|Buddha Lotus Painting|
Contrary to common outsider conceptions of monastic life, the place held by meditative practices (here defined as practices involving states of absorbed concentration) within the everyday practices of the average Tibetan Buddhist monk is quite minimal. Indeed, the majority of monks within the Tibetan tradition we are primarily exposed to at the shedra do not or rarely practise meditation of this kind, instead spending the bulk of their monastic time studying different Buddhist texts and engaging in different ritualistic practices. Certainly this revelation serves as a source of surprise for many of us that held rather romanticised ideas of monks and monastic life prior to being exposed to the reality of the tradition. One then has to question the importance of the study of texts and rituals as compared to practising meditation (if a distinction is to be drawn between these kinds of practices).
|Buddha and afflictions|
Depending on a person’s particular inclinations, the conclusion they would arrive at would be different from someone else’s. Speaking only for myself, it would seem to me that the amount of linguistic deliberation involved in trying to encompass and define the non-conceptual reality that is emptiness in many ways seems quite contradictory to the path that should lead to the realisation of the same. This is not to say that there is nothing to be gained from attempts to define the nature of samsara, nirvana, emptiness and other related concepts, but the extent to which this is useful is a matter of important consideration. That monastic life, and by extension the life of modern lay people involved in dedicated practice of the Dharma, should be spent in trying to conceptually understand these realities, as opposed to not only placing emphasis on but actually working towards their direct realisation does appear to leave people no more knowledgeable of the truth of nirvana than indulgence in other kinds of activities.
Such a claim is bound to be controversial, and there is a fair amount of generalisation involved in this article, but without more space to expand on my opinions, consider this to be just some food for thought.
~Wesley from Kenia