Buddhist meditation

Buddhist meditation

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Buddhist meditation refers to the meditative practices associated with the religion and philosophy of Buddhism.

Core meditation techniques have been preserved in ancient Buddhist texts
Buddhist texts
Buddhist texts can be categorized in a number of ways. The Western terms "scripture" and "canonical" are applied to Buddhism in inconsistent ways by Western scholars: for example, one authority refers to "scriptures and other canonical texts", while another says that scriptures can be categorized...

 and have proliferated and diversified through teacher-student transmissions. Buddhist
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

s pursue meditation as part of the path toward Enlightenment
Bodhi
Bodhi is both a Pāli and Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English with the word "enlightenment", but which means awakened. In Buddhism it is the knowledge possessed by a Buddha into the nature of things...

 and Nirvana
Nirvana
Nirvāṇa ; ) is a central concept in Indian religions. In sramanic thought, it is the state of being free from suffering. In Hindu philosophy, it is the union with the Supreme being through moksha...

. The closest words for meditation in the classical languages of Buddhism are bhāvanā
Bhavana
Bhāvanā literally means "development" or "cultivating" or "producing" in the sense of "calling into existence." It is an important concept in Buddhist praxis...

and jhāna/dhyāna
Dhyāna in Buddhism
Dhyāna in Sanskrit or jhāna in Pāli can refer to either meditation or meditative states. Equivalent terms are "Chán" in modern Chinese, "Zen" in Japanese, "Seon" in Korean, "Thien" in Vietnamese, and "Samten" in Tibetan....

. Buddhist meditation techniques have become increasingly popular in the wider world, with many non-Buddhists taking them up for a variety of reasons.

Buddhist meditation encompasses a variety of meditation
Meditation
Meditation is any form of a family of practices in which practitioners train their minds or self-induce a mode of consciousness to realize some benefit....

 techniques that aim to develop mindfulness, concentration
Samadhi (Buddhism)
In Buddhism, samādhi is mental concentration or composing the mind.-In the early Suttas:In the Pāli canon of the Theravada tradition and the related Āgamas of other early Buddhist schools, samādhi is found in the following contexts:* In the noble eightfold path, "right concentration" In Buddhism,...

, supramundane powers
Iddhi
Iddhi is a Buddhist term which refers to supernormal powers. These powers are physical, as opposed to mental...

, tranquility
Samatha
Samatha , śamatha "calm abiding," comprises a suite, type or style of Buddhist meditation or concentration practices designed to enhance sustained voluntary attention, and culminates in an attention that can be sustained effortlessly for hours on end...

, and insight
Vipassana
Vipassanā or vipaśyanā in the Buddhist tradition means insight into the true nature of reality. A regular practitioner of Vipassana is known as a Vipassi . Vipassana is one of the world's most ancient techniques of meditation, the inception of which is attributed to Gautama Buddha...

. Given the large number and diversity of traditional Buddhist meditation practices, this article primarily identifies authoritative contextual frameworks — both contemporary and canonical — for the variety of practices. For those seeking school-specific
Schools of Buddhism
Buddhism is an ancient, polyvalent ideological system that originated in the Iron Age Indian subcontinent, referred to variously throughout history by one or more of a myriad of concepts – including, but not limited to any of the following: a Dharmic religion, a philosophy or quasi-philosophical...

 meditation information, it may be more appropriate to simply view the articles listed in the "See also" section below.

Key Terms

English Pali Sanskrit Chinese Tibetan
mindfulness/awareness sati smṛti 念 (niàn) trenpa (wylie: dran pa)
clear comprehension sampajañña
Sampajañña
Sampajañña means "clear comprehension," "clear knowing," "constant thorough understanding of impermanence," "fully alert" or "full awareness," as well as "attention, consideration, discrimination, comprehension, circumspection."Sampajañña is a Pali term used in Theravada suttas; the equivalent...

samprajaña 正知力 (zhèng zhī lì) sheshin (shes bzhin)
vigilance / heedfulness appamada apramāda 不放逸座 (bù fàng yì zuò) bakyö (bag yod)
ardency atappa ātapaḥ 勇猛 (yǒng měng) nyima (nyi ma)
attention / engagement manasikara manaskāraḥ 如理作意 (rú lǐ zuò yì) yila jeypa (yid la byed pa)
foundation of mindfulness satipaṭṭhāna
Satipatthana
In the Buddhist tradition, ' refers to the establishing, foundation or presence of "mindfulness" . The Buddha taught the establishing of mindfulness as the 'direct path' to the realisation of nirvana...

smṛtyupasthāna 念住 (niànzhù) trenpa neybar zagpa (dran pa nye bar gzhag pa)
mindfulness of breathing ānāpānasati
Anapanasati
Ānāpānasati , meaning 'mindfulness of breathing' , is a form of Buddhist meditation now common to the Tibetan, Zen, Tiantai, and Theravada schools of Buddhism, as well as western-based mindfulness programs.According to tradition, Anapanasati was...

ānāpānasmṛti 安那般那 (ānnàbānnà) wūk trenpa (dbugs dran pa)
calm abiding / cessation samatha
Samatha
Samatha , śamatha "calm abiding," comprises a suite, type or style of Buddhist meditation or concentration practices designed to enhance sustained voluntary attention, and culminates in an attention that can be sustained effortlessly for hours on end...

śamatha 止 (zhǐ) shiney (zhi gnas)
insight / contemplation vipassanā
Vipassana
Vipassanā or vipaśyanā in the Buddhist tradition means insight into the true nature of reality. A regular practitioner of Vipassana is known as a Vipassi . Vipassana is one of the world's most ancient techniques of meditation, the inception of which is attributed to Gautama Buddha...

vipaśyanā 観 (guān) lhakthong (lhag mthong)
meditative concentration samādhi
Samadhi
Samadhi in Hinduism, Buddhism,Jainism, Sikhism and yogic schools is a higher level of concentrated meditation, or dhyāna. In the yoga tradition, it is the eighth and final limb identified in the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali....

samādhi 三昧 (sānmèi) tendzin (ting nge dzin)
meditative absorption jhāna dhyāna
Dhyāna in Buddhism
Dhyāna in Sanskrit or jhāna in Pāli can refer to either meditation or meditative states. Equivalent terms are "Chán" in modern Chinese, "Zen" in Japanese, "Seon" in Korean, "Thien" in Vietnamese, and "Samten" in Tibetan....

禪 (chán
Zen
Zen is a school of Mahāyāna Buddhism founded by the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma. The word Zen is from the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word Chán , which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna, which can be approximately translated as "meditation" or "meditative state."Zen...

)
samten (bsam gtan)
cultivation bhāvanā
Bhavana
Bhāvanā literally means "development" or "cultivating" or "producing" in the sense of "calling into existence." It is an important concept in Buddhist praxis...

bhāvanā 修行 (xiūxíng) gompa (sgom pa)
cultivation of analysis *vicāra-bhāvanā chegom (dpyad sgom)
cultivation of settling *sthāpya-bhāvanā jokgom ('jog sgom)

Meditation in Buddhist traditions


While there are some similar meditative practices — such as breath meditation
Anapanasati
Ānāpānasati , meaning 'mindfulness of breathing' , is a form of Buddhist meditation now common to the Tibetan, Zen, Tiantai, and Theravada schools of Buddhism, as well as western-based mindfulness programs.According to tradition, Anapanasati was...

 and various recollections (anussati
Anussati
Anussati means "recollection," "contemplation," "remembrance," "meditation" and "mindfulness." In Buddhism, anussati refers to either:...

) — that are used across Buddhist schools
Schools of Buddhism
Buddhism is an ancient, polyvalent ideological system that originated in the Iron Age Indian subcontinent, referred to variously throughout history by one or more of a myriad of concepts – including, but not limited to any of the following: a Dharmic religion, a philosophy or quasi-philosophical...

, there is also significant diversity. In the Theravāda
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 tradition alone, there are over fifty methods for developing mindfulness and forty for developing concentration, while in the Tibetan
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

 tradition there are thousands of visualization meditations. Most classical and contemporary Buddhist meditation guides are school specific. Only a few teachers attempt to synthesize, crystallize and categorize practices from multiple Buddhist traditions.

In early tradition


The earliest tradition of Buddhist practice is preserved in the nikāya
Nikaya
Nikāya is a word of meaning "collection", "assemblage", "class" or "group" in both Pāḷi and Sanskrit. It is most commonly used in reference to the Buddhist texts of the Sutta Piṭaka, but can also refer to the monastic divisions of Theravāda Buddhism...

/āgamas, and is adhered to by the Theravāda lineage. It was also the focus of the other now-extinct early Buddhist schools
Early Buddhist schools
The early Buddhist schools are those schools into which, according to most scholars, the Buddhist monastic saṅgha initially split, due originally to differences in vinaya, and later also due to doctrinal differences and geographical separation of groups of monks.The original saṅgha split into the...

, and has been incorporated to greater and lesser degrees into the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and many East Asian Mahāyāna traditions.

Types of meditation



Meditation on the
Buddhist Path


Most Buddhist traditions
Schools of Buddhism
Buddhism is an ancient, polyvalent ideological system that originated in the Iron Age Indian subcontinent, referred to variously throughout history by one or more of a myriad of concepts – including, but not limited to any of the following: a Dharmic religion, a philosophy or quasi-philosophical...

 recognize that the path to Enlightenment
Bodhi
Bodhi is both a Pāli and Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English with the word "enlightenment", but which means awakened. In Buddhism it is the knowledge possessed by a Buddha into the nature of things...

 entails three types of training
Threefold Training
The Buddha identified the threefold training as training in:* higher virtue * higher mind * higher wisdom - In the Pali Canon :...

: virtue (sīla
Sila
Śīla or sīla in Buddhism and its non-sectarian offshoots, is a code of conduct that embraces self-restraint with a value on non-harming. It has been variously described as virtue, good conduct, morality, moral discipline and precept. It is an action that is an intentional effort...

); meditation (samadhi); and, wisdom (paññā
Prajña
Prajñā or paññā is wisdom, understanding, discernment or cognitive acuity. Such wisdom is understood to exist in the universal flux of being and can be intuitively experienced through meditation...

). Thus, meditative prowess alone is not sufficient; it is but one part of the path. In other words, in Buddhism, in tandem with mental cultivation, ethical development and wise understanding are also necessary for the attainment of the highest goal.


In terms of early traditions as found in the vast Pali canon
Pāli Canon
The Pāli Canon is the standard collection of scriptures in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, as preserved in the Pāli language. It is the only completely surviving early Buddhist canon, and one of the first to be written down...

 and the Āgamas, meditation can be contextualized as part of the Noble Eightfold Path
Noble Eightfold Path
The Noble Eightfold Path , is one of the principal teachings of the Buddha, who described it as the way leading to the cessation of suffering and the achievement of self-awakening. It is used to develop insight into the true nature of phenomena and to eradicate greed, hatred, and delusion...

, explicitly in regard to:
  • Right Mindfulness (samma sati) – exemplified by the Buddha's Four Foundations of Mindfulness (see Satipatthana Sutta
    Satipatthana Sutta
    The Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta and the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta are two of the most important and widely studied discourses in the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism...

    ).
  • Right Concentration (samma samadhi) – culminating in jhanic absorptions through the meditative development of samatha.

And implicitly in regard to :
  • Right View (samma ditthi) – embodying wisdom traditionally attained through the meditative development of vipassana founded on samatha.


Classic texts in the Pali literature
Pali literature
Pali literature is concerned mainly with Theravada Buddhism, of which Pali is the traditional language.- India :Main article: Pali CanonThe earliest and most important Pali literature constitutes the Pali Canon, the scriptures of Theravada...

 enumerating meditative subjects include the Satipatthana Sutta (MN
Majjhima Nikaya
The Majjhima Nikaya is a Buddhist scripture, the second of the five nikayas, or collections, in the Sutta Pitaka, which is one of the "three baskets" that compose the Pali Tipitaka of Theravada Buddhism...

 10) and the Visuddhimagga
Visuddhimagga
The Visuddhimagga , is the 'great treatise' on Theravada Buddhist doctrine written by Buddhaghosa approximately in 430 CE in Sri Lanka. A comprehensive manual condensing the theoretical and practical teaching of the Buddha, it is considered the most important Theravada text outside of the Tipitaka...

's Part II, "Concentration" (Samadhi).

Four foundations for mindfulness


In the Satipatthana Sutta, the Buddha identifies four foundations for mindfulness: the body, feelings, mind states and mental objects. He further enumerates the following objects as bases for the meditative development of mindfulness:
  • Body (kāyā): Breathing (see Anapanasati Sutta
    Anapanasati Sutta
    The Ānāpānasati Sutta or Ānāpānasmṛti Sūtra , "Breath-Mindfulness Discourse," is a discourse that details the Buddha's instruction on using the breath as a focus for meditation.-In Theravada Buddhism:...

    ), Postures, Clear Comprehending
    Sampajañña
    Sampajañña means "clear comprehension," "clear knowing," "constant thorough understanding of impermanence," "fully alert" or "full awareness," as well as "attention, consideration, discrimination, comprehension, circumspection."Sampajañña is a Pali term used in Theravada suttas; the equivalent...

    , Reflections on Repulsiveness of the Body
    Patikulamanasikara
    Paikkūlamanasikāra is a Pāli term that is generally translated as "reflections on repulsiveness." It refers to a traditional Buddhist meditation whereby thirty-one parts of the body are contemplated in a variety of ways. In addition to developing mindfulness and concentration, this form of...

    , Reflections on Material Elements
    Mahabhuta
    Mahābhūta is Sanskrit and Pāli for "great element." In Buddhism, the "four great elements" are earth, water, fire and air...

    , Cemetery Contemplations
  • Feelings (vedanā
    Vedana
    Vedanā is a word in Sanskrit and Pāli traditionally translated as either "feeling" or "sensation." In general, vedanā refers to the pleasant, unpleasant and neutral sensations that occur when our internal sense organs come into contact with external sense objects and the associated...

    ), whether pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral
  • Mind (cittā)
  • Mental Contents (dhammā): Hindrances
    Five hindrances
    In Buddhism, the five hindrances are negative mental states that impede success with meditation and lead away from enlightenment...

    , Aggregates
    Skandha
    In Buddhist phenomenology and soteriology, the skandhas or khandhas are any of five types of phenomena that serve as objects of clinging and bases for a sense of self...

    , Sense-Bases, Factors of Enlightenment
    Seven factors of enlightenment
    In Buddhism, the Seven Factors of Enlightenment are:* Mindfulness i.e...

    , and the Four Noble Truths
    Four Noble Truths
    The Four Noble Truths are an important principle in Buddhism, classically taught by the Buddha in the Dharmacakra Pravartana Sūtra....

    .


Meditation on these subjects develops insight.

Serenity and insight


The Buddha is said to have identified two paramount mental qualities that arise from wholesome meditative practice:
  • "serenity" or "tranquillity" (Pali: samatha) which steadies, composes, unifies and concentrates the mind;
  • "insight" (Pali: vipassana) which enables one to see, explore and discern "formations" (conditioned phenomena based on the five aggregates
    Skandha
    In Buddhist phenomenology and soteriology, the skandhas or khandhas are any of five types of phenomena that serve as objects of clinging and bases for a sense of self...

    ).


Through the meditative development of serenity, one is able to suppress obscuring hindrances
Five hindrances
In Buddhism, the five hindrances are negative mental states that impede success with meditation and lead away from enlightenment...

; and, with the suppression of the hindrances, it is through the meditative development of insight that one gains liberating wisdom
Prajña
Prajñā or paññā is wisdom, understanding, discernment or cognitive acuity. Such wisdom is understood to exist in the universal flux of being and can be intuitively experienced through meditation...

. Moreover, the Buddha is said to have extolled serenity and insight as conduits for attaining Nibbana
Nirvana
Nirvāṇa ; ) is a central concept in Indian religions. In sramanic thought, it is the state of being free from suffering. In Hindu philosophy, it is the union with the Supreme being through moksha...

 (Pali; Skt.: Nirvana), the unconditioned state as in the "Kimsuka Tree Sutta" (SN 35.245), where the Buddha provides an elaborate metaphor in which serenity and insight are "the swift pair of messengers" who deliver the message of Nibbana via the Noble Eightfold Path
Noble Eightfold Path
The Noble Eightfold Path , is one of the principal teachings of the Buddha, who described it as the way leading to the cessation of suffering and the achievement of self-awakening. It is used to develop insight into the true nature of phenomena and to eradicate greed, hatred, and delusion...

.

In the "Four Ways to Arahantship Sutta" (AN 4.170), Ven. Ananda
Ananda
Ānanda was one of the principal disciples and a devout attendant of the Buddha. Amongst the Buddha's many disciples, Ānanda had the most retentive memory and most of the suttas in the Sutta Pitaka are attributed to his recollection of the Buddha's teachings during the First Buddhist Council...

 reports that people attain arahantship using serenity and insight in one of three ways:
  1. they develop serenity and then insight (Pali: samatha-pubbangamam vipassanam)
  2. they develop insight and then serenity (Pali: vipassana-pubbangamam samatham)
  3. they develop serenity and insight in tandem (Pali: samatha-vipassanam yuganaddham) as in, for instance, obtaining the first jhana, and then seeing in the associated aggregates the three marks of existence
    Three marks of existence
    The Three marks of existence, within Buddhism, are three characteristics shared by all sentient beings, namely: impermanence ; suffering or unsatisfactoriness ; non-self .According to Buddhist tradition, a full understanding of these three can bring an end to suffering...

    , before proceeding to the second jhana.


In the Pali canon, the Buddha never mentions independent samatha and vipassana meditation practices; instead, samatha and vipassana are two qualities of mind to be developed through meditation.
Nonetheless, some meditation practices (such as contemplation of a kasina
Kasina
In Buddhism, kasiṇa refers to a class of basic visual objects of meditation. There are ten kasiṇa mentioned in the Pali Tipitaka:# earth ,# water ,# air, wind ,...

object) favor the development of samatha, others are conducive to the development of vipassana (such as contemplation of the aggregates
Skandha
In Buddhist phenomenology and soteriology, the skandhas or khandhas are any of five types of phenomena that serve as objects of clinging and bases for a sense of self...

), while others (such as mindfulness of breathing
Anapanasati
Ānāpānasati , meaning 'mindfulness of breathing' , is a form of Buddhist meditation now common to the Tibetan, Zen, Tiantai, and Theravada schools of Buddhism, as well as western-based mindfulness programs.According to tradition, Anapanasati was...

) are classically used for developing both mental qualities.

From the Pali Commentaries


Buddhaghosa
Buddhaghosa
Bhadantācariya Buddhaghoṣa(Chinese: 覺音)was a 5th-century Indian Theravadin Buddhist commentator and scholar. His best-known work is the Visuddhimagga, or Path of Purification, a comprehensive summary and analysis of the Theravada understanding of the Buddha's path to liberation...

's forty meditation subjects are described in the Visuddhimagga. Almost all of these are described in the early texts. Buddhaghosa advises that, for the purpose of developing concentration and "consciousness," a person should "apprehend from among the forty meditation subjects one that suits his own temperament" with the advice of a "good friend" (kalyana mitta) who is knowledgeable in the different meditation subjects (Ch. III, § 28). Buddhaghosa subsequently elaborates on the forty meditation subjects as follows (Ch. III, §104; Chs. IV - XI):
  • ten kasina
    Kasina
    In Buddhism, kasiṇa refers to a class of basic visual objects of meditation. There are ten kasiṇa mentioned in the Pali Tipitaka:# earth ,# water ,# air, wind ,...

    s: earth, water, fire, air, blue, yellow, red, white, light, and "limited-space".
  • ten kinds of foulness: "the bloated, the livid, the festering, the cut-up, the gnawed, the scattered, the hacked and scattered, the bleeding, the worm-infested, and a skeleton".
  • ten recollection
    Anussati
    Anussati means "recollection," "contemplation," "remembrance," "meditation" and "mindfulness." In Buddhism, anussati refers to either:...

    s: the Buddha
    Gautama Buddha
    Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

    , the Dhamma, the Sangha
    Sangha
    Sangha is a word in Pali or Sanskrit that can be translated roughly as "association" or "assembly," "company" or "community" with common goal, vision or purpose...

    , virtue
    Sila
    Śīla or sīla in Buddhism and its non-sectarian offshoots, is a code of conduct that embraces self-restraint with a value on non-harming. It has been variously described as virtue, good conduct, morality, moral discipline and precept. It is an action that is an intentional effort...

    , generosity
    Dana (Buddhism)
    Dāna is generosity or giving. In Hinduism and Buddhism, it is the practice of cultivating generosity. Ultimately, the practice culminates in one of the perfections : the perfection of giving - dāna-pāramitā...

    , the virtues of deities
    Deva (Buddhism)
    A deva in Buddhism is one of many different types of non-human beings who share the characteristics of being more powerful, longer-lived, and, in general, living more contentedly than the average human being....

    , death (see Upajjhatthana Sutta
    Upajjhatthana Sutta
    The Upajjhatthana Sutta is a Buddhist discourse famous for its inclusion of five remembrances, five facts regarding life's fragility and our true inheritance...

    ), the body, the breath (see anapanasati
    Anapanasati
    Ānāpānasati , meaning 'mindfulness of breathing' , is a form of Buddhist meditation now common to the Tibetan, Zen, Tiantai, and Theravada schools of Buddhism, as well as western-based mindfulness programs.According to tradition, Anapanasati was...

    ), and peace (see Nibbana
    Nirvana
    Nirvāṇa ; ) is a central concept in Indian religions. In sramanic thought, it is the state of being free from suffering. In Hindu philosophy, it is the union with the Supreme being through moksha...

    ).
  • four divine abodes
    Brahmavihara
    The brahmavihāras are a series of four Buddhist virtues and the meditation practices made to cultivate them. They are also known as the four immeasurables...

    : metta
    Metta
    Mettā or maitrī is loving-kindness, friendliness, benevolence, amity, friendship, good will, kindness, love, sympathy, close mental union , and active interest in others. It is one of the ten pāramīs of the Theravāda school of Buddhism, and the first of the four sublime states...

    , karuṇā
    Karuna
    Karuā is generally translated as "compassion" or "pity". It is part of the spiritual path of both Buddhism and Jainism.-Buddhism:...

    , mudita
    Mudita
    Mudita in Buddhism is joy. It is especially sympathetic or vicarious joy, the pleasure that comes from delighting in other people's well-being rather than begrudging it...

    , and upekkha
    Upekkha
    Upekkhā , is the Buddhist concept of equanimity. As one of the Brahma Vihara , it is a pure mental state cultivated on the Buddhist path to nirvāna.-Pali literary contexts:...

    .
  • four immaterial states
    Arupajhana
    In Buddhism, the arūpajhānas or "formless meditations" are four successive levels of meditation on non-material objects. These levels are higher than the rūpajhānas, and harder to attain...

    : boundless space, boundless perception, nothingness, and neither perception nor non-perception.
  • one perception (of "repulsiveness in nutriment")
  • one "defining" (that is, the four elements
    Mahabhuta
    Mahābhūta is Sanskrit and Pāli for "great element." In Buddhism, the "four great elements" are earth, water, fire and air...

    )


When one overlays Buddhaghosa's 40 meditative subjects for the development of concentration with the Buddha's foundations of mindfulness, three practices are found to be in common: breath meditation, foulness meditation (which is similar to the Sattipatthana Sutta's cemetery contemplations, and to contemplation of bodily repulsiveness), and contemplation of the four elements. According to Pali commentaries
Pali literature
Pali literature is concerned mainly with Theravada Buddhism, of which Pali is the traditional language.- India :Main article: Pali CanonThe earliest and most important Pali literature constitutes the Pali Canon, the scriptures of Theravada...

, breath meditation can lead one to the equanimous fourth jhanic absorption. Contemplation of foulness can lead to the attainment of the first jhana, and contemplation of the four elements culminates in pre-jhana access concentration.

In Contemporary Theravāda


Particularly influential from the twentieth century onward has been the "New Burmese Method" or "Vipassana School" approach to samatha and vipassana developed by Mingun Jetavana Sayādaw U Nārada and popularized by Mahasi Sayadaw
Mahasi Sayadaw
The Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw U Sobhana was a Burmese Theravada Buddhist monk and meditation master who had a significant impact on the teaching of Vipassana meditation in the West and throughout Asia...

. Here samatha is considered an optional but not necessary component of the practice—vipassana is possible without it. Another Burmese method, derived from Ledi Sayadaw
Ledi Sayadaw
The Venerable Ledi Sayadaw U Ñanadhaja was an influential Theravada Buddhist monk. He was recognized from a young age as being developed in both the theory and practice of Buddhism and so was revered as being both scholarly and saintly...

 via U Ba Khin and S. N. Goenka
S. N. Goenka
Satya Narayan Goenka is a leading lay teacher of Vipassanā meditation and a student of U Ba Khin. He has trained more than 800 assistant teachers and each year more than 100,000 people attend Goenka sponsored Vipassana courses....

, takes a similar approach. Other Burmese traditions popularized in the west, notably that of Pa Auk Sayadaw, uphold the emphasis on samatha explicit in the commentarial tradition of the Visuddhimagga
Visuddhimagga
The Visuddhimagga , is the 'great treatise' on Theravada Buddhist doctrine written by Buddhaghosa approximately in 430 CE in Sri Lanka. A comprehensive manual condensing the theoretical and practical teaching of the Buddha, it is considered the most important Theravada text outside of the Tipitaka...

.

Also influential is the Thai Forest tradition
Thai Forest Tradition
The Thai Forest Tradition is a tradition of Buddhist monasticism within Thai Theravada Buddhism. Practitioners inhabit remote wilderness and forest dwellings as spiritual practice training grounds. Maha Nikaya and Dhammayuttika Nikaya are the two major monastic orders in Thailand that have forest...

 deriving from Ajahn Mun and popularized by Ajahn Chah
Ajahn Chah
Venerable Ajahn Chah Subhaddo was an influential teacher of the Buddhadhamma and a founder of two major monasteries in the Thai Forest Tradition....

, which, in contrast, stresses the inseparability of the two practices, and the essential necessity of both practices. Other noted practitioners in this tradition include Ajahn Thate
Ajahn Thate
Phra Ajaan Thate Desaransi, was one of the most famous masters of Theravada Buddhist meditation known as the Thai Forest Tradition who lived in northern Thailand....

 and Ajahn Maha Bua, among others.

In Mahāyāna Buddhism


Mahāyāna Buddhism includes numerous schools of practice, which each draw upon various Buddhist sūtras, philosophical treatises, and commentaries. Accordingly, each school has its own meditation methods for the purpose of developing samādhi and prajñā
Prajña
Prajñā or paññā is wisdom, understanding, discernment or cognitive acuity. Such wisdom is understood to exist in the universal flux of being and can be intuitively experienced through meditation...

, with the goal of ultimately attaining enlightenment. Nevertheless, each has its own emphasis, mode of expression, and philosophical outlook. In his classic book on meditation of the various Chinese Buddhist traditions, Charles Luk writes, "The Buddha Dharma is useless if it is not put into actual practice, because if we do not have personal experience of it, it will be alien to us and we will never awaken to it in spite of our book learning." Venerable Nan Huaijin echoes similar sentiments about the importance of meditation by remarking, "Intellectual reasoning is just another spinning of the sixth consciousness, whereas the practice of meditation is the true entry into the Dharma."
Mindfulness of Amitābha Buddha

In the Pure Land
Pure Land Buddhism
Pure Land Buddhism , also referred to as Amidism in English, is a broad branch of Mahāyāna Buddhism and currently one of the most popular traditions of Buddhism in East Asia. Pure Land is a branch of Buddhism focused on Amitābha Buddha...

 tradition of Buddhism, repeating the name of Amitābha Buddha is traditionally a form of Mindfulness of the Buddha (Skt. ). This term was translated into Chinese as nianfo
Nianfo
Nianfo , is a term commonly seen in the Pure Land school of Mahāyāna Buddhism...

(念佛), by which it is popularly known in English. The practice is described as calling the buddha to mind by repeating his name, to enable the practitioner to bring all his or her attention upon that buddha (samādhi). This may be done vocally or mentally, and with or without the use of Buddhist prayer beads. Those who practice this method often commit to a fixed set of repetitions per day, often from 50,000 to over 500,000. According to tradition, the second patriarch of the Pure Land school, Shandao, is said to have practiced this day and night without interruption, each time emitting light from his mouth. Therefore he was bestowed with the title "Great Master of Light" (大師光明) by the Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

 emperor Gao Zong
Emperor Gaozong of Tang
Emperor Gaozong of Tang , personal name Li Zhi , was the third emperor of the Tang Dynasty in China, ruling from 649 to 683...

 (高宗).

In addition, in Chinese Buddhism there is a related practice called the "dual path of Chán
Zen
Zen is a school of Mahāyāna Buddhism founded by the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma. The word Zen is from the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word Chán , which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna, which can be approximately translated as "meditation" or "meditative state."Zen...

 and Pure Land cultivation", which is also called the "dual path of emptiness and existence." As taught by Venerable Nan Huaijin, the name of Amitābha Buddha is recited slowly, and the mind is emptied out after each repetition. When idle thoughts arise, the phrase is repeated again to clear them. With constant practice, the mind is able to remain peacefully in emptiness, culminating in the attainment of samādhi.
Pure Land Rebirth Dhāraṇī

Repeating the Pure Land Rebirth Dhāraṇī
Dharani
A ' is a type of ritual speech similar to a mantra. The terms dharani and satheesh may be seen as synonyms, although they are normally used in distinct contexts....

 is another method in Pure Land Buddhism. Similar to the mindfulness practice of repeating the name of Amitābha Buddha, this dhāraṇī is another method of meditation and recitation in Pure Land Buddhism. The repetition of this dhāraṇī is said to be very popular among traditional Chinese Buddhists. It is traditionally preserved in Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

, and it is said that when a devotee succeeds in realizing singleness of mind by repeating a mantra, its true and profound meaning will be clearly revealed.
namo amitābhāya tathāgatāya tadyathā
amṛtabhave amṛtasaṃbhave
amṛtavikrānte amṛtavikrāntagāmini
gagana kīrtīchare svāhā

Visualization methods

Another practice found in Pure Land Buddhism is meditative contemplation and visualization of Amitābha
Amitabha
Amitābha is a celestial buddha described in the scriptures of the Mahāyāna school of Buddhism...

 Buddha, his attendant bodhisattvas, and the Pure Land. The basis of this is found in the Amitāyurdhyāna Sūtra ("Amitābha Meditation Sūtra"), in which the Buddha
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

 describes to Queen Vaidehi the practices of thirteen progressive visualization methods, corresponding to the attainment of various levels of rebirth in the Pure Land. Visualization practises for Amitābha
Amitabha
Amitābha is a celestial buddha described in the scriptures of the Mahāyāna school of Buddhism...

 are popular among esoteric Buddhist sects, such as Japanese Shingon Buddhism.
Pointing to the nature of the mind

In the earliest traditions of Chán/Zen
Zen
Zen is a school of Mahāyāna Buddhism founded by the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma. The word Zen is from the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word Chán , which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna, which can be approximately translated as "meditation" or "meditative state."Zen...

 Buddhism, it is said that there was no formal method of meditation. Instead, the teacher would use various didactic methods to point to the true nature of the mind, also known as Buddha-nature
Buddha-nature
Buddha-nature, Buddha-dhatu or Buddha Principle , is taught differently in various Mahayana Buddhism traditions. Broadly speaking Buddha-nature is concerned with ascertaining what allows sentient beings to become Buddhas...

. This method is referred to as the "Mind Dharma", and exemplified in the story of Śākyamuni Buddha holding up a flower silently, and Mahākāśyapa
Mahakasyapa
Mahākāśyapa or Kāśyapa was a brahman of Magadha, who became one of the principal disciples of Śākyamuni Buddha and who convened and directed the first council. Mahākāśyapa is one of the most revered of the Buddha's early disciples, foremost in ascetic practices...

 smiling as he understood. A traditional formula of this is, "Chán points directly to the human mind, to enable people to see their true nature and become buddhas." In the early era of the Chán school, there was no fixed method or simple formula for teaching meditation, and all instructions were simply heuristic methods; therefore the Chán school was called the "Gateless Gate."
Contemplating meditation cases

It is said traditionally that when the minds of people in society became more complicated and when they could not make progress so easily, the masters of the Chán school were forced to change their methods. These involved particular words and phrases, shouts, roars of laughter, sighs, gestures, or blows from a staff. These were all meant to awaken the student to the essential truth of the mind, and were later called gōng'àn (公案), or kōan in Japanese. These didactic phrases and methods were to be contemplated, and example of such a device is a phrase that turns around the practice of mindfulness: "Who is being mindful of the Buddha?" The teachers all instructed their students to give rise to a gentle feeling of doubt at all times while practicing, so as to strip the mind of seeing, hearing, feeling, and knowing, and ensure its constant rest and undisturbed condition. Charles Luk explains the essential function of contemplating such a meditation case with doubt:
Tiantai śamatha-vipaśyanā

In China it has been traditionally held that the meditation methods used by the Tiantai
Tiantai
Tiantai is an important school of Buddhism in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. In Japan the school is known as Tendai, and in Korea it is known as Cheontae. Tiantai is also called the "Lotus School", due to its emphasis on the Lotus Sūtra as its doctrinal basis...

 school are the most systematic and comprehensive of all. In addition to its doctrinal basis in Indian Buddhist texts, the Tiantai school also emphasizes use of its own meditation texts which emphasize the principles of śamatha and vipaśyanā. Of these texts, Zhiyi's Concise Śamatha-vipaśyanā (小止観), Mahā-śamatha-vipaśyanā (摩訶止観), and Six Subtle Dharma Gates (六妙法門) are the most widely read in China. Rujun Wu (1993: p. 1) identifies the work Mahā-śamatha-vipaśyanā of Zhiyi as the seminal meditation text of the Tiantai school. Regarding the functions of śamatha and vipaśyanā in meditation, Zhiyi writes in his work Concise Śamatha-vipaśyanā:
The Tiantai school also places a great emphasis on ānāpānasmṛti
Anapanasati
Ānāpānasati , meaning 'mindfulness of breathing' , is a form of Buddhist meditation now common to the Tibetan, Zen, Tiantai, and Theravada schools of Buddhism, as well as western-based mindfulness programs.According to tradition, Anapanasati was...

, or mindfulness of breathing, in accordance with the principles of śamatha and vipaśyanā. Zhiyi classifies breathing into four main categories: panting (喘), unhurried breathing (風), deep and quiet breathing (氣), and stillness or rest (息). Zhiyi holds that the first three kinds of breathing are incorrect, while the fourth is correct, and that the breathing should reach stillness and rest.
Esoteric practices in Japan

One of the adaptations by the Japanese Tendai
Tendai
is a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism, a descendant of the Chinese Tiantai or Lotus Sutra school.Chappell frames the relevance of Tendai for a universal Buddhism:- History :...

 (Ch. Tiantai) school was the introduction of esoteric practices (Mikkyo
Mikkyo
Mikkyō is a Japanese term that refers to the esoteric Vajrayāna practices of the Shingon Buddhist school and the related practices that make up part of the Tendai school. There are also various Shingon- and Tendai-influenced practices of Shugendō...

) into Tendai Buddhism, which was later named Taimitsu by Ennin
Ennin
Ennin , who is better known in Japan by his posthumous name, Jikaku Daishi , was a priest of the Tendai school.- Birth and origin :...

. Eventually, according to Tendai Taimitsu doctrine, the esoteric rituals came to be considered of equal importance with the exoteric teachings of the Lotus Sutra. Therefore, by chanting mantras, maintaining mudras, or performing certain meditations, one is able to see that the sense experiences are the teachings of Buddha, have faith that one is inherently an enlightened being, and one can attain enlightenment within this very body. The origins of Taimitsu are found in China, similar to the lineage that Kukai
Kukai
Kūkai , also known posthumously as , 774–835, was a Japanese monk, civil servant, scholar, poet, and artist, founder of the Shingon or "True Word" school of Buddhism. Shingon followers usually refer to him by the honorific titles of and ....

 encountered in his visit to China during the Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

, and Saicho
Saicho
was a Japanese Buddhist monk credited with founding the Tendai school in Japan, based around the Chinese Tiantai tradition he was exposed to during his trip to China beginning in 804. He founded the temple and headquarters of Tendai at Enryaku-ji on Mt. Hiei near Kyoto. He is also said to have...

's disciples were encouraged to study under Kukai.

Meditation in Vajrayana Buddhism



The aim of the teachings of Mahamudra
Mahamudra
Mahāmudrā literally means "great seal" or "great symbol." It "is a multivalent term of great importance in later Indian Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism" which "also occurs occasionally in Hindu and East Asian Buddhist esotericism."The name refers to the way one who...

 and Dzogchen
Dzogchen
According to Tibetan Buddhism and Bön, Dzogchen is the natural, primordial state or natural condition of the mind, and a body of teachings and meditation practices aimed at realizing that condition. Dzogchen, or "Great Perfection", is a central teaching of the Nyingma school also practiced by...

, each taught by the Kagyu
Kagyu
The Kagyu, Kagyupa, or Kagyud school, also known as the "Oral Lineage" or Whispered Transmission school, is today regarded as one of six main schools of Himalayan or Tibetan Buddhism, the other five being the Nyingma, Sakya, Jonang, Bon and Gelug...

 and Nyingma
Nyingma
The Nyingma tradition is the oldest of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism . "Nyingma" literally means "ancient," and is often referred to as Nga'gyur or the "old school" because it is founded on the first translations of Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Tibetan, in the eighth century...

 lineages of Indo-Tibetan or Vajrayana Buddhism, respectively, is to familiarize one with the ultimate nature of mind which underlies all existence, the Dharmakaya
Dharmakaya
The Dharmakāya is a central idea in Mahayana Buddhism forming part of the Trikaya doctrine that was possibly first expounded in the Aṣṭasāhasrikā prajñā-pāramitā , composed in the 1st century BCE...

. Then, by meditating in union with the Dharmakaya
Dharmakaya
The Dharmakāya is a central idea in Mahayana Buddhism forming part of the Trikaya doctrine that was possibly first expounded in the Aṣṭasāhasrikā prajñā-pāramitā , composed in the 1st century BCE...

, one gradually passes through each of the Ten Bhumis
Bhumi (Buddhism)
The bodhisattva's path of awakening in the Mahayana tradition progresses through ten hierarchically arranged stages, referred to as the "bodhisattva bhūmis"...

 until reaching liberation from Samsara
Samsara
thumb|right|200px|Traditional Tibetan painting or [[Thanka]] showing the [[wheel of life]] and realms of saṃsāraSaṅsāra or Saṃsāra , , literally meaning "continuous flow", is the cycle of birth, life, death, rebirth or reincarnation within Hinduism, Buddhism, Bön, Jainism, Sikhism, and other...

 and karma
Karma
Karma in Indian religions is the concept of "action" or "deed", understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect originating in ancient India and treated in Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh philosophies....

.

The shared preliminary practices of both the Nyingma and Kagyu schools of Tibetan Buddhism are called ngondro
Ngöndro
Ngöndro refers to the preliminary, preparatory or foundational 'practices' or 'disciplines' common to all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism and also to Bön...

, which involves visualization, mantra
Mantra
A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation"...

 recitation and sadhana practice, and many prostration
Prostration
Prostration is the placement of the body in a reverentially or submissively prone position. Major world religions employ prostration either as a means of embodying reverence for a noble person, persons or doctrine, or as an act of submissiveness to a supreme being or beings...

s.

It is also common in Vajrayana, as consistent with the Bodhisattvic ideal of saving all sentient beings, to practice compassion meditation (metta-bhavana
Metta
Mettā or maitrī is loving-kindness, friendliness, benevolence, amity, friendship, good will, kindness, love, sympathy, close mental union , and active interest in others. It is one of the ten pāramīs of the Theravāda school of Buddhism, and the first of the four sublime states...

) and contemplation of the four immeasurables
Brahmavihara
The brahmavihāras are a series of four Buddhist virtues and the meditation practices made to cultivate them. They are also known as the four immeasurables...

, or to visualize taking on the suffering of others while breathing in and giving others happiness while breathing out (tonglen
Tonglen
Tonglen is Tibetan for 'giving and taking' , and refers to a meditation practice found in Tibetan Buddhism.-Practice:...

), or to visualize deities inseparable from oneself (deity yoga), perhaps as part of a structured prayer (sadhana
Sadhana
Sādhanā literally "a means of accomplishing something" is ego-transcending spiritual practice. It includes a variety of disciplines in Hindu, Sikh , Buddhist and Muslim traditions that are followed in order to achieve various spiritual or ritual objectives.The historian N...

). Hand gestures mudra
Mudra
A mudrā is a symbolic or ritual gesture in Hinduism and Buddhism. While some mudrās involve the entire body, most are performed with the hands and fingers...

 and prostrations to the Buddha are also common to Vajrayana Buddhists. There are many, many styles of meditation in Vajrayana Buddhism a couple more of which are listed in the See also section.

Adoption by non-Buddhists



For a long time people have practiced meditation, based on Buddhist meditation principles, in order to effect mundane and worldly benefit. Buddhist meditation techniques are increasingly being employed by psychologists and psychiatrists to help alleviate a variety of health conditions such as anxiety and depression. As such, mindfulness and other Buddhist meditation techniques are being advocated in the West by innovative psychologists and expert Buddhist meditation teachers such as Clive Sherlock
Clive Sherlock
Clive Sherlock is a British psychiatrist who founded Adaptation Practice in 1977 using Zen Buddhist daily life practice and mindfulness meditation to relieve suffering, including emotional problems such as depression, anxiety, anger and stress....

, Mother Sayamagyi
Mother Sayamagyi
Mya Thwin, known as Mother Sayamagyi is a Theravada Buddhist teacher who has established centers for vipassana meditation around the world. She is a senior disciple of Ba Khin, a vipassana master, and fulfilled his aspiration to teach Buddhist meditation in the west.-Life and works:Mya Thwin was...

, S.N. Goenka, Jon Kabat-Zinn
Jon Kabat-Zinn
Jon Kabat-Zinn is Professor of Medicine Emeritus and founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Kabat-Zinn was a student of Zen Master Seung Sahn and a founding member of...

, Jack Kornfield
Jack Kornfield
Jack Kornfield is a teacher in the vipassana movement of American Theravada Buddhism. He trained as a Buddhist monk in Thailand, Burma and India, including as a student of the Thai monk Ajahn Chah...

, Joseph Goldstein
Joseph Goldstein
Joseph Goldstein is one of the first American vipassana teachers , co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society with Jack Kornfield and Sharon Salzberg, contemporary author of numerous popular books on Buddhism , resident guiding teacher at IMS, and leader of retreats worldwide on insight and...

, Tara Brach
Tara Brach
Tara Brach is a American psychologist and expert on Buddhist meditation. She is also the founder and senior teacher of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, a spiritual community that teaches and practices Vipassana meditation. This group's Wednesday night meeting in Bethesda, Maryland,...

, Alan Clements, and Sharon Salzberg
Sharon Salzberg
Sharon Salzberg is a New York Times Best selling author and influential teacher of Buddhist meditation practices in West. She co-founded the Insight Meditation Society at Barre, Massachusetts with Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein, in 1974...

, who have been widely attributed with playing a significant role in integrating the healing aspects of Buddhist meditation practices with the concept of psychological awareness and healing.

The accounts of meditative states in the Buddhist texts are in some regards free of dogma, so much so that the Buddhist scheme has been adopted by Western psychologists attempting to describe the phenomenon of meditation in general. However, it is exceedingly common to encounter the Buddha describing meditative states involving the attainment of such magical powers (P. iddhi
Iddhi
Iddhi is a Buddhist term which refers to supernormal powers. These powers are physical, as opposed to mental...

) as the ability to multiply one's body into many and into one again, appear and vanish at will, pass through solid objects as if space, rise and sink in the ground as if in water, walking on water as if land, fly through the skies, touching anything at any distance (even the moon or sun), and travel to other worlds (like the world of Brahma) with or without the body, among other things, and for this reason the whole of the Buddhist tradition may not be adaptable to a secular context, unless these magical powers are seen as metaphorical representations of powerful internal states that conceptual descriptions could not do justice to.

See also


Theravada
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 Buddhist meditation practices:
  • Anapanasati
    Anapanasati
    Ānāpānasati , meaning 'mindfulness of breathing' , is a form of Buddhist meditation now common to the Tibetan, Zen, Tiantai, and Theravada schools of Buddhism, as well as western-based mindfulness programs.According to tradition, Anapanasati was...

     - focusing on the breath
  • Metta
    Metta
    Mettā or maitrī is loving-kindness, friendliness, benevolence, amity, friendship, good will, kindness, love, sympathy, close mental union , and active interest in others. It is one of the ten pāramīs of the Theravāda school of Buddhism, and the first of the four sublime states...

     - cultivation of compassion and loving-kindness
  • Kammaṭṭhāna
    Kammatthana
    In Buddhism, is a Pali word which literally means the place of work. Figuratively it means the place within the mind where one goes in order to work on spiritual development...

  • Samatha
    Samatha
    Samatha , śamatha "calm abiding," comprises a suite, type or style of Buddhist meditation or concentration practices designed to enhance sustained voluntary attention, and culminates in an attention that can be sustained effortlessly for hours on end...

     - calm abiding
  • Vipassana
    Vipassana
    Vipassanā or vipaśyanā in the Buddhist tradition means insight into the true nature of reality. A regular practitioner of Vipassana is known as a Vipassi . Vipassana is one of the world's most ancient techniques of meditation, the inception of which is attributed to Gautama Buddha...

     - insight
  • Mahasati Meditation
    Mahasati Meditation
    Also known as Dynamic meditation, Mahasati Meditation is a form of mindfulness meditation. It is a technique developed by the late Thai Buddhist reformist, Luangpor Teean Jittasubho. Mahasati Meditation uses movement of the body to generate self-awareness and is a powerful tool for self-realization...



Zen
Zen
Zen is a school of Mahāyāna Buddhism founded by the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma. The word Zen is from the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word Chán , which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna, which can be approximately translated as "meditation" or "meditative state."Zen...

 Buddhist meditation practices:
  • Shikantaza
    Shikantaza
    is a Japanese term for zazen introduced by Rujing and associated most with the Soto school of Zen Buddhism. Ford cites on p. 224 an opinion that it is "the base of all Zen disciplines." Some people claim that according to Dōgen Zenji, shikantaza i.e...

     - just sitting
  • Zazen
    Zazen
    In Zen Buddhism, zazen is a meditative discipline practitioners perform to calm the body and the mind, and be able to concentrate enough to experience insight into the nature of existence and thereby gain enlightenment .- Significance :Zazen is considered the heart of Zen Buddhist practice...

  • Koan


Buddhist meditation centers:
  • Dharma Drum Retreat Center
    Dharma Drum Retreat Center
    Dharma Drum Retreat Center was founded by renowned Chinese Ch'an Master, Master Sheng-yen. Its location is at the rural area of Pine Bush, New York, just about two hours drive or northwest of New York City...

     - Ch'an/Zen Buddhist meditation center in Pine Bush, New York, USA
  • Padmaloka Buddhist Retreat Centre
    Padmaloka Buddhist Retreat Centre
    Padmaloka Buddhist Retreat Centre is a Buddhist retreat centre for men, located at Lesingham House in Surlingham, Norfolk, England. The centre is part of the Triratna Buddhist Community, formerly the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, which aims to make the teachings of the Buddha and Buddhism...

     Triratna center for men in Norfolk, UK
  • Chapin Mill
    Chapin Mill
    Chapin Mill Buddhist Retreat Center is the Buddhist Retreat center of the Rochester Zen Center located at 8603 Seven Springs Rd, Batavia, NY, between Buffalo, NY and Rochester, NY. Ralph Chapin, a member and friend of the Center donated the property to the Center in 1996. The retreat center held a...

     Zen Buddhist meditation center in Rochester, New York, USA
  • Furnace Mountain
    Furnace Mountain
    Furnace Mountain is an American Zen Buddhist retreat center in Clay City, Kentucky, co-founded in 1986 by Seung Sahn Soen Sa Nim and Dae Gak Soen Sa Nim as part of the international Kwan Um School of Zen; it is now unaffiliated with the school in an official capacity...

     Zen Buddhist meditation center in Kentucky USA


Vajrayana
Vajrayana
Vajrayāna Buddhism is also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayāna, Mantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Esoteric Buddhism and the Diamond Vehicle...

 and Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

 meditation practices:
  • Tantra techniques
    Tantra techniques (Vajrayana)
    Tantra techniques in Vajrayana Buddhism are techniques used to attain Buddhahood. Vajrayana partially relies on various tantric techniques rooted in scriptures such as tantras and various tantric commentaries and treatises...

  • Ngondro
    Ngöndro
    Ngöndro refers to the preliminary, preparatory or foundational 'practices' or 'disciplines' common to all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism and also to Bön...

     - preliminary practices
  • Tonglen
    Tonglen
    Tonglen is Tibetan for 'giving and taking' , and refers to a meditation practice found in Tibetan Buddhism.-Practice:...

     - giving and receiving
  • Phowa
    Phowa
    Phowa is a Vajrayāna Buddhist meditation practice...

     - transference of consciousness at the time of death
  • Chöd
    Chöd
    Chöd , is a spiritual practice found primarily in Tibetan Buddhism. Also known as "Cutting Through the Ego," the practice is based on the Prajñāpāramitā sutra...

     - cutting through fear by confronting it
  • Mahamudra
    Mahamudra
    Mahāmudrā literally means "great seal" or "great symbol." It "is a multivalent term of great importance in later Indian Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism" which "also occurs occasionally in Hindu and East Asian Buddhist esotericism."The name refers to the way one who...

     - the Kagyu version of 'entering the all-pervading Dharmadatu', the 'nondual state', or the 'absorption state'
  • Dzogchen
    Dzogchen
    According to Tibetan Buddhism and Bön, Dzogchen is the natural, primordial state or natural condition of the mind, and a body of teachings and meditation practices aimed at realizing that condition. Dzogchen, or "Great Perfection", is a central teaching of the Nyingma school also practiced by...

     - the natural state, the Nyingma version of Mahamudra
    Mahamudra
    Mahāmudrā literally means "great seal" or "great symbol." It "is a multivalent term of great importance in later Indian Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism" which "also occurs occasionally in Hindu and East Asian Buddhist esotericism."The name refers to the way one who...

  • The Four Immeasurables, Metta
    Metta
    Mettā or maitrī is loving-kindness, friendliness, benevolence, amity, friendship, good will, kindness, love, sympathy, close mental union , and active interest in others. It is one of the ten pāramīs of the Theravāda school of Buddhism, and the first of the four sublime states...

  • Tantra
    Tantra
    Tantra , anglicised tantricism or tantrism or tantram, is the name scholars give to an inter-religious spiritual movement that arose in medieval India, expressed in scriptures ....



Related Buddhist practices:
  • Mindfulness - awareness in the present moment
  • Mindfulness (psychology)
    Mindfulness (psychology)
    Modern clinical psychology and psychiatry since the 1970s have developed a number of therapeutic applications based on the concept of mindfulness in Buddhist meditation.-Definitions:...

     - Western applications of Buddhist ideas
  • Satipatthana
    Satipatthana
    In the Buddhist tradition, ' refers to the establishing, foundation or presence of "mindfulness" . The Buddha taught the establishing of mindfulness as the 'direct path' to the realisation of nirvana...

  • chanting
    Buddhist chant
    A Buddhist chant is a form of musical verse or incantation, in some ways analogous to Hindu, Christian or Jewish religious recitations. They exist in just about every part of the Buddhist world, from the Wats in Thailand to the Tibetan Buddhist temples in India and Tibet...

     and mantra
    Mantra
    A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation"...



Proper floor-sitting postures and supports while meditating:
  • Floor sitting: cross-legged (full lotus
    Lotus position
    The Lotus Position is a cross-legged sitting posture originating in meditative practices of ancient India, in which the feet are placed on the opposing thighs. It is an established posture, commonly used for meditation, in the Hindu Yoga and Buddhist contemplative traditions...

    , half lotus, Burmese) or seiza
    Seiza
    Seiza is the Japanese term for the traditional formal way of sitting in Japan.- Form :To sit seiza-style, one first kneels on the floor, folding one's legs underneath one's thighs, while resting the buttocks on the heels...

  • Cushions: zafu
    Zafu
    A zafu is a round cushion. Although also a utilitarian accessory, it is most well known for its use in zazen Zen meditation.-Name:...

    , zabuton
    Zabuton
    A zabuton is a Japanese cushion for sitting. The zabuton is generally used when sitting on the floor, and may also be used when sitting on a chair. Ordinarily any place in Japan where seating is on the floor will be provided with zabuton, for sitting comfort...



Traditional Buddhist texts
Buddhist texts
Buddhist texts can be categorized in a number of ways. The Western terms "scripture" and "canonical" are applied to Buddhism in inconsistent ways by Western scholars: for example, one authority refers to "scriptures and other canonical texts", while another says that scriptures can be categorized...

 on meditation:
  • Anapanasati Sutta
    Anapanasati Sutta
    The Ānāpānasati Sutta or Ānāpānasmṛti Sūtra , "Breath-Mindfulness Discourse," is a discourse that details the Buddha's instruction on using the breath as a focus for meditation.-In Theravada Buddhism:...

  • Satipatthana Sutta
    Satipatthana Sutta
    The Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta and the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta are two of the most important and widely studied discourses in the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism...

  • Visuddhimagga
    Visuddhimagga
    The Visuddhimagga , is the 'great treatise' on Theravada Buddhist doctrine written by Buddhaghosa approximately in 430 CE in Sri Lanka. A comprehensive manual condensing the theoretical and practical teaching of the Buddha, it is considered the most important Theravada text outside of the Tipitaka...



Traditional preliminary practices to Buddhist meditation:
  • prostrations
    Prostration (Buddhism)
    A prostration is a gesture used in Buddhist practice to show reverence to the Triple Gem and other objects of veneration.Among Buddhists prostration is believed to be beneficial for practitioners for several reasons, including:*an experience...

     (also see Ngondro
    Ngöndro
    Ngöndro refers to the preliminary, preparatory or foundational 'practices' or 'disciplines' common to all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism and also to Bön...

    )
  • refuge
    Refuge (Buddhism)
    Buddhists "take refuge" in, or to "go for refuge" to, the Three Jewels . This can be done formally in lay and monastic ordination ceremonies.The Three Jewels general signification is: * the Buddha;* the Dharma, the teachings;...

     in the Triple Gem
  • Five Precepts


Analog in Vedas:
  • Paramatma
  • Ksirodakasayi Vishnu
    Ksirodakasayi Vishnu
    Kṣīrodakaśāyī-Viṣṇu is one of the puruṣa Āvatāra of Nārāyaṇa. According to the Vedas, Kṣīrodakaśāyī-Viṣṇu resides in the heart of every living creature as a four hand expansion similar to that of Mahā-Viṣṇu. He is also referred to as Paramātmā or super soul. His abode is the...


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