Is meditation Buddhist? How does meditation predate Buddhism?

Meditation predates Buddhism and has been practiced in various forms across many cultures and civilizations for thousands of years.. Meditation has been practiced in different forms across various cultures and civilizations, predating the establishment of Buddhism by several centuries. It was practiced by philosophers, thinkers, sages, saints, seekers, and shamans.

It is believed that the earliest evidence of meditation can be traced back to ancient civilizations such as the Indus Valley Civilization in India, and ancient China along with ancient Egypt and ancient Greece, Persia, Africa, and the Americas.

Evidence of meditation practices can be traced back to at least 1500 BCE. This evidence includes descriptions of meditation practices in the Vedas and other Hindu scriptures, as well as evidence of meditation practices in the lives of early sages and saints.

In India, the Upanishads, which were written between 800 and 500 BCE, contain references to meditation as a means of gaining self-knowledge and liberation. The Upanishads describe meditation as a way to still the mind and attain a state of consciousness beyond thought.

Ancient Chinese texts, such as the Tao Te Ching, also contain references to meditation practices. The Tao Te Ching, written around the 6th century BCE, describes meditation as a way to cultivate inner peace and understanding of the natural order. This tradition was deeply influenced by the ancient Chinese philosophical tradition of Taoism, which emphasized the importance of stillness, emptiness, and the pursuit of inner peace and wisdom.

Egyptian civilization also had a form of meditation, called Maat Meditation, which was used to cultivate inner peace and wisdom. Maat Meditation was a form of self-reflection and introspection, and was practiced by both pharaohs and common people.

In ancient Greece, meditation was a part of “eudaimonia,” which was the goal of philosophical inquiry and was considered to be the highest form of happiness and well-being. Meditation practices were widely practiced, particularly among the Stoic philosophers. The Stoics believed that meditation was a way to cultivate inner peace, wisdom, and mental clarity, and that it was essential for living a virtuous life. The Greek philosopher, Socrates, is known to have practiced meditation and encouraged his students to do the same.

In the Persian Empire, meditation was practiced in Zoroastrianism and was used to cultivate inner peace and wisdom. Zoroastrianism emphasized the importance of meditation as a means of attaining self-awareness and enlightenment.

The practice of meditation also existed in ancient Africa, in the form of trance states and rituals. African shamanic practices involved inducing altered states of consciousness through drumming, dancing, and other forms of physical movement, which were considered a form of meditation.

In pre-Columbian America, indigenous cultures also had their own forms of meditation and spirituality. The Aztecs and Mayans practiced various forms of meditation and ritual that involved communing with the natural world and the spirits of the ancestors.

Despite the long history of meditation practices, it is widely accepted that the development of Buddhism was a turning point in the history of meditation. Buddhism, which originated in India in the 5th century BCE, made meditation a central part of its teachings, and it is widely considered to be one of the most systematic and comprehensive traditions of meditation in the world.

I wrote another article which helps you read the most common definitions of meditation (click here to read it)

Make sure to read this article which offers you a simple definition and the one that I use in my practice when I explain what meditation is.

Also, make sure to visit the list here which will help you learn about various types of meditation, from simple concentration, to Buddhist, Christian, and others including hypnosis.


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