Buddhist Meditation

Theravada (Pali Canon)

On one occasion a certain monk was seated not far from the Buddha in
cross-legged posture, holding his body upright, enduring pain that was the
fruit born of former action, pain racking, sharp, and bitter; but he was
mindful, composed, and uncomplaining.  Seeing the monk so seated and so
employed, the Buddha gave this utterance:

    For the monk who has left behind all karma,
    And shaken off the dust aforetime gathered,
    Who stands fast without thought of "I" or "mine"--
    For such there is no need to talk to people.

                   Buddhism.  Udana 20, Nandasutta

see also The Buddhist Practice of Mindfullness


Yoga is a process of absorption into Brahman.  Sense activities and out-
ward expression (words) should be stopped and attention drawn into the
mind.  Then the mind should be Bodhisattvas should leave behind all pheno-
menal distinctions and awaken the thought of the Consummation of Incompar-
able Enlightenment by not allowing the mind to depend upon notions evoked
by the sensible world--by not allowing the mind to depend upon notions
evoked by sounds, odors, flavors, touch-contacts, or any qualities.  The
mind should be kept independent of any thoughts which arise within it.  If
the mind depends upon anything it has no sure haven.

                   Diamond Sutra 14

Zen (Ch'an)

Arouse your entire body with its three hundred and sixty bones and joints and its eighty-four thousand pores of skin; summon up a spirit of great doubt and concentrate on the word "mu" (nothingness).  Carry it continually day and night.  Do not form a nihilistic conception of vacancy, or a relative conception of "has" or "has not."  It will be just as if you swallowed a red-hot iron ball, which you cannot spit out even if you try.  All the illusory ideas and delusive thoughts accumulated up to the present will be exterminated, and when the time comes, internal and external will be spontaneously united.  You will know this, but for yourself only, like a dumb man who has had a dream.  Then all of a sudden an explosive conversion will occur, and you will astonish the heavens and shake the earth.

Mumonkan 1


[1] Cf. Sutta Nipata 1072-76, p. 532; Sutra of Hui Neng 6, p. 399; Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines 12.3, p. 402; Seng Ts'an, pp.221f.  

[2] Zen (Ch'an) stresses the immediacy of the experience of enlightenment, which is not dependent upon logical progression or reflection.  It can only be realized through intense meditation.  This passage describes what must be done to understand the koan, "Has a dog the Buddha Nature?" 


  World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts, Ed. Andrew Wilson

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page uploaded 9 February 1999