What loving-kindness meditation can teach us about ethics
Mindfulness Meditation: A Growing Trend
Of all the world’s religions, Buddhism — in its vast manifestations — resembles that of what can be considered “philosophy” the most. That is not to say that there are not the typical elements of what we ordinary associate with religion with (namely, otherworldliness and far out their metaphysics). However, unlike most religions, the doctrines of Buddhism — most of which are referred to as sutras (aphoristic scriptures attributed to the word of the Buddha) — contain profoundly novel ethical doctrines and practical customs in which metaphysics need not be taken into account.
One of these practices is meditation. Meditation, like the different forms of Buddhism, comes in a wide variety of differing manifestations. The most popular form of meditation at the time — at least in the West — is mindfulness meditation, or, vipassana. Vipassana at bottom is simply making a strong attempt at being aware of the contents of consciousness as they are prior to our ego’s attachment to concepts towards them. So, for instance, sitting outdoors and paying attention to all of the sensations that are arising in the present moment, and not doing anything with your thoughts and/or intentions towards such sensations — simply, just being the passive recipient of them.
Philosophically, this can certainly lead to profound insights. Notions like a lack of free will, the illusion of the notion of a “self” and the non-dual nature (interdependent) of Being can be accessed through this method of meditation.