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View on different ways to meditate, with explanations on how to choose a method or an other one.

Which meditation to choose?

The password for nibbana

Bouddha told us that a teaching can lead to the Goal only if it's include the 8 elements of the Eight Noble Path, like mind's stability and awareness in present, and if each of them is exposed in correct way. So the important thing is to achieve this 8 components.

The Eight Noble Path is a password with 8 characters wich can open the mind to reality. If only one of these « characters » is missing, or simply uncorrect, the nibbana « page » don't open.

The 2 main elements for every meditation

For schematize the meditation, we can reduice it in 2 elements: samadhi and sati (stability of mind and awareness). When these two elements are correctely developped, then the meditation is able to lead to the Liberation. Therefore, althPar conséquent, even if the approach is sometimes radically different, most methods of meditation lead to the same Issue.

To kill the mental defilements, we need as much a samadhi weapon enough powerful as sati munitions penetrating enough. An empty gun can scare an enemy, but he will later attack in surprise. Munitions alone lauched by hand can reach an enemy, but above all making him laughing.

Samatha or vipassana?

We now know that it is necessary to cultivate both stability than awareness. What should practice first? Stability ? Awareness ? Or both at once?

Everyone can choose! That's what is marvelous in the Dhamma, and makes all the diversity and rich variety of approaches to meditation. The choice of the method is based on its ability or its affinities.

Some have a natural disposition to the calming, will be more qualified to begin their training with a samatha's meditation type. The advantage of this option is the possibility to obtain a so powerful stability of consciousness that the insight vision become easy and very deep.

Others, generally too thinkers or note enough skilled to insight calm, will start first a vipassana's meditation type. The advantage of this option is development of Wisdom as soon from the beginning.

To acquire a loaded gun, you can start by buying an empty gun, then get the munitions after; to deal first of the weapon and munitions then; or order both simultaneously. What matters is not the purchase order elements of the weapon but to learn to use it properly (and not to shoot with blank bullets).

Samatha, wich mean « calm », indicates the aspect of stability of mind, his ability to remain absorbed in his object.

Vipassana, wich mean « deep vision », indicates the aspect of awareness to the present moment, its ability to fully know its object, fully conscientiously.

Therefore, the various meditation teachings propose these two elements (samadhi and sati), every teaching combining them in his own way.

Thus, some methods (or « approaches ») request to develop samatha until to obtain a stablity level more or less high, before switching to vipassana to develop awareness until Enlightenment.

One may wonder how a method that only talking about «  direct vipassana » without anything about « samatha » could it be a complete path to Enlightenment? When the moments of sati (awareness) are continuously repeated, even if the object of observation changes constantly, an « instant » — but deep — samadhi (stability) is growing simultaneously. This is included, without extra cost.

Switch according to the needs

Imagine a Chief Cook, famous for his delicious specialty, wich serve you a « Heaven » flavored dish which delights you at the highest point. If this great Cook suggests that you only eat this dish every day, would you follow his advice, with never eating other foods? Certainly not; you would eat variety of foods, according to the needs of the moment, without asking yoursefl big questions.

Similarly, to freeze on a single way to meditate, even it's fully convenient, is not necessarily a wise choice. Depending on the time, or even the time of day, changing the meditation — or object of meditation — is rich in benefits. Among others:

  • Adaptation to the need of the moment. For example, a few minutes of samatha to calm a agitated mind, or a little metta bhavana (loving kindness meditation) to ease a mind beset by anxiety or discontent.
  • Extending the range of possibilities. There's good to take in any method. To find the best ingredients for a cooking recipe, a single (super)market is not enough, sometimes you have to do more.
  • Developing a better perspective of the Way. When we see only the front of a house, we know its length but not its width. Conversely when we only see his side. When we see her front AND her side, we can conceive its surface.
  • Prevention from sectarianism. When we impose the same style (of life, meditation.) to everyone, and this works well for some, but generates a majority of unhappy.

A good soldier does not using just one weapon. It uses an assault rifle for close combat, a silencer gun for subtle operations, a grenade launcher for large obstacles.

Have a nice meditation!

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Origin: Text written for dhammadana.org

Author: isi Dhamma

For the translation: Sorry for my poor English.

Date: 2012, March the 9th

Update: 2012, March the 9th