Author Topic: Why and How to Meditate  (Read 22735 times)

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: bowing in meditation sessions
« Reply #105 on: August 16, 2016, 12:09:06 am »
Greetings,

I attend a guided meditation group with a Buddhist organisation in London, UK.  The guide and most of the people in the group bow to a bronze sculpture of the Buddha located on a platform when they enter the meditation room.  And before and after each meditation session they bow to each other with hands together as if in prayer.

What is the bowing for and what does it signify?

As someone coming from a Protestant tradition, the teachings of the Bible surrounding idolatry are in the back of my mind.  And one of the attractions of Buddhism has been (in my understanding) that the Buddha was a man who through his own discipline, dedication, and effort in meditation and outlook came to a higher spiritual state.  In this way the Buddha became an example to his followers and the leader of a global movement. 

If he was a man (and not God), is it not the case that Buddhism is a philosophy and way of life as distinct from being a theistic / faith-based religion?  If this is correct why the bowing, as if to God?

Please excuse my ignorance if this is a very stupid question - it's just that to this "westerner" one of the attractions of Buddhism is the possibility it presents of inhabiting a higher spiritual state through personal effort and dedication in meditation and outlook as opposed to faith in a deity and prayer.

I had a similar problem. I was Christened a Baptist and brought up a Methodist, both low church with no form of idolatry of any kind. Luckily the people at the Buddhist center explained that it was nothing to do with deities or worship, or anything like that. It was just paying respects to someone or something. More of a high five than a cringing bow to something that may bring down something nasty on you if you don't. Bowing to a butterfly passing is just the same; a kind of 'thank you' for existing. You don't even have to do the bow, if you are worried about getting strange looks from people when out and about, just visualize yourself doing it, and it will have a similar effect.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline dragonlord

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Re: Why and How to Meditate
« Reply #106 on: August 18, 2016, 03:46:02 pm »
TashiNyima, this is an excellent post, thank you for the insight.

I would like to add something to this as well.

The vast majority of humanity, and all sentient beings for that matter live a state of ignorance because we believe that all consciousness is what we think. Most believe that as long as you are having thoughts, you are conscious.

Because of this, most people never bother to be conscious without thinking. When you meditate, you are aware, you are awake, you are not sleeping, but your thoughts are subtle. Of course it depends on the type of meditation you do, but if you are meditating to access your spiritual mind, the mind which is connected to the Source, you are not absorbed in conscious thought.

Meditation is how we can access all forms of consciousness, and thus, it's how we attain enlightenment, as we are able to put ourselves into the conscious state where we experience nirvana.

The possibilities of meditation are endless. Meditation is our command line into the nature of all existence, when we access it the possibilities are endless.


Offline melissa maylath

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Re: Why and How to Meditate
« Reply #107 on: March 08, 2017, 08:09:18 pm »
 :buddha:    im a buddhist. i have been for awhile im always looking for new ways to find inner peace. i found this site insightful . helpful and informative . so thank you, i believe that are people are equal. and enjoy the little thing in life. make the most the of you got and be grateful for what you have. i would love to share your site with others

Offline bobbypro69

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Re: Why and How to Meditate
« Reply #108 on: March 27, 2017, 07:26:35 am »
what draws a man to madness ?---what makes him think that he---can harness light and darkness---to create that which is free ?---what makes him think there's light and dark ?---what bounds define what's free ?---whatever makes him disembark---on 'you' and 'them' and 'me' ?---two worlds he has before him---one earthly, one unseen---each has it's pleasure in the swim---each has it's own smokescreen---i pose the question to all concerned---from sacred to obscene---why can't a man fill the fire that burns---and still be self redeemed ?---does one so drain the other---for he who drinks to the hilt ?---is it really divine mother---who so entwines this quilt----of mans existence---to truely make us side---between the worldly appetence---and the meditative bride ?---the problem leaves me baffled---helpless and forelorn---the freest minds then shackled---not one of us freeborn---to take what life can offer---and still fulfill the soul---making every man a gambler---between wants and self control----what draws a man to madness ?---what makes him think that he---can harness light and darkness---to create that which is free ?---what makes him think there's light and dark ?---what bounds define what's free ?---for all this man can leave one mark---and that is just to BE !

Offline DMR

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Re: Why and How to Meditate
« Reply #109 on: April 15, 2017, 01:38:02 am »
Greetings to everyone!

I would love to get some advice on one particular issue of my meditation sessions, every reply would be greatly appreciated.

In my today's morning meditation I stumbled (once again, it's not a first time occasion) on a problem of headache and feeling a bit sick when I only began to calm down and getting into watching my mind. I usually tend to sit for about 30-45 minutes, but today's session lasted 15 or 20 minutes, and then I just finished it, because of the growing pains, cause I don't want to associate meditation with hurting myself, and because of my intention to have compassion and be kind to myself.

I would like to recieve your opinion on the following question:

Is it right and skilful to listen to your body during meditation and stop it if you feel growing pains? Or is it better to find a way to accept this pain, maybe open your eyes and change posture, or something like that? What would you recommend the most?

Thank you so much in advance, and may you all be happy!
« Last Edit: April 15, 2017, 01:43:41 am by DMR »

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Why and How to Meditate
« Reply #110 on: April 15, 2017, 04:36:25 am »
Hi, DMR.

I would begin looking into this issue by seeing your physician.  Let him/her know what you are experiencing.  Don't take the issue lightly.  There are many physical illnesses that can cause the symptom you are describing.  Do this as soon as possible. :hug:

What Makes an Elder? :
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-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Why and How to Meditate
« Reply #111 on: April 16, 2017, 08:55:10 pm »
Hi Ficus,

You wrote
Quote
...I am not sure anyone really 'meditates.' There is no such Sanskrit nor Pali word for this English idea.

The Sankrit word Dhyana is commonaly translated as "meditation." In fact the Japanese word "zen" from the Chinese "chan" is their pronunciation of the word "dhyana" or meditation. Thus zen is sometimes referred to as the "meditation school."

I think the Pali term "Jyana" means something like "meditational states."

Since you're into critique I'm curious what you'd say about my attempt to lay down some meditation basics -- http://www.frogzen.com/meditation-basics/
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline Pixie

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Re: Why and How to Meditate
« Reply #112 on: April 16, 2017, 11:16:12 pm »

The Sankrit word Dhyana is commonaly translated as "meditation." In fact the Japanese word "zen" from the Chinese "chan" is their pronunciation of the word "dhyana" or meditation. Thus zen is sometimes referred to as the "meditation school."

I think the Pali term "Jyana" means something like "meditational states."



"Dhyana" is the Sanskrit term for the Pali word "Jhana" (meaning meditative absorption) which features in the Pali Canon suttas.


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May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May they all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May they never be deprived of true happiness devoid of any suffering.
May they abide in great impartiality, free from attachment to loved ones and aversion to others.

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Why and How to Meditate
« Reply #113 on: April 17, 2017, 12:07:13 am »
Pixie,

Are you saying that the Sanskrit word Dhyana is based on the Pali? I've seen the word Dhyana used in Vedic texts that predate Buddhism.

Regardless, Dhyana is usually translated as "meditation" rather than "absorption."

It's academic and I think we both agree that Ficus was wrong in saying there isn't a Sanskrit or pali term for meditation.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline Pixie

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Re: Why and How to Meditate
« Reply #114 on: April 17, 2017, 01:03:12 am »
Pixie,

Are you saying that the Sanskrit word Dhyana is based on the Pali? I've seen the word Dhyana used in Vedic texts that predate Buddhism.


Perhaps I should have said "equivalent".

Quote
Regardless, Dhyana is usually translated as "meditation" rather than "absorption".


In my Nyanatiloka Pali dictionary "Jhana" is described as 'meditative absorption' as I mentioned previously. Here's the online version:

https://what-buddha-said.net/library/Buddhist.Dictionary/dic3_j.htm

Regarding "Dhyana", this Tibetan Buddhist explanation describes it as  "meditative concentration".

http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Meditative_concentration


Quote from: zafrogzen
I think we both agree that Ficus was wrong in saying there isn't a Sanskrit or pali term for meditation


Yes.

May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May they all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May they never be deprived of true happiness devoid of any suffering.
May they abide in great impartiality, free from attachment to loved ones and aversion to others.

Offline francis

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Re: Why and How to Meditate
« Reply #115 on: April 17, 2017, 04:54:54 am »
Jhana (Pali) or Dhyana (Sanskrit) are commonly translated as meditation, but the exact meaning depends on the context of the school or tradition in which they are used.

In the context of The Noble Eightfold Path my “personal” view is step seven is more about concentration while step eight is absorption in the jhanas. 

”Jhana is a meditative state of profound stillness and concentration in which the mind becomes fully immersed and absorbed in the chosen object of attention. It is the cornerstone in the development of Right Concentration.”

"Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean, is the moment the wave realises it is water." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Why and How to Meditate
« Reply #116 on: April 17, 2017, 05:08:47 am »
There's no real point in saying the word 'meditation' doesn't exist in Sanskrit or Pali, since it is just a word we have attached to such actions. After all, the word Ficus can mean fig in Latin, but I guess that's not the meaning he was after, or maybe he does want to be called Religious Fig? I'm guessing the post was about how we think about meditation and all it entails, that it's best not to think of outcomes when we sit.

The other idea, about the healing aspects of meditation is interesting, although the 'medical' bit might turn a few people off, rather than the reverse. Maybe he is trying to say that another translation of meditation is a cure for suffering, suffering of the kind the Buddha talked about.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Why and How to Meditate
« Reply #117 on: April 19, 2017, 02:57:41 am »
Hi Ficus. You misunderstand my intent. I meant that 'religious fig' in the sense of a fig being religious, which, although nonsense, illustrates how you can misunderstand words. I'm a biologist who sat under one of those trees in Sri Lanka, a wonderful experience, shared with many ants.

To say that there is no Sanskrit or Pali for 'meditation' is to miss the point entirely, as meditation was a stopgap word used when Sanskrit and Pali were discovered. Misunderstanding the nature of Buddhism, translators assumed it to be the closest word, and used it, bringing meanings from it's contemporary usage. Christian meditation was contemplation of something, in the sense of "I'll meditate on that." The same problem happens with a word such as 'mindfulness', with all the history it brings from European languages.

I think you meant the understanding of meditation when attached to Buddhist meditation practices rather than the one when attached to Christian prayer. Personally, I try to read many different translations of texts, to get an idea of the different shades of meaning that can be obtained, rather than obsessing about one particular version.
 
In the same way, using 'nothing' is rather inappropriate, with usage suggesting nihilism. I think 'no thing' would be a better translation.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

 


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