Meditation in Mahayana Buddhism: A Deeper State of Awareness
As human beings we have the constant struggle of working, eating a balanced diet, exercising, having a social life, spending time with one’s family, staying current with today’s news and receiving at least eight hours of sleep. Our agendas are naturally stocked so there is no doubt that we all come across the evil seed that is stress, from time to time. Our bodies unburden stressful situations by releasing feelings of anxiety, tension and nervousness. We do not have to be doctors to know that these feelings are not the most beneficial regarding what is good for our bodies. In order to reduce, prevent and cope with these emotional reactions one can practice the stress relieving buddhist ritual of meditation. The two most common and useful types of meditation are Loving Kindness Meditation, known as Metta Bhavana, and Mindfulness of Breathing, known as Anapanasati (Vana 27). In this paper one will perceive an overview about the two most useful types of meditation mentioned previously, explore the benefits that come with regularly practicing meditation and read about different cases that prove the effects of this buddhist custom.
This religious practice has dated back to around 500 BCE, when the well known major meditation icon, also known as The Buddha, made his mark. Siddhartha Gautama (The Buddha) was a prince living in Nepal on the Indian border who left his family and their luxurious lifestyle to search for an understanding of human suffering. He then spent 45 years teaching. The Buddha taught numerous philosophies and rituals, including many distinct types of meditation, each fitted to a particular problem or to develop a specific state of mind. This famous ritual is used to center one’s thoughts and focus their energy towards what is happening at the moment, in other words: to create a deeper state of awareness. According to Mahayana beliefs, “The Buddha is said to be omniscient, never to sleep but in reality to always be in meditation” (Williams 21). This quote is stating the idea of The Buddha being more sentient rather than performing the action of sleep where consciousness is basically suspended. It is definitely intriguing that the Mahayana buddhists perceive their almighty Buddha as ultra-conscious. Since he meditated rather than sleep he must have had a lot more time to think about reality, which could definitely be one of the many reasons he thought the way he did; having such a different way of looking at life and, in turn, why he was worshipped as greatly as he was.
The dogma of mindfulness is a vital principle in the path toward enlightenment. We, as the Mahayana Buddhists believe, naturally have the same goal, to be enlightened. To have a rational and modernized outlook. We all want to be well informed, we all want to know what’s happening and we all want to know more than the day before. Strictly speaking, we are all just finding a way to be more aware. In order to accomplish this goal, we must spend time in our day focusing on reality. While meditating, we are transforming the mind from being conscious to being ultra conscious. One of the two most prevalent kinds of meditation, Metta Bhavana (Loving Kindness Meditation), is composed of circulating positive thoughts in the mind and speaking hopeful words to yourself such as “May I be well and happy.” With the name alone, “Loving Kindness Meditation,” one could predict that this form of meditation will revolve around gentleness, affection, adoration and other principles along those lines. This practice concludes with thinking about four people, one at a time. Beginning with yourself, then continuing to someone you love, someone you neither love nor dislike and someone you dislike, wishing each of them well when you do so (Jinananda 52). The inevitable question that is lingering in an individual’s mind at this point is, “why would I wish that something good happens to someone I dislike?” Well, if we ultimately all have the same goal and are walking the same path, then what makes the person you dislike different from you? He/she may have gone through obstacles that are ten times more difficult than anything you have ever encountered. I believe that we, as humans, have to come together and try to understand where we’re all coming from and put ourselves in each others shoes so we can help one another accomplish what we are all set out to be, enlightened beings.
The other most common form of meditation is Anapanasati, also known as Mindfulness of Breathing meditation, in which one focuses on posture, location, practice and situation. The key to getting the most out of this type of meditation revolves around keeping good posture, maintaining even breathing throughout the duration of the practice and connecting one’s thoughts to their presence; thus, resulting in a deeper state of awareness (Bhikku 103). Taking time out of one’s day to focus on reality will lead to a profoundly peaceful state of mind.
- Quote paper
- Sally Vee (Author), 2014, Meditation in Mahayana Buddhism: A Deeper State of Awareness, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/334743