Contemplating Buddhist Meditation: A Spiritual Seeking
-Nikesh Dev Hatuwal
Meditation is a means of transforming the mind. Buddhist meditation practices are techniques that encourage and develop concentration, clarity, emotional positivity, and a calm seeing of the true nature of things. By engaging with a particular meditation practice you learn the patterns and habits of your mind, and the practice offers a means to cultivate new, more positive ways of being. With regular work and patience these nourishing, focused states of mind can deepen into profoundly peaceful and energised states of mind. Such experiences can have a transformative effect and can lead to a new understanding of life.
The practice of Buddhism provides a set of techniques to empower and transform our mind via use of meditation. These set of meditation methodology provides a clear vision by provoking positivity, calmness and clarity in pursuing the purpose of life. Positivity gained from the meditation helps to see the objective of life from a different perspective. It promotes the mind to achieve the desired target and goals. Similarly, calmness and clarity helps to reach the profound wisdom and enlightenment, guiding towards a deeper and more meaningful understanding of life.
Meditation is the step on the path that leads to liberation. The Buddha did not impose a dogma, he pointed out the road that he himself (as well as all other Buddhas) had followed. The Buddhas only blaze a path through the jungle of ignorance, they point out the way that leads to Nibbana, beyond suffering. Free investigation and reason must guide each one upon the path.
The future of a person depends upon the thinking that she/he beholds in the past and the present. Since a doing of a person depends on their thoughts, the deeds are actually direct consequences of the thoughts that a person has been clinging into for so long. Hence, a peaceful mind provides a purposeful life and a mind that mostly dwells into negative thoughts most likely generates a derogatory lifestyle. Only when a man thinks impersonally, the mind can reach to a state of purification and differentiate the real values of life from the apparent false values.
Meditation will only be useful and worthwhile if we are really serious about finding ourselves, or if we are, in Buddhist terminology, ‘searching for our selflessness’ or ‘searching for that which is illusive within’. If we are in earnest to find that truth- not for our own satisfaction, but in order to help other people who have not found it yet- then it is well worth while to study meditation and to practise it. But if our motivation is not pure, meditation will just be a waste of time, for it cannot be used to serve any worldly aims such as the obtaining of pleasure or power.
Unfortunately, the world that we live in is highly despicable and there is no denying to it. Once born, the body goes to a cycle of pain, suffering, disease, decay and death. Despite of the remarkable scientific revolution that has been made in this 21st century, people are still powerless when it comes to the subject entering the life cycle of mankind. Moreover, there are other wretchedness such as jealousy, hatred, indifferences, poverty, inequality; to which all the individuals are tied up to an extent regardless of their age, gender, religion, caste, colour or creed. To gain consciousness is to recognise those miseries and also be able to comprehend the cause of it. All of the underlying factors that trigger misery in one’s life are thought to be because of karma which is accustomed by expecting a sense of pleasure, which is in fact, the result of an impure mindset.
In order to rationalise the meditative state, one must be able to eradicate and discard all form of despair by separating self from selfishness. This can be achieved through Samadhi, the concentrated mind or by prajna, wisdom. Likewise, the concentrated mind can only be achieved if we observe sila, the moral or righteous way of living. Sila, Samadhi and prajna; otherwise known as “trisiksha”, beholds the entire teaching of summarised Buddhist philosophy. 
Meditation is unendingly important for anyone who is trying to seek an understanding of the truth: the realization of truth and the realization of selflessness. It is through the meditation that we can get an insight into the nature of man, develop our mind and attain a level of consciousness. The mind needs to refrain itself from any form of miseries. Indulgence to any sort of desolation degrades the level of concentration that one needs to meditate in order to achieve mindfulness. Therefore, any practitioner of meditation should be able to be as supple from all the suffering that pre-exist in this world. A fully concentrated mind is a must have as that is indeed what one seeks to have through right meditation.
Methods of meditation are to be found in most religious writings, The Buddhists have no special methods which could be described as purely Buddhist. But they do have several insights that are specifically their own; for instance on the nature of samatha or calmness of mind, and vipassana or alertness of mind. But the techniques are derived from those known in the Samkhya, Vedanta and other Hindu schools of philosophy, and perhaps in other religions which teach meditation.
The foremost step to meditate is to be able to prepare the mind into concentration. The mind needs to be able to focus and concentrate at only one point by leaving behind any sense of worry or distraction. The key point is to be able to evaluate and analyse at that single point without losing the focus and concentration. Therefore, the first step of the meditation is to be able to concentrate on a point and the second step of meditation is to be able to sense and analyse the one-pointed concentration without losing any focus.
Buddhist meditation can be divided into three stages. The first stage is sruti, to understand by hearing i.e. study via hearing your seniors and instructors. Similarly, to study books and other related resources for information. It also involves discussing the findings from the source of information. The second stage, also known as vichara; is to analyse and to ponder into whatever have been previously said, explained and understood. This is followed by carefully considering whether the methods that are known to your knowledge are suitable enough to be used in that particular condition. When one is certain to the methodology to she/he is going to use, then they are able to meditate by entering the final stage, bhavana. 
When all the above preparation are completed the aspirant should review his entire life. He must examine again his intentions, his understanding of what meditation is, and why it is he wants to meditate because he must now decide either to give up his desire to meditate, or go in for short periods of meditation only. He must also re-examine his environment and preparations he has made. It cannot be emphasised too often that meditation is not easy and can often become dangerous, leading mediator into an abnormal life. All the precautions should therefore be taken by those who wish to enter into a serious meditative life, who are in earnest about wanting to achieve a more spiritual way of life and to search for truth.
After having attended two or three courses the mediator will perhaps ne able to start out on his own and undertake a little longer meditation without the constant help of a teacher. However, it must be understood that the beginner needs a great deal of help in the early stages of his development, notwithstanding his own studies or the instructions he has received from his teacher, or how confident he may be about the methods he is using, It is therefore advised that the aspirant should discuss his progress with his teacher or fellow aspirants from time to time, because a wrong method of meditation adopted at the beginning and practised for lengthy period may prove to be harmful.
The whole of meditation practice can be essentialized into three crucial points: bring your mind home, and release, and relax. Each phrase contains meaning that resonates on many levels. The first point, to bring your mind home means to bring the mind into the state of calm through the practice of mindfulness. In its deepest sense, to bring your mind home is to turn your mind inward and to rest in the nature of mind. This itself is the highest form of meditation. The second from of practice to meditate is to release i.e. to release mind from its prison of grasping, since recognizing that all pain and fear and distress arise from the craving of the grasping mind. On a deeper level, the realization and confidence that arise from your growing understanding of the nature of mind inspire the profound and natural generosity that enables you to release all grasping from your heart, leaving it free itself, to melt away in the inspiration of meditation. Finally, to relax means to be spacious and to relax the mind of its tensions. More deeply, you relax into the true nature of your mind lets all thoughts and emotions naturally subside and dissolve into the state of the nature of mind. 
There are many forms of meditation. With the exception of Vipassana, the aim of practising meditation, as a spiritual exercise is to gain power over the forces of nature or merely to concentrate the mind. The Buddha had tested all forms of mystical meditation after his renunciation. He even sought guidance from two famous sages, masters of meditation, Alara Kalama and Udaka Ramaputta. He had hoped that they would show the way to deliverance; a remedy for life’s universal ailments. He practised their systems and reached the highest meditative attainment possible, but was not satisfied with them, their range of knowledge, their scope of mystical experiences was insufficient to grant him what he earnestly sought for. He left them in turn to seek for the absolute truth, eternal peace, nibbana.
When the Buddha had discovered his own unique way of liberating mankind from all miseries and woes, and started teaching his middle way, he did not entirely reject all the methods of the Yoga system. He made use of some of the methodology of the yoga system. The Buddha used them not for developing supernormal powers but to find the truth of dukkha, the cause of suffering. It was then used to know the root cause of the origin of dukkha, the cessation of dukkha and the path leading to the cessation of dukkha.
The Pali word Vipassana is made up of two parts: vi meaning variously, in various ways and pasanna, which means to watch, observe or investigate. So Vipassana means to see clearly, to observe thoroughly, to investigate penetratingly in various ways the true nature of things, precisely, as they really are; seeing beyond what is ordinarily observed, not superficial seeing, not seeing mere appearances, but going deeply into every aspect of the things under observation.
We see all animate and inanimate bodies around us all the time. Ordinarily when we look at anything, everything including our body, with our normal eyesight, we believe, we think, we see all there is to see, concerning the particular object. Actually, what we have seen is only superficial, however carefully, or thoroughly, we have made this observation. We see only what we already know by conventional terms such as man, woman, dog, tree, etc. But an ariya, that is one who has become well accomplished in Vipassana meditation, sees things as material aggregates. Ariyas, through the practice of Vipassana meditation can see everything clearly with their own wisdom eye. They see that the body is impermanent and is the embodiment of dukha, suffering, and that there is no abiding entity, no ego, in it.
Therefore, the purpose of practising Vipassana-bhavana is, through strenuous effort and unrelenting zeal, to come to see this so-called body of ours as it truly is, composed of aggregates of matter and mental aggregates and more minutely of sub atomic particles, all in a state of flux, never for a moment of rest.
Meditation is a means of transforming the mind. Buddhist meditation practices are techniques that encourage and develop concentration, clarity, emotional positivity, and a calm seeing of the true nature of things. The Buddhists have no special methods which could be described as purely Buddhist. But they do have several insights that are specifically their own; for instance on the nature of samatha or calmness of mind, and vipassana or alertness of mind. The Pali word Vipassana is made up of two parts: vi meaning variously, in various ways and pasanna, which means to watch, observe or investigate. So, vipassana means to see clearly and to observe thoroughly. The purpose of practising vipassana is, to get deep understandings of deep universal issue and how the sense of self arises. It not only teaches us to become extraordinarily attentive to ordinary experiences but also helps us to become conscious of what is happening around us.
Ahir, D., 1999. Purification of Mind . In: D. Ahir, ed. Vipassana: A Universal Buddhist Techniques of Meditation. Shakti Nagar: Sri Satguru Publications
Centre, T. B., 2014. Buddhism for today. [Online]
Available at: https://thebuddhistcentre.com/text/what-meditation
[Accessed 21 03 2017].
Goenka, S., 2014. The art of living – Introduction. In: S. N. Goenka, ed. Vipassana Meditation. Nashik: Vipassana Research
Institute, V. R., 2015. What senior Administrators say. In: V. R. Institute, ed. Views on Vipassana. Nashik: Vipassana Research Institute
Lay, K. U., 2010. Vipassana meditation- General description. In: U. K. Lay, ed. Manual of Vipassana Meditation. Nashik: Vipassana Research Institute
Lounsbery, G. C., 2005. General Outline. In: G. C. Loundbery, ed. Buddhist Meditation. Varanasi: Pilgrims Publishing
Rinpoche, S., 1997. The Heart of Meditation. In: R. H. U. Ltd, ed. Meditation. Bombay: Rupa & Co
Rinpoche, S., 2010. Meditation: Its Purpose, Meaning and Preparations. In: S. Rinpoche, ed. Buddhist Meditation. New Delhi: Wisdom Tree
 T. B., Centre. 2014. Buddhism for today [ Accessed 21 03 2017]
 G. C. Lounsbery, General Outline. pp. 3.
 Rinpoche, S., 2010. Meditation: Its Purpose, Meaning and Preparations. In: S. Rinpoche, ed. Buddhist Meditation. New Delhi: Wisdom Tree, pp. 4-8
 Rinpoche, S., 1997. The Heart of Meditation. In: R. H. U. Ltd, ed. Meditation. Bombay: Rupa & Co . Pp 3-7
 Ibid. pp. 11-18
 Lay, K. U., 2010. Vipassana meditation. pp. 50-56
 Goenka, S., 2014. The art of living. pp. 5-9.
 Ahir, D., 1999. Purification of Mind. pp. 57-59
 Institute, V. R., 2015. What senior Administrators say. pp. 18-21