Cover image, Kindling the Flame

THE BODY

On Thu, 16 January, 2014 - 10:46
Suryaprabha's picture
Suryaprabha
WE SHOT this spot of meditation teaching with Paramananda a couple of months back. The background is Chelsea Hospital, part of an ancient and beautiful miltary facility which is near my home.
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discipleoftathagata's picture
Dear Sir,
I would like to enquire about your Buddhist meditation teaching methods and the source of your teaching because despite my research I am completely baffled about what people should or should not be doing.
As a true seeker of the Truth, the problem I have at the moment is that nowhere in any Buddhist texts can I find any description of exactly what meditation truly is and can only see misconceptions.
For example, many people believe that Buddha became Enlightened through meditation alone, however according to Buddha’s own words He became Enlightened by doing good deeds and refraining from doing bad deeds throughout many lives. Next, people believe that Buddha taught His disciples to meditate, however, despite thousands of Buddhist texts meditation is hardly mentioned at all.
I have seen that modern meditation techniques teach people various things like counting, breathing, emptying the mind, staring at a fixed point, repeating phrases or trying to answer unsolvable questions, but nowhere in any Buddhist texts is there is any refererence to any of these, and this really confuses me because I assume that Buddhism means ‘teaching of Buddha’ so I find it very concerning when people teach these things and claim them to be Buddhist when there are absolutely no facts about them in any Buddhist texts ?
From my understanding of the true meaning of the use of the word ‘meditation’ used in Buddhist texts what Shakyamuni Buddha actually meant was to simply sit somewhere quiet and ‘ponder’. I consider this as just a way of having time to yourself, letting the mind relax and think about things such as what one is doing with ones life, what things one is planning, the events of the day, what things one can do to improve ones life, what good things one can do, what bad things one needs to guard against etc..and I guess Buddha told His followers to do this simply because they had nothing to do and it would prevent their thoughts leading to desires.
I consider myself wise, but the more at look at these facts then the more concerned I become because nowadays there are thousands of people teaching and millions of people practicing meditation, yet none of them seem to understand or even care about the real facts.
Forgive me for my abruptness, but if you are teaching something as Buddhism that Buddha Himself never taught then surely this is exactly what Buddha meant about the blind leading the blind ?
A wise man would look at the facts, a wise man would not teach things without any facts, a wise man would not lead other people down the wrong path.
Only a fool would dismiss the facts, only a fool would teach to others something as a fact that they cannot confirm themselves, only a fool would lead others down the wrong path.
I apologise if I have misunderstood something, and if that is the case then please could you clarify to me about the origin of meditation that you teach and point me in the direction of any Buddhist texts regarding the teaching of meditation so as to make my understanding on this issue clearer.
I understand that if you are teaching these things without such facts or have never even attempted to establish the facts then my words will cause you some concern, in that case it may be easier for you to continue teaching in ignorance and dismiss everything I say, but hopefully if you have any wisdom then you can see the Truth in my words and will understand the importance of them and the need to establish the facts regarding the issue of teaching meditation.
I can only urge you not to accept things as true without any facts and to keep looking at the facts, the more you look the clearer they will become.
Thank you for your time,
Suryaprabha's picture
Thank you for your interesting and prompt reponse. I don’t think anyone would claim meditation is unique to Buddhism but, according to this well known sutta, its practice is central to the Buddha Shakyamuni’s teaching as followed in the Triratna tradition as I am sure will be clear if you browse The Buddhist Centre. There are many different teachers and ways of teaching meditation though this, from early scriptures, demonstrates that nature of the teaching depends on the ethical and social context. It’s a great read though going through it with a teacher, as with getting to grips with meditation, is really worthwhile. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.118.than.html