I don't understand how meditation leads to englightenment?

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samtheman
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I don't understand how meditation leads to englightenment?

Postby samtheman » Wed Jul 16, 2014 2:31 pm

Hello everyone,

As a beginner I have tried breathing meditation few times. Yes it is certainly a good exercise to reduce stress, I can see that, but I don't understand how it would lead to enlightenment?

1. How will my cravings go away after meditation? Eg after meditation if I see some beautiful object I still get attached to it.

2. How will I understand that everything is changing and nothing is permanent

3. How will I understand all the theories of Buddhism such as non self after meditation

I have tried breathing meditation. It relaxes my mind I agree, I'm calmer after it, but in long term I don't understand how it would it free my mind from all the delusions it is tangled in. This saddens me because I understand meditation is an art, and just a like a person who is really good at something, you have to practice to become better, but when I have doubts about the end result it makes me not try.

Thank you :)

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Sam Vara
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Re: I don't understand how meditation leads to englightenmen

Postby Sam Vara » Wed Jul 16, 2014 4:15 pm

Good questions. Meditation alone, without the other path factors, is very unlikely to do the things you specify. As you say, it is good at stress reduction, but it is not a panacea that will bring about these changes automatically. There is also the fact that for most people, changes resulting from meditation takes a long time. Depending on your own personal qualities, it can take years. But here goes:

1) Meditation can reduce cravings and desires for grosser sense-pleasures because the mind will naturally incline to the finer pleasures of meditative states. Meditation can make the mind happy and therefore less likely to go wandering in search of external stimuli. In addition, some people are able to see for themselves that sense-pleasures are impermanent and therefore unworthy of the chase.

2) There are particular types of meditation which focus on sensations of the body, mind-states, etc. which reveal that impermanence. But again, you might find it helpful to "think through" these things in your daily life, and to study the suttas and articles by more advanced practitioners.

3) Same applies. You might find this little article by Ajahn Sucitto helpful:
If I go back to that first meditation class in Thailand: the monk gave us some advice on how to sit upright in a state of relaxed alertness, and start paying attention to the sensations that accompanied the process of breathing. I couldn’t have followed more than a breath or two before my mind was wandering. In fact it was careening on a wave of speculations, memories, and analyses. Every now and then I would steer my attention back to the breath sensations, and be able to maintain that for a few seconds before a fresh tide of thoughts came washing in. This is pretty much the standard beginner’s meditation. Nevertheless, what struck me deeply was that here I was witnessing my mind. And that was strangely peaceful, even reassuring: somehow I didn’t have to make anything out of my thoughts, or even out of my mind. It was just something happening. Moreover, if I was witnessing my mind, who was I, and whose mind was this?

http://ajahnsucitto.org/articles/the-eightfold-path/

My advice is to integrate the meditation with other practices which the Buddha recommended (the ethical precepts are most important, and you might want to explore renunciation) and not to worry too much about the insights. They will arise when the time is right...

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: I don't understand how meditation leads to englightenmen

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Jul 16, 2014 5:40 pm

Reflect on the simile of the adze.

A carpenter who works daily with an adze, doesn't know, “So much of the handle was worn away today, so much will be worn away tomorrow,” yet after working for many years he notices that the handle is getting polished.

Meditation is a life-time job, and a gradual process. Even if you do it intensively for successive back-to-back ten-day courses, or spend a year in a monastery, it won't be too obvious how much craving was worn away and how much remains. Still, with prolonged and regular practice, it is obvious that craving is not as powerful as before one practised meditation.
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Re: I don't understand how meditation leads to englightenmen

Postby culaavuso » Wed Jul 16, 2014 7:05 pm

samtheman wrote:As a beginner I have tried breathing meditation few times. Yes it is certainly a good exercise to reduce stress, I can see that, but I don't understand how it would lead to enlightenment?

It might be helpful to consider that the practice of meditation is developing skills that can apply to situations in daily life.

samtheman wrote:1. How will my cravings go away after meditation? Eg after meditation if I see some beautiful object I still get attached to it.

Learning to respond skillfully to alluring or repulsive thoughts, feelings, and sensations can be part of the practice of meditation. Applying this skill in daily life may help with craving.

samtheman wrote:2. How will I understand that everything is changing and nothing is permanent

Learning to observe skillfully more subtle and seemingly permanent things may be seen to be changing and impermanent. Eventually there may be nothing left that can be held as permanent.

samtheman wrote:3. How will I understand all the theories of Buddhism such as non self after meditation

Learning to experience the six senses skillfully, the nature of the perceptions of self may become more clear. Eventually they may be seen as just another impermanent perception.

samtheman wrote:I have tried breathing meditation. It relaxes my mind I agree, I'm calmer after it, but in long term I don't understand how it would it free my mind from all the delusions it is tangled in. This saddens me because I understand meditation is an art, and just a like a person who is really good at something, you have to practice to become better, but when I have doubts about the end result it makes me not try.

Learning to respond skillfully to thoughts that give rise to sadness and doubt is a skill that can be developed during meditation. Applying this skill in daily life can reduce the arising of sadness and doubt.

samtheman
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Re: I don't understand how meditation leads to englightenmen

Postby samtheman » Wed Jul 16, 2014 7:41 pm

Thanks for all the replies :) They were immensely helpful. I particularly liked the article given by Sam Vara. This made me want to try meditation again. I'm going to start slowly and come back if difficulties rise.

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Re: I don't understand how meditation leads to englightenmen

Postby Mkoll » Wed Jul 16, 2014 10:33 pm

Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes 10,000 hours to master something, based on a study by Anders Ericsson. And he is talking about worldly skills.

That's a lot of hours.
Peace,
James

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Kusala
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Re: I don't understand how meditation leads to englightenmen

Postby Kusala » Thu Jul 17, 2014 10:50 am

samtheman wrote:Hello everyone,

As a beginner I have tried breathing meditation few times. Yes it is certainly a good exercise to reduce stress, I can see that, but I don't understand how it would lead to enlightenment?

1. How will my cravings go away after meditation? Eg after meditation if I see some beautiful object I still get attached to it.

2. How will I understand that everything is changing and nothing is permanent

3. How will I understand all the theories of Buddhism such as non self after meditation

I have tried breathing meditation. It relaxes my mind I agree, I'm calmer after it, but in long term I don't understand how it would it free my mind from all the delusions it is tangled in. This saddens me because I understand meditation is an art, and just a like a person who is really good at something, you have to practice to become better, but when I have doubts about the end result it makes me not try.

Thank you :)


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Re: I don't understand how meditation leads to englightenmen

Postby rolling_boulder » Fri Jul 18, 2014 4:36 am

1. How will my cravings go away after meditation? Eg after meditation if I see some beautiful object I still get attached to it.

When you observe craving during meditation you develop a skill of observing and dealing with that craving that carries over to your life. It is not a skill that develops immediately, it takes time and cultivation.

2. How will I understand that everything is changing and nothing is permanent

Through direct meditative observation you will begin to realize this. Conviction only develops from personal experience.

3. How will I understand all the theories of Buddhism such as non self after meditation

I will not answer this question in full having not understood all aspects of Buddhism myself.
I will only say that we meditate in order to have a fixed frame of reference and a calmed mind by which we can look at these concepts and understand them.
Only a mind freed of delusion can truly, er... grasp certain Buddhist concepts.
With loving kindness to all beings.

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Re: I don't understand how meditation leads to englightenmen

Postby silver surfer » Mon Aug 04, 2014 3:12 pm

samtheman wrote:Hello everyone,

As a beginner I have tried breathing meditation few times. Yes it is certainly a good exercise to reduce stress, I can see that, but I don't understand how it would lead to enlightenment?

1. How will my cravings go away after meditation? Eg after meditation if I see some beautiful object I still get attached to it.

2. How will I understand that everything is changing and nothing is permanent

3. How will I understand all the theories of Buddhism such as non self after meditation

I have tried breathing meditation. It relaxes my mind I agree, I'm calmer after it, but in long term I don't understand how it would it free my mind from all the delusions it is tangled in. This saddens me because I understand meditation is an art, and just a like a person who is really good at something, you have to practice to become better, but when I have doubts about the end result it makes me not try.

Thank you :)


There are already good replies, I'd like to say a few things as well.

1- Your cravings never go away, because the mind is already what it is, already built on specific conditions. So if you wait your cravings to dissapear for no reason, it won't work that way. Meditation is about mindfulness (in my case, at least). After some time, you, having put a little distance between the mind and what you perceive (namely, your "perception" without the interpretations of the illusionary ego), you realize how craving arises, what it does, and where it leads. After such a realization, you start to lose interest in the craving itself. The mind still craves whatever it craves, it's just you, that consciously make the choise to not follow it, and get attached to it. Keep meditating, for months. Things will happen.

2- If anything was permament, there wouldn't ever be an on-going process. Everything would already be stable. All things, all forms and non-forms are conditioned upon each-other. An unconditioned element has to be free of all notions.

3- Non-self is not a theory. It's a knowable reality. With a concentrated mind, knowing these things are more than possible. Keep meditating, some meditators do it for years, the path and the fruition can definitely be seen after a while.

All the best.
This, bhikkhus, the Tathāgata understands. And he understands: ‘These standpoints, thus assumed, thus misapprehended, lead to such a destination.’ He understands as well what transcends this, yet even that, he does not misapprehend. As he is free from misapprehension, he has realized within himself the perfect peace. The Tathāgata, bhikkhus, is emancipated through non-clinging. These are those dhammas, bhikkhus, that are deep, difficult to see and understand, sublime, beyond reasoning, subtle, comprehensible only to the wise, which the Tathāgata, with direct knowledge, propounds to others.

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Re: I don't understand how meditation leads to englightenmen

Postby clw_uk » Wed Aug 06, 2014 11:00 pm

During meditation the mind becomes calm and focused

When this happens then we can begin to see things as they really are, namely changing, dukkha if clung to and not me or mine


When we see this clearly, then we stop clinging

When we no longer cling, then there is nibbana :)
“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised." Verses on the Faith Mind, Sengcan

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Re: I don't understand how meditation leads to englightenmen

Postby SarathW » Thu Aug 07, 2014 12:07 am

It is like planting a tree.
You prepare the soil apply fertiliser and saw the seeds in the right season, the plants will grow.
The same way when you observe Sila (precepts) it will naturally lead you to concentration and enlightenment.
There is a Sutta which explain this case.
:)

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Re: I don't understand how meditation leads to englightenmen

Postby No_Mind » Fri Aug 08, 2014 1:13 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Reflect on the simile of the adze.

A carpenter who works daily with an adze, doesn't know, “So much of the handle was worn away today, so much will be worn away tomorrow,” yet after working for many years he notices that the handle is getting polished.

Meditation is a life-time job, and a gradual process. Even if you do it intensively for successive back-to-back ten-day courses, or spend a year in a monastery, it won't be too obvious how much craving was worn away and how much remains. Still, with prolonged and regular practice, it is obvious that craving is not as powerful as before one practised meditation.


Ven Pesala with full understanding of your statement, I have a query

Those who are likely to devote a lifetime to meditation are by nature sensitive, compassionate human beings. In any case through life experiences in 30 years from age 25 - 55 they would have become more removed from this worldly cravings.

Those who have gross nature (drink or take drugs regularly, womanizer, greedy) will not take up meditation in first place.

How can we conclude that meditation plays a role in the process of removing craving? I am seriously meditating only last three months. Before that I have spent few years studying different religious scriptures and Western philosophy, given up eating meat (unless at a guest's place where I do not want to make a fuss), given up buying fine clothing .. this change began many years back and I lead a very simple life .. a far cry from a young man who liked to drink and party till 3 AM.

All these changes and renunciation came to me naturally and I have never felt any pain as each of the cravings (alcohol, lust, greed, envy) I had when I was younger has fallen away. Now how to find if meditation will cause me to go out one day a decade hence with an alms bowl or I will have done it in any case?

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