Meditation for Interfaith Group Research Paper

Pages: 10 (3643 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

Meditation for Interfaith Groups

As a Buddhist chaplain I have taught meditation to groups of my own faith.

I have now been placed on a mission to share the Art of Meditation to members of other faiths. Having giving much consideration and study to the doctrines of other faiths, I have decided to write this report to share the purpose of Buddhist meditation, to describe the approach that I have adopted to teach meditation to interfaith groups, and finally to recount my experiences with the different interfaith groups that I am working with.

Overview of Buddhist Meditation

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Buddhism is a journey into the depth of one's heart and mind -- an exploration of who we are and what we are (the Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche). Historically, Buddhism has been used to achieve a calmer self within the individual, to develop a freer, calmer personality, and to free oneself from the delusions that cause suffering within oneself and towards individuals that the person may be attached to (Harvey 2). Buddhist meditation is based on transformation of the individual from one state of existence to another. The guide to this meditation is called the Dhamma (Harvey 2). The Dhamma represents eternal truths and cosmic law orderliness discovered by the Buddha, the Buddhist teachings, the practice of Buddhist, and the Buddhist path of practice (Harvey 2). The early teachings of Buddhism focus on attaining liberation by one's own efforts and although there are many variations of Buddhism today, the early version is the one that focuses on achieving liberation of the person (Harvey 2). The principle of Buddhism believe in empowerment of one's self though one's own efforts.

2. The Basic Teachings of the Buddha

Research Paper on Meditation for Interfaith Group Assignment

As a Chaplain, I continuously review the principles of Buddha especially when I am teaching to groups of other faith. As I sit and connect with the different interfaith groups, these teachings will be at the forefront of my ministry. Buddha was never a doctrinaire in his teachings, and always instructed his followers to "work with diligence" (Dockett, Dudley-Grant, and Bankart 19). In counseling with groups of other faiths it is important to remember this principle. Successfully sharing the art of meditation with different faiths will require a putting aside of doctrines and to focus on a common ground of sharing and achieving a higher state of peace. Other religions believe strongly in their doctrines and I am certain that during our meditation sessions, this will become evident. As a leader in the faith and a follower of Buddha, I am required to avoid harsh doctrinal teachings and to focus of the oneness that I have been commissioned to create among other groups.

Buddha also never projected the salesman style of religion. The principle of Buddha believed in "just being" and engaging in one's practice so that other will want to join in on their own practice" (Dockett, Dudley-Grant, and Bankart 19). This is also a principle that I will closely following in my teachings with the other interfaith groups. Buddhism is a religion of peace and calmness. It is not a dogmatic religion that believes that others should be forced into believing. My first approach in my interfaith teaching is to make it known that we as Buddhists believe in letting others freely follow rather than bringing them along. There is no idea of an Elect group of keepers of a received Truth" (Dockett, Dudley-Grant, and Bankart 19).

At the heart of Buddha's teaching was the concept of the nature of the self (Dockett, Dudley-Grant, and Bankart 20). The principle concept that I will be concerned with as far as my interfaith meditation is to help others understand the concept of "egoism" and what this means regarding their state of existence. Buddhism works to replace the state of egoism which is the state of "I am" with the concept of "Conditioned arising" or "Dependent origination" (Dockett, Dudley-Grant, and Bankart 20). It is believed by Buddha himself that until the idea of Conditioned arising is established that there can be no enlightenment (Dockett, Dudley-Grant, and Bankart 20).

This concept of conditioned arising is based on the interrelation of all elements of creation. In other words, every aspect of creation originates from every other aspect -- nothing stands alone (Dockett, Dudley-Grant, and Bankart 20). This concept is highly important to developing a connection with the inter-faith groups. If they believe that we are all connected and standing together with one another, then we have a common ground with which to build or sessions on. This concept of conditioned arising is not likely accomplished on the first session, but as a Chaplain it has always been my goal to introduce this principle as the basis of the sessions and to build each session on this principle. There is a certain positive energy that surrounds the principle of conditioned arising that when it is the basis of the meditation sessions then each session will be built on the common ground and goal of conditioned arising -- which is what Buddha himself believed was necessary to achieve that higher state of existence and peace of mind.

3. The Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path

In addition to the basic principles above, the principles of Buddha are centered on the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. Both of which make the foundation of Buddhism. A part of my interfaith meditation teaching, will be an understanding for what the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path are. Both of these sets of principles are closely connected in the practice of Buddhist meditation.

4. The Four Noble Truths

The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism are: 1) the noble truth of suffering, 2) the noble truths of the origin of suffering, 3) the noble truth of the cessation of suffering and the origin of suffering and 4) the noble truth of the path that leads to the cessation of suffering and the origin of suffering (Tsering and McDougall 8). These principles are the basics of Buddhism and will lead to the practitioner understanding the suffering, finding the source of the suffering, knowing that the suffering can end, and knowing how to end the suffering.

Again, my goal as a Chaplain with the interfaith groups is to help them to understand that it is not in the concept of Buddhism for them to continue to suffer and that with a commitment to the practice; they can successfully end the suffering. It will be essential to the nature of the meditation, and part of my duty as Chaplain, to help the interfaith participant believe that it is not the goal of the practice of Buddha to succeed in making them forget or go against their doctrines. Many faiths, such as Christianity, believe that the concept of suffering will lead to strength -- but that Buddhism can co-exist with their current doctrine and belief.

5. The Eightfold Path

The Eightfold path is also referred to as the Eight Rights in Buddhism (Dockett, Dudley-Grant, and Bankart 21). A summary of the Eight Rights according to Dockett, Dudley-Grant, and Bankart are: 1) Right Understanding: The individual must clearly understand what is wrong. 2) Right Purpose: Deciding that one wants to be cured. 3) Right speech: Speaking with the aim to be cured. 4) Right conduct: Acting with the aim to be cured. 5) Right livelihood: One's livelihood must not conflict with one's therapy. 6) Right effort: One must keep the effort at an appropriate speed as to achieve and maintain results. 7) Right mindfulness: The therapy must be thought about incessantly. 8) Right concentration: One must learn how to concentrate with the deep mind (Dockett, Dudley-Grant, and Bankart 21).

6. Meditation

Meditation is the medium that Buddhists use to form a detachment from the state of mind that is keeping them from total freedom (Repetti 169). I work with the groups to help them cultivate detachment from the mental state and then a subsequent liberation through meditation (Repetti 169). Meditation helps the agent access the mental state, and regulates the influence that is otherwise overpowering the mental state of the person (Repetti 169). It has been my experience that this is why Buddhism is effective -- because it gives the agent the opportunity to recognize what is keeping them in bondage and then gives them the means to separate that bondage from its source which causes it to lose its power.

7. My Approach to Sharing Buddhist Meditation with Interfaith Groups

After much reflection and meditation, I have integrated a number of the approaches introduced by Pastor Howard Clinebell with the traditional Eightfold path as my initial approach in sharing Buddhist meditation with members of interfaith groups. For example, Pastor Clinebell spoke creating depth of relationships and relating to the depths of others (15). It is this principle that I choose to focus on the most -- establishing a brotherhood with members of the other faiths. I am also deeply inspired by the approach of my Buddhist chaplain brother, Mark Power… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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