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Buddhist meditation is a form of mental concentration that leads
ultimately to enlightenment and spiritual freedom. Meditation occupies a
central place in all forms of Buddhism, but has developed characteristic
variations in different Buddhist traditions.

There are two main types of Buddhist meditation: vipassana (insight) and
samatha (tranquility). The two are often combined or used one after the
other (usually vipissana follows samatha). In China and Japan, an entire
school of Buddhism developed around the practice of sitting meditation:
Ch'an or Zen Buddhism <../sects/zen.htm> .

This article outlines the major types of Buddhist meditation and
provides links to further information on Buddhist meditation.

Tranquility Meditation (Samatha)
The basic purpose of samatha or tranquility meditation is to still the
mind and train it to concentrate. The object of concentration
(kammatthana) is less important than the skill of concentration itself,
and varies by individual and situation. One Pali text lists 40
kammatthanas, which include:

    * devices (like color or light)
    * repulsive things (like a corpse)
    * recollections (such as sayings of the Buddha)
    * virtues (like loving-kindness)

The goal of samatha meditation is to progress through four stages

    1. Detachment from the external world and a consciousness of joy and
    2. Concentration, with suppression of reasoning and investigation;
    3. The passing away of joy, but with the sense of tranquility
remaining; and
    4. The passing away of tranquility also, bringing about a state of
pure self-possession and equanimity.
Insight Meditation (Vipassana)
Many of the skills learned in tranquility meditation can be applied to
insight meditation, but the end goal is different. As its name suggests,
the purpose of insight meditation is the realization of important
truths. Specifically, one who practices vipassana hopes to realize the
truths of impermanence, suffering and "no-self."

Of course, these doctrines are already known to any Buddhist. After all,
they are the central teachings of the Buddha. But in order to attain
liberation, he or she must personally apprehend and truly understand
these important truths. Simple knowledge of the Buddhist doctrines is
not sufficient.

Because vipassana meditation alone produces the understanding through
which liberation takes place, it is considered superior to tranquility
meditation. It is the primary form of meditation practiced in Theravada

The practice of insight meditation centers around the notion of
mindfulness. Mindfulness is related to, but different than,
concentration. When one is concentrating, one's entire focus is on the
object of concentration in an almost trancelike manner - whether the
object is a lotus, one's own breathing, or a television program. But to
be mindful of something is to think about it and observe it carefully.
It is not only to focus on a television program, but to comprehend its
content. It is not only to block out everything but breathing; it is to
observe what the breathing is like and attempt to learn something about

Gaining the skill of mindfulness is the first step of insight
meditation. The most common methods prescribed to develop mindfulness
are: walking mindfulness, sitting mindfulness, and mindfulness of daily

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