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If you wish to really immerse yourself in Vipassana, or insight mediation, perhaps you should look into a Vipassana retreat. If you are new to the whole spiritual retreat experience, the best advice is to check a number of retreat schedules and see which one dove tails best with your personal preferences. Staying on Aussie soil to learn about insight meditation is not compulsory as there are some fantastic Vipassana centres and retreats overseas. The best way to find a Vipassana retreat which suits you is to contact your nearest Vipassana, meditation or Dharma centre.
Victoria Insight Meditation Society is dedicated to supporting the practice and study of Vipassana or Insight Meditation. We welcome everyone whatever their faith, gender, race, abilities, sexual orientation, age or financial means.
I am often asked what the difference is between the major strands of Buddhism - Mahayana, Theravada, Vajrayana and Zen. Goal of religion Becoming a Buddha, hence fulfilling the destiny of a Bodhisattva, enlightenment & inner peace. Practices Meditation, regularly visit to temples to make offerings to the Buddha. Use of statues and pictures Statues are used for meditation and prayers. Means of salvation Becoming a Buddha, through the path of the Bodhisattva.
Attaining Nibbana through the Noble Eightfold Path, thus becoming an Arahant, an awakened one. Concept of Deity There are deities, celestical beings, but nothing like creator gods of theistic religions. Religious Law Dharma is a set of instructions for those willing to follow, not a set of laws. There are no religious laws in Theravada, rather teachings of wisdom, and the Dhamma for those who are seeking liberation. One can marry and lead a moral life but should know that desire, attachments and cravings lead to suffering. Confessing sins Confessing is not relevant, but meditation practice may eliminate negative impressions in mind created by harmful actions. Geographical distribution and predominance Asia, Australia and North America. Human Nature Every human (or any other being) is driven by illusory disturbing emotions, ignorance and ego.
God's role in salvation Mahayanists don't believe in a Supreme Being Who is the Creator of the universe. View of Abrahamic religions There are no specific views of Abrahamic religions in the Mahayana tradition of Buddhism. Introduction main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice. View of theistic religions Mahayana Buddhists respect all beliefs, though they see them as mistaken.
The Buddha stated in doctrine that such theistic ideas and overall organized religion have the potential to drive someone insane, thus causing fanaticism or self-harm. Teachings Mahayana Buddhists usually follow Siddhartha Gautama (The Buddha) or sometimes Amitabha who is a canonical figure, usually described as a celestical Buddha. In modern days,Theravada Buddhism theoretically makes senses due to the fact that it has no super natural beings like Kuan yin and it's more compatible with modern science.
Mahayana Buddhism usually consists of or deals with certain things which were not taught by Buddha while it excludes certain things which Buddha had taught. The Dhamma Talaka Peace Pagoda in Ladywood, Birmingham, is the only purpose built Myanmar style pagoda in the UK and can offer a unique educational and cultural experience to visiting students and groups of all ages. Theravada is a sect of Buddhism, and means "Teaching of the Elders." It focuses primarily on meditation, and seeking to break from the wheel of suffering and entering into Nirvana.
BuddhismTheravadaPlace of worship Buddhist monasteries, temples, shrines. Goal of religion To attain enlightenment and be released from the cycle of rebirth and death, thus attaining Nirvana.
Clergy The Buddhist Sangha, composed of bhikkhus (male monks) and bhikkhunis (female monks). Literal Meaning Buddhists are those who follow the teachings of the Buddha in order to become like the Buddha. Life after death If nirvana isn't attained during life, the aggregates will be renewed into a completely different entity. Belief of God The idea of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent creator is rejected by Buddhists.
Concept of Deity Gods are seen as higher life forms, still bound in samsara. Geographical distribution and predominance Theradava Buddhist countries, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Sri Lanka are the places of predominance of Buddhism. View of the Buddha The highest teacher and the founder of Buddhism, the all-transcending sage. Principle This life is suffering, and the only way to escape from this suffering is to dispel one's cravings and ignorance by realizing the Four Noble Truths and practicing the Eightfold Path.

Scriptures Tripitaka - a vast canon composed of 3 sections: the Discourses, the Discipline and the Commentaries, and some early scriptures, such as the Gandhara texts.
Use of Statues Used as meditation objects, and revered as they reflect the qualities of the Buddha.
What the Teachers Say About Doggie Dharma: Did Buddha Teach That Dogs and Cats Have Buddha Nature?
Science: Research Proves Vajrayana Meditation Techniques Involving Deity Visualization Improve Cognitive Performance and May Be Promising For Degenerative Brain DisordersScience, and in particular the medical profession, has long accepted the positive benefits of all forms or meditation. Drumming for mindfulness and healing: a simple way to calm the mind, remove stress and heal. Zasep Tulku Rinpoche discusses decades of teaching, advice for beginner students and funny stories of his teachers.PART 1 OF A 3-PART FEATURE INTERVIEW WITH VENERABLE ZASEP TULKU RINPOCHE.
A new study from the National University of Singapore, attempts to differentiate the relative benefits of different types of meditation. This may not surprise Vajrayana practitioners, who know just how much of the brain must be activated to stabilize a complex visualization, but it may also be good news for people at risk for Alzheimer’s and other cognitive degenerative disorders.
The study was conducted by Professor Maria Kozhevnikov and Doctor Ido Amihai from the Department of Psychology, and just recently published in the journal PLOS ONE for July 2014. Putting aside the obvious spiritual attainments associated with each path, there are significant differences in health benefits. The complex visualizations required in Vajrayana meditative methods, which can include holding detailed images for long periods of time, dramatically and immediately improve cognitive ability according to research from NUS. Specifically, Samatha and Vipassana meditation (which are also part of Vajrayana foundation practice) were compared to Vajrayana meditations which included visualization and self-generation-as-Deity and Rigpa. By contrast, Theravada style meditation produced improved parasympathetic activity, and a decrease in activation of the sympathetic system.
Vajrayana students have long been taught to anchor their practices in Samatha and Vipassana meditation, then, as they advance in their practice to undertake Deity visualizations. Vajrayana visualization involves holding rich and detailed images of Deities such as White Tara. Interestingly, another term for one branch of Vajrayana is Mantrayana, due to its emphasis on Mantra with visualization.
The study conclusively concludes that even one session of Vajrayana deity visualization meditation brings immediate cognitive improvements.
The test subjects were all practitioners from Nepal, with years of experience in Tibetan Vajrayana meditation. The purpose of Vajrayana meditation is not to enhance cognitive abilities—but it’s a very nice side effect. An additional area of benefit, from separate studies, is treatment of anxiety or depression. In Wisdom and Compassion in Psychotherapy, an entire section on clinical applications is dedicated to visualizing compassionate Buddha images (normally Avalokitesvara).
Adding this clinical experience, to this new research on cognitive benefits show added benefits specifically from visualization practice of compassionate Buddha’s. The benefits of practicing properly under a qualified Vajrayana teacher are well established—and the long lasting benefits are clear and sure. A Bodhisattva is an enlightened being to an extent, seeking full enlightenment out of compassion for all beings.
Anyone of any sex or gender identity can become a Mahayana Buddhist, Sex and Gender are both impermanent and fluid. On the other hand each being has indestructible perfect potential (sometimes called a state of Buddha) that is their true nature.
However, there is a faculty of conviction that is required for a worldling in order to start their practice. According to Theravada, Siddhattha Gotama had the supreme enlightenment, which makes him superior to an Arahant. Mahayana monks also fix, adjust or amend the disciplines and principles laid down by Buddha. The pagoda is a miniature replica of Shwedagon pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar, which is one of the most important pagodas in that country. Furthermore, if certain qualities are subdued, like perception, one's karma can cause any type of aggregation, like rocks, stars, or plants. The Buddha himself refuted the theistic argument that the universe was created by a self-conscious, personal God. Inevitably, arthritis pains subsides in my case, and I’ve avoided most of the colds and flus that go around my business meetings— knock on wood. Many studies across decades of research have proven meditation is simply good for the body—and your health. But, if that annual doctor’s visit brings dreaded news, a diagnosis of a serious disease or condition, your doctor will probably refer to a specialist. Studies show drum meditation supports treatments of cancer, Parkinsons and depression.Psychology and science have identified both drumming and mindfulness meditation as helpful therapy for everything from stress to memory loss to supportive cancer care. The spiritual head of many temples and meditation centres in Canada, United States, and Australia, the eminent guru will make his semi-annual teaching round in Toronto, Canada in April 2016. The Gata, Returns for an Encore Performance in TorontoIn many Buddhist traditions, Vesak, the celebration of Buddha Day, is celebrated on the full moon in lunar calendar month of April (Vaisakha). In particular, the research team found that Vajrayana meditation, with Tantric and Deity visualizations, significantly improves cognitive performance.

Although most of the study focused on Theravada meditative practices—which are frequently practiced also by Mahayana and Vajrayana practitioners as foundation practices—the study found that Vajrayana meditation added extra layers of cognitive benefits. All participants in the study were monitored for both electrocardiographic and electroencephalographic responses. The tasking tests given to participants revealed sharply enhanced cognitive performance immediately after Vajrayana meditation. Since Deity visualization practice literally takes years of dedicated practice, it’s easy to assume the long term benefits, considering how well the subjects did in the tests.
Quoted in the article, is the Thirteenth Zasep Tulku, Archarya Zasep Tulku Rinpoche, an Internationally Respected Teacher. The meditations require dedication and years of practice from the student under a teacher’s guidance.
We practice these proven methods to make progress on our spiritual path and to gain Dharma realizations.
On the other hand, cognitive benefits should be nearly immediate, even for beginners, who diligently engage the mind with Vajrayana deity visualizations. It is noted that the visualization should be of a compassionat figure “who embodies the qualities of unconditional acceptance, quiet strength and wisdom… beyond human fallibility.” The example they used was Avalokitesvara or Guanyin (the female Chinese form). To practice most—but not all—Deity visualization meditations Tantric empowerments are required.
One of the five foundation practices is Guru Yoga, which may have the same benefits as other Deity visualizations, since this involves visualizations.
And, if an additional benefit is a sharp mind, and defence against cognitive disorders, this is fortunate.
We seek to cultivate insight, generosity and kindness in order to awaken body, heart and mind and to foster the possibility of freedom from suffering for all.
Those who chose to live under the guidance of the Tathagata (Siddhattha Gotama) parted from the worldlings. Nevertheless, not being mentally attached to a certain misdeed was strongly adviced by the Buddha. Initially, it has to be embraced that the Buddha is fully enlightened, thus actual investigation might follow. On the other hand, Mahayana is highly influenced by other eastern philosophies such as Taoism. Visitors to the pagoda may learn about Theravada Buddhist beliefs, practices and meditation methods; students can also be given the opportunity to try meditation for them selves. A new study from the National University of Singapore, attempts to differentiate the relative benefits of different types of meditation…. And, putting aside Buddhists, why is the meat industry growing when the science says it’s hurting our planet? Together with Medicine Buddha practice, they are important and treasured practices in Buddhism that have been relied on for healing for centuries. Traditionally, Buddhists celebrate the event with festivals, art, meditation and reverence. The breakthrough study found that Vajrayana meditation showed activation of the sympathetic system.
The challenging practice is proven to improve cognitive abilities almost immediately, but the methods are challenging to learn—and require both a teacher and practice. This makes Samatha and Vipassana meditation ideal for spiritual contemplation, and stress relief. However, a student of Vajrayana, practicing both styles of meditation, should see benefits spiritually, mentally and physically. The researchers will, however, be looking at the effects of short-term exposure to the techniques, probably using naive test subjects who do not have the benefit of years of study. Although effects can be immediate, from as soon as the first meditation session, it requires long term commitment.
Therefore I totally disagree with the concept of Mahayana and Theravada are basically the same thing. Since the time of Shakyamuni Buddha, we have known about the stress-reducing benefits of both mindfulness and drumming.
After meditation, any tasks involving the brain by Vajrayana meditators, showed marked enhancement.
Foundation meditation will anchor practice—and relieve stress—bringing important health benefits.
But for most advanced practices, initiations are required, for the education and protection of the meditator.
My kind teacher, Zasep Tulku Rinpoche, smiled as they lifted the pup for a blessing after the teachings. As many Deity meditations are complex —and should be understood correctly—a teaching, empowerment and guidance are important.

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