Newbie got a question....or a thousand

Greetings and a wish that we may all find liberation. I just finished watching a guided meditation by Ram Dass on YouTube. Two questions: First, Ram Dass threw me off by referencing ‘God’. I am confused because in my understanding, Buddhism rejects a monotheistic belief. Secondly: Are guided meditations a positive or negative approach to meditation And part B. Is chanting a form of meditation? 997 questions on hold.

Many thanks, Namaste April Rose

I don’t think he claims to be a Buddhist, does he?

"Ram Dass (born Richard Alpert; April 6, 1931) is an American spiritual teacher and the author of the seminal[2][3] 1971 book Be Here Now. He is known for his personal and professional associations with Timothy Leary at Harvard University in the early 1960s, for his travels to India and his relationship with the Hindu guru Neem Karoli Baba, and for founding the charitable organizations Seva Foundation and Hanuman Foundation. He continues to teach via his website."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ram_Dass

As noted already, Ram Dass is a Hindu.

If you find them useful, sure.

Better to think of it as a support for meditation. But chanting by itself will never go as deep as meditation.

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Hi Rosie,

I’m not sure what you mean by positive or negative approach, are you asking whether guided meditation is beneficial? In my experience, guided meditations can be very beneficial and are often used by teachers to help students with their meditation. I find metta guided meditations particularly useful due to the repetitive process of having someone verbalize loving kindness.

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Hi Rosie, the Buddha did not claim that there is only one God, he explained in detail how the different heavenly realms are inhabited by different beings, we even find spirits that live in trees and so on. But all of them have a limited life spam, even if there are some deities that dwell in “paradise” for a long, long time, we are talking even more than one world cycle, even them they can die and be reborn elsewhere no guaranties as to where maybe even in hell. So my understanding is that the view of some religions as to an immortal God is justified because their life spam is really long, I heard one estimation of one of the longer of 10 years with 160 zeros after it. that is so big that it can be mistaken for eternity. Nevertheless there is higher destination than that and is that of avoiding rebirth, this is what the Buddha teaches as the highest goal. Good guided meditations are good specially for beginners but not all of them are the same, you have to find one that is in accord with the Buddhas teachings. After a while is better you learn to execute the steps on your own partly because this is part of the awakening factor of mindfulness (SN 46.3) and partly because insight has to be developed as well and is hard to do this with a voice telling you stuff. Chanting in Buddhism is done in monotonous fashion which
I would say is a form of recitation, strictly speaking this recitation might be not be considered meditation but is very, very helpful because you can recite teachings that have a deep meaning and effect, recitation is one of the 5 ways to awakening AN 5.26:

“In whatever way the bhikkhu recites the Dhamma in detail as he has heard it and learned it, in just that way, in relation to that Dhamma, he experiences inspiration in the meaning and inspiration in the Dhamma. As he does so, joy arises in him. When he is joyful, rapture arises. For one with a rapturous mind, the body becomes tranquil. One tranquil in body feels pleasure. For one feeling pleasure, the mind becomes concentrated. This is the third basis of liberation, by means of which, if a bhikkhu dwells heedful, ardent, and resolute, his unliberated mind is liberated, his undestroyed taints are utterly destroyed, and he reaches the as-yet-unreached unsurpassed security from bondage.”

Asking questions leads to wisdom not asking to stupidity (MN 135).

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THANK YOU, THANK YOU THANK YOU, I am deeply grateful for your time and effort spent answering these questions. Long have I dwelt in ignorance. So your support is PRICELESS [smiling].

I grew up loving Ram Dass. But as Gnlaera pointed out he is indeed a Hindu. No wonder he is confused. I will meditate on sending loving kindness to all Hindu folk.

But here is my most important issue. I do get confused about where my inner vision or awareness should exist. I try to visualize Buddha but I don’t see anything but grey with occasional movement of amorphous light. Even when practicing loving kindness meditation I cannot really see the faces of those whom I bring into my heart. Am I expecting too much? Is my hereditary German Analytical brain making things too complicated?

And what about the Third Eye? Is this also Hindu? I apologize for my confusion due to having searched for the truth in many places. I am glad to have found a home in the Buddha.

Thank you…Merci…Gracias. Namaste.

For many years I was in the same situation. It all changed when I opened my eyes to the importance of the other (and earlier) aspects of the path, most especially right view and right thought - these tend to support a stronger cultivation of right speech, action (and livelihood).

With those things taken care of right effort gains momentum - you start to see more and more what subtle but deeply-rooted negative habits are stopping the factors of right presence / mindfulness and right stillness / convergence to take place in your heart.

Give it a try!

P.S.: MN117 and MN20 are key suttas to use as reference in working on those first things - right view and right thought!

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It’s difficult to give meditation advice over the internet, so I would encourage you to find a local teacher you can speak with.

But as a generalization, people tend to experience meditation either visually or as feelings in the body. For myself, it’s definitely feelings; I have poor visualization. So if you find that visualizing is not helpful, try a kind of meditation that emphasizes the feelings in the body. The metta meditation that I practice is like this (there should be retreats translated to German online, I think!); and there are many kinds of meditation that might suit.

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Dearest sujato, Danke [ it’s the only German I know besides some insults my father taught me] Thanks so much and perhaps part of the problem may be that I approach this with the idea that there is a ‘RIGHT WAY’ to meditate. I have thought to myself ‘what could be worse for my karma than to seek liberation by meditating incorrectly?’ I have been experiencing some success meditating on the energy field that flows through and around my body. I have a mixed spiritual background: the chakras, the third eye, prana, vipassana, yoga etc. In the past I have not discriminated between the wisdom of Buddha and some Hindu teaching. Yet as I have learned about Buddha and the coherent organized path to liberation I am most comfortable now as a Buddhist. . So for now if it is acceptable I will focus on breath and internal physical awareness.

And about this " so I would encourage you to find a local teacher you can speak with.’ -unfortunately I live in the country approximately 35 miles from the nearest town. I was desperate enough to try to learn from Buddhist FaceBook sites, but I found those pages lacking in substance. So you all are stuck with me and the 'Newbie Questions.

I remain very grateful for your assistance Namaste. Thanks.

We are very happy to have you here! It’s a shame you can’t find someone close to you, i know that many meditators are in a similar situation. Anyway, keep asking questions!

Greetings kind sir, and thank you so much. I am so glad to be heard amongst so many learned people on the same path. I have so much to learn, and do miss the benefit of a sangha-and sometimes wonder if my isolation has something to do with a prior incarnation. I have been in a condition of societal isolation or ostracism since I first realized that i was born into this unusual karma. It was around the age of 10 when I looked in the mirror and thought “Oh crap, how did I get in here? This is a mistake of birth…I am certain of that!” Next I realized with prescience that I was born into this duality to untangle the mess that was and is social conditioning.

I often joke that I have one foot in Yin and one foot in yang with a knowledge of the void or emptiness that has set me apart from most of my fellow humans. Yet my unique position has also afforded me the ability to feel compassion for both sides of this illusory duality.

And that is why I am a Buddhist. I have seen through this veil of conditioned reality, and written quite a lot about it…which no one really grasps. Except you all. And so I am happy to be here with a thousand questions.

Thanks for being here with me in this round. I do appreciate you and the rest of my new company of friends. Namaste!

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There has been too much emphasis on meditation particularly in the west.
Success in meditation is reaching samadhi, the 8th component of the 8fold path. Samādhi occurs naturally when the first 7 components of the 8fold path are progressively fulfilled. They are fulfilled by the one by one removal off-cushion (i.e. not by meditating) of our specific desires, aversions and delusions. By working to eliminate your aversions your associated desires and delusions are likely to go away together with.
So no worries about right and wrong meditation as one does not do meditation but meditation happens on its own accord.

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Lots of people are not good at visualizing so you can use their names instead. Use a benefactor or someone you really like for a while before moving to anybody else. If you found a good person that is helping you bring up the feeling stay with it, dont change it many times, If you want a loving kindness guided meditation you can try this one: image .

Thank you for your kind response. Can you state the process by which one ‘works’ on the Eightfold path. Is this just a matter of raising one’s daily conscious awareness?

Dear Rosie
Over the years, I have been using the 8fold path to remove my aversions one by one and am still working on some minor ones today.
I have just completed a document that describes the process I have been successfully using.
This document is in French and I intend to translate it into English very soon.
If you are interested please send me an email at : alainbernay@iinet.net.au
With Metta
Alain

Email sent. Muchas Gracias, and Namaste!