Contributor Club post (fee-based)
Sid Kemp, is a highly experienced life coach and devoted Zen practitioner with 40 years of dedicated practice. He is the author of multiple Amazon bestselling books published by prestigious publishers like McGraw-Hill and Entrepreneur Press. In addition to sharing Buddhist meditation since 1987, Sid has also contributed articles to Entrepreneur.com and his wisdom has attracted a loyal following of over 6,000 people on Quora.
Question: Why do Buddhists believe that meditation leads to enlightenment?
Sid’s Answer: 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, to what we are doing 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.
That is “enlightenment.”
Read more from Sid on his Quora profile.