As we know at least half of the population either claims de meditate or has a view on what meditation is! As always we would probably find as many different opinions on what meditation is as the number of people asked, but I suspect one common denominator in any definition would be the term “relaxation” or de-stressing!
To be fair no one would deny that relaxation and reducing stress are a direct consequence of well planned meditation, but we need a much c…learer definition if we are to really understand what meditation is about and to ensure that the “activity” of meditation bears the promised fruit!
I should probably clarify that what I am referring to is meditation from a Buddhist perspective, but since Buddhism (along with Hindu and Taoist traditions) is the birth place of meditation, I don’t think it is a bad place to start!
So what is meditation? Well in Lama Tsongkhapa’s La Rim Chen Mo (volume 1), in the chapter on “Refuting the misconceptions of meditation” we are given a very simple yet profoundly enlightening (excuse the pun!) explanation that comes from Dharmamitra’s Clear Words Commentary that reads as follows:
“Meditating” is making the mind take on the state or condition of the object of meditation.
For example meditating on compassion or meditating on faith means that the mind must be made to develop these qualities and for this reason, Lama Tsongkhapa adds that the term could also equally be referred to as the “path of meditation” or “conditioning” of the mind. In other words it is suggested that “conditioning” and “meditation” are the same thing and that it is a gradual process or “path” to be followed if we are to get the full benefits!
That being the case we can see that meditation has just become a whole new ball game and something that, arguably, covers a very wide range of activities if we agree that meditation is about “conditioning the mind” and for the mind to ultimately take on “the state or condition of the object of meditation”.
The interesting things is that based on this definition it might be argued that in fact most of us are dedicated meditators! Just think of how good we are at making our mind take on the condition of anger, impatience or miserliness!! We spend much of the day “meditating” on this and that and “bingo” our mind dutifully complies generating, one after another, all of these negative qualities!! I am sure you will agree that if our aim is to “relax” and “de-stress” we probably fail miserably!!
So the reality is that what we need to do is change the tune and, in a structured and disciplined way, work on the “opposites” of such qualities, such as compassion, patience and generosity, contemplating the advantages of such qualities and the disadvantages of those we are accustomed to, but that is for another day!
This article contains my humble opinions and thoughts and should not be mistaken for the wisdom of my teacher, the Venerable Geshe Tsering Palden, or any other fully qualified Buddhist teacher or Guru. My only aim in writing this Blog is to try and train my mind in the path of the Buddha and if by so doing I am able to benefit others I dedicate all merits for the relief of suffering of all sentient beings.
Note: Any error in this text is entirely attributable to me, and only to me, and should never be attributable to the perfect teachings of Dharma. I sincerely apologise for any mistakes.