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  • Seaghan Coleman

Meditation and Buddhism are many wonderful contemplative traditions. Among them, the best known for meditation is Buddhism. In Sanskrit, the root Buddh means awake. So, the Buddha was a regular person- not a deity- who learned and developed a path for becoming awake. What do we mean by that? What does it mean to be awake?

There are many ways to answer that. One is the classic expression that being awake, or enlightened, means seeing things as they are, not as we are. This means learning to recognize how the mind filters, alters, and distorts reality and then working to correct for that distortion.

In this process, it really helps to two work on two processes simultaneously. One is meditation, which is an intentional process of developing mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “The awareness that arises through paying attention on purpose in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” I like to add, "with a state of compassion." As we say in Buddhism, this is simple, but not easy. Most of us need a number of breadcrumbs to help us develop this awareness. This is where the other process comes in. Dharma is often understood as the nature of things as they are as well as the Buddha's teachings on this topic. Studying the dharma can help us know what to do when we are meditating. For example, if we study the Four Noble Truths, which are about the nature of suffering, then we can do a meditation to observe and study suffering in action and see how developing working through our misunderstandings of reality can relieve that suffering.

One of my favorite elements of Buddhism is its non-dogmatic stance. None of what I or Buddha says is to be taken for truth without testing it out and seeing what you find to be true. As Buddha said, "come see for yourself."

So, get out there and start exploring. It's an amazing journey!


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