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Conceptual meditations

From Tibetan Buddhist Encyclopedia
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"In general there are two types of meditation;

Within the analytical, one can talk of conceptual analytical and non-conceptual analytical.

The conceptual analytical meditation is the type of meditation in which one engages in thoughts; an example being lam rim meditation.

The non-conceptual analytical meditation is the type of meditation where one silently observes what is taking place - in the mind, without actively engaging, but 'letting the experience' take place in order to understand how things work"

Generally, meditating on an idea such as "peace" or anything else is more of an uphill battle. The mind likes it, the ego likes it for the same reason a dog likes a bone. It's something to chew on, something to do. There's a similar appeal in guided meditations.

Meditation ultimately assists a person in recognizing their existence, their presence outside of thought. Learning to exist in such a way that thought is just simply an aspect of life.

Living in such a way that thought is your main M.O., one tends to become overly wed to their personal story, their struggles, their problems. This is all thought-stuff. This makes life complicated and difficult.

Meditating and discovering the space outside of thought, you are able to directly experience such things as peace, tranquility, serenity and so forth

And you'll inevitably discover the difference between these things as concepts and actually experiencing them.

It's very difficult to experience peace by contemplating the concept of peace.

I think you'll find your practice richer, much more rewarding if you tune your attention into the space in which thought appears. If thought were the actors, then see if you can turn your attention toward the stage.

The difference will be undeniable.

This is the ‚ big one‚ that really confuses people. When you hear things like ‚ loving kindnessmeditation, or ‚ meditation on impermanence, or even meditation on a koan or physical object, this is the broad category involved.

The mind focuses on itself and examines it self as you work through the problem or object or subject of meditation.

As you contemplate the subject, you examine your thoughts and feelings as you concentrate on all aspects of the subject.

At different times you may choose to meditate on different subjects; there’s nothing wrong with that, and it is in fact encouraged.

One of the goals of meditating on a concept like this is to cut through the layers of untruth we hold about the object. With most ideas, we are taught to ‚ think inside the box‚ or become conditioned to thinking about something in some regular way. Meditation on a concept encourages thinking differently about the subject at hand.

One famous example of this is the ‚meditation on the corpse.‚ When doing this meditation, you first envision a body being buried in the ground. You picture the dirt being shoveled in and the body being covered up. Then you picture the body in dark silence.

Then you picture decay setting in, and the bugs and the worms. You picture a bare skeleton, and then picture it eventually rotting away. Finally you picture nothing being left. You meditate on this until you are calm and at peace.

You realize that this will eventually be your fate as well and you accept it. There is no longer revulsion or fear, just acceptance that your life and body will change like everything else.

Life is precious and worth living here and now, as you really understand how life will end. This is how you meditate on the corpse;

something like meditation for loving-kindness would obviously be quite different, but the process is the same; you envision all aspects of the subject, breaking it down by stages if necessary.