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Theravada is the most popular form of Buddhism in Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Sri Lanka.
Theravada is a Sanskrit word meaning "The School of the Elders" and this form of Buddhism claims to represent the purest form of the original teachings of Lord Buddha (known as Siddhartha Gautama before he achieved Nirvana).
This conservative form of Buddhism adheres to Pali scriptures, which promote the ”Teaching of Analysis”. Theravadins believe in personal salvation through a person’s own determination and efforts. They tend to concentrate on personal liberation as opposed to collective liberation.
Theravadins believe that by meditating they will be able to better understand themselves and be better able to see the ultimate goal of spiritual liberation.
In Theravada meditation is separated into 4 levels of mental absorption or jhanas.
The 4 Levels of Theravadan Meditation:
First Jhana – in this state the person meditating becomes detached from impure states of mind through reflection and analysis and as a result experiences emotional satisfaction.
Second Jhana – in this state the mind becomes concentrated and intellectual activity is decreased so that complete inner serenity can prevail.
Third Jhana – in this state emotions begin to disappear and the meditator becomes indifferent to everything while remaining conscious.
Fourth Jhana – in this state the senses and different states of mind are completely abandoned and the person meditating therefore achieves a state of pure consciousness.