Bodhidarma, the founder of the Shaolin Tradition, taught meditation, energization methods and martial arts for the purpose of developing spiritual awareness. The primary goal of the Shaolin Tradition is the development of spiritual awareness. And within the Shaolin Tradition, meditation is the primary method used to accomplish this. Martial arts training and movement, were then, and still are secondary methods used to achieve this goal. Bodhidarma also used the martial medium to teach methods of personality purification and aspects of character that are prerequisite for spiritual realization; such as: integrity, sincerity, self discipline, discrimination, objectivity, determination, intensity of effort, concentration and intuition. All of which can be developed through self directed effort and the practice of meditation.
Martial arts can be practiced to achieve the greatest good, but just like everything else in the creation, it does contain its opposite. Martial arts can also be practiced for the greatest evil. A dark side in the practice of martial arts, is the potential of violence inherent in it. Most personalities are attracted to the martial aspect of this activity and require an additional activity to balance themselves with the side of Light. It is the practice of meditation that the Shaolin Tradition uses to achieve this balance. The practice of martial arts can be a medium for personal development and a stepping stone to self realization. But if it is practiced to enhance the ego and gain power over others, it will magnify ones delusion of separateness and move the practitioner farther from the experience of Love, Truth, and the experience of Spirit.
The primary goals of meditation are to gain an accurate perception of reality,
which is the experience of Spirit and all its aspects.
Some aspects of Spirit are Love, Truth, Wisdom, Joy, Peace and Bliss.
And meditation can bring an experience of Spirit in this life time. This is spiritual communion. Through meditation we will learn to experience spiritual communion and how we can help others achieve this knowledge and experience; which will ultimately bring world peace and brotherhood to humanity.
Secondary benefits of meditation include: reduced stress, improved concentration, more ordered thought processes, enhanced intellectual skills, creativity is stimulated, the immune system and physiological processes are strengthened, biologic aging is slowed, regenerative energies are activated, intuition awakens,
and appreciation for your life, the lives of others and all life is enhanced.
Our perception of reality is acquired through what our five senses are exposed to and the way we make sense out of the information our senses pick up. The problem is that our five senses can only detect the gross manifestations of reality. The subtler manifestations that our five senses can not detect actually include the vast majority of reality. Modern science has only detected electrons and radio waves within the last century and there is so much more that it defies the imagination. We can not even come close to an accurate perception of reality based on the information obtained from our five senses. (It is important to take note here the difference between learning by being told or reading about things and knowing through direct experience. Sources of information outside of direct experience are often limited and or incorrect.) Even direct experience can be misleading when it is dependent on the five senses. Only developed intuition is infallible. The only tool we have that can enable us to accurately detect and experience reality is our sixth sense, intuition. Meditation is the technique that can be used to efficiently develop and direct our intuition to obtain accurate knowledge and direct experience of reality.
The organ of intuitional sight exists in man just behind the spot between the eyebrows. This spot is variously known as: the Single Eye, the Third Eye, the Ajna Chakra, the Star of Bethlehem and the Upper Tantien. A method of developing intuition through meditation, is by directing the attention of the mind to this spot. The gentle raising of the gaze, with the eyes closed, will assist in directing the attention of the mind to this spot. This is sometimes called the frontal gaze. The attention focused in this spot will raise the energy levels in this area, thereby facilitating the development of intuition.
Spirit is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. Spirit is everything. Spirit is reality itself. This can be known directly through intuition, by holding the attention of the mind on any aspect of Spirit, at the intuitional center (the spot between the eyebrows). Pick an aspect of Spirit that you feel an affinity with. Aspects of Spirit include: Divine Love, Light, Truth, Wisdom, Joy, Peace, Bliss and Om. If you visualize the form of Christ you may intuitively experience His infinite Love and Divine Mercy or His consciousness of the Infinite (sometimes called Christ Consciousness). As the frontal gaze is held, allow your chosen aspect of Spirit to surround and permeate your consciousness. As your intuition kicks-in, your awareness of this aspect of Spirit will grow and develop into an awareness of Spirit in all its aspects. Usually much practice is required.
THERE ARE FOUR STAGES OF MEDITATION.
1. The first stage is sitting and posture.
Face east as you practice meditation.
- with the legs crossed (full or half lotus),
- or with the knees and insteps on the floor, sitting on the heels. This is called Vajasan (the Lighting Bolt Posture) it is also known as zazen and the Warriors pose.
- or seated on a chair with the feet flat on the floor and with your back away from the back of the chair.
- Place the hands palm up at the juncture between the thigh and abdomen.
- Hold the spine straight but not stained (back, neck and head).
- Keep the spine straight as you let go of all physical tension.
- Hold the frontal gaze. With the eyes closed, look steadily and with attention into the brow center (do not strain).
- Breath with the abdomen, not the chest. (Do not control the breath in any way)
2. Inward turning is the second stage.
Release all random thoughts, all worries and cares.
Hold the attention undivided; pay attention only to your chosen aspect of Spirit.
To hold the attention solely on this one activity will initially require considerable self directed effort.
When the attention wanders, gently bring it back time and again to the frontal gaze and your chosen aspect of Spirit.
Practice brings proficiency.
3. Stage three is actual meditation
The mental attention is now completely focused and undivided on Spirit or an aspect of Spirit.
4. Stage four is spiritual communion
This is effortless, tranquil, intuitive awareness of the Divine Self.
Some SUGGESTIONS FOR MEDITATION are to
1. Become God like; purify your consciousness observing the yamas and niyamas.
non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, sensual control and non-possessiveness
purity, contentment, spiritual exercise, self study, and spiritual communion
The master Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Matthew 5:8
The more pure we become, the more spiritual insight we will be able to have.
2. Pray before and after meditation.
3. Before meditation do preliminary light exercise and or stretching.
(Such as Forms practice or Hatha Yoga)
4. Meditate in the same place when possible; this aids in conditioning for mental and physical stillness (stillness facilitates intuition).
5. Ideally, meditate in a place that is used solely for meditation,
(but this is not required).
6. Try to meditate at least twice a day. The best times are at dawn and dusk. Additional spare moments are helpful.
7. Use a blanket to sit on and wrap your self in, if it is too cool
(ideally wool or silk).
8. Affirmations or mantra may be used during the second and third stages of meditation, not the fourth stage.
Affirmations and mantra are phrases, words or syllables that refer to an aspect of Spirit and assist in mental focus. Mental focus is required for efficient use of intuition. Mantra are usually Sanskrit. Examples of affirmations and mantra are: I am Love, God, Omm and any aspect of Spirit. These are used in the second stage of meditation by quietly repeating the selected affirmation or mantra, as each breath is exhaled.
In the third stage of meditation it is repeated silently with each exhaled breath. And then "listened to", as each breath is exhaled.
In the forth stage, the affirmation or mantra is dropped, and Spirit is experienced in the Divine Silence.
- Sit in a comfortable cross legged position.
- Place the hands palm up at the juncture between the thigh and abdomen.
- Hold the spine straight but not strained, shoulders back, chest box forward and jaw level.
- With the eyes closed, gently raise the gaze toward the spot between the eye brows;
- and without any strain, gently hold this frontal gaze as we meditate.
- Use the abdominal breath. Breath only with the stomach, not the chest or shoulders.
- Breath naturally and slowly not trying to control the breath in any way.
- Let the body relax, let go of all physical tension.
- It is in physical and mental stillness that our awareness can efficiently perceive and experience the reality of Spirit.
- Most importantly, fix the attention of the mind at the midspot between the eyebrows.
- This is the center of intuition; the key to God perception.
- Concentrate your attention here, with your awareness open to the presence of God.
- If the attention should wander, gently bring it back, time and again to the frontal gaze.
- A technique to help calm the mind is to watch the breath.
- Do not try to control the breath in any way.
- You will find that as you watch the body breathe,
- the breath will automatically become slower, deeper, and more rhythmic.
- The mind and breath are inseparable, the condition of one will reflect the other.
- So as the breathing becomes slower, the mind also will become more still.
In the stillness of peace, we rest in the awareness of the Divine Self within us and the omnipresence of the Great Spirit.