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MEDITATION

 
Buddhist meditation is fundamentally concerned with two themes: transforming the mind and using it to explore itself and other phenomena. According to Theravada Buddhism the Buddha taught two types of meditation, samatha meditation and vipassana meditation. In Chinese Buddhism, Chan (Zen) meditation is more popular preferred over samatha meditation and vipassana meditation. Throughout most of Buddhist history before modern times, is it not common to find serious meditation practice by lay people.
 
Samatha Meditation

starts from being mindful of an object or idea, which is expanded to one's body, mind and entire surroundings, leading to a state of total concentration and tranquility. There are many variations in the style of meditation, from sitting cross-legged or kneeling to chanting or walking. The most common method of meditation is to concentrate on one's breath, because this practice can lead to both samatha and vipassana.
 
In Buddhist practice, it is said that while samatha meditation can calm the mind, only vipassana meditation can reveal how the mind was disturbed to start with, which is what leads to knowledge and understanding, and thus can lead to nirvana. When one is in jhana, all defilements are suppressed temporarily. Only understanding (prajna) eradicates the defilements completely. Jhanas are also resting states which arahants, a spiritual practitioner who had realised the goal of nirvana, abide in order to rest.
 
 
Vipassana

Prajna means wisdom that is based on a realization of dependent origination, The Four Noble Truths and the three marks of existence. Prajna is the wisdom that is able to extinguish afflictions and bring about bodhi. It is spoken of as the principal means of attaining nirvana, through its revelation of the true nature of all things as dukkha (unsatisfactoriness), anicca (impermanence) and anatta (not-self). Prajna is also listed as the sixth of the six paramitas of the Mahayana.
 
Initially, prajna is attained at a conceptual level by means of listening to sermons (dharma talks), reading, studying and sometimes reciting Buddhist texts and engaging in discourse. Once the conceptual understanding is attained, it is applied to daily life so that each Buddhist can verify the truth of the Buddha's teaching at a practical level. It should be noted that one could theoretically attain nirvana at any point of practice, while listening to a sermon, while conducting business of daily life or while in meditation.
 
 
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