Advanced Meditations – Middle Way -Wisdom Path Between Extremes
These meditation practices are advanced, and combine complex ideas from Nagarjuna (Indian Master), T’ong-Kha-Pa (Tibetan Master), and The 14th Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso). In keeping with the mixed secular nature of my meditation center, I have decided to present these complex ideas with several of my own contemplative meditation practices (Christian meditation, Thomas Merton, and multi-level Lectio Divina formats). Such an integrative combination of ideas and approaches best fits the integrative nature of my meditation teaching. In summary, the ideas come from the foundations of Tibetan Buddhism, the guided content of the meditations comes from me, and the style of meditation comes from Christian contemplative traditions. The practice of meditating on the middle way is quite serious, and requires three major changes in one’s life. These changes are: renunciation of samsara, altruistic awakening of compassion (Bodhichitta and Bodhisattva stages), and holding correct Buddhist views (causes and effects, dependent origination, non-duality, wisdom, no-self, and ultimate emptiness of all phenomena). In turn, these practices and beliefs require compatibility with the Four Noble Truths, the Eight-Fold Path, and the three jewels (Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha). The Four Noble Truths note the presence of suffering via dissatisfaction and impermanence as well as the cessation of suffering (happiness), while the Eight-Fold Path guides the meditator to ultimate enlightenment (complete understanding to nirvana). The Buddha reminded us that the ultimate wisdom to attain enlightenment already lies within us (and that it also may be ultimately empty). The mantra – Om Muni Muni Mahamuniye Svaha – translates into “The able one, The great able one” who becomes enlightened. The Dalai Lama reminds us that there are many paths to these ends – Middle Way, Great Middle Way, Great Seal, Great Perfection and others all lead to the same ends: renunciation, compassionate actions, and correct view.
Meditation Practice on Renunciation
Using Christian contemplative meditation – repeatedly bringing attention back to and deeper and deeper into concentration on the object of meditation – let’s begin our practice.
1) After settling into a comfortable meditative state, contemplate deeper and deeper on the conditioned cycles of short-term joy and general suffering via repeated conditioning from impermanent sensory experiences we attach to. Here we are clinging and attaching to anything that satisfies us, and avoiding anything that causes us pain. This extreme seeking/attaching/avoiding way of life ends up with us simply suffering.
2) Contemplate deeply on how you grasp and cling to impermanent people, places and things.
3) Contemplate deeply on how you avoid experiences (people, places, things) that may bring suffering and pain.
4) Contemplate deeply on why you cannot simply be content with whatever arises and falls away in your life. It is all impermanent.
Meditation Practice on Compassion
1) Contemplate deeply on how your own soft-heartedness and loving kindness feel in your body.
2) Using body, speech and mind – contemplate deeply on the last time you used compassionate action to reduce the suffering of others.
3) Contemplate deeply on non-duality and interconnection of all things – and why this should help you be more compassionate.
4) Work hard to develop self-compassion now. Contemplate deeply on how your own self-compassion feels right now, right here.
Meditation Practices on Emptiness
1) Contemplate deeply on what emptiness means to you – remember it has nothing to do with nihilism.
2) Contemplate deeply on the last time you experienced a glimpse of emptiness in personal experience.
3) Contemplate deeply on why/if the idea/experience of emptiness causes discomfort in your mind and body.
4) Contemplate deeply on how you may utilize ultimate emptiness as a way to experience less suffering and more happiness.
Now take a few calm, deep, slow breaths and return your attention back to the group or your environment (if meditating alone).
I hope this advanced meditation helped to bring you closer to your personal goals and to attaining a glimpse of enlightenment.
For more information refer to The Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso) (2009). The Middle Way: Faith Grounded in Reason. Boston: Wisdom Publications, pp. 119-147. Also refer to The Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso) et.al. (2011). Meditation on the Nature of Mind. Boston: Wisdom Publications.
By Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont
Author of Mindful Happiness
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