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Buddhism Essays and Homework
1.      What do you think is the ultimate goal of meditation? Is it enlightenment, or something more personal?
2.      What are some of the misconceptions westerners might have about meditation?
3.      Practice mindfulness. Begin by mindfully eating a piece of fruit (or candy if you like). Try to begin incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine.

A1.  I was asked this same question by a Chinese Chan (Zen) Buddhist monk just a week ago.  After some careful thought I suggested that firstly it was to calm the mind and become more mindful, then to develop insight into the true nature of existence, but (as a Mahayana Buddhist) then with the ultimate goal of being able to help other sentient beings through the peacefulness, mindfulness, and insight which develops over time.  He laughed at my long and complicated answer and said that the purpose of sitting in meditation is just to sit, nothing more.  If you sit, then just sit.  If you drink a cup of tea, then just drink a cup of tea.  His lesson to me was not to over-think meditation, and that to do so was one of the biggest potential downfalls.  Just sit!

A2.  In my opinion as a practicing Buddhist for over 23 years, one real lesson for me as a westerner is how meditation should be part of our everyday life.  It should not be something we do for 1/2 an hour a day as something separate from the rest of our lives.  Meditation is an integral part of our every day life, whether we sit on a meditation cushion, walk, sit on a park bench, everyday activities, meditation doesn't start when sit on the cushion and end when we leave it.

A3.  There is no question!

Mark D Vickers

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