The Science Of Meditation

Meditation is the practice of making our minds pure and serene, so it is now being practiced all over the world as mental hygiene and brain exercise to help people reduce their stress in life. Meditation centers have sprung up all over the world, especially in Buddhist countries like Burma, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and many western countries, but the success rate of meditation practitioners is very low. In fact, it was only in the Buddha’s time that we had a standard method of meditation practice. At that time, people had little scientific knowledge, so Buddha could not talk much about meditation, He only said enough for people in that era to understand and practice. But because peoples’ capacities were high at that time, many people achieved results.

When Buddha is no longer in the world, the method of meditation is no longer correct. Mankind has never had a science of meditation because meditation is too difficult, in fact, it is the science that synthesizes all the difficulties of all sciences. Therefore, before entering into the meditation realm, we need to have a serious attitude like that of a true scientist in order to go far and achieve results on the long, arduous journey.

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What should we have before practicing meditation

What should we have before practicing meditation
What should we have before practicing meditation

1. The first is a determination to keep the mind pure and serene. Many people develop an interest in meditation when they hear a story about a meditation master who attained enlightenment, a passage of a sutra from Buddha’s teachings on meditation, or a meditation method to purify the mind. It’s just an interest in meditation, not the determination to keep our minds pure and free from unwanted thoughts.

Most of us do not have this determination. We practice meditation in a way that it’s okay whether or not to have a pure mind. It’s because our merit of revering Buddha is insufficient. When our reverence for Buddha is intense and profound, the Karma Law will impel us to have a strong determination to keep our minds pure and serene.

To have the determination to practice meditation, one must have great merit, created by reverence for Buddha, infinite love for sentient beings, and extreme humility.

When we have an infinite love for sentient beings, we will always wish for everyone to be enlightened, if we don’t have this wish, our compassion is insufficient.

We should never be conceited. When we practice meditation and do good deeds, special things will come into our lives. We will have good luck and success, experience many strange states in meditation, even have magical powers, and know what other people think. If we think that we’re excellent (this is called arrogance), all our blessings will go away. So we must always be humble, no matter what happens to us, we must always see ourselves as inferior, as insignificant as dust.

Many merits and virtues from our reverence for Buddha, our compassion for sentient beings, and our humility will form the first condition for our practicing and meditation: the determination to keep the mind pure a serene.

2. The second is knowledge of the Law of Cause and Effect.

Karma is a science that is many times higher than the doctoral level. The Karma Law is not as simple as good things come to good ones or sow the wind and reap the storm. Understanding the Law of Cause and Effect in such a way is at the very first step. The Law of Cause and Effect is so strange and sophisticated we can’t tell all about it. Understanding the Law of Cause and Effect, we understand our lives and others’ lives, and importantly, we understand our own minds. We will understand why we can or cannot put our minds in a serene state, and then adjust our practice in accordance with the Law of Cause and Effect.. A Buddhist woman told us that every time she meditated, she felt unbearable pain in her groin, as if the groin had been broken or removed. (As you know, sitting cross-legged to practice meditation doesn’t cause terrible pain.) Believing in the Karma Law, she tried to repent her sin and endure the terrible pain. Once she could not bear her pain, she burst into tears and repented to Buddha. That night, in her dream, she experienced a past life of hers. In that life, she was a soldier. The soldiers on her side caught someone and they split into two groups and pulled that person’s legs apart. Then a soldier (her past life) jumped up and pinned him with his knee and broke his groin. She discovered she used to be so evil.

Enduring the pain in meditation, she is slowly repaying the karma she caused. If she hadn’t practiced meditation, she might have had to pay for her karma with a car crash, causing her groin to be exposed. The groin is close to a lot of internal organs, so if it breaks, it will cause a huge problem. Fortunately, she followed Buddhism and practiced meditation, paying for her karma by enduring the pain, if she continued to repent her sin more earnestly and set more animals free, maybe her karma would be paid off.

Each of us carries different karma from many past lives. Sometimes we live wrongly, sometimes righteously, sometimes have extreme suffering, sometimes have extreme happiness. We have all been through such intense things, and they all affect our meditation practice.

Understanding the Law of Cause and Effect, you will live more altruistically. For example, there was a person who kept trying to harm you, and you knew it was because of your wrongdoing in a previous life. Perhaps you also harmed him in a past life. You should endure his harm to end your karma if it doesn’t affect anyone else, but had to fight back if your suffering would affect your family or many other people.

3. Third, we must have knowledge of psychology. Meditation is to tame and control the mind, so we have to understand our minds profoundly. The human mind system is complex, closely related to and strongly influenced by each person’s karma. Because Western psychology has not studied the Law of Cause and Effect, it cannot unexplain all about our minds. Once, we talked to a woman with a Ph.D. in psychology, and she said, “I have studied Western psychology for a lifetime, taught it for a lifetime, but I can’t find a way out.” Buddhism can explain everything about psychology because it is based on the Law of Cause and Effect.

However, Western psychology is favored for its degree, Buddhist psychology is not. Many people, including Buddhist monks, love to study Western psychology and use it to explain Buddha’s teachings, which is like standing at the bottom of a well and explaining the sky.

Practicing meditation, we have to understand all the principles and activities of our minds, and thus we need to learn the information about the mind taught by Buddha.

4. Fourth, we must have knowledge of medicine, both modern and traditional.

Because purity of mind is related to the brain; The brain is related to the whole body (including hormones, blood, liver, intestines, lungs, etc.), so one must have knowledge of medicine, not just modern medicine. Our traditional medicine is very special. Traditional medicine has unique concepts, such as acupuncture points. We didn’t find anything special at the acupuncture points, but inserting needles into them can cure the disease. This is a mystery and pride of traditional medicine.

5. Fifth, we need knowledge of the physiology and psychology of the brain. Each region of the brain is responsible for a specific function. Sometimes that our minds often get disturbed is caused by a glitch in the brain, and if we know how to solve it, we can recover well.

6. Sixth, we need knowledge of the levels of Mindfulness stage. Mindfulness is the seventh stage of the Eightfold Path, just before the stage of Right Concentration. Right Concentration is the attainment of the fourth jhana (the highest level of meditation result). The stage of mindfulness is very long and unclear, so many people who have reached the mindfulness stage think that they have attained sublime sainthood, the truth is that they haven’t yet achieved the first jhana (the lowest level of meditation result), even though in mindfulness stage we can attain some stages of Sainthood (Sotapanna, Sakadagami), so the achievement of mindfulness is also precious.

Eightfold Path And Medetation
Eightfold Path And Meditation

We must understand the five hindrances (Greed, Anger, Drowsiness, Restlessness, and Doubt) that prevent us from putting our minds in a serene state of meditation. According to Buddha, after attaining mindfulness for a while, we must eliminate these five hindrances before we can enter the first jhana. This is an indispensable stage and also a measure of our meditation practice.

When special mental states appear, check if these five hindrances still exist. If yes, these special mental states are not progressing in the right direction, according to Buddha’s meditation. Maybe, they’re just hallucinations.

When we achieve a little mindfulness, our minds will have a feeling of purity, emptiness, clarity, and a lot of hallucinations (seeing auras, feeling the body as light as a feather, etc.) Any hallucinations can interest us, but we must overcome them all in order to go to the end of the meditation path. We must understand the levels of mindfulness very well so as not to mistakenly believe that we have attained Sainthood when we attain only a little mindfulness.

And be very careful with praise when we’ve achieved a little mindfulness. The state in which our minds are pure or have few unwanted thoughts, or in which we feel our bodies as light as a feather just results from our achievement of mindfulness, and if we receive such praise as having reached a very high level, close to Sainthood, then we will not be able to attain this result again in the next 50 lives.

Be cautious when you attain mindfulness. You will have or experience many great things such as having a pure, empty mind, seeing auras, or experiencing many more wondrous things. They are all dangerous and can make you fall behind with your meditation practice 100 times worse. These things are, actually, minor results in meditation. We must have a great blessing to be able to go forward step by step. Remember that some progress is just a dangerous trap. We will make it clear in the Four Foundations of Mindfulness 6.

7. Seventh, we need knowledge of all the levels of right concentration from the first, second, third, and fourth level of meditation results. This is a very high realm of saints. At this level, we can gradually eliminate the fetters (instincts). Nowadays, few people the first stage of meditation through the second, third, and fourth one, so no one can describe all of those stages. Often, when the mind is a little calmer, practitioners begin to make poems of meditation and find themselves free from and unconcerned about the outside world. But it’s also a dangerous trap of meditation.

A natural effect of the pure mind is feeling free from and unconcerned about the outside world. It prevents practitioners from wanting to take care of anything or of anyone anymore. However, it’s wrong and it makes practitioners non-Buddhist.

True meditators must have a very pure and serene mind, and deep in their hearts is a great vow full of responsibility to sentient beings and Buddhism. That vow does not manifest itself as a thought but will make these meditators care about, love, teach sentient beings, and develop Buddhism.

8. Eighth, we need knowledge of the pros and cons of all current meditation sects

There is no meditation sect that has all advantages. We must know all the pros and cons of all sects of meditation, but not for criticizing or competing; we should know them in an academic, objective way, to form a scientific knowledge of meditation. So when someone advertises their meditation sects, we won’t be overwhelmed, because we’ve already known all the good and bad of it and what we will achieve and suffer.

9. Ninth, we need knowledge of the moral and psychological system, A person asked, “Why is my mind not pure and serene after a long time of practicing meditation?” The answer was, “Let purify your mind until it has no unwholesome thoughts; it is almost serene.”

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. Self-criticism is not easy. One must be very sincere, courageous, and intelligent to judge himself guilty. Anyone who can often see his faults will have the favor of gods. We keep trying hard to purify our minds little by little until they are pure, and when we no longer have wrong or evil thoughts, we can practice meditation easily. At that time, we should focus only on the peacefulness or unpeacefulness of the minds, and our unwanted thoughts slowly go away for us to go into meditation. Therefore, understanding the moral and psychological system is one factor to open the door to meditation because it guides us to control our minds and inner souls. It seems to be a simple thing, but a solid basis.

10. Tenth, we need to know the exact technique of meditation

For our practice of meditation to be successful, we must first prepare three solid foundations: morality, blessings, and qigong.

Morality is the purity of the mind, with absolute reverence for Buddha, boundless love for sentient beings, and extreme humility.

Blessings come from our efforts to bring peace, happiness, and morality to everyone.

Qigong helps to keep our life energy in the lower part of the body, helping the brain to be stable when we practice meditation.

We need to know the exact technique of meditation
We need to know the exact technique of meditation

The basic meditation technique

  1. First, sit in the full lotus position.
  2. Second, keep the body still and relaxed.
  3. Third, abide in the body and be aware of all of it.
  4. Fourth, contemplate the impermanence of the body.
  5. Fifth, notice (but do not control) your breathing in and out.

These five things are all effective in resolving our unwanted thoughts. The principle of practicing meditation is to use a combination of many things to purify the mind. We must memorize and practice all these things.

The science of Meditation helps us understand meditation and fosters determination to practice it in accordance with the Buddha’s teachings for our good results.