Dhyana and Meditation

The Sanskrit Word Dhyana, the Pali Jhana, Chinese Chang, and Japanese Zen (meaning the same) has been translated as “Meditation” in English for want of a better word.

The Word “Meditation” is derived from the Latin “Meditationem”, meaning to “think over” or “to reflect upon” – hence the expression “to meditate on something”.

Whereas, the Word Dhyana and all its avatars as mentioned above is rightfully used as an adjective. Hence, the Hindi expression to this date, “dhyana se” – eat dhyana se, live dhyana se, work dhyana se, walk dhyana se. It is a colour of life, a style of living, the way we live, we work, and do all other chores.

On the Surface, the difference between the two may not look great. In practice, they are two different things, until the day we all agree that “meditation” is no longer used as a verb, but as an adjective.

Coming Back to the Expression Dhyana Se…. Perhaps it is more appropriate to translate “Living Dhyana Se” or “Living Meditatively” as “Living Attentively”. The next step would be to understand Patanjali, the great advocate of Yoga Philosophy, in a new light. When he speaks of chitta, does he mean manah or mind? Or, something quite different? And, then, if mindfulness and meditation are the same, can there be mindful meditation, is it the same as dhyana, chang, or zen?

What is there in a Name, a terms, a word?! Well, if our understanding is affected by a term or a word abused, or even misused, in the sense “mistakenly used by mistake” – then, it is certainly an issue that we have to ponder upon (not meditate upon 🙂

Cheers, namaste.



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