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Meditation – When, Where, and Who It Came From?

The power of meditation is well known, as many lives are changed for the better. But do we as practitioners know the actual origins of meditation? Let us delve deeper into the origins and see what we can find out.

So where does meditation come from? To be honest, we cannot really be sure, because meditation has been practiced since at least 1500 BC, as the earliest records show that the Vedic school, or the school of early Hindus in India, was an essential part of the curriculum in schools. Between the 6th and 4th centuries BC, the Chinese Taoist and Indian Buddhist traditions began to develop their own forms of meditation styles.

Read on to learn more about the origins of meditation.

“Have you ever reached to a point in life where you find yourself asking what is the meaning of life?”

In India, the practice of dhyna or jhna, often translated as meditation, is mentioned in some of the earliest written texts dating from around 1500 BC. Many of these documents, which discuss the many meditation techniques used in ancient India, come from the traditions of Hindu Vedantism. Even older records of the practice are found in Buddhist Indian scriptures and documents dating back to a few hundred years BC. However, many believe that these direct allusions to meditation are confusing.

In China, the earliest references to meditation date from the third and sixth centuries BC and are associated with the Daoist philosopher Laozi, who lived around this time. Many of the terms used to characterize meditation practices in subsequent centuries are found in this text, including:

Shou Zhong, or “guarding the center,” which translates roughly as.

Bao Yi, which roughly translates as “embracing the one.”

Shou Jing, which roughly means “guarding”. Bao Pu, which translates approximately to “embracing simplicity,”

Some argue that it is difficult to determine whether these terminologies were coined specifically for the work or whether they were already widely used tactics by the time the text was published. The Zhuangzi from the late era of the Disputed States (c. 476-221 BCE) and the Neiye from the 4th century BCE are two other early works that discuss contemplative methods.

However, no one can say with certainty when meditation first appeared. Numerous references can be found in various civilizations and religions, including Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.

So do we really know who the true founder of meditation is?

Simply put, no, we do not know. The question of who the founder is may be as difficult to answer as the question of where and when meditation originated. However, some of the information we do have points to a core group of people who have played a significant role in spreading meditation. There are many more people who have played an equally important role in spreading and teaching the practice of meditation; here are the three most significant individuals who taught meditation:

  1. Lord Buddha (India)

The Buddha, also called Siddhartha Gautama or Siddhattha Gotama in Pali, was a prince who later attained the status of monk, sage, philosopher, and religious figure. Buddhism was established in accordance with his teachings.

It may be simple to believe that the Buddha conceived or produced meditation as a result, but this is untrue. The Buddha sought out other enlightened teachers to acquire the practices and paths to self-fulfillment, and Buddhist writings refer to a wide variety of meditation techniques. Although he played a major role in popularizing meditation as a discipline, the Buddha did not create it.

  1. Lao-Tze (China)

An ancient Chinese philosopher by the names Lao-Tze, Lao-Tzu, and Laozi, whose name is primarily an honorific title that means “Old Teacher” or “Old Master,”

He is credited with writing the Tao-te-Ching, a textual representation of his ideas and teachings that served as the foundation for the Taoist philosophical philosophy, which emphasizes meditation techniques and the concept of knowledge in quiet. There is great debate over whether Lao-Tze was a single person or if the name refers to a group of people and philosophers who held similar beliefs.

  1. Dosho (Japan)

Dosho, a Japanese monk, travelled to China in the 7th century to study Buddhism under Hsuan Tsang, a revered teacher of the time. Dosho acquired all his knowledge of the Zen way of life during this tour, bringing it with him when he returned to Japan.

He opened his first zazen meditation hall when he got back, which is a type of sitting meditation. In Japan, he established a community of monks and pupils with the main goal of passing along this type of meditation.

While the origins of meditation are unknown, what is more important is how practicing meditation has provided us with self-realization, inner peace, love, and joy. I hope that wherever you are on your meditation journey, you will keep going until you find your true self and your higher purpose. And if you’re looking for someone to accompany you on your journey, please reach out to me as I am more than willing to be part of it.


Credit: August Man

Michael Teh, 8th August 2022.

Michael Teh is a meditation coach devoted to a personal mission of awakening more people to higher consciousness. He teaches self-realization through meditation, qigong, yoga and philosophy.

Michael Teh Signature Workshop: The Essence of Life Series explores meditation as a powerful tool to realize our true potential. Michael has designed multiple workshops in this series to support his participants’ self-realization journey. Workshop Series 1 is currently running every few months on-ground in Kuala Lumpur, titled “Knowledge of The Self and Fundamentals of Meditation”.

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