The Different Kinds of Meditation Techniques Used in Buddhism


In Buddhism, there are many different meditation techniques that are given preference by different masters and practitioners. Some may solely focus on breathing meditations, while others may practice nothing but concentration meditations.

Interestingly, despite the presence of a wide range of different meditation techniques in Buddhism, a common goal can be found in each technique: to identify the self by being attentive to the body movements and to the constantly changing mental states.

In this article, we are going to take a look at the techniques used by the Western Order master Kamalashila and the techniques categorized by Kuei-feng.

Techniques Used by Kamalashila

Kamalashila, the teacher associated with Western Order meditation, identifies five different basic meditation methods. The methods are used as antidotes to the five main obstructions that hamper enlightenment: hatred, conceit, distraction, ignorance, and craving. Mindfulness of breathing is one such method.

Basically, the method makes use of tranquility meditations to promote concentration and remove distraction. Metta Bhavana technique is the second technique used by Kamalashila. The technique, associated with the four kinds of Brahma Viharas, aims to eliminate hatred and sentiment and accept loving kindness.

The third technique is called the contemplation of impermanence. What this method involves is counteraction of craving, in order to promote freedom and inner peace. Note that this method takes the six elements as its base: water, air, earth, fire, consciousness, and space. Contemplation of conditionality is another method promoted by the master, which has the goal of reducing ignorance and increasing compassion and wisdom.

Techniques Promoted by Kuei-feng

Kuei-feng, on the other hand, identifies meditation techniques as the five kinds of Zen. The first kind, known as the ‘ordinary’ or ‘bonpu’, focuses on mastering mental and physical well-being when spiritual goal is absent. The second method is called ‘outside way’ or ‘gedo’, and is focused on purposes which can be considered as non-Buddhist.

The third kind, named ‘small vehicle’ or ‘shojo’, focuses on the pursuit of nirvana, or self-liberation. The next method is called ‘great vehicle’ or ‘daijo’. The method makes achievement of self-realization its primary purpose. It aims to promote the unity among everything. The last method categorized by Kuei-feng is called ‘supreme vehicle’ or ‘saijojo’. The technique takes into account the imminent nature of Buddha in every type of being.

Note that, in addition to the meditation techniques identified by Kamalashila and Kuei-Feng, many other methods exist, too. Mostly, meditation masters rely on only a single type of technique. However, some masters attempt to combine different types, too.

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