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In Eastern philosophy (as a philosophy and in principle as a religion), the key aspect
is personal experience, not belief or faith in any certain principles.

For example, meditation need not be performed due to a belief in any esoteric principles.
One simple reason to meditate is because it relieves stress, allowing one to be healthier in general. 
Curiosity may also lead the meditator to investigate whether there is any reality to the Eastern texts that
describe the various personal experiences that may be experienced while practicing meditation. 
Thus this practice would give one the opportunity to experience the validity or invalidity
of certain ideas stated in the texts firsthand.  Thus, personal experience drives the personal beliefs. 

The Dhammapada is the layman's Buddhist text.  It explains Buddhist principles in very simple, easy to understand terms. Most of the principles are simple common sense, and yet we don't think about it much of the time.  This is my favorite translation because it avoids almost all religious terminology, but keeps the principles clear. To get more information on this book, click here

A slowly ongoing commentary of this text is posted on the newsgroup soc.religion.eastern and completed sections are placed here and converted to html: Dhammapada ramblings. (updated 6/25)


The Upanishads are a part of the trilogy of scriptures which Vedanta 
(a school of Hinduism) is based on. (The other two are Brahma Sutra 
and Bhagavad Gita). An Upanishad is the last part of a Veda (a sacred 
Hindu scripture) and, unlike the first part of Vedas which gives
strict injunctions about rituals and ethics as well as forms of meditation, 
it is exclusively dedicated to philosophical discussions as how to obtain 
real wisdom, or reach enlightenment (Nirvana or Samadhi) 
reference: (1). For more information on this book, click here.

Here are some of some thoughts on the Upanishads:
Upanishads commentary (updated 12/17)

•Meditation is a central part of Eastern practice

First, there is a practical aspect of meditation. It relieves stress, which
has direct benefits on our immune system. (The reference I give below has many
examples of peer reviewed publications that document the benefits of meditation/relaxation.)
The second very important aspect to consider is that by relieving stress, you
will improve your interactions with others throughout the day.
--Everyone can understand that when we are stressed, our tolerance for things
will go down, and sometimes we will not act in the way that we would want, under
"rational" conditions...
This is one example of how meditation can have a positive influence on our lives.

•How do you meditate? Where does one start?

There are many paths of meditation, derived in both Western and Eastern traditions.
Each person must find a technique that fits the personality and makes sense. The techniques
will encompass a wide variety of paths ranging from prayer, contemplation, chanting, to
monitoring the breath. I recommend the book below for an overview of meditative traditions.


This book is called "The Meditative Mind", The Varieties of Meditative Experience. Of course, in a short book, some of the descriptions of the paths are slightly superficial, but I am impressed with the broadness in which the various paths of meditation are described from Hindu Bhakti, Jewish Kabbalah, Christian Hesychasm, Sufism, to Zen Buddhism. You can see that meditation encompasses all of the world's major religions. (However, I should say that perspective of meditation in the book is from an Eastern point of view...)

The book is divided into four parts: part one describes a philosophy behind meditation, part two surveys fourteen meditative paths, part three emphasizes the unity of all meditative paths, and part four describes the psychology of mediation and contains medical references to the benefits of meditation that I alluded to. Click here for more info.


Much more will be added to this page when I get the time...


newsgroup: soc.religion.eastern: news-DejaNews
 For more information on Upanishads see (2) and (3).

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Last updated 4/20/2010.

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