I’m a senior at Columbia University, and I’m student in Professor Tuttle’s class Intro to East Asian Civilization: Tibet. As a part of my final project in this class, I decided to explore the modern form of the ancient practice meditation.
In this class, we’ve explored much of what has made Tibetan culture distinctive and unique, examining the civilizational and cultural forces that shaped Tibet, especially the contributions of ancient Indian Buddhism that lead to Tibetan Buddhism.
Since Tibetan Buddhism is a central element of Tibetan civilization and has influenced the politics, economy, national identity, education, and society of Tibet, our class has also looked at aspects of religion and religious practice that have shaped Tibetan social life and culture both past and present.
When looked at from a historical context, the practice of meditation rides the wave of Buddhism from India to Tibet. Indian yogis traveled to remote regions of the Himalayas and throughout Tibet to practice mediation, consequentially starting the most important formative influences of Tibetan Buddhism. These meditating yogis initiated a distinct character and great local familiarity with the religion, helping form the first widespread religious movement in the area.
Throughout the class, we’ve also examined various readings of Buddhist philosophy and writings of the lives of prominent Buddhist figures who have practiced meditation as an important step on the route to enlightenment. This has lead me to wonder and consider how the vital role of the mind is in health, the effects of training the mind in meditation, and the ultimate healing possible through a personal experience of exploring the mind’s very nature.
Read about my experiences and introduction to the practice, and you might find that meditation can be a meaningful addition to your life.