Choosing A Right Method Of Meditation

When facing stress, adversity, and suffering, many Zen masters teach that simply by sitting in meditation with an upright posture, being aware of the breath, and anchoring oneself in the present moment, you can become enlightened or find peace in that very moment.

However, this isn’t the teaching of the Buddha. Without merit, desires and fantasies constantly arise and pull us away, making us lose awareness of our breath and causing our minds to become restless. If the mind isn’t tranquil, suffering persists, and stress remains. Once the meditation session ends, the tension, suffering, and adversity we encountered remain unresolved, those issues await an opportunity to resurface.

Due to the nature of desires and fantasies, suffering arises from mistakes, ignorance, greed, and arrogance. We don’t eliminate suffering by trying to avoid or evade it; instead, we directly confront it, embrace the pain, recognize our mistakes, repent, and cultivate merits. True insight leads to tranquility, while mistaken insights lead to further restlessness.

Living an ethical life for the benefit of all beings, we bring happiness to others, thereby creating our own happiness through acts of kindness or charitable deeds. Additionally, meditating to eliminate desires and fantasies can bring internal tranquility. Conversely, when sitting in meditation and attaining inner stability, wisdom arises. We become more aware of our own faults, leading to repentance and a stronger commitment to ethical living.

This inseparable relationship between meditation practice and ethical conduct is crucial. If meditation is used merely as a means to stop and detach from life, it can lead to indifference and neglect of responsibilities.

Choosing A Right Method Of Meditation
Choosing A Right Method Of Meditation

Before practicing meditation, please keep in your mind some key points that assist us in choosing the right method of meditation. If no Zen master has taught you about these essentials, please refrain from rushing into practice to avoid negative consequences.

  1. Meditation is the harmony of

– Inner peace

– Wisdom

– Morality

It is not just the inner peace alone in the soul.

If we think that meditation is only about inner peace, we will easily fall into the misconception that we do not need to care about anything, do not have any responsibility to anyone, and do not need to know anything…

Meditation must be a beautiful life from the soul to the outward behaviors.

Unwholesome thoughts disturb the mind, while wholesome ones calm it. Inner tranquility is compatible with morality, so anyone who practices meditation needs to improve their morality very well.

Inner tranquility also helps us see our moral faults more easily. When we reach a higher level in meditation, hidden bad tendencies deep in our souls will be discovered and neutralized. That’s why meditation is said to have the power to build perfect morality.

Meditation and morality greatly affect each other. We can only attain the Right Concentration when we have eradicated almost all unwholesome thoughts arising from our self.

Morality and meditation are similar in that they both focus on the mind.

Morality judges our thoughts right or wrong, good or evil.

Meditation judges our minds peaceful or unpeaceful.

(The eight-fold path teaches us how to lead a moral life)

  1. The most miserable thing for a meditation practitioner is wandering thoughts. They are footprints of our mistakes in past or present lives. We need to cultivate blessings to gain awareness, to realize wandering thoughts, and eliminate them. This blessing is accumulated through cultivating the eight-fold path. 

Achieving good results in meditation requires more than just sitting silently and practicing the right method; it involves living meditation.

  1. Inner peace is the first stage in cultivation progress. The ultimate goal of meditation is to gain no self, attain enlightenment and liberation.

Because when the Buddha was a crown prince, he reached the first level of meditation in which the mind is tranquil. However, he discovered that the ego still existed, preventing him from attaining enlightenment. As a result, he chose the path of meditation to achieve enlightenment. If any religion does not guide its followers to eliminate the ego, it does not adhere to the teachings of the Buddha.

  1. Through meditation, one can attain inner purity and extraordinary abilities. Practitioners might develop exceptional intelligence and insights that surpass common knowledge, or even attain higher states like psychic power or out of body experience. However, for those without a foundation in ethics or an understanding of the need for ethical cultivation in meditation, these supernormal abilities can lead them astray.

People lacking ethical grounding may misuse such abilities to elevate themselves, labeling themselves as spiritual leaders, saints, or meditation masters, alluring egotism and attracting followers through vanity. This is hazardous and could lead to mental instability.

An individual with heightened intelligence might exploit their understanding of others’ actions for manipulation and deceit, resulting in monetary gains and causing mental instability due to misusing their supposed insights.

Such individuals could pose a danger to Buddhism, as they may teach incorrect methods, spreading distorted teachings to others.

  1. Following Buddha’s path, the golden rule of the practice of meditation is that we should treat the body as the root of the mind. Despite meditation is a method of concentration of mind. But we cannot deal with wandering thoughts directly. Only when we pay attention to the body, the brain will be less active so the mind is quite.

Buddha taught eighty-four thousand lectures for everything in life, but for meditation, Buddha only focused on this technique:

  1. Sit in the lotus position in a deserted place.​
  2. Body-Awareness Meditation (Body-Scanning Meditation): be fully aware and mindful of the body. Always scanning the body and acknowledging its sensations, feelings, and movements. Remain and dwelling the consciousness and awareness in the body; let the awareness stay at one’s skin and never let it leave the body .
  3. Contemplate the impermanence of one’s own body: reflecting and contemplating the impermanent process of one’s own body, from being young and healthy to being old, dead, and then decay into nothing.
  4. Breath Awareness: Discern the breaths without any controlling or putting any force to breathe. When the breath is long or short, practitioners calmly know whether it is long or short, without interfering or controlling.
  5. Combining the techniques simultaneously: Discern breaths while still paying attention to the whole body and its sensation. Discern breaths while contemplating the impermanence of the body.

Those are the standard techniques of meditation that Buddha was teaching during his time on Earth. Practitioners have to use this technique as a weapon to conquer their physical discomfort and mental turbulence during the first stage of Right Effort.

It remains unknown when ones will achieve the next stage of Right Mindfulness. Sometimes practitioners will find some small results in meditation; however, those results are usually very uncertain and most likely will come and go in the beginning. Sometimes they can meditate for hours this time, but cannot do that in the next session. Thus, practitioners have to be persistent and assiduous in their practices and have realistic expectations for what will come on their ways. Furthermore, practitioners must try to remember the impermanence of their bodies in every moment in life and strive to do many good deeds, little by little every single day, to create a great merit for the future.

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