A comprehensive approach to life
The Buddhist meditation path is a path to enlightenment. There are many paths that we can take in life. Career paths, social paths, community paths, relationship paths. We may take a rapid path to the top or a wild ride to the next best thrill. However, none of these are in themselves a spiritual path.
The Buddhist meditation approach is a pathway to becoming a happier, and thus a better, person. As happiness and goodness are qualities of the mind, the Buddhist meditation path is necessarily an evolution of mind. It is an elevation of consciousness. In fact, the very nature of a spiritual path is consciousness. The path is a heightening of awareness, a changed state of mind, an improved level of consciousness. We begin this journey when we learn to meditate.
Taking a spiritual approach to meditation practice
The Buddhist meditation path is designed to produce benefits in our personal life, social life and career. We engage them in a way that brings increased happiness, peace and goodness for both ourselves and others. We continue to learn about ourselves, and about others. As a result we discover the inner attitudes which sabotage our happiness and our ability to bring joy to others. Through study we learn the methods that we can employ to overcome faulty attitudes. We learn to strengthen the positive side of our nature and to seek new ways to express this goodness. Remaining at peace in ever more stressful situations we continue to develop inner strength. This quality of patience gives the courage to meet the challenges that we encounter in life.
A changed attitude
As we progress in our spiritual path we become increasingly self aware. We can actually become pleased to find a fault in ourselves that we were previously unaware of. We embrace criticism with more enthusiasm than praise. Why? Because we see a greater opportunity to learn of our shortcomings than when praised. We then have the impetus to find the methods and meditations that will help us to progress beyond our limitations.
The spiritual feed-back loop
The external world mainly comprises the circumstances that we encounter in relationship, in work or in social contact. When it is tied to a broad understanding of the Buddhist path, it provide us a map. The map shows the way forward in our inner journey, our evolution as a person. The difficulties that we encounter are like the manure to fertilize our inner growth. Any delightful encounters are like the water nourishing our spirit. We are encouraged to create the karma for more good results and happiness in future.
A broad perspective
As we progress along this spiritual path it is as though the path takes us higher and higher up the slopes of a mountain. Here we can see ever more of the world around us. From a heightened perspective a broader view becomes apparent. We see that the world inside us, the spiritual world, is infinitely more vast and deep than anything outside. Thus we become inner beings, the Tibetan meaning for Buddhist. We then go about learning of ourselves and the workings of this vast inner world. As a physicist would approach learning about the quantum world, we enthusiasticlly explore our inner world.
Our meditation leads us to exciting new discoveries and vistas of experience. It helps us to know and work with our feelings, emotions, intuitions, awarenesses and discriminations. Increasingly less and less remains below the level of our conscious awareness. We make more of the subconscious become conscious. In this way we become more aware of the karmic habit patterns that have shaped our lives subconsciously to this point. When these hidden influences are revealed, we can take charge of our actions now and create the karma for the future that we would want.
There are two classifications of Buddhist meditation paths. The representational path and the actual path. The representational Buddhist meditation path is the teachings that we receive. It is the teachings that we hear or read. They set out the practice of meditation and the path to enlightenment. The actual path is the changes that we make within ourselves as a result of practising the teachings. It is our increased compassion, love, wisdom, patience, peace, joy and happiness. Also, it is our lessened suffering, limitation, anxiety, fear, anger, attachment, jealousy and ego-grasping. Further, as we evolve the entire external world can become the representational path showing us the Dharma. Then our virtuous inner response to the external world will be the actual Buddhist meditation path. This type of view comes from increased experience in study and practice of the Buddhist meditation path.
Three main levels of Buddhist meditation practice
There are three main levels of Buddhist meditation paths: the small, the medium and the great.
The smaller level is approaching our meditation practice by creating increasingly more positive karma. Our actions emerge from our love, compassion, patience, and the other virtues. At the same time we lessen our negative karma and reduce our anger, attachment jealousy and the like.
The medium level is where we practise Buddhist meditation for a greater goal. We aim to free ourselves completely from the conditioning of karma. Freedom is the goal – to achieve a permanent release from any and all suffering and any and all causes of suffering. We achieve this by seeing through appearances and realising the ultimate nature, or ultimate truth, of things. By knowing the ultimate, we come to see the conventional, or provisional truth in all other things and can never again be fooled into delusion.
The great level is to practise to achieve enlightenment, the state of perfect benefit for oneself and perfect benefit for others. Enlightenment is perfect for oneself, because all suffering is permanently ceased. One effortlessly remains in a state of unconditioned bliss and peace. It is perfect for others because one acts spontaneously to bring happiness to every being constantly and naturally.
Path to Enlightenment
It is this great level which is the full purpose of Buddhist meditation practices. Our aim is to awaken fully, or become enlightened, as the means to bring greatest benefit to both oneself and others. The mundane benefits of longevity, health, wealth, reputation and influence associated with the small level, and the transcendent freedom of the medium level, are all included in the great level of enlightenment.
Though enlightenment may seem a distant possibility, it is achievable for anyone. All that it takes is the confidence to aim for it.