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Is meditation compulsory?

I am sure there are many people here not ready for sitting meditation.
They might consider the following 'pre-meditations':

1. If the mind body complex is very agitated, yoga and tai chi are good forms of pre-meditation. They have two important components, that of calming the mind and also slowing the agitation manifest in body mirroring. In other words working on calming the body leads to mind calming. In a Buddhist context walking meditation and prostrations are two effective means with the added benefit of immersion into the Buddhist realm.

2. Trance meditation techniques such as yoga nidra and led meditations allow one to enter positive relaxed mind states and experience many of the benefits of positive subconscious reinforcement and its consequent benefits.

3. Concentration and rote based mind exercises are often the first form of meditation practiced. Perhaps Japa yoga/mantrayana or vipassana type awareness of the breath. My personal introduction was through Shingon five element meditation.

. . . meditation is not for all lay people but what of the benefits? Here is an incomplete list of some I have noticed:

lowered pulse, greater sense of emotional equanimity, more calm, more at peace, greater acceptance of difficulties, greater sense of enjoyment, less agitation . . . oh you know all the usual stuff . . .

Can Buddhism be practiced without meditating? I would say yes but the benefits of a practice are always so enticing . . .

What have you noticed?
Jeffreyoceancaldera207cvalueEliz
«1

Comments

  • The Buddhist folks that I know who find meditation not to their liking have chosen
    faith/ devotional practices to a teacher,
    service to others,
    or scriptural study
    as their vehicle.
    lobstervinlyncvalue
  • DandelionDandelion London Veteran
    For me, yes. I can't say without any doubt, yes or no for anyone else.
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    Is meditation compulsory?

    If one wishes to become enlightened, to end the endless round of birth, old age, sickness and death, then yes, meditation is compulsory.

    Consider the first jewel of refuge, the Buddha. He resolved to sit, unmoved, in meditation until he found enlightenment. He didn't resolve to do "what suited him". He didn't tell his disciples to do what suited them.

    To do do what "suits us" offers no benefit for sentient beings or even ourselves. It only strokes the ego. It only causes more suffering.

    I began with Shamatha as taught in the Shambhala tradition. I've been taught a number of other techniques - Tonglen, Vipassana, and so on - but I keep coming back to Shamatha and this comprises the bulk of my practice. This is because I have found that Shamatha, as it was taught to me, is a complete practice. There is nothing else I should do or need to do. This isn't a matter of what "suits" me. Numb legs, sore back, shoulders and neck, not to mention the inevitable frustrations, are not things that "suit" me. I meditate because, if I've learned anything, this is will benefit beings the most and that is far more important than engaging in what will "suit" me.

    If meditation doesn't suit you, then I'd suggest you get over yourself, get on the cushion and meditate. That, or find a belief system whose practices do suit you. Methodist churches aren't bad choices.
    cvalue
  • Actually a more important word is bhavana or mental development. Without cultivating the mind, how can one hope to attain liberation from the mental defilements.

    Bhávaná means development or cultivation of mind. It is a form of mano kamma (work of the mind) which purifies your mind.
    http://www.wisdomlib.org/buddhism/book/abhidhamma-in-daily-life_2/d/doc3145.html

    Indriya-bhavana Sutta
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.152.than.html

    "So, Ananda, I have taught you the unexcelled development of the faculties in the discipline of a noble one; I have taught you how one is a person in training, someone following the way; I have taught you how one is a noble one with developed faculties. Whatever a teacher should do — seeking the welfare of his disciples, out of sympathy for them — that have I done for you. Over there are the roots of trees; over there, empty dwellings. Practice jhana, Ananda. Don't be heedless. Don't later fall into regret. This is our message to you all."
    vinlynJeffrey
  • "Can Buddhism be practiced without meditating? I would say yes, but the benefits of a practice are always so enticing . . ."

    IMO, meditation is not necessary to be a 'practicing Buddhist' or even a good, practicing Buddhist. Just like going to mass every Sunday to say prayers in a group, or reflecting on the gospels or homilies in a crowd isn't really necessary to be a "good" Christian.
    oh sure, the Church tells you it's a 'sin' to miss mass, and that without your eager, consistent attendance there you are running the risk of after-life punishment on Judgement Day...
    But as we all know, just attending church on Sundays while living or behaving like an uncaring, abusive or selfish a-hole the other 6 days of the week, doesn't make one a 'good Christian' either.
    Every Buddhist isn't looking for that ultimate 'enlightenment', and even if some are, there are other ways to be awakened besides sitting the cushion while real life and it's opportunities for awareness and compassion is (often) passing you by unnoticed...

    as always- YMMV :)
    lobster
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    MaryAnne said:

    there are other ways to be awakened besides sitting the cushion while real life and it's opportunities for awareness and compassion is (often) passing you by unnoticed...

    What ways would those be? Seriously. If there are ways to achieve those things without the training a meditation practices, I'm all ears.

  • MaryAnneMaryAnne Veteran
    edited September 2013
    @Chaz,
    Are you really asking me to give you examples of how one could infuse their Buddhist ethics and beliefs into everyday life and circumstances? You can't imagine any sort of real life examples when compassion, kindness, and self-awareness (as a Buddhist concept) comes into play?

    Well, OK -- how about when self-examination of emotions and reactions helps one cope with real life situations; like losing a loved one; breaking off a relationship, (or someone dumping you); raising children with compassion and love; giving generously and without an agenda or need for praise to charity organizations, neighbors or even strangers on the street ?
    How about when choosing an occupation or career and taking into account how it melds (or doesn't) with your Buddhist beliefs and ethics? How about when one assesses their place in society and in their environment? How they feel about their responsibility towards other creatures, or people from other cultures and countries?

    I could go on.... but I'm sure you get what I'm saying.
    Sitting the cushion has its place and ideals to accomplish, for sure. I am not saying there is no use for it...

    But not everyone has those same goals and ideals for themselves nor when it comes to their definition of 'a practicing Buddhist'.
    And (again, IMO) there are just as important - maybe even more important - ways to be a "good" Buddhist than mediation and seeking 'enlightenment'... whatever that may mean to any of us.

    vinlynJeffreycvalue
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    MaryAnne said:

    @Chaz,
    Are you really asking me to give you examples of how one could infuse their Buddhist ethics and beliefs into everyday life and circumstances?

    Nope.

    I'm asking you to explain this:
    there are other ways to be awakened besides sitting the cushion
    How does one awaken other than by meditation? I'm not saying it can't be done, but I do want to know how that would be.

    You can certainly do more than "sit on a cushion" and meditate. Meditation is much, much more than simply sitting on a cushion and I would hope that you know that. There is much you can do as a Buddhist - being kind, being ethical and so on, that does not, strictly speaking, require meditation, but in my experience, I have found nothing that can lead to deeper, true mindfulness, awareness, insight and compassion than meditation.

    And like I said, if you know of way to achieve that without meditation .........

    That's all.
    Jeffrey
  • MaryAnneMaryAnne Veteran
    edited September 2013

    @Chaz-
    Ah, I understand a little better now what you were asking... :p

    Ok, so let's jump back a bit. I may need to know more about your personal concept of "awakened" and/or Enlightenment - if they are not the same thing in your mind.
    We may not even be starting off on the same page with that. And that's OK if we're not, but it makes for some conversations that can indeed be missing the mark with both of us, right?

    But assuming we are at least pretty close in our ideas about being awakened and/or enlightened... it could still be that you will believe the only way to achieve that is through meditation; while I may believe that the constant application of the noble truths, precepts and all the other principles and ethics of Buddhism being applied to daily life for a long and consistent time period may indeed lead to the same...


    vinlynJeffrey
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    MaryAnne said:



    @Chaz-
    Ah, I understand a little better now what you were asking... :p

    Ok, so let's jump back a bit. I may to know more about your personal concept of "awakened" and/or Enlightenment - if they are not the same thing in your mind.

    Simple - Awakened, Bodhi, Buddha, Enlightened .....
    But assuming we are at least pretty close in our ideas about being awakened and/or enlightened... it could still be that you will believe the only way to achieve that is through meditation; while I may believe that the constant application of the noble truths, precepts and all the other principles and ethics of Buddhism being applied to daily life for a long and consistent time period may indeed lead to the same...
    Can you point to someone who has achieved enlightenment through......
    the constant application of the noble truths, precepts and all the other principles and ethics of Buddhism being applied to daily life for a long and consistent time
    without meditation being first and foremost in their path?

    I've been taught by some of the best ...

    not one of them has ever said those things alone would lead to the cessation of suffering for oneself and other sentient beings. Rather, when those things arise from meditation .......

    I'm all for anything that will bring about the cessation of suffering. If there's a way that can be shown to give rise to that cessation, I want to know what it is.

    I'm not interested in how to be a kind, ethical person. I don't even want to be what other's may perceive as a "good Buddhist". I seek awakening for myself, Buddhahood, for the sake of all beings. I've got a long ways to go, so anything I can employ to speed that day, will, in my mind, aid far more than just me.



    Jeffrey
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    Chaz said:

    ...
    Can you point to someone who has achieved enlightenment through......

    ...

    You personally know someone who has been enlightened?

  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    Yes, I believe I do.

    Plus, he is a part of an unbroken lineage of awakened beings ...

    image
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    Ah, okay, faith. Cool.
  • I had to cut n paste; because the quote thingy doesn't do it at this point: Your words in italics-

    You said:
    Simple - Awakened, Bodhi, Buddha, Enlightened .....

    Simple? Nothing simple about it. We've had a ton of discussions and some disagreements around here as to what exactly 'enlightened' means. No agreed upon definition that I've ever seen so far...


    Can you point to someone who has achieved enlightenment through......

    the constant application of the noble truths, precepts and all the other principles and ethics of Buddhism being applied to daily life for a long and consistent time

    without meditation being first and foremost in their path?


    Can you point specifically to someone (the Buddha/s don't count) who has achieved enlightenment through meditation? True enlightenment? And how do you know they are enlightened- because they claim to be?
    Hmmmm.... Even the DL doesn't claim to be enlightened and he's a pretty well-disciplined, well studied, heavy-meditating Buddhist. ;)


    I've been taught by some of the best ...
    not one of them has ever said those things alone would lead to the cessation of suffering for oneself and other sentient beings. Rather, when those things arise from meditation .......


    Well, I respectfully disagree with what your teachers have told you. I believe practice and self awareness while living LIFE can be just as conducive to moving toward enlightenment.
    But to be clear again, It is not my 'ultimate goal' to reach it. And i believe "the cessation of all suffering" (yours and many others' definition of Enlightenment), is attainable for only the very, very rare human being.
    I'm not even sure if Enlightenment is anything more than a perceived "ideal" we are merely lead to believe is attainable.... Kind of like believing in heaven or sitting at the side of "god" for eternity - if we do everything 'right'. We just really don't know, do we?


    I'm not interested in how to be a kind, ethical person. I don't even want to be what others may perceive as a "good Buddhist". I seek awakening for myself, Buddhahood, for the sake of all beings. I've got a long ways to go, so anything I can employ to speed that day, will, in my mind, aid far more than just me.


    Wow, very lofty goals. Many blessings on your journey. But my goals, although not as grand as yours seem to be, are none the less for me as well... and for everyone else and every creature in my sphere of existence.
    You know- "Be The Change You Wish To See In The World" doesn't all need to be about being A Buddha in the technical and literal sense of the word (IMO).

    vinlyn
  • meditation is training the mind to make it
    healthy.
    similar to exercises to keep our body supple
    and healthy.

    is exercise compulsory?
    lobster said:

    I am sure there are many people here not ready for sitting meditation.
    They might consider the following 'pre-meditations':

    1. If the mind body complex is very agitated, yoga and tai chi are good forms of pre-meditation. They have two important components, that of calming the mind and also slowing the agitation manifest in body mirroring. In other words working on calming the body leads to mind calming. In a Buddhist context walking meditation and prostrations are two effective means with the added benefit of immersion into the Buddhist realm.

    2. Trance meditation techniques such as yoga nidra and led meditations allow one to enter positive relaxed mind states and experience many of the benefits of positive subconscious reinforcement and its consequent benefits.

    3. Concentration and rote based mind exercises are often the first form of meditation practiced. Perhaps Japa yoga/mantrayana or vipassana type awareness of the breath. My personal introduction was through Shingon five element meditation.

    . . . meditation is not for all lay people but what of the benefits? Here is an incomplete list of some I have noticed:

    lowered pulse, greater sense of emotional equanimity, more calm, more at peace, greater acceptance of difficulties, greater sense of enjoyment, less agitation . . . oh you know all the usual stuff . . .

    Can Buddhism be practiced without meditating? I would say yes but the benefits of a practice are always so enticing . . .

    What have you noticed?

    MaryAnne

  • @Chaz-
    I have a sincere question about that lineage aspect of 'awakened' determinations...

    Is that lineage one of genetics?
    One of awakened teacher-to-superior (awakened)-student-to-next- superior (awakened)-student, etc?
    Or is it a lineage of "faith" and religious assumptions of reincarnations?

  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    edited September 2013
    MaryAnne said:


    We've had a ton of discussions and some disagreements around here as to what exactly 'enlightened' means. No agreed upon definition that I've ever seen so far...

    Trying to define something nonceptual is pointless. That's your first mistake. Engaging a "ton of discussions" about such a futile effort is a waste of time. Second mistake.

    Can you point specifically to someone (the Buddha/s don't count) who has achieved enlightenment through meditation? True enlightenment?
    Buddhas don't count? Why not? Is the Buddha not a Gem of Refuge?

    But, yes I can point to someone for you. Several in fact.

    Tilopa
    Naropa
    Marpa
    Milarepa
    Gampopa
    All 17 Karmapas
    Padmasmbhava
    My Guru
    His Guru




    And how do you know they are enlightened- because they claim to be?
    Because they are. In my Guru's case, I've been in his presence, when he was asked, specifically, if he was enlightened. He said no. Regardless, I believe him to be enlightened.

    As for the rest, I've received teachings handed down through them up to the present. The teachings are enlightened. Those who first gave them, must be as well.
    Hmmmm.... Even the DL doesn't claim to be enlightened and he's a pretty well-disciplined, well studied, heavy-meditating Buddhist. ;)
    He may be, he may not be. He's not part of my teaching or practice lineage, so his realizations aren't all that important to me. That said, I suspect that he is.
    Well, I respectfully disagree with what your teachers have told you.
    I'm not sure there's any respect involved, but that's ok. You can disagree, respectfully or not.
    But to be clear again, It is not my 'ultimate goal' to reach it. And i believe "the cessation of all suffering" (yours and many others' definition of Enlightenment), is attainable for only the very, very rare human being.
    Every being has the same, enlightened, nature of the Buddha. That is not rare. Every one of them can realize that enlightened nature at any moment.
    I'm not even sure if Enlightenment is anything more than a perceived "ideal" we are merely lead to believe is attainable....
    Well, MaryAnn, I think if that is truly the case, you would be best served, not engaging is discussion of how to attain enlightenment and confine you activity to determine if enlightenment is actually possible
    Kind of like believing in heaven or sitting at the side of "god" for eternity - if we do everything 'right'. We just really don't know, do we?
    No, it's not like believing heaven .....


    I'm not interested in how to be a kind, ethical person. I don't even want to be what others may perceive as a "good Buddhist". I seek awakening for myself, Buddhahood, for the sake of all beings. I've got a long ways to go, so anything I can employ to speed that day, will, in my mind, aid far more than just me.


    Wow, very lofty goals. Many blessings on your journey. But my goals, although not as grand as yours seem to be, are none the less for me as well... and for everyone else and every creature in my sphere of existence.
    You know- "Be The Change You Wish To See In The World" doesn't all need to be about being A Buddha in the technical and literal sense of the word (IMO).
    It doesn't. But the Path isn't about "changing the world" anyway. The world changes every moment of ever second, minute and hour of the day. You action or inaction won't change that. The path is about the cessation is suffering. Enlightenment. Buddhahood. Practice is how you attain that. If you're not interested in such things, there's not much more I can say.
    Jeffrey
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    So you believe that people whom you have never met are definitely enlightened, and you believe people whom you have met, who say they are not enlightened are enlightened.

    And you don't want to know how to be kind and ethical.
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    @MaryAnne -- I believe there is a TV program you could more fruitfully watch. :)
    MaryAnneLee82
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    MaryAnne said:


    @Chaz-
    I have a sincere question about that lineage aspect of 'awakened' determinations...

    Is that lineage one of genetics?


    One of awakened teacher-to-superior (awakened)-student-to-next- superior (awakened)-student, etc?
    Or is it a lineage of "faith" and religious assumptions of reincarnations?

    That's actually three questions.

    And to be honest, I have no desire to answer any of them.

    I suspect you know what I'm talking about. I suspect there's nothing you can learn from me about "lineage" than what you already know. I also suspect you disagree with "lineage" as an aspect of practice and path. I don't care if you disagree and I don't really feel like discussing something like this where disagreement is where the discussion begins.

    ok?

  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    vinlyn said:

    So you believe that people whom you have never met are definitely enlightened, and you believe people whom you have met, who say they are not enlightened are enlightened.

    Yep.
    And you don't want to know how to be kind and ethical.
    I know how to be kind and ethical already.
  • robotrobot Veteran
    edited September 2013
    Chaz said:



    But the Path isn't about "changing the world" anyway. The world changes every moment of ever second, minute and hour of the day. You action or inaction won't change that. The path is about the cessation is suffering. Enlightenment. Buddhahood. Practice is how you attain that. If you're not interested in such things, there's not much more I can say.

    The path is entirely about changing the world. Your world. Is there any other?

    “All the joy the world contains has come through wishing happiness for others. All the misery the world contains has come through wanting pleasure for oneself.” ~Shantideva

    The path to end suffering starts and ends with compassion and compassionate action. Enlightenment, whatever that is, is a bonus.

    Hey Chaz. This isn't an online game. It's not all about the win.
    MaryAnne
  • Chaz said:

    MaryAnne said:


    @Chaz-
    I have a sincere question about that lineage aspect of 'awakened' determinations...

    Is that lineage one of genetics?


    One of awakened teacher-to-superior (awakened)-student-to-next- superior (awakened)-student, etc?
    Or is it a lineage of "faith" and religious assumptions of reincarnations?

    That's actually three questions.

    And to be honest, I have no desire to answer any of them.

    I suspect you know what I'm talking about. I suspect there's nothing you can learn from me about "lineage" than what you already know. I also suspect you disagree with "lineage" as an aspect of practice and path. I don't care if you disagree and I don't really feel like discussing something like this where disagreement is where the discussion begins.

    ok?
    Actually, No, it's not "ok".
    You are being unnecessarily rude and condescending, while I'm just trying to have a conversation. I told you I had a sincere question, you obviously, without any reason to do so, doubt that sincerity and my motive for asking. Paranoid much?

    I say I have one question - granted it had multiple choice answers - but it still was one question about one specific bit of information you shared... you snarked on that as well.

    What's your problem? Obviously you don't like discussing anything with anyone whose views might differ from yours. OK, you've made that clear. I can see how far along that road to enlightenment you are.... impressive.

    Perhaps a little time on the cushion might smooth your feathers, and help you get over yourself.


    vinlyn
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    MaryAnne said:


    You are being unnecessarily rude and condescending, while I'm just trying to have a conversation.

    No, I'm not being rude. I'm being honest.
    I told you I had a sincere question, you obviously, without any reason to do so, doubt that sincerity and my motive for asking. Paranoid much?
    Paranoia is fear of the unknown. I know what I'm afraind of.

    And I gave you reasons. Here they are, again ......

    suspect you know what I'm talking about. I suspect there's nothing you can learn from me about "lineage" than what you already know. I also suspect you disagree with "lineage" as an aspect of practice and path. I don't care if you disagree and I don't really feel like discussing something like this where disagreement is where the discussion begins.
    I say I have one question - granted it had multiple choice answers - but it still was one question about one specific bit of information you shared... you snarked on that as well.
    No you made three statements, each of them followed by a question mark. That means three questions.
    What's your problem? Obviously you don't like discussing anything with anyone whose views might differ from yours. OK, you've made that clear. I can see how far along that road to enlightenment you are.... impressive.
    Now who's being rude here? I haven't really questioned your path, practice, or level of realization. I've never claimed to any sort of realization and have actually said as much in this thread, yet you choose insult. The pot calls the kettle black.

    I offered my take on the the teaching of an ancient and respected lineage of practice. I've asked for clarification on what you posted about awakening.

    From reactions it seems like I'm not the only one with disagreement issues.
  • how said:

    The Buddhist folks that I know who find meditation not to their liking have chosen
    faith/ devotional practices to a teacher,
    service to others,
    or scriptural study
    as their vehicle.

    Love, devotion and surrender. Used successfully by many for example Ananda, chief companion and attendant of the Buddha! I think he did some overnight meditation right at the end to get into the first council of Arhats only . . .
    Service most definitely, it is perhaps the most important phase in Sufism.
    Jhana or wisdom yoga by study alone, used in Kabbalah. Yes.

    What about ritual enactment or transmission used in the Western Mystery Schools in particular Masonry?
    I would suggest that the Sufi admonishment, 'increase in Love' is the always possible and open path. It is the basis of Christian mysticism. It is enlightenment in action.

    84 000 dharmas

    How wonderful :)
    Chaz
  • if the ultimate goal is 'see' and 'know' the reality
    then
    meditation is a must
    Chazpegembaraseeker242
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    edited September 2013
    I'm still stuck on the original question: "Is meditation compulsory?" There was a fellow here for zazen today and we were talking along very similar lines, since he is snooping the terrain among various disciplines. Zen, roughly speaking, is tres meditation-oriented so how about metta and Gurdjieff and a couple of others he mentioned.

    My answer to him was approximately this: No one ever became a Buddhist because s/he was so damned happy. Something or maybe some series of things is out of kilter in life and there is some hope that something -- maybe Buddhism -- could make life happier.

    There is clearly a smorgasbord of options available when trying to be happier, but several aspects of the situation strike me as important:
    1. This is YOUR life and for this reason nothing is compulsory.
    2. If you choose to try out Buddhism, naturally you will learn from others who may be better versed in one aspect or another ... but no matter how well versed they may be, still it's not THEIR Buddhism you practice; it is yours
    3. If, as in the case of the fellow I was talking with, you run into a brick wall when trying to practice metta or some other particular approach, then stop trying to push the river -- being good because someone else says it's good is an iffy business ... and I told him about my own fruitless efforts to comply with the formal koan study that was part of my early practice ... I thought I couldn't be a 'good' Buddhist if I didn't accord with every stricture and suggestion offered ... I was mistaken (which is not to say I am a 'good' Buddhist today).
    4. And, going back to the original premise that no one ever became a Buddhist because s/he was so damned happy, I suggested that some patient practice was probably required: If you have a problem, any problem, what's the first and most sensible thing to do? My answer: Slow down; examine carefully; be patient ... and cuss up a storm if you need to.
    Zazen (the seated meditation of Zen practice) is a good way (never mind if it's "Buddhist" or "Zen") to slow down an entire life ... body, intellect and emotion. In a patient slow-down mode, the likelihood that anyone might see their problems more clearly goes up. No promises -- it's just more likely. Never mind "Buddhism" -- this is just a practical experiment.
    Body, intellect and emotion are a package deal, sometimes referred to as your life or mine. One whole life, that's all. If someone wants to sit around pretending your life or mine is not a package deal -- that somehow this life can be segmented and dissected -- well, that's their problem. The question of "happy" or "peace" is a whole-life problem ... the whole package is in play. And for this reason, finding a little quiet time in which body, intellect and emotion can take a break is -- Buddhist or not -- just a sensible activity.
    No, you don't have to become a monk or nun. No, you don't have to run away to some dank cave in the Himalayas. No, you don't have to learn foreign languages. No, you don't have to be eternally, infernally nice or kind. No, you don't have to be slyly proud of yourself. But it's a good bet that if you have a problem, slowing down will be part of the answer. Personally, I have my doubts about finding a settled peace by running around 'helping' others. I like helping where I can, but making such altruism (sometimes wrongly called "compassion") the chief tool in settling deep uncertainties strikes me as dubious at best and self-deluding at worst. But that's just me: my own feeling is that a little reflection (five or ten minutes a day, perhaps) is just a good way to address the whole ball of wax that is your life or mine. It's just extending a little kindness -- the kind of kindness that will have an honest and salutary impact on the world as well ... even if you don't know it.

    But there's nothing compulsory about it at all. Who knows, maybe hitting the lottery would fix everything or shooting powdered drugs or marrying the right spouse or receiving rounds of applause. I honestly don't know. But for those with a case of the unsatisfactories, I think meditation (we don't have to call it that) makes some very good taking-care-of-business sense.

    Oh... and did I mention that you won't go to heaven if you try it and you won't go to hell if you don't? :)

    Sorry for running on and on...
    NelelobsterEliz
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    I think part of the answer here is whether one sees Buddhism as a philosophy or as a religion.
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    vinlyn said:

    I think part of the answer here is whether one sees Buddhism as a philosophy or as a religion.

    Or a practice, perhaps?

    Chaz
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    genkaku said:

    vinlyn said:

    I think part of the answer here is whether one sees Buddhism as a philosophy or as a religion.

    Or a practice, perhaps?

    Could you elaborate?

  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    genkaku said:

    vinlyn said:

    I think part of the answer here is whether one sees Buddhism as a philosophy or as a religion.

    Or a practice, perhaps?

    It's also taught as a science - a science of mind.

  • zenffzenff Veteran
    edited September 2013
    Meditation is essential I think. It just doesn’t have to look like it. It doesn’t absolutely require a formal meditation position I suppose.
    But right mindfulness and right concentration are mentioned in the eightfold path.

    The way I see it, it is essential that we look at what’s happening in our body and mind; just observing it without judging it and without deliberately altering anything. And when we do that body and mind gradually drop off.
    pegembara
  • most of us know how to be kind and ethical.

    the question is how well can you do it.

    history is littered with people who started
    out with good intentions but is unable
    to resist the temptation of greed and power.

    that is why we need meditation to train our mind.
    Chaz said:

    vinlyn said:

    So you believe that people whom you have never met are definitely enlightened, and you believe people whom you have met, who say they are not enlightened are enlightened.

    Yep.
    And you don't want to know how to be kind and ethical.
    I know how to be kind and ethical already.

    vinlyn
  • Meditation is essential I think.
    You think? :orange:
    Maybe for some . . . :)

    Without too much trouble this year, I was able to know which of my friends were enlightened, not maybe, not by lineage or reputation, not by say so, or aura bedazzlement or inka dinka doo but by knowing. Ah yes knowing is what is required . . . ;)

    Neither friend had or ever had a formal meditation practice or seem particularly religious. Strange but true.
    For those insisting on travelling via the meditation method:

    Do I think Rinzai Young is enlightened? It would certainly seem so . . .

    :wave:
  • what do you mean?

    buddha says only an enlightened person
    can know whether another person is enlighteneed or not.

    are you implying that our lobster is an arahant.
    lobster said:

    Meditation is essential I think.
    You think? :orange:
    Maybe for some . . . :)

    Without too much trouble this year, I was able to know which of my friends were enlightened, not maybe, not by lineage or reputation, not by say so, or aura bedazzlement or inka dinka doo but by knowing. Ah yes knowing is what is required . . . ;)

    Neither friend had or ever had a formal meditation practice or seem particularly religious. Strange but true.
    For those insisting on travelling via the meditation method:

    Do I think Rinzai Young is enlightened? It would certainly seem so . . .

    :wave:

  • I became an Arahat in April of this year. Of course generally speaking this is a personal, internal matter but I have no allegiance, rules, conventions or deities/people/fish/masters/mistresses to manipulate, placate or impress . . .
    http://newbuddhist.com/discussion/18294/lobster-attains

    You can take it anyway that tickles your whiskers . . . :)
    As for Shinzen Young, I have not met him but my best estimation is yes, enlightened. You will find other enlightened Zennith teachers here:
    http://www.zenforuminternational.org/
    in the 'ask a teacher' section.
    They will no doubt advocate meditation - as is their way . . .

    :wave:
    Chaz
  • care to explain how you concluded
    that you are an arahant?

    this is fascinating.
    lobster said:

    I became an Arahat in April of this year. Of course generally speaking this is a personal, internal matter but I have no allegiance, rules, conventions or deities/people/fish/masters/mistresses to manipulate, placate or impress . . .
    http://newbuddhist.com/discussion/18294/lobster-attains

    You can take it anyway that tickles your whiskers . . . :)
    As for Shinzen Young, I have not met him but my best estimation is yes, enlightened. You will find other enlightened Zennith teachers here:
    http://www.zenforuminternational.org/
    in the 'ask a teacher' section.
    They will no doubt advocate meditation - as is their way . . .

    :wave:

  • care to explain how you concluded
    that you are an arahant?
    Maybe some other time when you are less fascinated by irrelevancies . . . :wave:
  • brilliant.
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    lobster said:



    Can Buddhism be practiced without meditating? I would say yes but the benefits of a practice are always so enticing . . .

    Sila, Samadhi, Prajna

    I would say it's possible to practice parts of Buddhism without meditation, but impossible to practice it fully.



    lobster
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    Vinlyn said:
    genkaku said: Or a practice, perhaps?

    Could you elaborate?
    @vinlyn -- I guess I was just thinking that "philosophy" and "religion," however kindly-intended, stand at one remove from action.
    Chaz
  • MaryAnne said:

    @Chaz,
    Are you really asking me to give you examples of how one could infuse their Buddhist ethics and beliefs into everyday life and circumstances? You can't imagine any sort of real life examples when compassion, kindness, and self-awareness (as a Buddhist concept) comes into play?

    Well, OK -- how about when self-examination of emotions and reactions helps one cope with real life situations; like losing a loved one; breaking off a relationship, (or someone dumping you); raising children with compassion and love; giving generously and without an agenda or need for praise to charity organizations, neighbors or even strangers on the street ?
    How about when choosing an occupation or career and taking into account how it melds (or doesn't) with your Buddhist beliefs and ethics? How about when one assesses their place in society and in their environment? How they feel about their responsibility towards other creatures, or people from other cultures and countries?

    I could go on.... but I'm sure you get what I'm saying.
    Sitting the cushion has its place and ideals to accomplish, for sure. I am not saying there is no use for it...

    But not everyone has those same goals and ideals for themselves nor when it comes to their definition of 'a practicing Buddhist'.
    And (again, IMO) there are just as important - maybe even more important - ways to be a "good" Buddhist than mediation and seeking 'enlightenment'... whatever that may mean to any of us.

    There is no sense in making a stigma of a non-meditator Buddhist. That being said I think meditation is different from church attendance. We don't eat a wafer rather we have solid mind training through meditation.
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    edited September 2013
    Jeffrey said:


    There is no sense in making a stigma of a non-meditator Buddhist.

    I agree, but it also seems to me that a term such as "non-meditator Buddhist" is a bit of an oxymoron.

    I guess it sort of depends on how you define "Buddhist".

    Around here it seems like the term can mean pretty much anything.

    Where I'm coming from, a Buddhist is defined by Refuge - if you take Refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, then you are a Buddhist. Meditation is a part of all three jewels - The Buddha, the example of Enlightened being, achieved supreme enlightenment through meditation. The Dharma he taught extolls the virtues of practice. The Sangha is bound together through practice. For me Buddhism and meditation are inseperable.


  • Chaz said:


    I agree, but it also seems to me that a term such as "non-meditator Buddhist" is a bit of an oxymoron. I guess it sort of depends on how you define "Buddhist".

    It also depends how you define "meditation". Most Buddhist traditions include some form of sitting meditation, though there are exceptions like Nichiren where chanting is the main practice.

  • lobster said:


    . . . meditation is not for all lay people but what of the benefits? Here is an incomplete list of some I have noticed:

    lowered pulse, greater sense of emotional equanimity, more calm, more at peace, greater acceptance of difficulties, greater sense of enjoyment, less agitation . . . oh you know all the usual stuff . . .

    Can Buddhism be practiced without meditating? I would say yes but the benefits of a practice are always so enticing . . .

    So with all these benefits, why would somebody decide not to meditate?
  • as long as it calms me down...i say its a good practice =)
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran

    Chaz said:


    I agree, but it also seems to me that a term such as "non-meditator Buddhist" is a bit of an oxymoron. I guess it sort of depends on how you define "Buddhist".

    It also depends how you define "meditation". Most Buddhist traditions include some form of sitting meditation, though there are exceptions like Nichiren where chanting is the main practice.

    Excellent point!

    However, there are those who would say that mantra recitation or chanting sutra, etc, is in itself, a meditation, too.

  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran

    lobster said:


    . . . meditation is not for all lay people but what of the benefits? Here is an incomplete list of some I have noticed:

    lowered pulse, greater sense of emotional equanimity, more calm, more at peace, greater acceptance of difficulties, greater sense of enjoyment, less agitation . . . oh you know all the usual stuff . . .

    Can Buddhism be practiced without meditating? I would say yes but the benefits of a practice are always so enticing . . .

    So with all these benefits, why would somebody decide not to meditate?
    A lot of people do choose to not mediatate. There are plenty of people who study to the exlusion of all other activities, thinking this is somehow a substitute for practice. I don't know why someone would choose to ignore meditation, but they do.

    All these so-called benefits are merely icing on the cake. Yes, meditation can reduce stress, improve health and so on, but in a Buddhist context, those benefits are not the purpose or reason for practicing.
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    There are a lot of reasons we could make up for ourselves. Not enough time, not enough privacy, not enough quiet... Makes me sleepy, makes me anxious, makes me feel my discomfort...

    Watching @MaryAnne and @Chaz go head to head there made me see how both arguments make sense to me. When I first got into Buddhism I tried to meditate but it never went over too well for all the reasons above and then some. It seemed to work out ok and I seemed to grasp the basic concepts and tried my best to incorporate them into my daily living.

    After a while, it comes more naturally but at some point it hit me that meditation is practice. We can live a life of Metta without sitting meditation but sitting meditation is practice for living life without distraction. Breathing in, I know I am dusting the bookshelf, breathing out I am aware of the bookshelf.

    So I guess my honest answer @Lobster is that though sitting meditation is not mandatory, it helps.
    Chazlobster
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    Well said.

    For me, at the moment, I think it really does depend on what you want/expect from your relationship to the Buddha's teachings.

    Some folks see Buddhism as a path to Enlightenment / Cessation of Suffering. This is what I believe Buddhism is about. For this, meditation is necessary.

    Others see it as a kind of self-help discipline. They want to be what they would consider a "better" person based on ideals outlined in the Buddha's teaching. I don't believe this to be the intent of the Buddha's teaching but in all fairness, I can't see anything wrong with that approach, either. For this meditation isn't necessary at all.

    We should all note that mediatation is still a part of the 8FP, regardless of our relationship. Just sayin' ....

    ourself said:

    There are a lot of reasons we could make up for ourselves. Not enough time, not enough privacy, not enough quiet... Makes me sleepy, makes me anxious, makes me feel my discomfort...

    Watching @MaryAnne and @Chaz go head to head there made me see how both arguments make sense to me. When I first got into Buddhism I tried to meditate but it never went over too well for all the reasons above and then some. It seemed to work out ok and I seemed to grasp the basic concepts and tried my best to incorporate them into my daily living.

    After a while, it comes more naturally but at some point it hit me that meditation is practice. We can live a life of Metta without sitting meditation but sitting meditation is practice for living life without distraction. Breathing in, I know I am dusting the bookshelf, breathing out I am aware of the bookshelf.

    So I guess my honest answer @Lobster is that though sitting meditation is not mandatory, it helps.

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