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3674Basic Meditation #1, Why Meditate?

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  • Ken/
    Mar 1, 2005
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      Well for those that have decided to jump in, welcome.
      To set the stage, these next three posts will bring us
      to the first exercise. These three would normally be
      brought about in the first class, if we were doing
      this in person. I realize that many will not find the
      time for a lengthy practice. I will address that as we
      go along. Some will find physical difficulties. I will
      address that in the next post. It is difficult to
      address all problems when I can't know your situation
      and have only this forum for contact, so, if there is
      something I don't address, please ask on the list or
      in private email. My address is klegshe@....
      I have spent the last month working on this and
      upgrading old ideas. I hope they will be interesting
      and helpful for you.

      Why Meditate:

      As you move along the path, you'll find meditation an
      indispensable part of the learning process. Meditation
      allows you to turn the knowledge you have gained into
      wisdom. Through meditation you can witness emptiness.
      You can grasp the totality of impermanence. You see
      the truth of relativity, and, in doing so, experience
      the truth of the absolute. I'll not try to explain
      further, I'll let the words, of better than I, do it:

      Stephen L. Klick, Director of BIONA:
      "Meditation is a practice that Buddhist students use
      to alter our mental state in a positive manner. It
      also helps us to develop clear perception, which
      eventually allows us to see the nature of things as
      they actually are. While there are many different
      styles of meditation available to the practicing
      Buddhist, they all fall into two general categories,
      which are known as Samatha and Vipassana.

      It is common for most students to practice some form
      of Samatha meditation before moving on to some kind of
      vipassana technique. Samatha meditation brings a state
      of calm to the mind and also helps focus the awareness
      of the practitioner. Samatha practice almost always
      focuses on something: the breath, a candle flame (a
      practice I used for years), a mantra, or possibly even
      some positive state of mind, like mett´┐Ż. Chanting
      mantra is the most common form of Samatha practice.

      The goal of Samatha meditation is to develop a deeper
      state of concentration. This is something most Western
      students need to work on with a lot of dedication
      because television viewing has trained them to view
      things in very short increments of time."

      [In Tibetan this is called Shinay meditation. In
      Sanscrit it is Samatha, or Shamatha. In Pali it is
      Mr. Klick goes on to describe Vipassana. We will skirt
      that later, but I will not offer it, online. Ken/]

      Venerable Henepola Gunaratana:
      "Meditation is called the Great Teacher. It is the
      cleansing crucible fire that works through
      understanding. The greater your understanding, the
      more flexible and tolerant you can be. The greater
      your understanding, the more compassionate you can be.

      The purpose of meditation is personal transformation.
      The you that goes in one side, of the meditational
      experience, is not the same you that comes out the
      other side."

      Joseph Goldstein:
      "A question that arises for beginners in meditation
      and also, at times, for people with years of
      experience is, 'Why do we practice? Why are we doing
      this?' The effort and commitment needed to pursue
      meditation is so demanding that it is appropriate to
      ask what value it has and where it is heading.
      Meditation has to do with opening what is closed in
      us, balancing what is reactive, and exploring and
      investigating what is hidden. That is the why of
      practice. We practice to open, to balance, and to

      Sogyal Rinpoche:
      "The gift of learning to meditate is the greatest
      gift you can give yourself in this lifetime. For it is
      only through meditation that you can undertake the
      journey to discover your true nature, and so find the
      stability and confidence you will need to live, and
      die, well. Meditation is the road to enlightenment."

      The Dhammapada:
      "Just as an arrow-maker straightens an arrow shaft,
      even so the discerning man straightens his mind - so
      fickle and unsteady, so difficult to guard and

      As a fish when pulled out of water and cast on land
      throbs and quivers,even so is this mind agitated.
      Hence one should leave the realm of Mara.

      Wonderful, indeed, it is to subdue the mind, so
      difficult to subdue, ever swift, and wandering where
      ever it desires. A guarded mind brings happiness.

      Dwelling in the cave (of the heart), without form,
      the mind wanders far and moves alone. Those who subdue
      this mind are liberated from the bonds of Mara
      (overwhelming passions).

      When one's mind is not steadfast, when one knows not
      the Good Teaching and one's faith wavers, one's wisdom
      will not be perfected....
      Whatever harm an enemy can do to an enemy, or a hater
      to a hater, an ill-directed mind inflicts on oneself a
      greater harm."



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