Core meditation techniques have been preserved in ancient Buddhist texts and have proliferated and diversified through teacher-student transmissions. Buddhists pursue meditation as part of the path toward Enlightenment and Nirvana.[a] The closest words for meditation in the classical languages of Buddhism are bh?van?[b] and jh?na/dhy?na.[c] Buddhist meditation techniques have become increasingly popular in the wider world, with many non-Buddhists taking them up for a variety of reasons.
Buddhist meditation encompasses a variety of meditation techniques that aim to develop equanimity and sati (mindfulness); samadhi (concentration) c.q. samatha (tranquility) and vipassan? (insight); and abhijñ? (supramundane powers). Specific Buddhist meditation techniques have also been used to remove unwholesome qualities thought to be impediments to spiritual liberation and develop wholesome qualities, such as loving kindness to remove ill-will, hate, and anger; equanimity to remove mental clinging; and patikulamanasikara (meditations on the parts of the body) and mara?asati (meditation on death and corpses) to remove sensual lust for the body and cultivate impermanence (anicca). Given the large number and diversity of traditional Buddhist meditation practices, this article primarily identifies authoritative contextual frameworks--both contemporary and canonical--for the variety of practices. For those seeking school-specific meditation information, it may be more appropriate to simply view the articles listed in the "See also" section below.
While there are some similar meditative practices - such as breath meditation and various recollections (anussati) - that are used across Buddhist schools, there is also significant diversity. In the Theravada tradition alone, there are over fifty methods for developing mindfulness and forty for developing concentration, while in Tibetan Buddhism, there are thousands of visualization meditations.[d] Most classical and contemporary Buddhist meditation guides are school specific.[e] Only a few teachers attempt to synthesize, crystallize and categorize practices from multiple Buddhist traditions.
Most Buddhist traditions recognize that the path to awakening and liberation entails several aspects, including the study of the sutras, ethical conduct, meditation, insight, and compassion. The Tantric traditions add visualisations to this scheme.
Dhyana may have been an original contribution of the Buddha, together with the emphasis on mindfulness.[f] In time, a growing emphasis was placed on insight, and in conjunction the original dhyana-scheme, which culminates in eqaunimity and mindfulness, was replaced with a sinplified meditation-method which emphasizes concentration (samadhi, samatha). Likewise, whereas compassion and loving kindness may have been regarded as equally liberating in early Buddhism, they were relegated to a subsidiary role in later Theravada Buddhism, though retaining their central place in Mahayana Buddhism.
The Theravada tradition, following the Noble Eightfold Path describes the Buddhist training as a threefold training: virtue (s?la); meditation (samadhi); and wisdom (paññ?).[g]Samadhi includes both Right Mindfulness (samma sati), exemplified by the Buddha's Four Foundations of Mindfulness, as described in the Satipatthana Sutta; and Right Concentration (samma samadhi); culminating in jhana/dhyana, interpreted as meditative absorption, through the meditative development of samatha. Meditation is also implied in Right View (samma ditthi) &ndash, embodying wisdom which according to the Theravada tradition is attained through the meditative development of vipassana founded on samatha.[h] Thus, meditative prowess alone is not sufficient; it is but one part of the path, in tandem with ethical development and wise understanding which are also necessary for the attainment of the highest goal.
The Mahayana tradition emphasizes the combination of insight and compassion. Both dhyana (notably Zen) and samatha techniques can be found in the Mahayana traditions. The Six Perfections (p?ramit?) echo the threefold training with the inclusion of virtue (la), concentration (samadhi) and wisdom (prajñ?).
The two major traditions of meditative practice in pre-Buddhist India were the Jain ascetic practices and the various Vedic Brahmanical practices. There is still much debate in Buddhist studies regarding how much influence these two traditions had on the development of early Buddhist meditation. The early Buddhist texts mention that the Gautama trained under two teachers known as ra K?l?ma and Uddaka R?maputta, both of them taught formless jhanas or mental absorptions, a key practice of proper Buddhist meditation. Alexander Wynne considers these figures historical persons associated with the doctrines of the early Upanishads. Other practices which the Buddha undertook have been associated with the Jain ascetic tradition by the Indologist Johannes Bronkhorst including extreme fasting and a forceful "meditation without breathing". According to the early texts, the Buddha rejected the more extreme Jain ascetic practices in favor of the middle way.
Modern Buddhist studies has attempted to reconstruct the meditation practices of pre-sectarian Early Buddhism, mainly through philological and text critical methods using the early canonical texts.
According to Bronkhorst, the oldest Buddhist meditation practice are the four dhyanas, which lead to the destruction of the asavas as well as the practice of mindfulness (sati). Alexander Wynne agrees that the Buddha taught a kind of meditation exemplified by the four dhyanas, arguing that the Buddha adopted these from the Brahmin teachers ra K?l?ma and Uddaka R?maputta, though he did not interpret them in the same Vedic cosmological way and rejected their Vedic goal (union with Brahman). The Buddha, according to Wynne, radically transformed the practice of dhyana which he learned from these Brahmins which "consisted of the adaptation of the old yogic techniques to the practice of mindfulness and attainment of insight". For Wynne, this idea that liberation required not just meditation but an act of insight, was radically different than the Brahminic meditation, "where it was thought that the yogin must be without any mental activity at all, 'like a log of wood'."
According to Indologist Johannes Bronkhorst, "the teaching of the Buddha as presented in the early canon contains a number of contradictions," presenting "a variety of methods that do not always agree with each other," containing "views and practices that are sometimes accepted and sometimes rejected." These contradictions are due to the influence of non-Buddhist traditions on early Buddhism. One example of these non-Buddhist meditative methods found in the early sources is outlined by Bronkhorst:
The Vitakkasanth?na Sutta of the Majjhima Nik?ya and its parallels in Chinese translation recommend the practicing monk to 'restrain his thought with his mind, to coerce and torment it'. Exactly the same words are used elsewhere in the P?li canon (in the Mah?saccaka Sutta, Bodhir?jakum?ra Sutta and Sa?g?rava Sutta) in order to describe the futile attempts of the Buddha before his enlightenment to reach liberation after the manner of the Jainas.
According to Bronkhorst, such practices which are based on a "suppression of activity" are not authentically Buddhist, but were later adopted from the Jains by the Buddhist community.
Many scholars of early Buddhism, such as Vetter, Bronkhorst and An?layo, see the practice of absorption (P?li: jh?na, Sanskrit: dhy?na) as central to the meditation of Early Buddhism. There are four form jhanas, each one more subtle and refined. The qualities associated with the first four jhanas are as follows:[i]
According to Richard Gombrich, the sequence of the four rupa-jhanas describes two different cognitive states.[j] Alexander Wynne further explains that the dhyana-scheme is poorly understood. According to Wynne, words expressing the inculcation of awareness, such as sati, sampaj?no, and upekkh?, are mistranslated or understood as particular factors of meditative states, whereas they refer to a particular way of perceiving the sense objects.[k][l]
In addition to the four r?pajh?nas, there are also meditative attainments which were later called by the tradition the ar?pajh?nas, though the early texts do not use the term dhyana for them, calling them ?yatana (dimension, sphere, base). They are:
An important quality to be cultivated by a Buddhist meditator is mindfulness (sati). Mindfulness is a polyvalent term which refers to remembering, recollecting and "bearing in mind". It also relates to remembering the teachings of the Buddha and knowing how these teachings relate to one's experiences. The Buddhist texts mention different kinds of mindfulness practice. According to Bronkhorst, there were originally two kinds of mindfulness, "observations of the positions of the body" and the 4 satipah?nas which constituted formal meditation. Bhikkhu Sujato and Bronkhorst both argue that the mindfulness of the positions of the body wasn't originally part of the four satipatthana formula, but was later added to it in some texts.
In the Pali Satipatthana Sutta and its parallels as well as numerous other early Buddhist texts, the Buddha identifies four foundations for mindfulness (satipah?nas): the body (including the four elements, the parts of the body, and death), feelings (vedana), mind (citta) and phenomena or principles (dhammas), such as the five hindrances and the seven factors of enlightenment. Different early texts give different enumerations of these four mindfulness practices. Meditation on these subjects is said to develop insight.
The Buddha is said to have identified two paramount mental qualities that arise from wholesome meditative practice:
In the Pali canon, the Buddha never mentions independent samatha and vipassana meditation practices; instead, samatha and vipassana are two qualities of mind, to be developed through meditation.[n] Nonetheless, some meditation practices (such as contemplation of a kasina object) favor the development of samatha, others are conducive to the development of vipassana (such as contemplation of the aggregates), while others (such as mindfulness of breathing) are classically used for developing both mental qualities.
Through the meditative development of serenity, one is able to suppress obscuring hindrances; and, with the suppression of the hindrances, it is through the meditative development of insight that one gains liberating wisdom. Moreover, the Buddha is said to have extolled serenity and insight as conduits for attaining Nibbana (Pali; Skt.: Nirvana), the unconditioned state as in the "Kimsuka Tree Sutta" (SN 35.245), where the Buddha provides an elaborate metaphor in which serenity and insight are "the swift pair of messengers" who deliver the message of Nibbana via the Noble Eightfold Path.[o] In the Threefold training, samatha is part of samadhi, the eight limb of the threefold path, together withsati, mindfulness.
According to An?layo, the jhanas are crucial meditative states which lead to the abandonment of hindrances such as lust and aversion; however, they are not sufficient for the attainment of liberating insight. Some early texts also warn meditators against becoming attached to them, and therefore forgetting the need for the further practice of insight.
According to An?layo, "either one undertakes such insight contemplation while still being in the attainment, or else one does so retrospectively, after having emerged from the absorption itself but while still being in a mental condition close to it in concentrative depth." The position that insight can be practiced from within jhana, according to the early texts, is endorsed by Gunaratna, Crangle and Shankaman. An?layo meanwhile argues, that the evidence from the early texts suggest that "contemplation of the impermanent nature of the mental constituents of an absorption takes place before or on emerging from the attainment".
Various early sources mention the attainment of insight after having achieved jhana. In the Mahasaccaka Sutta, dhyana is followed by insight into the four noble truths. The mention of the four noble truths as constituting "liberating insight" is probably a later addition. Originally the practice of dhyana itself may have constituted the core liberating practice of early Buddhism, since in this state all "pleasure and pain" had waned. According to Vetter,
[P]robably the word "immortality" (a-mata) was used by the Buddha for the first interpretation of this experience and not the term cessation of suffering that belongs to the four noble truths [...] the Buddha did not achieve the experience of salvation by discerning the four noble truths and/or other data. But his experience must have been of such a nature that it could bear the interpretation "achieving immortality".
Discriminating insight into transiency as a separate path to liberation was a later development, under pressure of developments in Indian religious thinking, which saw "liberating insight" as essential to liberation.[page needed] This may also have been due to an over-literal interpretation by later scholastics of the terminology used by the Buddha, and to the problems involved with the practice of dhyana, and the need to develop an easier method.
According to An?layo:
The effect of cultivating the brahmavih?ras as a liberation of the mind finds illustration in a simile which describes a conch blower who is able to make himself heard in all directions. This illustrates how the brahmavih?ras are to be developed as a boundless radiation in all directions, as a result of which they cannot be overruled by other more limited karma.
The oldest material of the Theravada tradition on meditation can be found in the Pali Nikayas and in texts such as the Patisambhidamagga which provide commentary to meditation suttas like the Anapanasati sutta. An early Theravada meditation manual is the Vimuttimagga ('Path of Freedom', 1st or 2nd century). The most influential presentation though, is that of the 5th Century Visuddhimagga ('Path of Purification') of Buddhagho?a, which describes forty meditation subjects. Almost all of these are described in the early texts. Buddhagho?a also seems to have been influenced by the earlier Vimuttimagga in his presentation.
Buddhagho?a advises that, for the purpose of developing concentration and consciousness, a person should "apprehend from among the forty meditation subjects one that suits his own temperament" with the advice of a "good friend" (kalya-mittat?) who is knowledgeable in the different meditation subjects (Ch. III, § 28). Buddhagho?a subsequently elaborates on the forty meditation subjects as follows (Ch. III, §104; Chs. IV-XI):
When one overlays Buddhaghosa's 40 meditative subjects for the development of concentration with the Buddha's foundations of mindfulness, three practices are found to be in common: breath meditation, foulness meditation (which is similar to the Sattipatthana Sutta's cemetery contemplations, and to contemplation of bodily repulsiveness), and contemplation of the four elements. According to Pali commentaries, breath meditation can lead one to the equanimous fourth jhanic absorption. Contemplation of foulness can lead to the attainment of the first jhana, and contemplation of the four elements culminates in pre-jhana access concentration.
Particularly influential from the twentieth century onward has been the "New Burmese Method" or "Vipassan? School" approach to samatha and vipassan? developed by Mingun Sayadaw and U N?rada and popularized by Mahasi Sayadaw. Here samatha is considered an optional but not necessary component of the practice--vipassan? is possible without it. Another Burmese method, derived from Ledi Sayadaw via Ba Khin and S. N. Goenka, takes a similar approach. Other Burmese traditions popularized in the west, notably that of Pa Auk Sayadaw, uphold the emphasis on samatha explicit in the commentarial tradition of the Visuddhimagga. These Burmese traditions have been particularly influential on the Western Vipassana movement (also called "Insight meditation"), which includes American Buddhist teachers such as Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg and Jack Kornfield.
There are also other less well known Burmese meditation methods, such as the system developed by U Vimala, which focuses on knowledge of dependent origination and cittanupassana (mindfulness of the mind). Likewise, Sayadaw U Tejaniya's method also focuses on mindfulness of the mind.
Also influential is the Thai Forest Tradition deriving from Mun Bhuridatta and popularized by Ajahn Chah, which, in contrast, stresses the inseparability of the two practices, and the essential necessity of both practices. Other noted practitioners in this tradition include Ajahn Thate and Ajahn Maha Bua, among others. There are other forms of Thai Buddhist meditation associated with particular teachers, including Buddhadasa Bhikkhu's presentation of anapanasati, Ajahn Lee's breath meditation method (which influenced his American student Thanissaro) and the "dynamic meditation" of Luangpor Teean Cittasubho.
There are other less mainstream forms of Theravada meditation practiced in Thailand which include the vijja dhammakaya meditation developed by Luang Pu Sodh Candasaro and the meditation of former supreme patriarch Suk Kai Thuean (1733-1822). Newell notes that these two forms of modern Thai meditation share certain features in common with tantric practices such as the use of visualizations and centrality of maps of the body.
A less common type of meditation is practiced in Cambodia and Laos by followers of Bor?n kammah?na ('ancient practices') tradition. This form of meditation includes the use of mantras and visualizations.
The now defunct Sarv?stiv?da tradition and its related sub-schools like the Sautr?ntika and the Vaibhika were the most influential Buddhists in North India and Central Asia. Their highly complex Abhidharma treatises such as the Mahavibhasa, the Sravakabhumi and the Abhidharmakosha contain new developments in meditative theory which are a major influence on meditation as practiced in East Asian Mahayana and Tibetan Buddhism. Individuals known as yog?c?ras (yoga practitioners) were influential in the development of Sarv?stiv?da meditation praxis and some modern scholars such as Yin Shun believe they were also influential in the development of Mahayana meditation.
According to KL Dhammajoti, the Sarv?stiv?da meditation practitioner begins with samatha meditations, divided into the five fold mental stillings, each being recommended as useful for particular personality types:
Contemplation of the impure and mindfulness of breathing was particularly important in this system and they were known as the 'gateways to immortality' (amrta-dv?ra). The Sarv?stiv?da system practiced breath meditation using the same sixteen aspect model used in the anapanasati sutta and also introduced a unique six aspect system which consists of: (1) counting the breaths up to ten, (2) following the breath as it enters through the nose throughout the body, (3) fixing the mind on the breath, (4) observing the breath at various locations, (5) modifying is related to the practice of the four applications of mindfulness and (6) purifying stage of the arising of insight. This six fold breathing meditation method was influential in East Asia and expanded upon by the Chinese Tiantai meditation master Zhiyi. After the practitioner has achieved tranquility, Sarv?stiv?da Abhidharma then recommends one proceeds to practice the four applications of mindfulness (smrti-upasth?na) in two ways. First they contemplate each specific characteristic of the four applications of mindfulness and then they contemplate all four collectively. In spite of this systematic division of samatha and vipasyana, the Sarv?stiv?da Abhidharmikas held that the two practices are not mutually exclusive. The Mahavibhasa for example remarks that, regarding the six aspects of mindfulness of breathing, "there is no fixed rule here -- all may come under samatha or all may come under vipasyana." The Sarv?stiv?da Abhidharmikas also held that attaining the dhy?nas was necessary for the development of insight and wisdom.
Mah?y?na Buddhism includes numerous schools of practice, which each draw upon various Buddhist s?tras, philosophical treatises, and commentaries. Accordingly, each school has its own meditation methods for the purpose of developing sam?dhi and prajñ?, with the goal of ultimately attaining enlightenment. Nevertheless, each has its own emphasis, mode of expression, and philosophical outlook. In his classic book on meditation of the various Chinese Buddhist traditions, Charles Luk writes, "The Buddha Dharma is useless if it is not put into actual practice, because if we do not have personal experience of it, it will be alien to us and we will never awaken to it in spite of our book learning."Nan Huaijin echoed similar sentiments about the importance of meditation by remarking, "Intellectual reasoning is just another spinning of the sixth consciousness, whereas the practice of meditation is the true entry into the Dharma."
Initially, Mahayana Buddhists in India and East Asia practiced meditation in a similar way to that of the Sarv?stiv?da school outlined above. One of the major Indian Mahayana treatises on meditation practice is the Yogacara bhumi (compiled circa late 4th century), a compendium of texts which includes within it the Sarv?stiv?da Sravakabh?mi (c. 2nd-3rd century) as well as the Mahayana Bodhisattvabh?mi (c. 3rd century).
The works of the Chinese translator An Shigao (, 147-168 CE) are some of the earliest meditation texts used by Chinese Buddhism and their focus is mindfulness of breathing (annabanna ?), these texts are known as the Dhy?na sutras. The Chinese translator and scholar Kumarajiva (344-413 CE) transmitted a meditation treatise titled The S?tra Concerned with Sam?dhi in Sitting Meditation (, T.614, K.991) which teaches the Sarv?stiv?da system of five fold mental stillings.
In Pure Land Buddhism, repeating the name of Amit?bha is traditionally a form of mindfulness of the Buddha (Skt. buddh?nusm?ti). This term was translated into Chinese as nianfo (Chinese: ), by which it is popularly known in English. The practice is described as calling the buddha to mind by repeating his name, to enable the practitioner to bring all his or her attention upon that buddha (sam?dhi). This may be done vocally or mentally, and with or without the use of Buddhist prayer beads. Those who practice this method often commit to a fixed set of repetitions per day, often from 50,000 to over 500,000. According to tradition, the second patriarch of the Pure Land school, Shandao, is said to have practiced this day and night without interruption, each time emitting light from his mouth. Therefore, he was bestowed with the title "Great Master of Light" (?) by Emperor Gaozong of Tang ().
In addition, in Chinese Buddhism there is a related practice called the "dual path of Chán and Pure Land cultivation", which is also called the "dual path of emptiness and existence." As taught by Venerable Nan Huaijin, the name of Amit?bha Buddha is recited slowly, and the mind is emptied out after each repetition. When idle thoughts arise, the phrase is repeated again to clear them. With constant practice, the mind is able to remain peacefully in emptiness, culminating in the attainment of sam?dhi.
Repeating the Pure Land Rebirth dh?ra is another method in Pure Land Buddhism. Similar to the mindfulness practice of repeating the name of Amit?bha Buddha, this dh?ra is another method of meditation and recitation in Pure Land Buddhism. The repetition of this dh?ra is said to be very popular among traditional Chinese Buddhists. It is traditionally preserved in Sanskrit, and it is said that when a devotee succeeds in realizing singleness of mind by repeating a mantra, its true and profound meaning will be clearly revealed.
Another practice found in Pure Land Buddhism is meditative contemplation and visualization of Amit?bha, his attendant bodhisattvas, and the Pure Land. The basis of this is found in the Amit?yurdhy?na S?tra ("Amit?bha Meditation S?tra"), in which the Buddha describes to Queen Vaidehi the practices of thirteen progressive visualization methods, corresponding to the attainment of various levels of rebirth in the Pure Land. Visualization practises for Amit?bha are popular among esoteric Buddhist sects, such as Japanese Shingon Buddhism.
In the earliest traditions of Zen, it is said that there was no formal method of meditation. Instead, the teacher would use various didactic methods to point to the true nature of the mind, also known as Buddha-nature. This method is referred to as the "Mind Dharma", and exemplified in the story of kyamuni Buddha holding up a flower silently, and Mah?kyapa smiling as he understood. A traditional formula of this is, "Chán points directly to the human mind, to enable people to see their true nature and become buddhas." In the early era of the Chán school, there was no fixed method or ple formula for teaching meditation, and all instructions were simply heuristic methods; therefore the Chán school was called the "Gateless Gate."
It is said traditionally that when the minds of people in society became more complicated and when they could not make progress so easily, the masters of the Chán school were forced to change their methods. These involved particular words and phrases, shouts, roars of laughter, sighs, gestures, or blows from a staff. These were all meant to awaken the student to the essential truth of the mind, and were later called g?ng'àn (), or k?an in Japanese. These didactic phrases and methods were to be contemplated, and example of such a device is a phrase that turns around the practice of mindfulness: "Who is being mindful of the Buddha?" The teachers all instructed their students to give rise to a gentle feeling of doubt at all times while practicing, so as to strip the mind of seeing, hearing, feeling, and knowing, and ensure its constant rest and undisturbed condition. Charles Luk explains the essential function of contemplating such a meditation case with doubt:
Since the student cannot stop all his thoughts at one stroke, he is taught to use this poison-against-poison device to realize singleness of thought, which is fundamentally wrong but will disappear when it falls into disuse, and gives way to singleness of mind, which is a precondition of the realization of the self-mind for the perception of self-nature and attainment of Bodhi.
In China it has been traditionally held that the meditation methods used by the Tiantai school are the most systematic and comprehensive of all. In addition to its doctrinal basis in Indian Buddhist texts, the Tiantai school also emphasizes use of its own meditation texts which emphasize the principles of ?amatha and vipa?yan?. Of these texts, Zhiyi's Concise ?amathavipa?yan? (), Mohe Zhiguan (?, Sanskrit Mahamathavipa?yan?), and Six Subtle Dharma Gates (?) are the most widely read in China. Rujun Wu identifies the work Mah?-?amatha-vipa?yan? of Zhiyi as the seminal meditation text of the Tiantai school. Regarding the functions of ?amatha and vipa?yan? in meditation, Zhiyi writes in his work Concise ?amatha-vipa?yan?:
The attainment of Nirva is realizable by many methods whose essentials do not go beyond the practice of ?amatha and vipa?yan?. ?amatha is the first step to untie all bonds and vipa?yan? is essential to root out delusion. ?amatha provides nourishment for the preservation of the knowing mind, and vipa?yan? is the skillful art of promoting spiritual understanding. ?amatha is the unsurpassed cause of sam?dhi, while vipa?yan? begets wisdom.
The Tiantai school also places a great emphasis on ?n?p?nasm?ti, or mindfulness of breathing, in accordance with the principles of ?amatha and vipa?yan?. Zhiyi classifies breathing into four main categories: panting (?), unhurried breathing (?), deep and quiet breathing (?), and stillness or rest (?). Zhiyi holds that the first three kinds of breathing are incorrect, while the fourth is correct, and that the breathing should reach stillness and rest. Zhiyi also outlines four kinds of samadhi in his Mohe Zhiguan, and ten modes of practicing vipa?yan?.
One of the adaptations by the Japanese Tendai school was the introduction of Mikky? (esoteric practices) into Buddhism, which was later named Taimitsu by Ennin. Eventually, according to Tendai Taimitsu doctrine, the esoteric rituals came to be considered of equal importance with the exoteric teachings of the Lotus Sutra. Therefore, by chanting mantras, maintaining mudras, or performing certain meditations, one is able to see that the sense experiences are the teachings of Buddha, have faith that one is inherently an enlightened being, and one can attain enlightenment within this very body. The origins of Taimitsu are found in China, similar to the lineage that K?kai encountered in his visit to Tang China and Saich?'s disciples were encouraged to study under K?kai.
Vajrayana Buddhism includes all of the traditional forms of Mahayana meditation and also several unique forms. The central defining form of Vajrayana meditation is Deity Yoga (devatayoga). This involves the recitation of mantras, prayers and visualization of the yidam or deity along with the associated mandala of the deity's Pure Land. Advanced Deity Yoga involves imagining yourself as the deity.
Other forms of meditation in Vajrayana include the Mahamudra and Dzogchen teachings, each taught by the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages of Tibetan Buddhism respectively. The goal of these is to familiarize oneself with the ultimate nature of mind which underlies all existence, the Dharmak?ya. There are also other practices such as Dream Yoga, Tummo, the yoga of the intermediate state (at death) or Bardo, sexual yoga and Chöd.
For a long time people have practiced meditation, based on Buddhist meditation principles, in order to effect mundane and worldly benefit. As such, mindfulness and other Buddhist meditation techniques are being advocated in the West by innovative psychologists and expert Buddhist meditation teachers such as Thích Nh?t H?nh, Pema Chödrön, Clive Sherlock, Mya Thwin, S. N. Goenka, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, Tara Brach, Alan Clements, and Sharon Salzberg, who have been widely attributed with playing a significant role in integrating the healing aspects of Buddhist meditation practices with the concept of psychological awareness, healing, and well-being. Although mindfulness meditation has received the most research attention, loving kindness (metta) and equanimity (upekkha) meditation are beginning to be used in a wide array of research in the fields of psychology and neuroscience.
The accounts of meditative states in the Buddhist texts are in some regards free of dogma, so much so that the Buddhist scheme has been adopted by Western psychologists attempting to describe the phenomenon of meditation in general.[p] However, it is exceedingly common to encounter the Buddha describing meditative states involving the attainment of such magical powers (Sanskrit ?ddhi, Pali iddhi) as the ability to multiply one's body into many and into one again, appear and vanish at will, pass through solid objects as if space, rise and sink in the ground as if in water, walking on water as if land, fly through the skies, touching anything at any distance (even the moon or sun), and travel to other worlds (like the world of Brahma) with or without the body, among other things, and for this reason the whole of the Buddhist tradition may not be adaptable to a secular context, unless these magical powers are seen as metaphorical representations of powerful internal states that conceptual descriptions could not do justice to.
|mindfulness/awareness||sati||sm?ti||? (niàn)||trenpa (wylie: dran pa)|
|clear comprehension||sampajañña||samprajaña||(zhèng zh? lì)||shezhin (shes bzhin)|
|vigilance/heedfulness||appamada||apram?da||? (bù fàng yì zuò)||bakyö (bag yod)|
|ardency||atappa||?tapa?||(y?ng m?ng)||nyima (nyi ma)|
|attention/engagement||manasikara||manask?ra?||? (rú l? zuò yì)||yila jepa (yid la byed pa)|
|foundation of mindfulness||satipah?na||sm?tyupasth?na||(niànzhù)||trenpa neybar zhagpa (dran pa nye bar gzhag pa)|
|mindfulness of breathing||?n?p?nasati||?n?p?nasm?ti||? (?nnàb?nnà)||w?k trenpa (dbugs dran pa)|
|calm abiding/cessation||samatha||?amatha||? (zh?)||shiney (zhi gnas)|
|insight/contemplation||vipassan?||vipa?yan?||? (gu?n)||lhagthong (lhag mthong)|
|meditative concentration||sam?dhi||sam?dhi||(s?nmèi)||ting-nge-dzin (ting nge dzin)|
|meditative absorption||jh?na||dhy?na||? (chán)||samten (bsam gtan)|
|cultivation||bh?van?||bh?van?||(xi?xíng)||gompa (sgom pa)|
|cultivation of analysis||Vitakka and Vic?ra||*vic?ra-bh?van?||(xún sì chá)||chegom (dpyad sgom)|
|cultivation of settling||--||*sth?pya-bh?van?||--||jokgom ('jog sgom)|
Theravada Buddhist meditation practices:
Zen Buddhist meditation practices:
Buddhist meditation centers:
Related Buddhist practices:
Proper floor-sitting postures and supports while meditating:
Traditional Buddhist texts on meditation:
Traditional preliminary practices to Buddhist meditation:
Analog in Vedas:
Analog in Taoism:
[T]here is the cultivation of meditative and contemplative techniques aimed at producing what might, for the lack of a suitable technical term in English, be referred to as 'altered states of consciousness'. In the technical vocabulary of Indian religious texts, such states come to be termed 'meditations' (Sanskrit: dhy?na, Pali: jh?na) or 'concentrations' (sam?dhi); the attainment of such states of consciousness was generally regarded as bringing the practitioner to deeper knowledge and experience of the nature of the world." (Gethin, 1998, p. 10.)