The purpose of meditation is to cultivate states of mind that are conducive to peace and well-being by acquainting our mind with virtue.
With meditation we come to understand that happiness is a state of mind. If our mind is pure and peaceful, then even in the most adverse conditions, the world we experience will be pure and peaceful too.
There are two types of meditation; analytical meditation and placement meditation. Often analytical meditation is referred to as “contemplation” and placement meditation as “meditation”.
Analytical meditation involves contemplating the meaning of a spiritual instruction that we have heard or read. By contemplating such instructions deeply, eventually we reach a definite conclusion or cause a specific virtuous state of mind to arise.
Placement meditation requires us to then concentrate single-pointedly on this conclusion or virtuous state of mind for as long as possible to become deeply acquainted with it.
Placement meditation depends upon analytical meditation, and analytical meditation depends upon listening to or reading spiritual instructions.
Meditation is to develop types of minds that promote happiness and well-being, and to abandon minds that do not.
When we take a close look at our life, we discover that essentially most of our time and energy is devoted to mundane activities, such as seeking material and emotional security, enjoying sensory pleasures, establishing a good reputation and so forth.
Although these things might make us happy for a short time, we need to ask if they are providing the deep lasting contentment that we long for. Is this as good as it gets? Sooner or later, we find that these moments of temporary happiness turn right back into dissatisfaction and once more we find ourselves engaged in the pursuit of more worldly pleasures. And so goes the cycle.
By training in meditation, we create an inner space and clarity that enables us to control our mind regardless of the external circumstances. Gradually we develop mental equilibrium, a balanced mind that is happy all the time, rather than an unbalanced mind that oscillates between the extremes of excitement and despondency.
As happiness and suffering are states of mind, their main causes cannot be found outside the mind; the true source of happiness is inner peace.
The New Kadampa Tradition – International Kadampa Buddhist Union is an international association of Mahayana Buddhist study and Meditation Centres that follow the Kadampa Buddhist Tradition founded by Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.