

      And welcome to the group, Don.

      An extremely good website (which I am in no way affiliated with) that explains samatha and vipassana meditation is http://www.viewonbuddhism.org/ (specifically http://viewonbuddhism.org/meditation_theory.html#4 and http://viewonbuddhism.org/Meditations/dalai_lama_meditation.html ). As with all meditation practices both are best done under the instruction and guidance of a qualified teacher.

      In my practice samatha is frequently called "calming the mind". Many people think that the idea is to be free of all thought. My personal opinion is that the mind is never *really* calm. While that may be the ultimate goal, I doubt if it can ever be fully realized in samsara by anyone who has not attained enlightenment. Since I haven't reached that status I am ill prepared to to speak with any authority. When I meditate and a thought arises I accept the thought but I don't dwell upon it. It is merely recognized, accepted and put aside as Ken stated.

      Vipassana is more insightful. To me vipassana meditation is analogous to writing a coherent and cohesive term paper. We select a topic, research it, gather notes, write drafts and finally create the end product. I generally refer to vipassana as mulling over a teaching (be it verbal or text) or a thought provoking idea. Most of us do this type of meditation (call it analytical thinking if you will) on a low level: we read a passage in a text, momentarily close the book, give some thought to what we just read, then reopen the book and continue to read. Expand that momentary introspection like a magnifying lens concentrating the sun's rays and we begin to understand, in my opinion, vipassana meditation.

      The two meditation techniques work together. We relax the mind as much as possible and then delve deeply into a point for analysis. Spend some time on the website I cited above. The links within it give significantly better explanation and hints than I could ever hope to provide. After spending some time there you may have the impetus to sit and meditate. Better yet, find that teacher who has been seeking you and have him or her guide you.

      I apologize if I've muddied the waters that I hoped to clarify.
      "As I am, so are others;
      as others are, so am I."
      Having thus identified self and others,
      harm no one nor have them harmed.

      (Sutta Nipata 3.710)

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