Ancient buddhist meditation techniques,active meditation vs. passive meditation,samadhi meditation techniques - How to DIY

admin | reflection of the past meaning | 11.02.2015
Stanford Religious Studies Professor Carl Bielefeldt says that the meditation practice that's gained traction in the U.S. Religious studies Professor Carl Bielefeldt has dedicated his academic career to the study of 13th-century Japanese Zen, a tradition of Buddhism that emphasizes the practice of meditation. For many Americans, "yoga" conjures up mental images of athletic-minded people engaging in a simultaneous "warrior pose" while being told to focus on their breathing. What many yoga enthusiasts may not realize is that this athletic practice represents only one of the various ways in which aspects of Buddhism have infiltrated the secular American culture.
From its start, Buddhism has emphasized the achievement of a state of liberation and enlightenment, which can be achieved through a variety of methods, including meditation.
Bielefeldt said he is providing annotation and translation of the master's often-obscure essays in hopes that the English translation will help his work to be more accessible to the international community.
Not only did Western influence come into the country, but Japanese traditions of Zen flowed out as well. Despite this feedback system, the movement of meditation from the monasteries to ordinary communities in Japan and other Asian nations did not rival the movement in the United States. In class, Bielefeldt focused on the meditation path taken by some Buddhists to achieve this salvation. Buddhists generally strive to achieve the three elements of the spiritual discipline before they can reach their desired end state of awakening: ethics, mental (including meditation) and wisdom.
While some Buddhists approach meditation through the traditional practice of visualization, "It is really complex and requires a lot of work," said Bielefeldt. Through this movement, the more popular forms of meditation have been the less technical ones, the "mindfulness practices." These mindfulness practices, however, have taken a much stronger hold in ordinary communities in the United States than in many Asian countries.
Kelsey Geiser is an intern with the Human Experience, the Humanities web portal for Stanford University. Siddhartha, the prince who was to become the Buddha, was born into the royal family of Kapilavastu, a small kingdom in the Himalayan foothills.
The cremated relics of the Buddha were divided into several portions and placed in relic caskets that were interred within large hemispherical mounds known as stupas. A third influential Buddha type evolved in Andhra Pradesh, in southern India, where images of substantial proportions, with serious, unsmiling faces, were clad in robes that created a heavy swag at the hem and revealed the left shoulder. Over the following centuries there emerged a new form of Buddhism, which involved an expanding pantheon and more elaborate rituals. Since the ancient times, China has seen the rise of many diverse cultures and religions that have given a unique character to the social fabric of the country.
By the time Buddhism arrived in China, few centuries had already elapsed since the death of the Buddha.
The ancient China Buddhism preached ancestor worship along with individual salvation that was considered as beneficial to the family and the society as a whole. It was during the reign of the Southern and Northern dynasties that Buddhism received formal support from the rulers for the first time.
It was during the reign of the Sui and Tang dynasties that Buddhism received unprecedented support and mass following. As China saw the rise of numerous Buddhist monasteries, the religion was split in two sections. Some of the eminent Buddhist scholars of that era include Dharmaraksha, Kumarajiva, Seng-Chao, Tao-Sheng and Fa-hsien. One of the key developments in Buddhism is the rise of different schools of Buddhism from the 6th to 10th century AD. By the 11th century, Buddhism in ancient China started declining and Confucianism started regaining importance.
Ancient China was ruled by several dynasties and every reign added a unique element to life and society. Long-lasting encounters between Indian and Chinese Buddhism and the beliefs, practices, and imagery associated with their respective traditions remains one of the most fascinating in world history.
The period from the fourth to the tenth century was marked by the development and flowering of Chinese traditions such as Pure Land, which focuses on the Buddha Amitabha and the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, and Chan (or Zen).
Chinese Buddhist sculpture frequently illustrates interchanges between China and other Buddhist centers.

Historically, this mentally challenging practice has been limited to monasteries and not even utilized by the typical Buddhist.
As Bielefeldt describes it, the deep visualization of more technical meditation could not realistically play a role in modern American life.
As Western ideas of religion and the academic field of religious studies began to flood into the country, many citizens began to view their spiritual practice of Buddhism as a form of religion for the first time. As Buddhism moved to the Western Hemisphere, meditation began to spread into the broader cultures, even outside of the religious realm. Buddhism, unlike other religions, is not a way of life, but rather a means to get from one state to another. His was a divine conception and miraculous birth, at which sages predicted that he would become a universal conqueror, either of the physical world or of men’s minds. Buddhism proposes a life of good thoughts, good intentions, and straight living, all with the ultimate aim of achieving nirvana, release from earthly existence. His presence was indicated instead by a sign, such as a pair of footprints, an empty seat, or an empty space beneath a parasol. In the area known as Gandhara, artistic elements from the Hellenistic world combined with the symbolism needed to express Indian Buddhism to create a unique style.
These southern sites provided artistic inspiration for the Buddhist land of Sri Lanka, off the southern tip of India, and Sri Lankan monks regularly visited the area.
This was achieved by combining selected traits from the Gandharan region with the sensuous form created by Mathura artists. This later Buddhism introduced the concept of heavenly bodhisattvas as well as goddesses, of whom the most popular was Tara.
The principles of Buddhism were similar to those of Taoism, which along with Confucianism were the two of the largest religions in ancient China. It is believed that Buddhism spread due to the major political upheaval that resulted soon after the collapse of the Han dynasty in 220 AD. Due to the state support, Buddhism flourished greatly during the reign of rulers like Emperor Wu. One section comprised of followers who abided by the basic principles and philosophies of the Buddha. The contribution of these scholars is legendary and has given Buddhism in ancient China a whole new dimension. Some of the prominent schools of Buddhism include the Lu-tsung, Chu-she, San-lun, Chan, Mi-tsung and Hua-yen. It covers the Ancient China Dynasties, Ancient China Law, Population, Geography,Tools, Professions, Homes, Social Life and Religion. Early representations of Buddhas are sometimes found in tombs dating to the second and third century; however, there is little evidence for widespread production and use of images until the fourth century, when a divided China, particularly the north, was often under the control of nona€“Han Chinese individuals from Central Asia. Pure Land practices stress devotion and faith as a means to enlightenment, while Chan features meditation and mindfulness during daily activities; both traditions are also prevalent in Korea and Japan. Works with powerful physiques and thin clothing derive from Indian prototypes, while sculptures that feature thin bodies with thick clothing evince a Chinese idiom. For most beings, nirvana lies in the distant future, because Buddhism, like other faiths of India, believes in a cycle of rebirth. They attract pilgrims from far and wide who come to experience the unseen presence of the Buddha. Favorite themes were events from the historic life of the Buddha, as well as from his previous lives, which were believed to number 550.
Youthful Buddhas with hair arranged in wavy curls resemble Roman statues of Apollo; the monastic robe covering both shoulders if arranged in heavy classical folds, reminiscent of a Roman toga.
Gupta Buddhas have their hair arranged in tiny individual curls, and the robes have a network of strings to suggest drapery folds (as at Mathura) or are transparent sheaths (as at Sarnath). In Nepal and Tibet, where exquisite metal images and paintings were produced, an entire set of new divinities were created and portrayed in both sculpture and painted scrolls.
The ancient Chinese Buddhism had some unique features that distinguished it from the other religions of ancient China.
The other group comprised mainly of village folk who lent a superstitious angle and simplified it greatly.

Lamaism was the Tibetan form of Buddhism and was inspired from the Vajrayana Buddhism that had emerged in east India at that time.
Now revered as Buddha Shakyamuni, Siddhartha was born in the northeastern reaches of the Indian subcontinent (present-day Nepal) during a time of great economic, social, and cultural turmoil.
In addition to freestanding sculptures, numerous images were also carved in cave-temples at sites such as Dunhuang, Yungang, and Longmen. In addition, after the eight century, new Indic and Central Asian practices were also found in China.
In India, it was the age of the Buddha, after whose death a religion developed that eventually spread far beyond its homeland.
Giving up the pleasures of the palace to seek the true purpose of life, Siddhartha first tried the path of severe asceticism, only to abandon it after six years as a futile exercise. Humans are born many times on earth, each time with the opportunity to perfect themselves further.
The latter tales are called jatakas and often include popular legends adapted to Buddhist teachings. There are also many representations of Siddhartha as a princely bejeweled figure prior to his renunciation of palace life. With their downward glance and spiritual aura, Gupta Buddhas became the model for future generations of artists, whether in post-Gupta and Pala India or in Nepal, Thailand, and Indonesia.
According to a world view prevalent at the time, he had already lived numerous lives, during which he acquired enough merit to be reborn one last time, to attain enlightenment (or become a Buddha), and to teach others the understanding he had gained. Also found in India and Central Asia, these man-made cave-temples range from simple chambers to enormous complexes that include living quarters for monks and visitors. These included devotion to the celestial Buddha Vairocana, new and powerful manifestations of bodhisattvas such as Avalokiteshvara, and the use of cosmic diagrams such as mandalas. After the eleventh and twelfth centuries, when Buddhism disappeared from India, China and related centers in Korea and Japan, as well as those in the Himalayas, served as focal points for the continuing development of practices and imagery.
He then sat down in yogic meditation beneath a banyan tree until he achieved enlightenment.
And it is their own karma-the sum total of deeds, good and bad-that determines the circumstances of a future birth. Buddhism evolved the concept of a Buddha of the Future, Maitreya, depicted in art both as a Buddha clad in a monastic robe and as a princely bodhisattva before enlightenment.
Images of a more esoteric nature, depicting god and goddess in embrace, were produced to demonstrate the metaphysical concept that salvation resulted from the union of wisdom (female) and compassion (male). Over time, Buddhism expanded from its initial focus on the Historical Buddha Shakyamuni to include numerous celestial Buddhas as well as bodhisattvas and other teachers and protectors. Many of these practices (best known today in some Japanese traditions and in Tibet) were intended to protect the nation and offer tangible benefits, such as health and wealth, to the ruling elite. The Buddha spent the remaining forty years of his life preaching his faith and making vast numbers of converts. Gandharan artists made use of both stone and stucco to produce such images, which were placed in nichelike shrines around the stupa of a monastery.
Buddhas are understood as beings that have achieved a state of complete spiritual enlightenment and are no longer constrained by the phenomenal world.
Contemporaneously, the Kushan-period artists in Mathura, India, produced a different image of the Buddha. His body was expanded by sacred breath (prana), and his clinging monastic robe was draped to leave the right shoulder bare. In China, two of the most important bodhisattvas are Avalokiteshvara (Guanyin), the embodiment of the virtue of compassion, and Manjushri (Wenshu), the personification of profound spiritual wisdom. By the tenth century, both were understood to be able to manifest in a range of forms; Avalokiteshvara sometimes took the form of a woman, which helps to explain the early Western perception of this divinity as female.

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