Practice of Mahāyāna Buddhism

Mahāyāna Monk meditating

This overview is about meditation techniques, their significance and development in general in different Mahāyāna & Vajrayāna Buddhist schools. In the Theravāda tradition, meditation techniques are classified as Śamatha or Vipassana. Chinese and Japanese Buddhism preserved a wide range of meditation techniques, which go back to early Buddhism, most notably Sarvāstivāda. In Tibetan Buddhism, deity yoga includes visualisations, which precede the realization of Śūnyatā ("emptiness")

Dhyāna | Jhāna

In the oldest texts of Buddhism, Dhyāna (Sanskrit: ध्यान) or Jhāna (Pāḷi: झान) is the training of the mind, commonly translated as meditation, to withdraw the mind from the automatic responses to sense-impressions, and leading to a "state of perfect equanimity and awareness. Dhyāna is the core practice of Buddhism, in combination with several related practices which together lead to perfected Mindfulness and detachment.

Buddha statue, Thailand

Buddhānusmṛti (Pāḷi: buddhānussati), meaning "Buddha-mindfulness", is a common Buddhist practice in all Buddhist traditions which involves meditating with a Buddha, such as Gautama Buddha, Historical Buddhas or Mahāyāna Buddha-aspects, as the meditation subject. In all Buddhist countries chanting and devotion (Bhaṭṭi) is a big part of lay and monastic Buddhist practice, and devotional chants which praise the qualities of the Buddha are widely used.

Celestial Buddhas

The term Celestial Buddha has no precise equivalent in Sanskrit (nor in Chinese or Tibetan), yet it can serve as a convenient label for those Buddhas who are presently living and teaching in worlds other than our own and into whose lands believers may aspire to be reborn. Conditions in these lands are portrayed as idyllic, comparable in many respects to Buddhist Heavens;

Śamatha (Tibetan: Śiné) is a Buddhist term that is often translated as the "tranquillity of the Mind", or "Mind-calmness". Tibetan writers usually define Śamatha practice as when one's Mind remains fixed on a single object without moving. A number of Mahāyāna sūtras address Śamatha, usually in conjunction with Vipassanā. The successful result of Śamatha is characterized as samādhi and freedom from the 5 obstructions

Vipassanā (Pāḷi) or Vipaśyanā (Sanskrit) literally "special, super (Vi), seeing (Passanā)", is a Buddhist term that is often translated as "insight". In Tibetan, Vipassanā is Lhaktong: This may be interpreted as a "superior way of seeing", or "seeing the essential nature." It is often defined as a practice that seeks "insight into the true nature of reality", defined as Śūnyatā ("Emptiness") or Buddha-nature.

Sati (Sanskrit: smṛti) is mindfulness or awareness, a spiritual or psychological faculty (indriya) that forms an essential part of Buddhist practice. In the Satipaṭṭhāna-sutta the term Sati means to maintain awareness of reality, where sense-perceptions are understood to be illusions and thus the true nature of phenomena can be seen. The arising of Sati calls to mind the wholesome dhammas, the attainment of Insight.

Ānāpānasati (Pāḷi; Sanskrit Ānāpānasmṛti), meaning "mindfulness of breathing" ("sati" means mindfulness; "ānāpāna" refers to inhalation and exhalation), is a form of Buddhist meditation originally taught by Gautama Buddha in several Suttas including the Ānāpānasati Sutta. Simply defined, Ānāpānasati is to feel the sensations caused by the movements of the breath in the body as is practiced in the context of mindfulness meditation.

Mahāvairocana (Dainichi Buddha)

The Mantra of Light, also called the Mantra of the Unfailing Rope Snare, is an important mantra of the Shingon and Kegon schools of Buddhism. In its syllables, the entire power of the omnipresent Mahāvairocana (Dainichi Buddha) manifests. Both the Mantra of Light and the Nembutsu were often incorporated by Medieval Buddhists at one time or another, often in the same service.

Probably the best purification practice, according to Tibetan Buddhism, is meditation on Dorje Sempa and repetition of his mantra. This is also the second part of the preliminary practices in all four traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. Dorje Sempa (in Tibetan: Dorje Sempa, Sanskrit: Vajrasattva) or how we often call him in english – Diamond Mind – is considered a Boddhisattva in Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.