Sid Kemp, Spiritual practitioner learning from all religions for over 40 years.
Buddhists do not believe that, alone, meditation leads to enlightenment.
Enlightenment is an English translation of the quality of Buddha, which means one who is awake and aware. In particular, we are awake and aware to the relationship between our actions and our suffering. Then we apply common sense and we stop doing things that cause us to suffer.
Everyone has some suffering in life. To be “enlightened”means to have a lot less because we don’t make more suffering for ourselves or for others.
We do this by doing eight things, and meditation is only two of the eight things. These eight things are a very common-sense way of living called the eightfold path:
- Effective view. We look at life to see how it really works, especially inside ourselves.
- Effective intent: We intend harmless love; we want well-being for all. We let go of any other intentions, such as greed, fear, avoidance, or vengeance.
- Effective speech: We speak truth kindly in useful ways.
- Effective action: We perform deeds that are helpful, not harmful.
- Effective livelihood: We make a living without harming ourselves or others.
- Effective effort: We focus our free time on the work of learning how to eliminate suffering and eliminating suffering:
- Effective mindfulness: We meditate in that we pay attention to what is happening, and what the results of our thoughts, feelings, words, and deeds are.
- Effective concentration: We meditate more deeply, in deep stillness, so we are free to keep or let go of any thought or feeling.
Having done these, we have self-control. We apply this in common sense with the four effective efforts:
- We don’t do things that cause suffering.
- If we are doing something that causes suffering, we stop.
- We start doing healthy, beneficial things.
- We do more healthy, beneficial things.
In the awareness that arises from meditation, we gain the skill to carefullly select and tweak our thoughts, feelings, words, and actions to create lives free of anxiety and suffering and full of healthy vitality, joy, and peace.