Is Buddhist meditation a religion in itself or simply a mind exercise like most others? While Buddhist meditation is not a religion, it is inspired by the goals of the Buddhism religion. After all, the human mind is the heart of the Buddhist teaching.
The Dhamma, or the teaching of the Buddha, is probably the most misunderstood among all other religions. The Buddha is also being likened to God and people have considered the Buddhist meditation as a hypnotic method to flee from the real world.
There are eight noble truths involve in Buddhism. The first noble truth is the dukkha, a Pali word which means the unpleasant experiences like worry, pain, sorrow, fear, etc. The second noble truth points out that dukkha are the consequence of desire and craving. The third noble truth says that dukkha can be resolved, while the fourth noble truth tells us the means by which the third noble truth can be achieved.
Buddhism, through the fourth noble truth is then closely linked to Buddhist meditation. It was transformed into a method or discipline of releasing people from the bondage of negative feelings and enhancing the nature of human life. This part of the Dhamma is known as the Noble Eightfold Path, which encompasses lessons that can influence the personal and social aspect of one’s life.
It may be understood therefore that the cause of everyone’s agony is psychological. Logic would tell us that the cure would be psychological as well. Thus, Buddhism designed mind exercises called the Buddhist meditation, aimed to cure these psychological problems. However, the Buddhist meditation is often confused with other practices that that claim to have possessed powers after engaging in meditation, which is totally in contrast to the Eightfold Path.
Some people view meditation, Buddhist meditation included, as a higher state of the pious life. That meditation is a step towards sainthood or being a holy person. Meditation is not an act of converting a sinner to have a deeper commitment to his religion. But it is just a good instrument to free oneself from the clutter that fills the mind in order to have a more serene life.
The goals of Buddhist meditation do not differ much from the other methods of meditation. Specifically though, Buddhist meditation aims to get rid of the dukkha and attain Nibbana. According to many Buddhist meditation practitioners, Nibbana is too difficult to put into words. But they describe it as the highest point of moral and psychological maturation.
Since Buddhist meditation, like any other technique, is a personal experience which brings about self-fulfillment, it must be practiced according to one’s conviction and faith that enlightenment and bliss are attainable.