THE RELATION OF MEDITATION AND BUDDHISM
“About 2500 years ago, a prince named Siddhartha Gautama began to question his sheltered, luxurious life in the palace. He left the palace and saw four sights: a sick man, an old man, a dead man and a monk. These sights are said to have shown him that even a prince cannot escape illness, suffering and death. The sight of the monk told Siddhartha to leave his life as a prince and become a wandering holy man, seeking the answers to questions like "Why must people suffer?" "What is the cause of suffering?" Siddartha spent many years doing many religious practices such as praying, meditating, and fasting until he finally understood the basic truths of life. This realization occurred after sitting under a Poplar-figtree in Bodh Gaya, India for many days, in deep meditation. He gained enlightenment, or nirvana, and was given the title of Buddha, which means Enlightened One,” United Religions Initiative.
This story is the onset of one of the major religions all over the world, BUDDHISM. Meditation is probably the first word that would come to mind if we know about this religion. That is because followers of Buddhism don’t acknowledge a supreme god or deity. They instead focus on achieving enlightenment—a state of inner peace and wisdom. When followers reach this spiritual echelon, they’re said to have experienced nirvana. The path to enlightenment is attained by utilizing morality, meditation and wisdom. Buddhists often meditate because they believe it helps awaken truth. But what really is meditation in Buddhism? Meditation is an essential practice to most Buddhists. Buddhists look within themselves for the truth and understanding of Buddha's teachings. They seek enlightenment, or nirvana, this way. Nirvana is freedom from needless suffering and being fully alive and present in one's life. It is not a state that can really be described in words -- it goes beyond words. Meditation means focusing the mind to achieve an inner stillness that leads to a state of enlightenment. Buddha discovered Three Universal Truths and Four Noble Truths, which he then taught to the people for the next 45 years. Buddha then taught people not to worship him as a god. He said they should take responsibility for their own lives and actions. He taught that the Middle Way was the way to nirvana. The Middle Way meant not leading a life of luxury and indulgence but also not one of too much fasting and hardship. There are eight guides for following the Middle path called The Eightfold Path. How did Buddhism spread all over the Eastern countries? There are over 500 million Buddhists today. After Buddha's death, some of his followers had some differences of opinion which eventually led to their breaking away and forming separate kinds of Buddhism. There are two main types, Theravada, which spread to Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, and Mahayana which spread to Nepal, Vietnam, China, Korea and Japan. Mahayana took on aspects of the cultures where it was practiced and became three distinct branches: Vajrayana Buddhism or Tibetan Buddhism, Pure Land Buddhism and Zen Buddhism. Even though each form of Buddhism took on its own identity, all Buddhists follow a set of guidelines for daily life called the Five Precepts. These are: Do not harm or kill living things, do not take things unless they are freely given, lead a decent life, do not speak unkindly or tell lies, and do not abuse drugs or drink alcohol. These principles, if observed, would really help the state of living of all people and improve our proper character and manner in all things, Buddhist or not.