Should I Practise Non-Buddhist Meditation?

Question: Is it alright for Buddhists to practise a ‘third eye meditation’ technique that I came across? There is no reference to the Buddha’s teachings though.

Answer:  Here are thoughts to share on this, using mindfulness of Amituofo (Pure Land practice) as a comparative reference.

1. This meditation is a Hindu-related (non-Buddhist; and/or even New Age) practice linked to belief in God (which the Buddha clearly taught to be a delusion: http://thedailyenlightenment.com/2012/03/the-buddhas-victory-over-a-god-demon) and belief in soul (which the Buddha also taught to be a delusion: http://thedailyenlightenment.com/2009/07/what-is-you-yours-or-your-self)

2. On the idea that third eye meditation might lead to supernormal powers, the Buddha warned against the attainment or strife for supernormal powers when one is not well developed in compassion and wisdom yet. Such powers tend to amplify one’s greed, hatred and delusion, which leads to the creation of much negative karma, while creating the illusion that one is well accomplished spiritually when it is not the case. E.g. Gods have the power to read minds, but it does not mean they are wiser than the Buddha. The only 100% safe place to have supernormal powers is Pure Land, as empowered by Amituofo (the presiding Buddha) for us to learn better with them.

3. Life is too short to be mindful of too many things, to practise too many non-Buddhist techniques. Nothing is safer and more urgent than the practice of mindfulness of Amituofo because life will end and it can end any time. Even if one has some visions via other meditations, they do not guarantee birth in Pure Land, while they are likely to distract us away from mindfulness of Amituofo that leads to Pure Land. Third eye meditation, even if it works, cannot lead to Pure Land, where superior and complete supernormal powers are guaranteed.

4. There is suggestion of the ability to see many masters through third eye meditation, including the Buddha. This is typical of the Hindu (and New Age) belief that all masters teach the same things. This is not true. E.g. the Buddha clearly taught his teachings to be distinct: http://thedailyenlightenment.com/2011/09/should-we-see-only-inter-religious-similarities – even from Brahminism in his time, which evolved to be Hinduism. There continues to be many ideas in Hinduism that do not gel with Buddhism. This is important to note as we choose to be Buddhists because we clearly see the supremacy of the Buddha’s teachings in perfect compassion and wisdom, and take refuge in them.

5. About getting the ability to see other realities through third eye meditation, this might be delusional hallucination due to the mind playing tricks. In Buddhism, it is not taught to be easy to attain the divine eye. Being able to see other realities, such as that of ghosts and hells can be terrifying too, with life-changing effect, for those lacking in compassion and wisdom. The hearing of voices mentioned can be a symptom of, or lead to schizophrenia. In the Ksitigarabha Sutra, it was mentioned that to see another realm, not that it is a must unless there is a real need, it can be done through mindfulness of Buddha, which is safe too, as there is connection to the Buddha’s blessings. The Buddhist way to get inspired answers from the Buddha is directly through nianfo. Any vision of the Buddha when not practising mindfulness of Buddha can be due to hallucination or demonic manifestation as the vision’s appearance does not follow cause and effect.

6. I know someone who successfully tricked himself into thinking he has the psychic ability to read minds. I know he does not have this ability because he clearly misread my thoughts about him. The terrifying thing is, he really seems to believe he can read minds accurately. This can be damaging to fostering real understanding in relationships through proper communication. If one deludedly believes one already has the truth, how can one work towards the ultimate truth that leads to enlightenment?

7. A disclaimer about third eye meditation mentioned about the possibility of getting temporary migraines through it. I have heard of other unskilled meditators who suffer from dizziness for life, which affects all areas of their lives, making them unable to study or work properly. Note too, that there is zero protection by the Buddha when practising any practice not directly connected to him.

8. It is safest to earnestly be mindful of Buddha (老实念佛), which leads to direct connection to Amituofo. If we have yet to be accomplished in this most skilful and relatively easiest of Dharma practices taught, digression is to prioritise unskilfully, and even possibly dangerously.

Please Be Mindful Of Your Speech, Namo Amituofo!

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