Students often look for a core teaching in Buddhism, and, indeed, different teachers and tradi tions do emphasize certain teachings over others. Some, for instance, emphasize the transient nature of reality, an aspect noted by the Buddha himself when he explained the nature of dukkha, or suffering. Others, however, emphasize Buddha nature, the underlying reality that gives us something to discover within. And others may
emphasize the process of perceiving the unfolding of the world, through the concept of pratityta samutpada, codependent arising. Focus solely on core teachings, however, obscures the essential spiritual nature of the Buddhist movement: personal spiritual development. Spiritual change and movement are assumed, longed for, and upheld as ideals. Regardless of tradition, all Buddhists who accept the Dharma, the Buddha’s teachings, will in turn strive to make spiritual progress. How does a follower of Buddhism approach spirituality, then? First, he or she seeks the clear perception of reality. The Buddha’s teachings help clear away the cobwebs. However, individuals must also strive through their own efforts. Such efforts often include meditation techniques of some sort. Meditation is a term loosely referring to techniques of quiescence and
observance. Monks and laypersons over the years have developed elaborate meditation exercises, from Theravadin vipassana to Tibetan visualizations and Chinese Tian Tai ritual. What will result from such techniques of discipline? First, the
individual sees through the boundaries of the everyday self. The self is seen as a nonreality, a convenience that impedes clear perception. The meditator will experience non-self-based reality, achieving a “nondiscursive” awareness. The meditator will also cease to cling to the constructs of the mind, which are realized to be ephemeral and insubstantial.