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Whatever else it has come to mean, at its root the word meditation means “mental cultivation.”* To meditate is to cultivate the mind. In contemporary practice, meditation is often a form of awareness training, in which we learn to calm the body, quiet the mind, and bring relaxed attention to the present moment. But Buddhist meditation is also a practice of cultivating certain qualities of mind and heart. At any given moment, the teachings tell us, we are cultivating one thing or another. What we are cultivating may be loving-kindness, compassion, or other “wholesome” states of mind. But it may also be such “unwholesome” states as fear, rage, and the impulse toward destruction. (more…)

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