Do you have to be a Buddhist to meditate?

By Matthieu Ricard on November 30, 2009

Meditation essentially means to train the mind. The purpose of meditation is to develop qualities such as loving-kindness and attention, as well as a correct understanding of reality. For 2500 years, Buddhists have used meditation to eliminate ignorance and mental toxins, that is to say destructive emotions, which are the principal causes of suffering.

Following the Buddhist path allows us to make full use of the knowledge and experience acquired by those who, like the Buddha, have awakened from the sleep of ignorance. However, the knowledge that comes from contemplative science, which is precisely what Buddhism is, is valuable for all people of any religion or culture without exception. We all have a mind, we are all prey to different emotions, and we all go through numerous forms of suffering.

Training allows us to transform the mind, to overcome destructive emotions, and to dispel suffering. The numerous and profound methods that Buddhism has developed over the centuries can be used and incorporated by anyone. What is needed is enthusiasm and perseverance. Meditation has a universal value: it would be a great pity to disregard the possibility of transforming our mind.