Friday, November 15, 2013

Buddhist Meditation and Psychology

Amber Larson, Wisdom Quarterly; Douglas Burns, Buddhism and Depth Psychology (
In Buddhism, "mind" and "heart" use the same term, citta, and the "mind door" is in the area of the physical heart rather than the skull (Thimphu, Bhutan/
...If the cause of suffering (dukkha, "disappointment") is primarily psychological, then it must follow that the cure, also, is psychological. Therefore, we find in Buddhism a series of "mental exercises" or meditations designed to uncover and heal our psychic aberrations.
Mistakenly, Buddhist (insight-) meditation is frequently confused with yogic meditation, which includes physical contortions, autohypnosis, quests for occult powers, and an attempted union with GOD [Brahman]. None of these are concerns or practices of the Noble Eightfold Path
There are in [original*] Buddhism no drugs or stimulants, no secret teachings, and no mystical formulae. Buddhist (insight) meditation deals exclusively with the everyday phenomena of human consciousness. In the words of Ven. Nyanaponika Thera, a renowned Western Buddhist scholar-monk:
In its spirit of self-reliance, Satipatthana [the setting up of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness] does not require any elaborate technique or external devices. The daily life is its working material. It has nothing to do with any exotic cults or rites nor does it confer "initiations" or "esoteric knowledge" in any way other than by self-enlightenment. Using just the conditions of life it finds, Satipatthana does not require complete seclusion or monastic life, though in some who undertake the practice, the desire and need for these may grow (The Heart of Buddhist Meditation, Nyanaponika Thera, London: Rider & Co. 1962, p. 82).
Unless the reader suspects that some peculiarity of the "Western mind" precludes Westerners from the successful practice of meditation, note also the words of Rear Admiral E.H. Shattock, a British naval officer, who once spent three weeks of diligent meditation practice in a Theravada monastery near Rangoon, Burma:
Meditation, therefore, is a really practical occupation: it is in no sense necessarily a religious one, though it is usually thought of as such. It is itself basically academic, practical, and profitable. It is, I think, necessary to emphasize this point, because so many only associate meditation with holy or saintly people, and regard it as an advanced form of the pious life... This is not the tale of a conversion, but of an attempt to test the reaction of a well-tried Eastern system on a typical Western mind (An Experiment in Mindfulness, E.H. Shattock, New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1960, pp. 17-19).
The Buddha in the Golden Triangle (Ursula in Aus/Ursula_bkk/
Reading about meditation is like reading about swimming; only by getting into the water does the aspiring swimmer begin to progress. So it is with meditation and Buddhism in general. The Dharma must be lived, not merely thought. Study and contemplation are valuable tools, but life itself is the training ground.
Using words
The following passages are attempts to put into words what must be experienced within oneself. Or in the words of the Dhammapada: "Buddhas only point the way. Each one must work out one's own salvation with diligence."

Meditation is a personal experience, a subjective experience, and consequently each of us must tread our own path towards the summit of enlightenment. By words we can instruct and encourage, but words are only symbols for reality. More

*"Original" Buddhism?
Dhr. Seven, Wisdom Quarterly (COMMENTARY)
After the original dispensation (sasana) was set up by the historical Buddha, the Dharma he set rolling began to be conflated with the indigenous Brahmanism of his day. It eventually swallowed Buddhism, calling the Buddha an incarnation (avatar) of the god Vishnu, and making the Buddha's contrary message part of orthodox Hinduism. Adi Shankara is responsible for throwing Buddhism out of India with the idea of promoting the "eternal teachings" (Sanatan Dharma) free of foreign influence. The Buddha was a foreigner from the northwest frontier. Although the Buddha rejected the authority of the sacred Brahminical Vedas, modern Vedantic-Hindus and Mahayana-Buddhists ignore the differences and blend the two traditions. While this departs from the original message of the Buddha, teaching the same thing with new names gives Buddhism a longer history, elevates Sanskrit above Pali, Prakrit, and Magadhi, and loses sight of what the Buddha felt was indispensable for actual enlightenment (bodhi) and final-liberation (moksha), which he called "nirvana" to distinguish this Path's goal from the goal of the ancient Brahmins. For them "the end of rebirth and suffering" is "rebirth in Brahma's eternal heaven." The Buddha rejected this, pointing out that it was not permanent but changing just like all planes of rebirth. The key difference between Brahmanism (Hinduism) and Buddhism regards the soul or self (atta, atman). Until one penetrates anatta, the impersonal or not-self nature of all things, one will not enter the first stage of Buddhist enlightenment called stream entry. Therefore, there will be no actual liberation but only continued wandering on in samsara, the Wheel of Life and Death, through heavens, hells, and other realms.

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