I attended a Buddhist youth camp 30 years ago and the monks taught us meditation as part of the curriculum.
It was a mixed group of youngsters keen to experience spiritualism. Some of us wanted to be the Harry Porter or Hermione in class. Stories of ghostly encounters, mysticism and inspirational accounts were shared amongst the youths.
The 1st meditation advice from the monks was to Ignore Buddha if we see visions of Buddha during meditation. How did this advice comes about?
Some people thought that meditation is a spiritual telephone to communicate with Buddha. Go into a trance and then spiritually transport to another dimension where Buddha is and bingo! Sitting there in his illuminating glory, Buddha will teach you or empower you with spiritual powers.
That is shamanism and not Buddhism.
Therefore you can understand the concerns of the monks when some of the youths were from family that practices spirit mediums. (Inviting a spirit to possess the body)
The 1st meditation lesson was a bit of a commotion when some youth decided to showoff their spiritualism by going into a trance! Consequently, there was a rather comprehensive lectures about meditation the next day.
In Buddhism, we do not encourage the pursuit of visions in meditation. Spiritual vision is a training where one is encouraged to “see” spirits and establish communication with them.
Foremost, Buddha is not a spirit. Enlightenment is not being closer to a spirit or a god. Therefore pursuing visions through meditation and trance is not Buddhism.
Secondly, it is easy for spiritual beings (some with sinister motive) to assume a Buddhist form to beguile a meditator.
Thirdly, one can unwittingly condition oneselves to become hallucinatory.
All in all, the message is simple. Enlightenment is not the achievement of supernatural abilities. The desire to see Buddha is also a desire. Desire is an affliction of the mind.
Therefore, my 1st meditation lesson in a Buddhist monastery is to ignore Buddha, if he appears in meditation. One must just focus on the subject or topic of meditation.
This leads to a famous saying by Buddha,” Whoever sees the Dharma, sees the Buddha”
This advice is very important because it encourages us to study the Dharma. That way, we have the capability to discern between what is Buddha dharma and what is not. When we encounter a new teaching, meet new teachers or experience something in our practice, we can be well informed and differentiate what is fake.
May all be well and happy.
Categories: Meditation, Mysticism
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