3674Basic Meditation #1, Why Meditate?
- Mar 1, 2005Well 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.
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�. 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
"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
"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."
"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
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
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