Message Boards Message Boards

Meditation Culture

Is this true? Most Buddhists do not meditate daily?

Toggle
Is this true? Most Buddhists do not meditate daily?  I know there is alot o confusion about prayer in Christianity, and that it is mostly a lost and misunderstood practice, prayer has now turned into making wishes for most.  But, little to zero meditation in Buddhism.  Meditation is like , well for lack of a better word, necessary for progress.  Well, at least to move along at more than a snails pace.  

Excerpts and links.

It may be a surprise to many Americans, and even to American Buddhists, to hear that the vast majority of the world's Buddhists do not meditate. But it is true. Among the 250 million or so Buddhists alive today, only a tiny fraction have a regular meditation practice; this is true not just for Buddhist laypeople but even for many of the Buddhist monks, nuns, and priests in the various Asian countries where Buddhism is the main religion. 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lewis-richmond/most-buddhists-dont-medit_b_1461821.html


4. All Buddhists meditate.Main article: MeditationMeditation has been identified as the central practice of Buddhism (Edward Conze said that meditation is for Buddhism what prayer is for Christianity). It is unclear how many Christians actually pray, but the majority of Buddhists throughout history have not meditated. Meditation has, until rather recently, been considered a monastic practice, and even then, as a practice reserved for only certain monks. The Buddha did place great emphasis on meditation, but some traditions such as the Pure Land do little to no meditation in their practice.

http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=Misconceptions_about_Buddhism


For over two millennia, Buddhists have made singular contributions to meditative theory and practice. Buddhist literature abounds in discussions about the stages of meditation, the prerequisites to achieving those stages, and the ways in which meditation serves to develop liberating insight. However, the majority of Buddhists throughout history have not meditated. Traditionally a monastic practice, meditation was even then considered a specialty of only certain monks. Furthermore, it is only since the 20th century that meditation has been considered a practice appropriate to teach to laypeople.

http://www.tricycle.com/blog/biggest-misconception-about-buddhism



So, whuuuttt  is going on here ????  emoticon

Psi



RE: Is this true? Most Buddhists do not meditate daily?
Answer
5/29/15 7:28 PM as a reply to Psi.
I often want to post beyond my educational level, meaning, re asserting other people's understanding I respect before I myself have had time to verify at this risk of being terribly wrong. I'm going to do that now.

Basically, when someone on the Dharma overground, or in America, they see any religion through the lense of their cultural heritage. In America, that's Protestant Christianity. Even if they're a diehard newatheist or Buddhist. Several vary salient features of Protestant Christianity is that the individual reads the doctrine in search of the original true meaning. That really didn't exist before and was brought to the various lands of Buddhism via colonialism (Attempt at Christian indoctrination) in the 1800s, part of the transition from traditionalism to modernism. When someone says, "I'm going to practice the original true teaching of the Buddha to get the real enlightenment." They're playing out the fragmented shards of Protestant Christianity. That's why articles and statistics suprise people, because they cannot imagine such a radically different context. But let me say, I agree we're on to a good thing in that meditation is the central core thing.

To quote David Chapman on this:

"Many Western Buddhists would consider the following ideas obviously true, and perhaps as defining Buddhism:

Everyone can potentially attain enlightenment
Religious practice is your personal responsibility; no one can do it for you
You don’t necessarily have to have help from monks to practice Buddhism effectively
Non-monks can teach Buddhism; celibacy is not essential to religious leadership
Ordinary people can and should meditate; meditation is the main Buddhist practice
Careful observation of your own inner thoughts and feelings is the essence of meditation
Ordinary people can, and should, read and interpret Buddhist texts, which should be available in translation
Ritual is not necessary; it’s a late cultural accretion on the original, rational Buddhist teachings
Magic, used to accomplish practical goals, is not part of Buddhism
Buddhism doesn’t believe in gods or spirits or demons; or at any rate, they should be ignored as unimportant
Buddhism doesn’t believe in idols (statues inhabited by gods)
Buddhist institutions can be useful, but not necessary; they tend to become corrupt, and we should be suspicious of them
Everyday life is sacred
These ideas come mainly from Protestant Christianity, not traditional Buddhism. They are not entirely absent in traditional Buddhism. However, mostly, in traditional Buddhism:

Only monks can potentially attain enlightenment
Religious practice is mainly a public, ritual affair, led by monks; the lay role is passive attendance
There is no Buddhism without monks
Only monks can teach Buddhism, and celibacy is critical to being a monk
Only monks meditate, and very few of them; meditation is a marginal practice
Meditation is mainly on subjects other than one’s self
Only monks read Buddhist texts, their interpretation is fixed by tradition, and they are available only in ancient, dead languages
Essentially all Buddhist practice is public ritual
Much of Buddhist practice aims at practical, this-world goals, by magically influencing spirits
Gods and demons are the main subject of Buddhist ritual
Buddhists worship idols that are understood to be the dwelling-places of spirits
All reverence is due to the monastic, institutional Sangha, which is the sole holder of the Dharma
Everyday life is defiled, contaminating, and must be abandoned if you want to make spiritual progress
Buddhism is still understood and practiced this way in much of Asia.

So what?

I want to call some of the Protestant Buddhist ideas into question. Mostly, I think the “Protestant Reformation” of Buddhism has been a good thing. However, I find some aspects problematic.

My point is not that Protestant ideas should not be mixed with Buddhism, or that we should return to tradition. Rather, I will suggest that some of these ideas don’t work. Buddhists will need to find alternatives."

https://meaningness.wordpress.com/2011/06/24/protestant-buddhism/

RE: Is this true? Most Buddhists do not meditate daily?
Answer
5/29/15 7:46 PM as a reply to Ryan J.
Ryan Kenneth Johnson:


Basically, when someone on the Dharma overground, or in America, they see any religion through the lense of their cultural heritage. In America, that's Protestant Christianity. Even if they're a diehard newatheist or Buddhist. Several vary salient features of Protestant Christianity is that the individual reads the doctrine in search of the original true meaning. That really didn't exist before and was brought to the various lands of Buddhism, part of the transition from traditionalism to modernism. When someone says, "I'm going to practice the original true teaching of the Buddha to get the real enlightenment." They're playing out the fragmented shards of Protestant Christianity. That's why articles and statistics suprise people, because they cannot imagine such a radically different context. But let me say, I agree we're on to a good thing in that meditation is the central core thing.

To quote David Chapman on this:
Wow, that is alot of thinking, and some interesting points.  I am not sure of any lense of a cultural heritage, mine was, science and evolution, figure it out for yourself, and look it up in the dictionary.  My parents did not prepregram me, for which I was fortunate, and I have always thought the Human Herd and Cultures Therein very strange, even as a little child.  Star Trek and Robert Heinlen probably had more influence on my mental programming than any other Meme Machines.

But my take being more basic is this.  There is the Eightfold Path.  Practicing the Eightfold Path is the Practice.  If one is not practicing the Eightfold Path then it is not Buddhism, and should not be labelled as such. But, paradoxically, the Path itself is eventually transcended and known to be just a Natural Phenomenon, so in that way there is just Dhamma, but no Buddhism.  

But, to sum up, if one is not practicing the Eightfold Path, why is the label of Buddhism even applied?  I suppose I have always questioned why some some segements of society are labelled Christians, yet do not follow the teachings of Christ.

Guess it is just a Human thing, an Ego support system.

Ryan, thanks for the David Chapman link, I will have to look into that some more.

One more thing, The State of Humanity, well then it is no wonder things are the way they are, even the so called spiritual segments are not even practicing spiritual development, Mentat Training, or Cognitive Behavior Training, call it what you will.  So , go figure, humanity is not even trying to change!  

Mad Max, here we come!  emoticon Weeeee!!!!!

Psi

RE: Is this true? Most Buddhists do not meditate daily?
Answer
5/29/15 9:32 PM as a reply to Psi.
"But, to sum up, if one is not practicing the Eightfold Path, why is the label of Buddhism even applied?  I suppose I have always questioned why some some segements of society are labelled Christians, yet do not follow the teachings of Christ."

Study into culture is a recent thing for me, actually, it was inspired by a 1-on-1 with an IMS teacher where after I felt like I hit some sort of communication barrier and was like, "Ok, what is going on here?" 

Shortly after I found Chapman and basically, while there is a lot there, the major points are understanding the standard interpretations of traditionalism-> modernism -> postmodernism -> ??? (Meta-modernism?)

Modernism is characterised by finding grounding systems. So you look for a ground in Buddhism, and see it as a system whereas a traditionalist doesn't really think this way, it's just the way it's always been. Why is it true? "Because the water gods have always bestowed blessings upon our village." A modernist thinks in terms of systems: they look for grounding in systems, which failed terribly in mathematics, physics, and western philosophy, and mathematics particularly so Becuase they proved once and for all the end of systems as a sort of ground. This leads to postmodernism which is the utterly collapse of systems and probably spells the end of Buddhism and all other large ideologies for that matter. I'm fairly trained in mathematics and scientific thinking, and thus I am ultimately lead to question all my assumptions, particularly dear ones, that's why you'll see me ripping any ground from under my feet that I think is beyond intellectual or meditative inquiry.

The notion of strict systemic grounding and concerns with authenticity is a Protestant modernist approach. If you were born into the west such ideas are coming in from every angle, including Star Trek, which I fucking love TNG by the way and as a memetic force does the world good. But this is quickly getting beyond my pay grade. This is a huge topic, I might say more later, but I'm simultaneously not qualified to do so!

RE: Is this true? Most Buddhists do not meditate daily?
Answer
5/29/15 9:55 PM as a reply to Ryan J.
Ryan Kenneth Johnson:
"But, to sum up, if one is not practicing the Eightfold Path, why is the label of Buddhism even applied?  I suppose I have always questioned why some some segements of society are labelled Christians, yet do not follow the teachings of Christ."

Study into culture is a recent thing for me, actually, it was inspired by a 1-on-1 with an IMS teacher where after I felt like I hit some sort of communication barrier and was like, "Ok, what is going on here?" 

Shortly after I found Chapman and basically, while there is a lot there, the major points are understanding the standard interpretations of traditionalism-> modernism -> postmodernism -> ??? (Meta-modernism?)

Modernism is characterised by finding grounding systems. So you look for a ground in Buddhism, and see it as a system whereas a traditionalist doesn't really think this way, it's just the way it's always been. Why is it true? "Because the water gods have always bestowed blessings upon our village." A modernist thinks in terms of systems: they look for grounding in systems, which failed terribly in mathematics, physics, and western philosophy, and mathematics particularly so Becuase they proved once and for all the end of systems as a sort of ground. This leads to postmodernism which is the utterly collapse of systems and probably spells the end of Buddhism and all other large ideologies for that matter. I'm fairly trained in mathematics and scientific thinking, and thus I am ultimately lead to question all my assumptions, particularly dear ones, that's why you'll see me ripping any ground from under my feet that I think is beyond intellectual or meditative inquiry.

The notion of strict systemic grounding and concerns with authenticity is a Protestant modernist approach. If you were born into the west such ideas are coming in from every angle, including Star Trek, which I fucking love TNG by the way and as a memetic force does the world good. But this is quickly getting beyond my pay grade. This is a huge topic, I might say more later, but I'm simultaneously not qualified to do so!
It is all Memes.

I also wanted to add on a thought, here I go a preachin' better run!

To be a Buddhist, in my view, one has to practice the Eightfold Path.  It is simple , yet profound, and scientfic, one can do it for themselves and see if it is true or not. The Eightfold Path to me is like an Eight Stranded Rope.  And the Strands are made in such a way that all Eight Strands are necessary in order to support the Body Weight and get one swinging in the right direction.  If even one Strand is missing, the Metaphorical Rope will break.

Now, since we are all human, we can not always be perfect at things, so we just try our best, and when we forget or fail, we try our best to remember, brush ourselves off, and get back to whatever it is we are Practicing.

So, if one is not at least trying to Practice the entire Eightfold Path, then they are not Buddhist, by definition.  Anyway, that is my current view.

Ironically, you may read that as Protesatanical?  lol  I might be pushing the comedy on that one, waiting for tomatoes and lightning strikes.

Thank you for discussing, It has been a while since I looked into Modernism, I wonder if there is a Perennial Modernistic view?

By the way, I think all of the Eightfold Path stuff lines up with sections of the brain, glands, and nervous system

Live Long and Prosper, Nanu Nanu

Psi

RE: Is this true? Most Buddhists do not meditate daily?
Answer
5/30/15 2:17 AM as a reply to Ryan J.
There is a lot of truth on both sides of the Chapman argument.

While there are plenty of obvious and clear exceptions to what he writes, as you point out, still, there are millions of Buddhists in traditionally Buddhist countries whose religious practice of Buddhism is very much in line with what he points out. Further, reading the old texts, you can find a lot of support for substantial parts of what he says, with some of the ritual stuff clearly being later (still meaning many hundreds of years ago), but things like the magic parts and demons and gods and all of that clearly being about as old as we can find in the old texts.

Thus, it very much depends on how you focus your lens and who you focus it on and when.

As to the original assertion: I agree that the vast majority of traditional Buddhists in Asian countries don't meditate, and, by sheer numbers, that makes up the majority of Buddhists in the world.

RE: Is this true? Most Buddhists do not meditate daily?
Answer
5/30/15 2:34 AM as a reply to Ryan J.
I think Chapman covers the notions of Protestant values in Buddhism already and the summary is: Buddhism is a massive, massive ediface, so large you can find most any type of beliefs sometime, somewhere. Secondly, the modernization happened in the 1800s when the colonial powers basically attempted to indoctrinate everyone into Christianity and steal everything. It happened by the time of Ajahn Chah in other words.

Anyways, here is what Chapman says, "Protestant-style Buddhist reformers have found quotations from Buddhist scripture that suggest the Protestant ideas have always been Buddhist doctrine. It’s true that they are not entirely alien to Buddhism. However, in practice, they have almost always been marginal, almost everywhere. Buddhist scripture is vast, extremely diverse, and contradictory. You can find quotations in it to support almost anything, especially if you take short pieces out of context."

Chapman has a post particularly on Thai and Burmese Buddhism. The consensus from the scholars seems to be pretty clear that's one of the more recent Buddhisms compared to say, Tibetan Buddhism. But I'm not one who's a scholar on Buddhism. Here's his essay: 

https://meaningness.wordpress.com/2011/07/07/theravada-reinvents-meditation/

"King Mongkut was the major reformer of Thai Buddhism (as explained in my last post). His reforms were based on Western ideas. He believed that meditation was important, but was unable to find anyone who could teach him a method he found plausible.

The only meditation methods available then were “called vichaa aakhom, or incantation knowledge; involved initiations and invocations used for shamanistic purposes, such as protective charms and magical powers.” This seems to have been a mixture of tantra (Hindu and/or Buddhist) and Thai folk animism. “They rarely mentioned nirvana except as an entity to be invoked for shamanic rites.”

Mongkut rejected this “meditation.” The Pali scriptures—to which he insisted everyone should return—say that the goal of buddhism is nirvana, attained through the practice of vipassana. Vipassana was, as far as Mongkut could find out, lost in mid-1800s Thailand.

He and his students tried to reinvent vipassana based on scriptural explanations, but he considered that they had failed.

Mongkut founded a monastic movement called Dhammayuttika, which emphasized strict adherence to vinaya (the code of conduct for monks).

It was Ajahn Mun Bhuridatta, born in 1870, who developed the Thai vipassana method. Mun was a Dhammayuttika monk. I suspect it was Mongkut’s insistence on the importance of vipassana that led Mun to his discoveries, but I don’t have direct evidence of that.

His main teacher was Ajahn Sao Kantasilo. Sao taught a meditation method that consisted simply of repeating the word “Buddho.” I have not been able to discover who his teacher was, or where he got this method. I don’t know if it has any basis in Buddhist scripture; I haven’t found any. It is certainly found in Hinduism, however. It seems possible that Sao learned it from a Hindu teacher; there definitely were some in Thailand. That would be embarrassing, which could explain why no one talks about his lineage.

Ajahn Mun remained devoted to Ajahn Sao throughout his life, but Sao was unable to answer most of his questions about meditation, and Mun had doubts about the “Buddho” method. Sao, according to Mun’s foremost student, was “not a competent teacher.” Mun set off on his own, looking for someone who could actually teach him vipassana. He spent nearly two decades wandering around Thailand, Laos, and Burma, but never found anyone.

Ajahn Mun gradually developed his own vipassana method, starting in the 1890s, with the main breakthrough apparently between 1911 and 1914. He experimented with various techniques, developed what worked, and dropped what didn’t. According to his biographies, some key ideas came to him in visions (described in detail). Presumably his method was also based partly on his reading of scriptural explanations.

Ajahn Mun had two main students, Ajahn Maha Bua and Ajahn Chah. Both had Western students, but Chah was far more influential.

Ajahn Chah actually only spent one week with Ajahn Mun. He developed his own style of practice that is more Westerner-friendly.

Ajahn Chah was the primary teacher for Jack Kornfield, among many other well-known Western vipassana teachers.

Sao, Mun, Maha Bua, and Chah all practiced an extreme form of asceticism called dhutanga, which goes beyond even strict adherence to vinaya. They considered that dhutanga and vipassana were closely linked. The point of both was to violently destroy all desires through extreme effort and austerity.

Although the Thai method is still taught, the “easier” Burmese Mahasi method (described below) is more popular in the U.S., and even in Thailand.

RE: Is this true? Most Buddhists do not meditate daily?
Answer
5/30/15 2:41 AM as a reply to Psi.
Psi,

Someone one who follows the 8 fold path as being Buddhist seems a reasonable definition. To my mind it seems the most legitimate. As someone who grew up in postmodernism, I have a much more fractured view on things whereas I accept a nebulous definition of Buddhist: someone who takes up the precepts, someone who's primary interest is awakening but doesn't really care about the details, someone who follows the 8 fold path, someone who is a part of a traditionalist Asian country, someone who is revamping Buddhism into the 21st century which means disregarding somethings. In other words, I myself permit many Buddhists, of which are in necessary conflict.

Although that's from someone who's Generation Y, and generation Ys like us tend to be narcissitic self-absorbed entitled people who think no one 'owns' us, so my opinion is biased.

RE: Is this true? Most Buddhists do not meditate daily?
Answer
5/30/15 6:35 AM as a reply to Ryan J.
As someone who grew up in postmodernism, I have a much more fractured view on things whereas I accept a nebulous definition of Buddhist: someone who takes up the precepts, someone who's primary interest is awakening but doesn't really care about the details, someone who follows the 8 fold path, someone who is a part of a traditionalist Asian country, someone who is revamping Buddhism into the 21st century which means disregarding somethings. In other words, I myself permit many Buddhists, of which are in necessary conflict.

Interesting to read. I think one thing that's occured to me as I worked with teachers from different lineages is that "awakening" means vastly different things. It's something I've been thinking about recently. In this community I believe awakening is understood broadly as insight into transparency of self, or non-existence of solid self, and the transformation that results from this insight, including for many the 4 path model. With a Mahayana teacher I worked with a deeply realized person was someone for whom emptiness and compassion had been deeply wedged into their perception of reality. Most recently, working with a tantric teacher I was surprised to discover what they described as a path leading to the recognition of the sacredness of our subjective experince. This did not sit well with me, or my Theravada upbringing, and yet I know when asked that they acknowledged the insights garnered during my days of Theravada style practice were valuable and real. I imagine there are correlaries in these diverging routes, and views, but the differences are still there, and the difference between what realization looks like in the tantric lineage compared to modern, western theravada seem to me to be world's apart.

RE: Is this true? Most Buddhists do not meditate daily?
Answer
5/30/15 11:50 AM as a reply to Bill F..
I never thought about it as a generational thing until it was pointed out. That people who were born in the wake of postmodernism/end of modernism have a far more senseless organization of things, which also ends up having a price in that it's so senseless nothing can recombobulate into a significant enough of a system. It's easy to accept differences from a mode that is a senseless mishmash of many things. I think this is when the SBNR Spiritual But Not Religious became a thing, particularly for Generation Y, because such a stance allows for an a la carte preference towards spiritual/mystical/religious matters, compared to a complete package system like the eight fold path where it's not a la carte, it's a system and you can't pick and choose. These are different cultural modes.

I think the SBNR a la carte path, even though I am perhaps the most guilty of all 7 billion people alive today with it, is a dead end. Generation Ys have a delusional extremism of equality where hierarchy is denied entirely. And simultaneously, it must happen. Because I've had so much training in how to think via computer science and mathematics in addition to a well rounded education, I take a look at Buddhism from my postmodern Gen Y perspective and instinctively don't see my fellow Gen Ys ever biting. Most people don't care about renunciation, the whole discourse is offputting by it's very vocabulary. I've sat in a Tibetan meditation community where besides me, the youngest person was 60. They can prefer to keep their systems, but the market of loyalty of Generation Y doesn't seem to be negotiable. And I don't think it's because Generation Y doesn't care about awakening, they just don't bite without narratives that fit them. This is why the whole BG shtick about unbundling/rebundling is so important. At another IMS center around here they do have young people, but after thinking it over, it's a very, very narrow slice of Generation Y. In other words, I don't think the fears of a lack of young people are unfounded and this fragmentation of systems and changes of cultural modes is a huge reason as to why.

Anyways, tying back into your post, I have a project I might someday do. It's basically create a tier system of phenomenology. On the one hand you have perrenial philosophy and you say enlightenment is ultimately one thing. And then you have people who say, "No, we do seem to be talking about different things." When I think we at some point need to create a sort of tiered database of phenomenology, where the similarities and differences are organized into tiers which organizes similarities and differences more transparently. It might be a dumb idea, but it arose out of trying to reconcile the differences and similarities I've come across just from hearing so many different things.

RE: Is this true? Most Buddhists do not meditate daily?
Answer
5/30/15 4:17 PM as a reply to Ryan J.
Anyways, tying back into your post, I have a project I might someday do. It's basically create a tier system of phenomenology. On the one hand you have perrenial philosophy and you say enlightenment is ultimately one thing. And then you have people who say, "No, we do seem to be talking about different things." When I think we at some point need to create a sort of tiered database of phenomenology, where the similarities and differences are organized into tiers which organizes similarities and differences more transparently. It might be a dumb idea, but it arose out of trying to reconcile the differences and similarities I've come across just from hearing so many different things.

That sounds interesting. If you're a member of awake network Shargrol made a really cool diagram of different devlopmental models, but I think you are talking personal experience. Part of the problem is people are just reporting their experience. It's hard to verify. That's why I like the eeg/meditator study ideas.