Article by Sylvia Smelcer
The study of Buddhism leads us from darkness and suffering into happiness and light. Meditation is an important aspect of Buddhism. Using meditation during the study of Buddhism allows us to control our thoughts and focus the mind in order to progress on this path.
All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him. This is a quote from Buddha.
The final destination in the study of Buddhism is Nirvana. The path to Nirvana is one step at a time. With each step, the Buddhist practitioner comes one step closer to enlightenment. Buddhists believe that it takes many lifetimes to achieve this goal, and in the meantime, we are reincarnated. But, although reaching this final destination is the goal, the path is also important. In life, the practitioner should improve their ability to meditate and study. In the meantime, the practitioner can achieve higher awareness, find inner peace, and learn to live in the present.
Buddhism is currently becoming a popular religion in the west. This is partly due to a greater awareness of religions outside of western religions, and also because of studies that show the health benefits of meditation. These discoveries have brought meditation into the mainstream, and there are those who meditate outside of Buddhism and Hinduism, with no religious convictions in mind. But with the benefits of meditation, people begin to form an interest in the religions behind meditation, both Buddhism and Hinduism.
The types of meditation taught in Buddhism are widely varied, and there are different types of meditations that can be done for different problems or obstacles in life. There are also many different Buddhist schools of thought. Each of these schools of thought has a different way of approaching meditation. But the ultimate goal, that of achieving enlightenment is the same throughout t he diffe rent types of Buddhism.
There are different levels of meditation in Buddhism. The first level is tranquility. Tranquility allows the mind to become still, and it helps the practitioner concentrate. Mindfulness of breathing, called pranayama in yogic practices, is the first step of meditation. By focusing on the breath, the practitioner can reach a calm and tranquil state. Even psychologists teach their patients this type of basic meditation.
The second level of meditation is insight. The goal here is different than in the first type of meditation. During the insight level of meditation, the practitioner is trying to look for insights into themselves. Insight meditation helps us learn more about ourselves, and it allows us to make changes to ourselves, and how we cope with life.
Meditation teaches us to harness the mind and direct our thoughts to lead to happiness and contentment. It is not necessary to practice Buddhism to enjoy the benefits of meditation. But understand the Buddhist philosophy can enhance meditation and it will also increase the benefits received through regular meditation.
About the Author
Tibetan Buddhism and meditation tools like prayer wheels (aka mani wheels) are of particular importance to Sylvia Smelcer, as the owner of e-commerce websites. She also enjoys reading in her spare time.
Day 1 – Kalachakra Preliminary Teachings
Day one of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s three day teaching on Gyalsey Thokme Sangpo’s “37 Practices of A Boddhisattva (laklen sodunma)” and Kamalashila’s “Stages of Meditation – Middle Volume (gomrim barpa)” given on July 9-11, 2011, that were preliminary teachings to the Kalachakra Empowerment. (www.dalailama.com)
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