Buddhism 101: Meditation with no Mediation, except the Middle Path…

If you’re sipping tea while doing meditation, then it’s not really meditation, unless you’re meditating on the tea itself. And that’s a very nice thing to do, I hear, and it would seem, though I’ve never directly participated in it myself, it being a thing very Zen-like, and my own practice being something very different from that, a more-or-less traditional form of Buddhism. But the result should be the same: a calm and peaceful form of abiding, insight optional. 

The point is to be very aware of all things that are occurring, and with as few distractions as possible. So, in a tea meditation ceremony, the point is to be aware of all things involved in the ceremony, from the preparation to the smell to the little buzz of brain neurons firing. In traditional meditation the point is to concentrate on the breath or something else innocuous yet transcendent, to liberate the mind from its usual task of struggling for survival in a dog-eat-dog world.  

In either case, traditional silent meditation or a more elaborate ceremony, the point is to be attentive to the point of hyper-attention and to not be distracted. Because, to be distracted is to disrupt the whole point of the meditation, which is sati, or awareness, and samadhi, a term variously translated as something in the range of feelings from absorption to transcendence, so akin to dhyana, the term from which the Chinese chan and Japanese zen derive. I still prefer traditional meditation, seated, serious, and silent, with some misgivings about guided meditations, but very open to more active but silent forms such as the tea ceremony and walking meditation.

The problems arise with the lack of definition and subsequent degeneration of the form, but not to the point of dismissal. Walking meditators just might need to decide whether to walk fast or slow. A brisk walk can be very satisfying, but I’m not sure that it’s meditation. It’s probably best to master the art of silent sitting before any experimentation. The point is to reboot consciousness, starting at zero, with a fresh outlook on life, language optional, because language is the classic conundrum. We can’t live with it and we can’t live without it. Be safe out there.