Where did Meditation come from?
So many people, cultures, disciplines, etc. claim the mantle of being “first”. We tend to get so wrapped up in the details that it only serves to muddy the waters for people who are coming to meditation for the first time. In fact, people tend to make meditation seem so complicated when really it is a simple practice that takes a lifetime to master. But it doesn’t take a lifetime to see benefits from.
Just like the question “What is Meditation?” this question sparks some debate among scholars and practitioners alike. This causes some confusion for those who are trying to pin down the exact point people began to meditate. The best we can do is look to the points of consensus of scholars and experts who agree that meditation probably began many thousands of years ago, well before the birth of modern civilizations.
In the book, “Inside Meditation- In Search of the Unchanging Nature Within” by Alexander Filmer-Lorch, the Author gives a historical timeline that starts from around 500 BC with the Acaranga Sutra and lists key points along the way into the 1980s as meditation evolved. This seems to fall in-line with most of the established works out there on the subject today.
Some other key points of interest mentioned;
- Between the years 500-600 BC Taoists in China and Buddhists in India started building meditation practices.
- The Jewish Philosopher, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria had made note of “spiritual exercises” in his work dealing with focused attention, and also in the 1st Century BCE, the “Pali Canon” considers meditation a pathway towards “salvation”.
- Around the year 653 in the 7th Century, the first meditation hall was opened in Japan.
- Dogen, in around 1227, wrote the instructions for the practice of Zazen.
- It is believed that by the 12th Century, Sufism practitioners used breath control and the repetition of the holy words or Mantras.
- By the 18th Century, intellectuals and philosophers discussed Buddhism, leading to the first English translation of the “Tibetan Book of the Dead” to be published in 1927.
- In modern times, we have seen science studying meditation in the 1970s through today, after becoming mainstream in the West starting in the 1960s.
When we look to the origins of meditation, there are numerous amounts of texts, hieroglyphs, and other ancient artifacts to go through and translate which seems to serve those respective time periods and the traditions that practiced them.
Some of these findings suggest that even early hunter-gatherers more than likely practiced some form(s) of meditation, something of an early form of Shamanism. In the end, it is difficult to pin down; as much of the knowledge in the early parts of our existence was passed on orally, with very little of it being recorded. One thing is for certain, even though little was written, each in its own way has helped to lay the crucial foundations of modern meditation.
Despite the long and rich history of meditation, for us in modern times it is probably most commonly related to Buddhism. At the very least, most understand its origins as being related to Asian Spirituality, although we can trace it back to many different cultures and beliefs.
It interesting that some are unaware that meditation is believed to have existed for five thousand years, as shown by Hindu texts and cave drawings discovered in the Indus Valley in the early part of the last century. Evidently, man has been seeking stillness and enlightenment from the chaos of his own mind even when life was much simpler.
Meditation is a simple exercise that requires a dedicated mind, an honest heart, and a disciplined body, in order to get the maximum benefit for you. People often find it difficult to stick with because on the surface it seems so easy and simple in theory, but it can’t be fully mastered with laziness.
In this section, we are going to talk about some of the most common pitfalls and issues people have when first learning to meditate, and then move on to solutions and strategies for overcoming these obstacles so that you are prepared to move onto the practical exercises portion of this course. … Continue readingMeditation week 1-Preperation
This is the cyberspace Home of the Knights of Awakening! For years, the KOA has been providing countless hours of conversation, learning, and entertainment on multiple media platforms. Starting out as a single radio show, the KOA has grown to encompass a larger multimedia footprint in the world! … Continue readingHome
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