Meditation

Meditation, especially seated meditation, has always been a foundation practice in Buddhism. Shakyamuni Buddha realized supreme enlightenment while seated in meditation beneath the Bodhi Tree. When he first set out to share his discovery, the Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths, of which the fourth is the Noble Eightfold Path, the path to liberation, or enlightenment. This eightfold path encompasses what later was called the Three Disciplines of morality (sila), concentration (samadhi), and wisdom (prajna). With moral restraint as a foundation, one engages the path by cultivating concentration and wisdom. Concentration consists of the various methods of dhyana through which one leads the mind to deep calm and absorption, in order to bring about the conditions under which wisdom may arise. In fact, the Chinese “chan” is a transliteration of the Sanskrit “dhyana,” and chan became the name of the school of Buddhism called Chan (in Japan, Zen). While there are many dhyana methods, most of them involve sitting meditation. Thus, sitting meditation is a distinctive feature of Chan training.