(Last Updated on : 12/06/2013)
is basically a mental exercise. Prayer is a form of discursive meditation, and in Hinduism the reciting of `slokas` and mantras are employed to tranquilize the mind to a state of receptivity.
Buddhist meditation is a form of psychological concentration that guides ultimately to enlightenment and spiritual freedom of the mind. In Buddhist religion, meditation occupies a vital place and has developed characteristic variations in different Buddhist traditions. The purpose of Buddhist meditation is to learn the flow of mind, its functions and its powers and furthermore to distinguish between self-hypnosis, the development of mediumistic states and the real process of mental clarification. To identify the direct perception and the cluster of the mental perspectives are the object of Buddhist mental concentration. It admits to gain more than an intellectual understanding of the truth of life, to liberate the soul from the delusion and thereby put an end to both ignorance and craving. The Buddhist meditation is the source of a temporary retirement and the basis of the unique and authentic perseverance of the mind to free it from attachment, establish courage and discretion of soul.
There are basically two types of Buddhist meditation that focuses a lot on `Samatha` and `Vipashyana`. `Samatha` is the connotation of a pre-Buddhist Yogic form which Buddha practiced extensively. This meditation is calm abiding or tranquillity supplier. It is the development of serenity that is a prerequisite to any further development. Even Lord Buddha incorporated some other forms to `Samatha` meditation. Another form of meditation in Buddhism
, `Vipashyana` connotes a clear seeing or special insight which involves intuitive cognition of suffering and impermanence. The more complicated meditations are practiced once the primary forms of meditations are performed and the results of these meditations are attained. After the primary meditations the practitioners of meditation move towards more complicated forms like `Samadhi` or one-pointed meditation. It involves intense focusing or consciousness and brings about four `Dhyanas` or absorptions. Buddha refers to `Samadhi` and the `Dhyanas` in the eight step of eight-folded path. `Dhyana
` is referred as `Jhana` in Pali, `Ch`an` in Chinese, `Son` in Korean and `Zen` in Japanese.
There is significant diversity in Buddhist meditation in different Buddhist schools. For example, in the `Theravada
` tradition alone, there are over fifty methods for developing mindfulness and forty for developing concentration, while the Tibetan culture has thousands of visualisation meditations.
The Buddhist Meditation types, be it classical or be it contemporary, are always school specific. Only a few teachers attempt to synthesize and categorize practices from multiple Buddhist traditions. The most popular types of Buddhist Meditation follows the classification of Western Buddhist order Meditation teacher Kamalashila who represents `Five basic methods` as a `Traditional set of meditations, each one an antidote to one of the five principal obstructions to Enlightenment`. The types of Buddhist meditation include `Anapanasati` or Mindfulness of Breathing which is one of the most universally applicable methods of cultivating mental concentration. This, unlike the Yogic systems, does not call for any interference with the normal breathing, the breath being merely used as a point on which to fix the attention, at the tip of the nostrils. Another is Metta Bhavana (including all four Lord Brahma
-Viharas) that connotes the thoughts of universal, undiscriminating benevolence, like radio waves reaching out in all directions; sublimate the creative energy of the mind. With steady perseverance in `metta bhavana` a point can be reached at which it becomes impossible even to harbour a thought of ill-will. The rest of Buddhist meditations are Contemplation of Impermanence, Six Element Practice (earth, water, fire, air, space, consciousness) and Contemplation of Conditionality.
The Contemplation of Impermanence includes "Contemplation of a decomposing corpse," Reflection on death and "Reflection on the Tibetan Book of the Dead`s `Root Verses`. In addition, Kamalashila added three other meditations most importantly Visualisation, Shikantaza or just sitting and Walking Meditation. The whole theme of Kamalashila`s guide and various methods of meditation either fall under Samatha or Vipashyana. In such a scheme Kamalashila identifies `Anapanasati` and `Metta Bhavana` as `samatha` meditations. The `Vipashyana` meditations include contemplation on impermanence, six-element practice and contemplation of conditionality.
Moreover, Buddhist meditation practices include Theravada Buddhist meditation that is ramified into Anapanasati, Metta, Kammatth?na and Vipassana. The Zen Buddhist meditation practice includes Shikantaza, Zazen and Koan. Vajrayana Buddhist meditation practices incorporate Mandala, Tonglen and Tantra. In addition to that some more related Buddhist practices add Mindfulness and Satipatthana. The traditional preliminary practices to Buddhist meditation include prostrations, refuge in the Triple Gem, five Precepts and chanting.
Since the primordial era, the sages and practitioners of meditation have been recommending this process of bring peace and tranquillity of mind in addition to reach the soul to the point of universal serenity.