The Eightfold Path, as presented by Gautama Buddha, is a guideline to overcome the suffering in human life. The eighth is Right Meditation.
Modern life confronts us with constant challenge. Demands are put upon us by our family, friends, employers, government and, mostly, ourselves. We worry about the actions we have taken and those to come. A constant parade of thoughts fills our mind. This mental noise becomes our life. Buddhism recognizes that until you cut through this noise you can never find peace. This “cutting through” is Right Meditation.
Most Americans think of meditation as sitting cross-legged, in a trancelike state, “contemplating your navel.” Buddhist meditation is much more than that. In Buddhism the type of meditation practiced depends on the particular lineage. In Zen Buddhism the emphasis is on a sitting meditation, known as zazen. This practice stresses ridding your mind of extraneous thoughts and focusing on right now using different techniques. The most common is to follow your breath. To be “in the moment” is the realization that your ego is responsible for the illusions in life that lead to suffering. The lineage that is the basis of my practice, Jodo Shinshu, does not emphasis sitting meditation but rather a listening meditation. Recently, I have begun to meditate with a Zen group at the Bradford Unitarian Church and have carried this practice into my daily routine enhancing my total practice.
Our mental noise often prevents us from being aware of our surroundings. Birds sing, children laugh, flowers bloom, the sun shines, yet our ego driven thoughts consume us. We go through our lives searching for happiness unaware of the joy surrounding us. Listening meditation can be practiced anywhere at anytime. Simply clear your mind of thoughts of where you are going or where you have been and focus on the world outside yourself right now.
Meditation can be practiced by anyone. Silent contemplation has a long tradition in Christianity and other religions. Stripping away the illusions caused by our ego gets us to our basic self. At this point we can begin to shape our lives anew. Whatever religion we follow we are able to develop a true understanding of our beliefs, free from self imposed distractions. As a Buddhist, being “in the moment” allows me to realize the workings of karma, that all that has gone before has led up to this moment. As a Christian, Jew, Muslim or other religion, being “in the moment” allows you to fully appreciate what your God has given you. Although meditation is sometimes described as a state of “nothingness” it does not mean emptiness. Rather, it is a state of fullness, a time when you experience the totality of “now.”
For more information about Buddhism and Buddhist activities in the Kenosha area contact me at BASEWI@aol.com