Monday, December 27, 2010


The religions of the East have long used meditation as a means to connect with a deep level of spiritual enlightenment.  Many of the techniques used in these traditions are highly practical and effective.

Koans:  One of the various ancient meditation schools, Zen Buddhism, uses koans.  A koan is a riddle that defies logic.

Probably the most famous koan is:  "What is the sound of one hand clapping?"  The Zen master chooses a koan for the pupil and tells him or her to go away and meditate on it with single-minded devotion.  This might take the pupil days, weeks, or even years.  When the conscious mind finally gives up the impossible task of solving the elusive conundrum, the anser suddenly arises intuitively from the higher consciousness.  This is an iimportant lesson in the process of understanding.

Mandalas:  Another ancient method, used particularly in Tibetan Buddhism, is the mandala.  This is a symbolic picture incorporating geometrical shapes, especially the square and the circle.  Typically, a mandala is divided into four outer sections representing the outer world and a round inner section symbolizing the self.  Through contemplating its elaborate imager, the meditator is led from his or her outer to the inner being, where balance and wholeness are found.

I actually enjoy coloring mandalas.  I have two sets of mandalas.  I small set of round cards that I sometimes take to work with him.  It is a great way to decompress during a 30 minute lunch.  The second set is larger and each one requires more time than 30 minutes.  My children also enjoy coloring them.

Eight-fold path:  A major tenet of eastern meditation is the Buddhist eight-fold path.  This embraces right thought, right action, right speech, and right understanding.  It is a philosopy of compassion, respecting all beings and harming none.  Meditation is viewed as the means of discovering our Buddha nature, which in non-Buddhist circles we might call the true light within.

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