A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

A deeper look at meditation (the goal)

The Buddha describe our minds, as monkey minds. In the same way a monkey swings from tree to tree, our brain swings form past to present or the future, then off to another thought. He taught us how to achieve a peaceful mind, in the same manner he did, while sitting under the Bodhi Tree.   To begin with you need to have a goal, which simply is a clear, silent mind. Unlike math, or physics there are no complicated formula to learn. The Buddha described the goal of meditation as achieving samadhi. Richard Shankman, The Experience of Samadhi – an in depth Exploration of Buddhist Meditation, Shambala publications 2008, describes it as: “In Buddhism, it can refer to an abiding in which mind becomes very still but does not merge with the object of attention, and is thus able to observe and gain insight into the changing flow of experience.” The key point I draw is that the mind does not become attached or fixated on the object thought. Rather the thought comes into being, is observed, and allowed to leave our mind. learning this stillness of the mind, is the goal of learning to meditate. This is one of the important steps of the Noble Eightfold Path. Where a student or researcher may focus on one thought to the exclusion of all others, Buddhist meditation is the opposite, the non attachment to the arising thoughts. By learning to let go of these arising thoughts, we also begin to learn to let go of all the stuff we drag along with us from yesterday. Yup learning to meditate, is like taking that baggage cart you keep pulling behind you, and slowly removing one piece of baggage at a time, so over time you have less of it to carry. If you think of your journey to enlightenment as a plane taking you there, until you learn to leave some of this baggage behind, your can’t even leave the terminal.

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