Scientifically and anecdotally, the Beeja approach offers a more comprehensive set of outcomes and is renowned for being easier. But we also believe that each of us must find our own path, so we hope this guide serves you well.
- What is Buddhist meditation?
Buddhism originated with the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama Shakyamuni (the Buddha), who lived around 2,500 years ago.
At the time, it’s said that India had lost touch with its ancient teachings, and a culture of Brahmanism had taken hold; and a priestly caste was attempting to act as gatekeepers to spiritual knowledge.
In reaction to this, Siddhartha and a great sage by the name of Mahavira decided to tread their own paths and find enlightenment. They reached their own elevated states of consciousness, and were eventually persuaded to teach others their learnings.
The Buddha’s teaching became known as Buddhism, and Mahavira’s teaching helped enliven the ancient system of jinas (known as Jainism today).
After the Buddha’s death, these teachings spread north to Tibet, south to Sri Lanka, west to Afghanistan, and east to China, and in each case the teachings were modified along the way (into what we now know as Tibetan, Theravada, Greco and Mahayana Buddhism).
Today there are many different Buddhist meditative practices which have sprung from these early branches of Buddhism.
- How is Buddhist meditation practiced?
There are so many different meditation practices that exist within Buddhism it’s very difficult to describe them in one go.
For example, in Theravada Buddhism there are over 50 different methods for developing mindfulness and another 40 aimed at developing concentration. Whilst in the Tibetan tradition there are 1000’s of visualisation meditations. There are no surviving Greco-Buddhist techniques that we know of, but in Mahayana there is a different practice for each of the different schools.
Almost all Buddhist meditation guides are school specific so, if you are interested in finding out about them, nothing beats exploring them for yourself and seeing if they resonate.
However, there are certain themes that come up time and again, and they are the following:
- Loving kindness
- Counting breaths
- Observing emotions
- Observing body
- Observing the mind
- Observing mind objects
- Cultivation of attitude
There are also forty meditation subjects; which is a comprehensive list of things to place your attention on.
- Beeja meditation vs Buddhist meditation
The Buddha’s teachings borrow very heavily from the knowledge which underpins Beeja. Siddhartha Gautama Shakya (The Buddha) studied a text called the Rg Veda, which was an expression of much Vedic knowledge. Indeed, the first five Nikayas of the Twelve Nikayas (more commonly known as the Doctrine of Dependent Origination) correspond to the first five steps of the Rg Veda. There are many other examples where they dovetail and overlap beautifully.
That said, there are some key differences some of which we’ve highlighted below for your convenience:
How the knowledge was passed on:
- Key insights from the Buddha, who taught for a few decades, are thought to have been lost along the way as everything he learned was filtered back through his followers.
- Whilst it’s also true that certain elements of Vedic knowledge have been diluted along the way, it seems that more of its essential tools and teachings have been preserved. This is due to it being based on an accumulation of knowledge from many dozens of people in a Buddha-like state, many of whom taught for longer than the Buddha did, which enabled the knowledge to be more comprehensively understood. At Beeja we feel very lucky to have been able to learn the purest form of this knowledge and pass on its original essence.
- A requirement of almost all Buddhist meditation practices is to sit perfectly still, in an upright position with legs crossed. That is one way to pacify your nervous system into settling down, but it usually takes a lot longer to settle, and is harder for those with restless energy or busy minds.
- In Beeja meditation, however, it is considered far more preferable to be comfortable. If you are comfortable and have a personalised mantra, then your nervous system will spontaneously settle down, and you will find yourself effortlessly entering into a profound meditative state.
Because the mantras take you into a deep meditative state quickly, it means you can be much more efficient with the amount of time you spend in meditation. With the Beeja method, you only need to spend 20 minutes in meditation in order to gain full benefit.
With the Buddhist meditation you are often expected to sit for an hour, which is fine when you have lots of time on your hands, but less so when things are tight. The reason for this is that its origins are monastic and generally the average day for a monk is far less frenetic than our modern day lifestyles.
- Most Buddhist practices require a certain level of quiet in order to do them successfully. When you’re trying to focus your mind, any distraction can be a real problem. If you’re on a mountaintop or in an ashram, it’s easy. But if you’re living a busy life in the West, it’s much less so.
- It’s worth taking note of this important factor as it can be quite limiting having to meditate in a quiet space. With Beeja meditation, the resonance of the mantras helps you enjoy a productive meditation even when you’re on a busy commuter train or tube journey.
Ease & Effectiveness:
We have taught many hundreds of people who have done Vipassana, Mindfulness and Zen, and every one of them reported that Beeja meditation is much easier. They also reported it was much more effective than the other practices they had tried, and also more enjoyable. Much of this can be explained by the quality of the technique and the fact that it is customised to each individual. It may also be due to the fact that with Beeja meditation, you only need to employ one technique for all situations, which makes life so much simpler. Studies show that Beeja meditation has a considerably more powerful impact on our physiology and our neurology than Buddhist meditation. However, your subjective experience is as important as what the scientific data says, so we always encourage peeps to feel it out and see which resonates with them most.
- Self-sufficiency is the name of the game if you want to make this work for you in the most powerful way, and is an important consideration when researching the various forms of Buddhist meditation and other styles that may be out there. When assessing which methodology to try, ask yourself ‘will it enable me to be a self-sufficient meditator, or will it require me to go along to the centre every week to get my fix?’ It is much more empowering if you can develop a powerful practise, so that coming together with others is borne of a desire to share, rather than a need to stay plugged in.
- Beeja meditation is personally taught and there is extensive follow-up support for those who wish it. This follow-up guidance, which can be done remotely or face-to-face, makes all the difference to how quickly you can integrate the technique and master it. From the very first course, you’ll be equipped with all you need to be confidently meditating wherever and whenever you want.
- Another good question to ask yourself, is how far do you wish to go? One of the less well-understood aspects of Buddhist meditation (with the possible exception of Zen), is that the Buddha’s teachings were interpreted through the state of consciousness of his followers, which wasn’t nearly as high as his own. Therefore there is actually a glass ceiling in how far you can take your practice if you seek the most glorious and abundant states of consciousness that are possible. This point won’t be relevant to everyone, only those who sense there is something more than what they’re experiencing or would like to know what the highest echelons of human experience feels like, and to embody that.
Desire and attachments
- The logical conclusion of Buddhist philosophy is that things like our family, our friends, and our careers all belong to maya (interpreted within Buddhist circles as ‘illusion’). Any attachment to any aspects of illusion is considered unbecoming of an avid Buddhist practitioner. Some people who have trodden a dedicated path of Buddhism find themselves at a particularly uncomfortable crossroads when it comes to children. The Buddha himself abandoned his wife and child for a long time in pursuit of his enlightenment, and many within Buddhism consider him to be a hero for giving up such attachments. But for us, that isn’t quite so cool. It’s not necessary to abandon the world we live in, to find our path in life. Indeed, for many of us, the path is to integrate our deepest essence into the milieu of everyday life and live our dharma there, not away from the world. It is easier than most people realise, and a far more interesting challenge
- The Vedic worldview has great reverence for the lila (the play of life), and would suggest that anyone who would like to live a worldly life, be free to do so and honour the play of life so that we can enjoy the full richness of human experience.
- Another interesting point of difference is the role of desire. In Buddhism, desire is seen as being poison (though it’s not actually what the Buddha taught). In the Vedic understanding, desire can be a useful mechanism for engaging in worldly life; it is simply a case of being tuned in to who you really are and following pure desire as opposed to the desire born of need, want and ego.
- The final area worth considering is how much you wish to follow a particular creed. Some Buddhist meditation practices are quite passive, almost secular. Many others are considerably more prescriptive, and you are expected to follow the guidelines with great diligence.
- The Beeja approach is to give you the techniques that allow you to tread your own path in your own unique way, and simply be available for guidance as and when it is required.
Find out more:
We hope you’ve found this useful. Only you can assess which pathway feels right for you, and that is going to vary from person to person, and the fact that there are all these different routes is definitely something we should all celebrate.
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