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The Practice of Meditation in


Humanism-Oriented Buddhism
-- Using the Instruction in the Samatha & Vipassana Meditation
Retreat for Intensive Training as an Example

Shih, Shing- Kuang


ABSTRACT
The purpose of this article is to expound the rationale and contents of
practicing meditation in accord with the idea of Humanism-oriented
Buddhism. Moreover, the instruction in the Samatha(concentration) and
Vipassana(insight) meditation retreat for intensive training is used as an
example to illustrate some related issues given below.
Practicing meditation can purify the mind of emotional turbulence and
foster deep calm, eventually leading to the experience of samadhi. Then, with
the abiding mind, we can produce the ability both to undertake and to
accomplish what needs to be done. Therefore, in order to develop ones
capabilities to help others, those who practice the Bodhisattva deeds also
value mediation highly and view it as one of the foundational practices of
Buddhism.
As the essential aspect of practicing the Buddha Dharma in Mahayana
tradition (the Dharma of the Great Vehicle), the meditation methods of
Humanism-oriented Buddhism are not only compatible with those of

Shih, Shing- Kuang, Ph.D. student in philosophy department at National Central University,
also a part-time instructor at Soochow University.
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Hinayana teachings (the Sravaka Vehicle)in terms of basic skills, but also
blend well with the fundamental principles of the Buddhist meditative path
stated in the Mahayana Sutra.
With respect to the style of practicing meditation, it can be classified
into two types: one is the meditation retreat for intensive training, and the
other is meditation practice in ordinary life. The former is for the benefit of
oneself, whereas the latter is for the benefit of others. Practitioners can choose
either of them according to ones needs in different learning stages. However,
one should not merely emphasize on one type at the cost of the other. Instead,
both types should work together in the long run.
This article narrows the focus to the instruction in the meditation
retreat for intensive training, especially the seven-day Samatha and
Vipassana meditation retreat. Moreover, serving as the rationale for choosing
meditation objects, the universality of the Buddhas teaching is analyzed
based on the Five Methods for stilling the Mindone of the most classic
formulations of the meditative path in Buddhism.
Among these five methods, three of them are taught in this intensive
meditation course, namely, anapana-smrti (meditation on the breath),
dhatu-prabheda-smtri (meditation on the four elements) and maitri-smrti
(meditation on the loving-kindness). Anapana-smrti and dhatu-prabhedasmtri are two primary techniques for developing samadhi and wisdom in
Buddhism explained in Agama Sutra, and the major methods of practice in
Sravaka tradition as well.

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As the way of practicing the Mahayana Dharma, the practice of


meditation in Humanism-oriented Buddhism is defined by two key attributes:
(1) protecting sentient beings with mindfulness; (2) being beneficial to others.
Because of this, maitri-smrti one of the four boundless mentalities (S.
apramana-citta) is also taught during retreat period. Moreover, the
practitioners are encouraged to resolve to attain the bodhi mind and to
practice the Bodhisattva deeds.
Although the Mahayana practitioners may go into meditation retreats of
various durations for intensive training, they still consider serving sentient
beings as their ultimate end. Thus, relying on the abiding mind and the
insight of emptiness acquired by diligent practice in meditation work, the
Bodhisattva way disciples must show mercy to those in distress and take
action to relieve their sufferings. In so doing, the four afflictions, namely,
self-centered views, self-love, ignorance, and arrogance of the self, will
naturally and steadily wane. As a result, having been hooked by nothing, the
minds and deeds with compassion and selflessness can easily be made to
expand infinitely.

Key words
the meditation retreat for intensive training; the meditation practice in
ordinary life ; the five methods for stilling the mind ; anapana-smrti;
dhatu-prabheda-smrti; maitri-smrti; universality

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