Suffering is abundant in this world, it touches all ages, genders, ethnicities, and classes in life. Being a king or celebrity, having a lot of money, or being completely removed from society as a whole does not guarantee one absence from suffering. Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha defined the problem with mankind as dukkha or suffering. But suffering from what? It is more than just the suffering that comes from consequences of situations. The suffering primarily comes from one’s cravings, desires, wants, and ignorance. His life’s work would go to teach that one can eliminate dukkha through techniques and rituals that would result in nirvana “the blowing out.” One of these rituals taught and still practiced in Buddhism today is meditation.
Buddhist meditation is a religious practice that is strongly related to the notion of concentration and the development of deep insight. In a certain way, meditation in Buddhism serves similar purposes as prayer in Christianity. It is a tool of eloquent spiritual development that primarily aims to reduce the suffering. Meditation helps to discover righteousness in a person and help one fully understand the moral postulates of Buddhism. The Sutta Nipata contains the following verse in this respect, “in the enjoyment of knowledge and in the strength of mindfulness a person has full enlightenment and is a shelter for many”. (The Sutta Nipata, Maha Vagga: 503)
In Buddhism, Nirvana is the state of full enlightenment that is achieved through the practice of meditation. The achievement of Nirvana as well as the very process of working towards enlightenment aims at reducing the suffering. Meditation helps one to evolve the empathetic ability and to grasp the understanding of the peaceful existence in this world. The Sutta-Nipatta reads, “The supreme Buddha praised pure meditation which gives instantaneous results. There is nothing equal to that meditation; this precious jewel is in the Dhamma.” (The Sutta Nipata, Cula Vagga: 226) and “those who delight in the teaching taught by the Noble Ones are unique in speech, mind and action; are established in peace gentleness and meditation, and obtain the essence of learning and wisdom.” (The Sutta Nipata, Cula Vagga: 330)
- Saddhatissa, Hammalava. The Sutta-Nipata: A New Translation from the Pali Canon. Routledge, 2013.