Analytical Meditation

Why We Need Analytical Meditation

When it comes to Buddhism, we may know a lot, yet not have meditated on it properly.

  • Just knowing the teachings doesn’t produce the internal transformation that analytical meditation does.
  • Analytical meditation is indispensable for generating realizations.
  • We may have temporary experiences, forms of belief or correct assumption; these are positive, but unstable.
  • The way to make these sudden flashes of understanding stable is to familiarize ourselves with them through analytical meditation.
  • Experiences that arise from analytical meditation are valid and stable.
  • Analytical meditation is not studying the teachings in a dry, academic way; it means thinking deeply about the Dharma and applying it to our own lives.
  • Analytical meditation also involves checking the teaching to see if it is logically consistent, if it describes our experience, if it is more realistic and beneficial than our usual way of thinking.

If we only listen to (or read) Dharma teachings, our understanding is at the level of listening only.

  • We’ve not yet validated it with our own inner experience.
  • We’ve not yet made it firm through contemplation and analytical meditation.

The Danger of Becoming Immune to the Dharma

If we’ve read and heard many teachings without familiarizing ourselves with them and experiencing them through meditation, we can become immune to the Dharma.

  • When this happens, our mind becomes tougher and tougher, even though we know a lot.
  • Instead of our mind becoming subdued, it gets worse.
  • In contrast, if we have not become immune to Dharma, our mind becomes more flexible and open-minded, more receptive and appreciative of the teachings.
  • This being immune to the Dharma is difficult to cure, so we should try to avoid this happening to us.

How to Do Analytical Meditation

How do we do analytical meditation? Using the example of meditating on our precious human life:

  • The topic includes identifying the characteristics of a precious human life, seeing its value, and knowing its rarity and difficulty to attain.
    • We think about each of the 18 characteristics one by one.
    • We recognize the advantages of each freedom and fortune.
    • We think about quotations from the Buddha or other sages on the topic.
    • We look at our own experience and recognize our potential.
  • By familiarizing ourselves with this topic consistently over time, we begin to feel from our heart that we are unbelievably fortunate, that our life is very meaningful, and that it would be a pity to waste it on meaningless activities.
  • As we engage in this analytical meditation, our understanding becomes more firm, more stable.

The Buddha said we should not just take his word on anything, but check its truth by way of three types of analyses. He used the analogy of buying gold:

  • First, check for obvious faults by rubbing the gold.
  • Next, check for less obvious faults by cutting it.
  • Finally, check for the subtlest impurities by burning it.

In this way, you make your understanding firm through reasoning, and do not believe on faith alone.

See also How to Do Analytical Meditation.

The Diagram

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