Meditation in religion

Discussion in 'Eastern Philosophy' started by kurros, May 19, 2011.

  1. kurros Registered Senior Member

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    I am curious as to the role of meditation in various religions, and was hoping that some of you might tell me

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    Let me start with Buddhism. I have always found Buddhism an interesting concept but I admittedly know very little about it. As it stands in my head at the moment I understand that the gist of it is to attain higher states of awareness and enlightenment through meditation, and that various ethical considerations are part of this, etc, but if so why is it called a religion? Are supernatural forces purported to exist? I don't think I have come across such in my readings...

    Oh wait ok I just found this on the wikipedia page for Buddhist meditation:

    "...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.[49] However, it is exceedingly common to encounter the Buddha describing meditative states involving the attainment of such magical powers (P. 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,[50][51][52] and for this reason the whole of the Buddhist tradition may not be adaptable to a secular context."

    So ok there are some supernatural things flying around in there. But are they supposed to be things occurring in this reality? I have been having lucid dreams for the last 6 months or so and that has given me some insight into the crazy stuff that can go on inside ones brain, so I can perfectly believe that one could develop waking lucid dreams or something similar to the degree that the separation of these things from waking reality might become blurred.

    Anyway say I don't really care about any of the Buddhist doctrine (actually some of it sounds nice, I wouldn't mind being free of the ten fetters for example) but am very interested in altered states of conciousness, do you think it would be a good idea to try and learn something about these meditation techniques and practices from Buddhists? If so which schools are most concerned with these aspects of the religion? I read something about some Tibetan Buddhists practicing some kind of dream yoga, which since I have a little experience with lucid dreams sounds interesting.

    Or are there more modern secular ways of exploring these things? I expect that the answer is not really, since they are very poorly studied.

    Also, do other religions have similar practices? I know some kinds of prayer may have some meditational aspects but I'm not sure the goal is the same, i.e. the exploration of ones own mind.

    Anyway thoughts, advice?
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2011
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  3. SciWriter Valued Senior Member

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    Scientists attached electrodes to expert meditating Buddhist Monks, finding that neurological areas related to the identification of the self and its location of the boundary between it and the rest of the universe went quiet, inducing the sensation of oneness with the Cosmos and all that is said like that. That's all. No more mystery.

    You could Google it.
     
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  5. kurros Registered Senior Member

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    I'm not saying there is any great mystery about it, I just think it is really interesting. Just because it isn't supernatural doesn't make it not worth pursuing. For example I don't believe in astral travel either but I do believe in wake-induced lucid dreams, and I would really like to be able to achieve them at will.
     
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  7. SciWriter Valued Senior Member

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    I've done it. Very relaxing. Good practice for when a crises arises, for then any unwanted thoughts can be more easily gotten rid of.
     
  8. SciWriter Valued Senior Member

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    I have these, too. Just keep telling yourself before you sleep every night that "It is only a dream". After that works, then you'll even be able to note it within the dream without any prompting.
     
  9. kurros Registered Senior Member

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    Yeah I do something similar, and have them erratically, need more practice still. But I was referring to directly entering the lucid dream state from the waking state, without going through the normal sleep cycle first, i.e. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wake_Induced_Lucid_Dream#Wake-initiated_lucid_dreams_.28WILD.29

    I have only done this once, and it was by accident after waking up from a normal lucid dream. I was really tired and still out of it, and didn't move and just relaxed, and I went straight back into another lucid dream, it was a huge rush. I have dreams of being able to go sit on a comfy chair in a dark quiet room and slip into one of these at will. Way better than watching TV or reading a book

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  10. SciWriter Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, especially after naps. Many take these for Out of Body Experiences, but of course they aren't.

    Scripting one's own movie beats watching one on TV. If only we could record these!
     
  11. Search & Destroy Take one bite at a time Moderator

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    The first thing to practice is fooling around with hypnagogic imagery I'd say. When you are close to sleep and some funny things appear in your vision - these can transform into vivid hallucinations if you know how to look at them right.

    The first time you try to look at them, you will use your eyes and screw it all up. The trick is to start "looking" without your eyes. After some experience you will know what I'm talking about.

    Next, most helpful to me were racing games. The weird hypnagogic light patterns can turn into anything, but for me at least it is easiest to start guiding them into a sort of racing game, where I'm going forward and things are flying past me. I'm not sure why, but it works much better than anything else I've tried.

    I have been able to use that method to transform lame little light-shows into full-blown pre-dream hallucinations. It is from that point, one is easiest to have an out of body experience. That's another subject though.
     
  12. kurros Registered Senior Member

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    Yeah I know what you are talking about. I have trouble doing it though. Do you find it easier when you are tired and trying to go to sleep or just relaxing somewhere quiet? I mostly try before bed because I never find time otherwise, but it seems really difficult. I wonder if that is just because it is hard or if it is because my brain is tired and would like to rest, not mess about with hypnagogic imagery. I find it difficult to concentrate.
     
  13. Search & Destroy Take one bite at a time Moderator

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    Easiest going to sleep. I suppose the number one skill to any meditation is focus. I practiced and was good at simple breath meditation before experimenting with other types.
     
  14. Wisdom_Seeker Speaker of my truth Valued Senior Member

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    Wikipedia can tell you in a glimpse what Buddhism tradition is about; but if you want to start to read about Buddhism, you can start with the Dhammapada, I started reading Gautama Buddha’s word with that book and I find it an excellent resource.
    There are many meditation techniques, including that of the devotional yoga or “Bhakti Yoga”; like that of Jesus.
    Buddha didn’t teach Bhakti Yoga, Buddha taught “Vipassana Meditation”, which is a self-observing methodology, observe all while sitting in silence, observe all while walking slowly; do everything slowly (when you can), eating, breathing, etc. and watch what happens inside you and in your mind.
    Yoga helps meditation overall, and Buddha was not against Yoga, in fact it can help you to achieve the lotus posture, which is the best posture for sitting meditation, because you close the energy flow from the waist down, creating a powerful energy cycle on your waist up (heart to mind centers).

    If you want to start with meditation, sitting in a lotus like posture while watching the breath; focusing on the outgoing breath (try to exhale as much air as you possibly can, and the body will eventually inhale automatically), do no inhale consciously, let the body do it. Focus on the exhale, and do it slowly. This Is just one of the many techniques of meditation, but it is one that helps all people in a way or another.
    The best times for meditation is right before you go to sleep and right after you first awake in the morning. 15 minutes to 1 hour is a usual good time per day to practice; although the more time you practice, the more advanced you become perfecting the techniques.

    Those supernatural things are warnings, everyone’s experience will be different, but Buddha was warning you not to get stuck on those things if you ever achieve one or more of those “Siddhis”.
    Because you will draw too much attention to yourself, and it will hinder your progress; also you would lose too much energy on those things while you could be using that energy for non-egoistic purposes.
    While you become more and more advanced, you will have many different experiences, but none of those is who you are, and we need to be careful not to get stuck on any of the steps.
    It is also difficult to drop the method you are using when it has achieved its purpose. Meditation methods can only lead you so far, but once you got there, you need to let go of the method and focus on awareness of all (inner and outer) – aka “the observer”.
    In Buddhas words in the Alagaddupama Sutta (the raft is the method, the river are the obstacles in the path):

    "Monks, I will teach you the Dhamma compared to a raft, for the purpose of crossing over, not for the purpose of holding onto. Listen and pay close attention. I will speak."
    "As you say, lord," the monks responded to the Blessed One.
    The Blessed One said: "Suppose a man were traveling along a path. He would see a great expanse of water, with the near shore dubious and risky, the further shore secure and free from risk, but with neither a ferryboat nor a bridge going from this shore to the other. The thought would occur to him, 'Here is this great expanse of water, with the near shore dubious and risky, the further shore secure and free from risk, but with neither a ferryboat nor a bridge going from this shore to the other. What if I were to gather grass, twigs, branches, and leaves and, having bound them together to make a raft, were to cross over to safety on the other shore in dependence on the raft, making an effort with my hands and feet?' Then the man, having gathered grass, twigs, branches, and leaves, having bound them together to make a raft, would cross over to safety on the other shore in dependence on the raft, making an effort with his hands and feet. Having crossed over to the further shore, he might think, 'How useful this raft has been to me! For it was in dependence on this raft that, making an effort with my hands and feet, I have crossed over to safety on the further shore. Why don't I, having hoisted it on my head or carrying on my back, go wherever I like?' What do you think, monks: Would the man, in doing that, be doing what should be done with the raft?"
    "No, lord."
    "And what should the man do in order to be doing what should be done with the raft? There is the case where the man, having crossed over, would think, 'How useful this raft has been to me! For it was in dependence on this raft that, making an effort with my hands and feet, I have crossed over to safety on the further shore. Why don't I, having dragged it on dry land or sinking it in the water, go wherever I like?' In doing this, he would be doing what should be done with the raft. In the same way, monks, I have taught the Dhamma compared to a raft, for the purpose of crossing over, not for the purpose of holding onto. Understanding the Dhamma as taught compared to a raft, you should let go even of Dhammas, to say nothing of non-Dhammas."
    Source.

    Dream Yoga is easy, just have a notebook at the side of your bed or under your pillow. And in the very moment you wake up, just write whatever dreams you just had in the most detail you can manage. You will be surprised how much we can learn about our own dreams. It is very important to write down the dreams as the very first thing you do when you open your eyes (even at the middle of the night).
    Date your dreams, that way after each month, you can re-read your dreams and compare them to the experiences you had while awake during this time. You can then start understanding your dreams way better, because you can apply them to your everyday life.
    Dreams are a good way to start also, because when you dream, your ego is dormant in certain moments, and you can listen to your heart way, way easier. In dreams, your heart gives you the greatest advice, and for some even important premonitions.

    Meditation has not changed for millennia, there just a very few meditation techniques that have been developed in modern age, the best example I can name is Osho’s “Dynamic Meditation”.

    Yoga, Zen, Buddhism, Tantra (Vigyan Bhairav Tantra), Sufism, Taoism, etc.. The goal is the same.
     
  15. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

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    I meditate at times but it has no religious bearing whatsoever.
     
  16. Carcano Valued Senior Member

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    Religion is defined by WORSHIP. Meditation is not worship and so has nothing to do with religion.

    Buddhism started off as a discipline of meditation but eventually took on aspects of worship as it strayed from the original teachings.
     

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