What is meditation?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
Post Reply
User avatar
Bundokji
Posts: 1741
Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:57 pm

What is meditation?

Post by Bundokji » Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:10 am

The term "meditation" is used by people from within the same tradition, different traditions and different paths. When we ask: what is meditation? The answer usually involves a description of a certain activity depending on the method being used.

And yet, the term itself is aiming to make a distinction between meditation and other activities. Activities is what we do all the time, so why to call certain activity meditation?

Does the word "meditation" have a meaning of its own? If we try to separate meditation from the particular method the practitioner is using, then what would we be left with?
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 4407
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: What is meditation?

Post by Sam Vara » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:40 pm

Good question. I think the way you have phrased it leads us to search for the most general component, the factor which all activities we call "meditation" have in common.

I think one candidate would be bhāvanā, or the development/cultivation of positive states.

User avatar
Bundokji
Posts: 1741
Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:57 pm

Re: What is meditation?

Post by Bundokji » Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:25 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:40 pm
Good question. I think the way you have phrased it leads us to search for the most general component, the factor which all activities we call "meditation" have in common.

I think one candidate would be bhāvanā, or the development/cultivation of positive states.
Thank you for your answer.

Positive in the sense that it prevents future suffering? because seeking a positive seems to be also equally common to all human beings.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 4407
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: What is meditation?

Post by Sam Vara » Sat Sep 01, 2018 4:06 pm

Bundokji wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:25 pm

Positive in the sense that it prevents future suffering? because seeking a positive seems to be also equally common to all human beings.
Yes, or is reputed to do so. What is common to most human beings is the futility of the search.

[Edit] It might also be relevant that most seeking of a positive outcome is an attempt to manipulate external conditions so as to provide greater pleasure or the avoidance of pain; whereas bhavana refers to a more interior process whereby one's response to the external is the object.

User avatar
Bundokji
Posts: 1741
Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:57 pm

Re: What is meditation?

Post by Bundokji » Sat Sep 01, 2018 4:34 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 4:06 pm
Bundokji wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:25 pm

Positive in the sense that it prevents future suffering? because seeking a positive seems to be also equally common to all human beings.
Yes, or is reputed to do so. What is common to most human beings is the futility of the search.

[Edit] It might also be relevant that most seeking of a positive outcome is an attempt to manipulate external conditions so as to provide greater pleasure or the avoidance of pain; whereas bhavana refers to a more interior process whereby one's response to the external is the object.
Thank you :anjali:
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

binocular
Posts: 5638
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: What is meditation?

Post by binocular » Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:39 am

Bundokji wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:10 am
And yet, the term itself is aiming to make a distinction between meditation and other activities. Activities is what we do all the time, so why to call certain activity meditation?
It's seems like an approximate, relative term that, like so many others, gains significance only within a particular context. Or a term which is used for the lack of a better one.
Does the word "meditation" have a meaning of its own? If we try to separate meditation from the particular method the practitioner is using, then what would we be left with?
"Meditation" isn't the sort of term like Betula pendula or Aegolius funereus. But more a term like "bird" (in comparison to "boreal owl") or "tree" (in comparison to "silver birch").
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

User avatar
Bundokji
Posts: 1741
Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:57 pm

Re: What is meditation?

Post by Bundokji » Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:57 am

binocular wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:39 am
It's seems like an approximate, relative term that, like so many others, gains significance only within a particular context. Or a term which is used for the lack of a better one.
I agree. But even without a context, the word tends to trigger some images, preconceptions, associations. For example, when you say "i thought about something" and comparing it with "i meditated on something". The later seems to imply depth, or a more intimate relationship with the object of meditation than the object of thought.
"Meditation" isn't the sort of term like Betula pendula or Aegolius funereus. But more a term like "bird" (in comparison to "boreal owl") or "tree" (in comparison to "silver birch").
Is meditation a verb or a noun? When i check the dictionary, it is classified as "noun" but the definition itself often includes the word "action".
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

binocular
Posts: 5638
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: What is meditation?

Post by binocular » Sun Sep 02, 2018 12:03 pm

Bundokji wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:57 am
I agree. But even without a context, the word tends to trigger some images, preconceptions, associations.
Because a particular context exists in one's mind already.
Is meditation a verb or a noun? When i check the dictionary, it is classified as "noun" but the definition itself often includes the word "action".
The distinction between verbs and nouns is sometimes primarily a grammatical formality.
Grammatically, "meditation" is obviously a noun. Nouns derived from verbs retain their verbal meaning (ie. in some essential way have the same meaning as the verb), though.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

cookiemonster
Posts: 190
Joined: Sat Oct 12, 2013 4:42 am

Re: What is meditation?

Post by cookiemonster » Mon Sep 03, 2018 3:54 pm

Bundokji wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:10 am
The term "meditation" is used by people from within the same tradition, different traditions and different paths. When we ask: what is meditation? The answer usually involves a description of a certain activity depending on the method being used.

And yet, the term itself is aiming to make a distinction between meditation and other activities. Activities is what we do all the time, so why to call certain activity meditation?

Does the word "meditation" have a meaning of its own? If we try to separate meditation from the particular method the practitioner is using, then what would we be left with?
The word "Meditation" in English has its own multiplicity of connotations. In my mind, "meditation" most specifically refers to Right Concentration (Samadhi) in the Eightfold Path; Right Samadhi is the practice which leads to Jhana and Samatha.

arunam
Posts: 55
Joined: Fri Aug 24, 2018 6:21 am

Re: What is meditation?

Post by arunam » Fri Sep 07, 2018 4:38 pm

Right Concentration= concentration that has Right Mindfulness

Right Mindfulness= Mindfulness that has Right Effort
A path is made by walking on it

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 28 guests