By Sarah Shaw

Meditative perform lies on the center of the Buddhist culture. This introductory anthology supplies a consultant pattern of some of the different types of meditations defined within the earliest physique of Buddhist scripture, the Pali canon. It offers a huge advent to their conventional context and perform and provides clarification, context and doctrinal history to the topic of meditation. the most topics of the e-book are the range and adaptability of how that the Buddha teaches meditation from the proof of the canon. overlaying primary positive aspects of Buddhist perform resembling posture, lay meditation, and meditative method it presents reviews either from the vital early commentators on Buddhist perform, Upatissa and Buddhaghosa, and from respected sleek meditation lecturers in a couple of Theravadin traditions. this is often the 1st e-book on Pali Buddhism which introduces the reader to the big variety of the canon. It demonstrates that the Buddha's meditative culture nonetheless bargains a direction of perform as mysterious, awe-inspiring but as freshly available because it used to be centuries in the past, and will be of curiosity to scholars and students of Buddhism in addition to Buddhist practitioners.

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But a teacher is needed to help this to happen, rather like a singing teacher would be needed to train a voice, or a good friend might be particularly helpful over a problem period in one’s life. 11 INTRODUCTION Vajirañaka writes: ‘It is for beginners especially that association with a teacher is an indispensable support; for the immediate success of meditation is largely due to a capable teacher who is a guide on the path of emancipation’ (BMTP 97). Perhaps the main point to emerge from the atmosphere created by the texts in this anthology is that the relationship with the teacher and others following the path needs to have good heart.

The lay practice of giving food and alms to monks and nuns creates a continued, enlivening exchange which is felt to give merit to all involved and whose vitality depends upon the dynamic between two different ways of life. Ceremonies such as a dana, in which food is offered to monks, require considerable mindfulness and attention to detail, and usually involve chanting as well. As is discussed in Chapter 8, separating the benefits of such activities from the first six recollections (21–6) is not always easy or even desirable, for the texts place considerable emphasis on bringing awareness into daily life and establishing a healthy starting point for the development of the mind.

In meditation, they can be developed further, in seclusion, to become factors that become strong enough to direct and guide the 18 INTRODUCTION mind to the meditation object and the first jhana. Here the hindrances that characterize much of our experience are temporarily abandoned, and it is possible to see the potential of the mind when it comes to settle on a single object. Only after Gotama remembers this unificatory state does he become sufficiently refreshed and balanced to abandon excessive asceticism; he practises all eight jhanas on the night of his enlightenment.

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