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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 54  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 41-46

Meditation and its practice in Vedic scriptures and early Taoism scriptures


1 Division of Yoga and Humanities, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
2 Center for India-China People to People Exchange Studies, Yunnan Minzu University, Kunming, Yunnan, China
3 Yoga and Spirituality, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission20-Apr-2022
Date of Acceptance30-May-2022
Date of Web Publication30-Jun-2022

Correspondence Address:
Zanyi Wang
Division of Yoga and Humanities, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana, Bengaluru, Karnataka
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ym.ym_48_22

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  Abstract 


Meditation is one of the oldest spiritual practices in ancient India and China. It refers to a process of purifying the mind through a series of practices, developing inner wisdom to attain spiritual freedom. In ancient Indian Vedic scriptures, meditation practice was described as the initial practice of Dhāraṇ ā (concentration) and Dhyāna (meditation), and in ancient Chinese early Taoism scriptures described as Sitting and forgetting, and Fasting of the mind. Various modern scientific studies have proven the physiological and psychological effects of meditation. This study starts with the original concepts of meditation in Vedic and early Taoism scriptures to analyze the origin of thoughts, purposes, practice methods, characteristics, and results; and compare the similarities and differences of both meditation practices.

Keywords: Dhāraṇā, Dhyāna, Vedic scriptures, early Taoism scriptures, Sitting and forgetting, Fasting of the mind


How to cite this article:
Wang Z, Rawat V, Yu X, Panda RC. Meditation and its practice in Vedic scriptures and early Taoism scriptures. Yoga Mimamsa 2022;54:41-6

How to cite this URL:
Wang Z, Rawat V, Yu X, Panda RC. Meditation and its practice in Vedic scriptures and early Taoism scriptures. Yoga Mimamsa [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Aug 9];54:41-6. Available from: https://www.ym-kdham.in/text.asp?2022/54/1/41/348203




  Introduction Top


Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years in India and China; different meditation techniques are recorded in both ancient scriptures.[1] The English word “Meditation” comes from the old French “meditacioun,” which is derived from the Latin verb “meditari,” it can be understood as “to think, contemplate, devise, ponder.”[2] In Vedic scriptures, meditation has been described in the Sanskrit word “Dhyāna (to contemplate, meditate, and think) and with its initial step Dhāraṇā (concentration).”[3] The primary purpose of meditation in Vedic scriptures is to purify the mind and understand the knowledge of the ultimate reality, which is the means to obtain the highest freedom. In early Taoism scriptures, meditation has been described as Sitting and forgetting, and Fasting of the mind; they are the means to realize the reality of “Heaven, Earth, and the Self, exist together, all things and beings and the Self are one (Zhuangzi-Qi Wu Lun)” and finally to achieve the highest freedom.


  Methodology Top


The method of this study was “Comparative research.” This study was conducted to discover the most common concept of meditation and its practices in Vedic and early Taoism scriptures through the literature. The source of literature was divided into two categories: primary sources and secondary sources. Find the original descriptions of meditation need to trace back to the ancient literature; therefore, Vedic scriptures (Śruti and Smṛti) and early Taoism scriptures (Tao Te Ching and Zhuangzi) were classified as primary sources; the secondary sources were taken from classical commentaries, translations, such as Śaṅkarācārya's commentary, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Swami Nikhilananda's translations of Vedic scriptures; Paul Carus and Burton Watson's translations of early Taoism scriptures, along with research papers from modern scholars. With the above supporting primary and secondary sources, this research analyzed the origin of thoughts, purposes, practice methods, characteristics, and results of meditation in both scriptures and compared their similarities and differences.


  Dhāraṇā and Dhyāna in Vedic Scriptures Top


There are two types of Vedic scriptures: Śruti and Smṛti. Śruti means “that which is heard.”[4] The authors of Śrutis are unknown as most early Indian scriptures because there is no human author, the knowledge received by ancient Indian seers came from the mouth of BRAHMA-the creator of this world. This unique authorship is called Apauruṣeya.[5] Smṛti means “that which is remembered,” it can be understood as a secondary derivative work fluid and freely rewritten by anyone in the ancient and medieval Hindu tradition.[6] Although the vague idea of meditation appeared in Brāhmaṇas and āraṇyakas, such as the interiorization of Vedic fire rituals into meditation (Prana agnihotra), but not clear, it became more apparent in Upaniṣad. More than 200 late Śrutis that deal with religious doctrines, spiritual, philosophical, and ontological knowledge are named Upaniṣad.[7],[8] Muktikā Upaniṣad declares that 108 Upaniṣads are known.[9] Śaṅkarācārya wrote elaborate commentaries on 10 of them; therefore, they are considered major Upanishads.[10] The word “Dhyāna” first clearly appeared is in Chāndogya Upaniṣad; this Upaniṣad glorified meditation as undoubtedly superior to intelligence; the earth, the space, the space between earth and heaven, heaven, water, mountains, Gods, and human beings seem to be meditating (Ch. Up. 7.6.1). Here, meditation can be seen as a mental activity leading to Brahman. In Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad, Sage Yajnavalkya says that through hearing the teaching, reflecting on that knowledge, then practicing meditation, one can realize that liberating truth (Br. Up. 4.5.6). Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad has given a clear description of the states of consciousness: waking (Jagrat), dream (Svapnam), deep sleep (Suṣupti), and the fourth state-transcendence (Turiya) (Ma. Up. 2-7). One has to go beyond the first three stages, meditate on AUM, and finally reach Brahman. Kaṭha Upaniṣad pointed out that AUM is the highest supreme Brahman (Ka. Up. 1.2.15-16). Praṣna Upaniṣad described the result of Meditation on “AUM” can achieve inner peace and thus accepting the knowledge of Brahman. The mediator can gain the knowledge of Brahman (Brahmavidyā), become free from all suffering, sin, and fear, and enter the world of Brahman, which is calm, immortal, and fearless (Pr. Up. 5.2-5.7). Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad takes the Upaniṣads as the bow, meditation as the arrow, true knowledge as the goal; AUM as the bow, Self as the arrow, and Brahman as the goal (Mu. Up. 2.2.3-2.2.4) that can be understood as meditation leads to true knowledge, and the final goal is Brahman. Maitrayaniya Upaniṣad describes the importance of AUM, the body is the bow, the AUM is the arrow, the mind is the point, and cut through the darkness, which consists of ignorance to reach the highest immortal, brilliant Brahman through Meditation (Mai. Up. 6.24), and also says one who meditates on AUM-the manifest greatness of Brahman with austerity and true knowledge will attain Brahman (Mai. Up. 4.4). These Upaniṣads described the result of meditation upon AUM as the means for achieving the ultimate reality-Brahman.

In Mandala Brahmana Upaniṣad, the definition of Dhāraṇā is the mind having been drawn away from the objects of the senses and fixing of the Chaitanya (consciousness) on one alone; Dhyāna is the contemplation of the oneness of consciousness in all objects, and further declared Samādhi is forgotten of oneself in Dhyāna. The person who thus knows the eight parts of Yoga attains freedom. Not being troubled by any thoughts of the word then constitutes the Dhyāna (Man. Br. Up. 1.1 and 2.2). Amrita Nādā Upaniṣad used a metaphor to explain the characteristics of Dhāraṇā, the mediator as the blind, hearing sounds like the deaf, and seeing the body like wood (Am. Na. Up. 15-16). Brahma Upaniṣad says that Dhyāna is the practice that leads to God (Br. Up. 22). The concepts Dhāraṇā and Dhyāna became more precise in these Upaniṣads.

In Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad, the practice of meditation is defined as yoga. It sets requirements for the posture, process, and environment of meditation: The body should be kept stable and straight, mastery over the mind, turn the senses inward, and control the breath setting to stay calm and not be disturbed by the outside; The environment should keep enough distance from the wind, that should be clean, free from pebbles, fire and gravel, no interference from water sound and other objects (Sh. Up. 2.8-2.15). Dhyāna Bindu Upaniṣad explained that Dhyāna is infinite and subtle, and AUM is a way of meditation. By meditating on the three sounds of A, U, and M, one can realize the supreme AUM (Dh. Bi. Up. 1-4). Kaivalya Upaniṣad emphasized the three states of consciousness along with the meditation on AUM; one must see the Self (ātman) in all beings and all beings in the Self (Kai. Up. 10-15). Iśa Upaniṣad asserts that one who perceives all beings in the Self, and the Self in all beings, does not entertain any hatred on account of that perception (Iśa. Up. 6). After meditation, the individual realizes that the Self and Brahman are one and the same, and the body is only the manifestation of Brahman. Freedom is the nature of the Self, really speaking, the self does not need to be free because the nature of the Self is ever free. The distance between the Self and Brahman is not the distance between time and space but the distance between knowledge (vidyā) and ignorance (avidyā). The Self is bound by ignorance, and meditation through knowledge of Brahman (Brahmavidyā) one attains Brahman. Upaniṣads described two types of freedom, getting free while living (Jīvanmuki) (Br. Up. 4.4.8) and getting free after death (Videhamukti) (Ch. Up. 8.4.3); both of them attain Brahman.


  Practices of DhāRaṇā and DhyāNa in Vedic Scriptures Top


Some Śrutis declared Dhāraṇā and Dhyāna with other practices as the limbs of yoga. In Dhyāna Bindu Upaniṣad, āsana (posture), Prāṇāyāma (breath control), Pratyāhāra (Sense withdrawal), Dhāraṇā, Dhyāna, and Samādhi (freedom) are the six limbs of Yoga (Dh. Bi. Up. 41); Tejo Bindu Upaniṣad described Dhāraṇā and Dhyāna with Prāṇāyāma, Pratyāhāra, ātma Dhyāna (Meditaion upon ātman), and Samādhi are the six limbs of Yoga (Te. Bi. Up. 16 and 36), one thing needs to be noticed is, here Dhyāna is the giver of ultimate happiness; in Yoga Tattva Upaniṣad, Dhāraṇā and Dhyāna are the limbs of Haṭha yoga with Yama (Self-restraints), Niyama (Fixed observation or rules), āsana, Prāṇāyāma, Pratyāhāra, and Samādhi, they are the states of equality (Yo. Ta. Up. 24-25), and specially mentioned that Dhyāna as the contemplation on Hari in the middle of the eyebrows; in Amrita Nādā Upaniṣad, Dhāraṇā and Dhyāna with Pratyāhāra, Prāṇāyāma, Tarka (inquiry), and Samādhi as the six limbs of Yoga (Am. Na. Up. 6). From these Upaniṣads, although other limbs are slightly changed, Dhāraṇā and Dhyāna are fixed two limbs of Yoga lead to Samādhi.

In Smṛti, Lord Krishna elaborated on Dhyāna Yoga with its preparation, posture, the essential requirement, and the feature for the meditator in Bhagavad Gītā' s sixth chapter: the practice should choose a clean, firm, moderately height place; the straw mat, the deerskin, and the soft cloth are placed from bottom to top in order; sit down and focus on the meditation object, control the senses and purify the mind; the posture should sit steady, keep the body, head, and neck in a straight line, gaze at the tip of the nose, keep the mind calm and fearless, maintain abstinence, think about “I” as the ultimate goal, and take the mind away from other things; The meditator should not overeat, no hunger strike, and no snooze, should maintain a moderate diet and other activities, and live consciously. The characteristic of the meditator is like a lamp; it should not tremble even in the wind; the perfect practitioner realizes the existence of ātman; one gains fullness and no longer attaches to other things. This fullness will not be affected by grief. Based on it, it will no longer waver (BG. 6.11-6.22). Like many other Upaniṣads, Lord Krishna glorified the perfect practitioner who sees the Self in all beings, sees all beings in themselves and treats everything equally (BG.6.29-6.30). These elaborations could be understood as a summary of the meditation practice from Upaniṣads.

Patañjali's Yoga Sūtra described Dhyāna as one of the methods to remove obstacles in the mind (PYS 1.39) and the means to remove modifications of the afflictions (Kleśa) in the initial state (PYS 2.11); Dhāraṇā and Dhyāna are the sixth and seventh limbs with Yama, Niyama, āsana, Prāṇāyāma, Pratyāhāra, and Samādhi in Aṣṭāṅga Yoga (PYS 2.29), and lead to Samādhi. The last three limbs together are called Saṁyama (holding together), which are more internal than the first five. Dhāraṇā has been defined as binding the mind to one place (PYS 3.1), and Dhyāna is the uninterrupted stream of content of consciousness (PYS 3.2). Here, Dhyāna can be understood as the “single flow of thought”; finally, the result of Dhyāna was described as free from stored impressions and the play of karma (PYS 4.6). Śaṅkarācārya distinguished Dhyāna from Dhāraṇā in Yoga Sūtra commentary; he believes that Dhāraṇā is focused on one single object but is aware of its many aspects and ideas of the same object. Dhyāna is the state of Yoga only when there is a stream of continuous thought about the object, uninterrupted by other thoughts of a different kind for the same object.[11] Swami Vivekananda explains the state of Dhyāna: “When the mind has been trained to remain fixed on a certain internal or external location, there comes to it the power of flowing in an unbroken current, as it were, towards that point.”[12]

Although Yoga Sūtra did not give the practice details of meditation, other yoga śāstras are elaborate on it: Śiva Saṁhitā explained that meditation practice on different chakras to awaken the kuṇḍalinī in the body and enter the highest state of freedom (S. S 5.43-5.56); similar ideas could be found in Yogakuṇḍalinī Upaniṣad (3.1-3.11), meditation with Melana mantras (Hrim, Bham, Sam, Sham, Pham, Sam) on different Chakras; Haṭhayogapradīpikā recommends the practice of Nādānusandhāna-meditation upon the inner sound (Nādā) (HYP 4.93); a similar concept can be found in Nādā Bindu Upaniṣad, the meditator concentrates upon the particular inner sound to remove outside disturbs (Nā. Bi. Up. 26-54); Gheraṇḍa Saṁhitā described three stages of Dhyāna as (1) Sthūla Dhyāna-meditation upon gross forms to visualize in great detail, such as Guru or God; (2) Jyotirmaya Dhyāna-meditation upon luminous objects, such as divine light or particular chakras; and (3) Sūkṣma Dhyāna-meditation upon subtle objects, such as Brahma, or Bindu and the awakened kuṇḍalinī force (G. S. 6.l-3). After these meditation practices, the successful meditator has merged with the real Self and finally reaches Samādhi.[13]


  Sitting and Forgetting, and Fasting of the Mind in Early Taoism Scriptures Top


Meditation and its practice can also be seen in Early Taoism scriptures. Taoism (or Daoism) is an ideological system built around Tao (or Dao). Tao is one of the most fundamental concepts of Chinese philosophy, which consists of the Ultimate Reality, source, and substance of all existence.[14] Early Taoism is mainly focused on philosophical discussion, and Later Taoism is primarily focused on religious practice and the pursuit of physical immortality. Tao Te Ching (or Dao De Jing) and Zhuangzi (or Nanhua Jing) are the early Taoism scriptures. Tao Te Ching is the main classic work of Taoism written by the Taoism founder– Laozi (also known as Lao Tzu, 600 BC?), with around 5,000 Chinese characters in 81 chapters. Zhuangzi, written by the Taoism philosopher– Zhuangzi (also known as Chuang-tzu, or Zhuang Zhou, 369BC-286BC), includes seven “inner chapters,” fifteen “outer chapters,” and eleven “miscellaneous chapters.”

In Tao Te Ching, Tao has been described as the Ultimate Reality; Laozi believes that the process of exploring Tao is the process of exploring the Self. Zhuangzi inherited the thoughts of Laozi and further explained the Self and the relationship between Tao and the Self. Zhuangzi put forward the idea of oneness and explored the Taoism meditation methods-Sitting and forgetting, and Fasting of the mind. Oneness is a practice idea from Laozi's “embracing the One”: One should keep Body, Spirit, and Nature together as One and never separate them (Tao Te Ching, Chapter 10). In Laozi's view, “One” is the ultimate reality – Tao, the foundation for all things in the world and the essence of everything. Zhuangzi inherited this idea and said, “I hold on oneness, and balance of Yin and Yang (Zhuangzi-Zai You).” This method emphasizes closing the cognition function of vision, hearing, and even perception to concentrate on “One.” The goal is to achieve a state that transcends time, space, life, and death. The characteristics of the state of meditation are “the body should become like dead wood, mind like burnt-out cinders (Zhuangzi-Qi Wu Lun).” It compares the deadwood to the body and the burnt-out cinders to the state of mind to indicate meditators do not need to attach to the body, mind, and sense complex.

The practice of Sitting and forgetting means the body posture should be sitting steady, and the mind should be peaceful. Zhuangzi says, “I slough off my limbs and trunk, dim my intelligence, depart from my form, leave knowledge behind, and become identical with the Transformational Thoroughfare (Zhuangzi-Da Zong Shi).”[15] The “slough off limbs and trunk” is to forget the limitations of the body, and the “dim intelligence” is to forget the mind; therefore, “He who forgets himself is in perfect harmony with the universe (Zhuangzi-Qi Wu Lun).” Zhuangzi further emphasized forgetting: “to forget the order of things is to forget oneself (Zhuangzi– Tian Di). The practice of Siting and forgetting is a step-by-step process that can be divided into three steps: body adjustment, breath adjustment, and mind adjustment;[16] This is not a state of complete emptiness and mindlessness but a state of mind connected to Tao after getting free of all the bondages.[17]

Zhuangzi explains the Fasting of the mind with the importance of “listening”: “You should get completely focused, need not listen with your ears but listen with your mind; need not even listen to your mind but listen to Qi. Listening stops at the ears, and the mind reaches only what fits it. Qi is empty and accommodates all external things. Only Tao gathers in the empty, and the emptiness and peacefulness bring about the pure state of mind, which is the Fasting of the mind (Zhuangzi-Ren Jian Shi).” Zhuangzi emphasized the concentration of the mind on the Qi is to make the mind empty, tranquil, and discriminate. Sitting and forgetting is to be practiced for mastery over the mind, free from all the restraints, and Fasting of the mind is practiced to lead the mind to become spirit pure and clear, to get the highest freedom. Zhuangzi called those who attain freedom are the realized person. The characters of the realized person of ancient times are “those who slept without dreaming and woke without care; who knew nothing of loving life and hated death. In being one, he was acting as a companion of Heaven. In not being one, he was working as a companion of a man. When man and Heaven do not defeat each other, we may be said to have a realized person (Zhuangzi-Da Zong Shi);” he considered the person who can reach Tao is the best among human beings.[18] Personality independence and spiritual freedom are the core of Zhuangzi's philosophy.[19] This freedom is not to escape from the real life but to achieve freedom in the real life.


  Practices of Sitting and Forgetting and Fasting of the Mind in Early Taoism Scriptures Top


The practice methods of Sitting and forgetting and Fasting of the mind emphasize the common purpose of achieving spiritual freedom. However, they are different in practice. Sitting and forgetting approaches for getting all the worldly things and reaching a state of spiritual mastery. The “forgetting” is not only forgetting about “names and forms” but also forgetting about the “benevolence, righteousness, and rituals.” Fasting of the mind refers to establishing a pure state of mind; Sitting and forgetting focus on forgetting the perception of the objects of the sense, whereas Fasting of the mind focuses on removing activities and eliminating desires. With these approaches, any external stimulus will no longer affect the real self, the practitioner finally escaping from the bondage and attaining Tao.

Zhuangzi described Sitting and forgetting in short words; later, Taoism practitioners developed, supplemented, and perfected his thoughts and formed a set of systematic practice rules. According to Zhuangzi's thoughts, one of the great Taoism masters-Sima Chengzhen (647-735AD), proposed a specific practice method and wrote the text-”Discussions on Sitting and Forgetting.” He divided the practice of Sitting and forgetting into seven levels: (1) Respect and Faith, (2) Interception of karma, (3) Restraining the Mind, (4) Detachment from Affairs, (5) True Observation, (6) Intense Concentration, and (7) Realizing the Tao. Respect and Faith is the first step to the Tao, which means the first condition is to respect and believe in it; Interception of karma refers to detaching the relationship with people and worldly objects; Restraining the Mind is to keep quiet and consciously stabilize the mind; Detachment from Affairs means that the practitioner should live simply, detach the undeserved reputation and wealth in life; True Observation refers that only by taking Restraining the Mind and Detachment from Affairs, then one can reach this step, there is no mind to gain or lose; Intense Concentration indicates that the shape of the meditator should like dead wood, the mind is like burnt-out cinders, the mind has nothing to remember and worries about, and anything happened will not disturb; Realizing the Tao is the result of the previous six steps of practices. The achievement of the Tao is the unity of mind and spirit and the integration of heaven and earth.[20] At this stage, Tao, form, and spirit merged into one.

Zhuangzi pointed out that the essence of Fasting of the mind is to concentrate, not to listen with ears but with the mind to experience Qi. It makes the mind without distractions and contains everything, detaches senses and external objects to maintain inner harmony, and be emptying, tranquility, and discrimination. These are the essential characteristics of Fasting of the mind. At the same time, the three are related to each other. Emptying can contain things, tranquility can think deeply, and discrimination can reach enlightenment. The practice of Fasting the mind on the surface seems to be a certain kind of Un-worldly, but it is actually another kind of Worldly.[21] To achieve the realm of freedom is life and death, one unity of all things, and absolute freedom.[22] The spirit of “freedom” flows everywhere in the thoughts of Zhuangzi. It is an early form in the pursuit of human freedom, and it will also become the ultimate belonging of the human spirit.[23]


  A Brief Analysis of the Meditation Practices in Both Scriptures Top


Origin of thoughts

These origins of the thoughts of meditation started from the Śrutis and Tao Te Ching, developed in Smṛtis and Zhuangzi. The major Upaniṣads were composed in the 800-300 BCE range;[8] and the early Taoism scriptures were written in the 600-300 BCE.[24] The German philosopher Karl Jaspers named this period “Axial Age.” During this time, new ways of thinking developed parallel in religion and philosophy in India, China, Persia, and later in the Greco-Roman world.[25] This is the common time background for these origin thoughts. The difference is that the Śrutis are Apaurusheya, the ancient seers are considered receivers, and the early Taoism scriptures are human thinking. Still, in Zhuangzi's text, he did not attribute all the knowledge to himself but to the words of other great people.

Purpose

These two series of meditation practices are no different in purpose; both are meant for mastery over the mind and with the purified mind to get the knowledge of the ultimate reality and finally achieve the highest freedom.

Practice methods

Both approaches are to sit appropriately, free from disturbance. Dhāraṇā is the preparation state of Dhyāna; the continuous practice of Dhyāna leads to Samādhi. According to Upaniṣads and Yoga Sūtra, Dhāraṇā should be practiced before Dhyāna in order; in some Upaniṣads and Yoga śāstras, particular objects were suggested for concentration, such as sound, idols, chakras, divine lights, etc., to help the Dhāraṇā practice. Zhuangzi did not mention that Sitting and forgetting should be practiced before the Fasting of the mind and did not suggest any objects to concentrate on. However, we think if Sitting and forgetting can be done appropriately with particular objects will help the practice of Fasting of the mind more easily.

Characteristics

The characteristics of the ideal state of both meditation practices are also highly similar; in Vedic scriptures, the meditator should be like the blind, hearing sounds like the deaf, and seeing the body like wood, the meditator should be like a lamp and not tremble even in the wind; the meditator who sees the Self in all beings, sees all beings in themselves and treats everything equally; in Zhuangzi, the meditator should be like the deadwood to the body and the burnt-out cinders to the state of mind; he emphasized the importance of emptying, tranquility, and discrimination through the concentration of the mind on Qi.

Both scriptures compared the body to wood to show that the body should be steady and the mind should not be disturbed; Zhuangzi emphasized the concentration of the mind on Qi, the concept of Qi in early Taoism scriptures is similar to Prana in Vedic scriptures; The idea of “sees the Self in all beings, sees all beings in themselves and treats everything equally” from Vedic scriptures is similar to Zhuangzi's “Heaven, Earth, and the Self, exist together, all things and beings and the Self are one.”

Results

After these meditation practices, the body becomes steady, and the mind becomes calm, tranquil, and pure; the perfect meditator merged with the ultimate reality. In both scriptures, Brahman and Tao are the Ultimate Reality, that is the final goal; both share the same desire for spiritual freedom, and both describe the person who got freedom; they are called Jivanmukti and Videhamukti in Upaniṣads, and the realized person in Zhuangzi; no matter what the title is, all of them attain freedom. Upaniṣads and Zhuangzi both believe obtaining freedom is possible in this life; the difference is that Zhuangzi did not mention getting free after death; in Zhuangzi's thought, freedom is the spiritual transcendence of suffering in this world and this life. Therefore, he did not mention getting free from rebirth.


  Conclusion Top


The meditation practices of Dhāraṇā and Dhyāna, Sitting and forgetting, and Fasting of the mind all come from ancient Eastern philosophy and culture; these are the treasures of the wisdom of ancient Eastern; from the last past thousands of years, meditation has spread to the other Asian and Western countries, even all over the world, accompanying increased communication among cultures worldwide, as the inheritance of spiritual civilization, whether it is now or in the future, it is not only of great significance to the development of both countries' culture and thought, but also very precious to the spiritual growth and social progress of humanity. Tracing the roots to understand the inheritance of meditation from ancient scriptures will help better study the ancient Eastern philosophy and culture.


  Endnote Top


Primary sources

In this study, Śrutis are taken from:

  1. The Major Upaniṣads: Iśa, Kena, Kaṭha, Praṣna, Muṇḍaka, Māṇḍūkya, Taittiriya, Aitareya, Chāndogya, and Bṛhadāraṇyaka
  2. The other Upaniṣads: Maitrayaniya, Mandala Brahmana, Amrita Nādā, Brahma, Śvetāśvatara, Dhyāna Bindu, Kaivalya, Tejo Bindu, Yoga Tattva, Yogakuṇḍalinī.


In this study, Smṛtis are taken from:

Bhagavad Gītā, Yoga Sūtra, Śiva Saṁhitā, Haṭhayogapradīpikā, Gheraṇḍa Saṁhitā.

In this study, Early Taoism scriptures are taken from:

  1. Tao Te Ching
  2. Zhuangzi-Qi Wu Lun, Da Zong Shi, Tian Di.


Secondary sources of translations

In this study: Upaniṣads translations are taken references from Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1953) and Swami Nikhilananda (1949-1959); Bhagavad Gītā translations are taken references from Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1949); Yoga Sūtra translations are taken references from Swami Satyananda Saraswati (2013); Śiva Saṁhitā translations are taken references from Rai Bahadur Srisa Chandra Vasu (2012); Haṭhayogapradīpikā translations are taken references from Swami Muktibodhananda (2008); Gheranda Samhitā translations are taken references from Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati (2013); Tao Te Ching translations are taken references from Paul Carus (1898); Zhuangzi translations are taken references from Burton Watson (1964); Discussions on Sitting and Forgetting translations are taken references from Kohn, Livia (1988).

The references for the translations are:

  1. Sarvepalli R. The Principal Upanishads. London: George, Allen & Unwin; 1953.
  2. Nikhilananda S. The Upanishads. Vol. 1, 2, 3, 4. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers; Vol. 1-1949, Vol.2-1952, Vol.3-1956, Vol.4-1959.
  3. Radhakrishnan S. The Bhagavadgītā. New York: Harper & Row; 1949.
  4. Saraswati SS. Four Chapters on Freedom. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust; 2013.
  5. Vasu RB. Śiva Saṁhitā Text with English Translation. Varanasi: Indian Mind; 2012.
  6. Muktibodhananda S. Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust; 2008.
  7. Saraswati SN. Gheranda Samhitā. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust; 2013.
  8. Carus P, editor. Lao-Tze's Tao-Teh-King: Chinese-English, with Introduction, Transliteration, and Notes. Chicago: Open Court Publishing Company; 1898.
  9. Watson B. Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings. New York & London: Columbia University Press; 1964.
  10. Kohn L. Seven Steps to the Tao: Sima Chengzhen's Zuowang lun. Monumenta Serica Monograph Series XX. Sankt Augustin: Steyler Verlag; 1988.


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