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If it's possible to do it, how should such practice look like? Will it be inferior to the practice of those who meditate?

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I would say begin with compassion... –  Andreas M. Sep 3 at 12:17

4 Answers 4

The Buddhist 3 Fold Training or main parts of the Noble 8 Fold Path are:

  1. Morality,
  2. Mastery over the Mind and
  3. Wisdom.

You can practice 1 without meditation. But need meditation for to develop the other two. Also if you develop the other two your morality also becomes stronger.

Doing 1 itself gives benefit but this is much more if you practice all 3 parts of the Training (the latter 2 parts relating to Meditation and mental development) and with the addition of Giving which in part of the bases of merit with Morality and Meditation being an overlap.

The ultimate Buddhist goal is The Path to Nirvana in which Vipassana plays a great role.

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According to the Pali canon, stream entry (and possibly even up to once returner - I don't have my notes handy) can be accomplished by the so-called faith follower. This practitioner would need to command a resolute faith in the triple gem and observe the five precepts (i.e. strictly practice sila). The higher stages of enlightenment - and definitely the stage of arahant - are only available to those who have some mastery of the meditative absorption of jhana. The Visuddhimagga also hints that the same higher levels of attainment are available to those who practice "dry insight" (e.g. Vipassana) that isn't "moistened" by the attainment of jhana.

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If you do not follow (or know) what the Buddha taught, yet seek and reach enlightenment on your own, you are working on buddhahood. So in a sense yes. Though not meditating can also be a state of not doing the actual practice that the buddha taught.

Considering the theory of rebirth even without meditation one can start down the path as they noted above and develop kammic building blocks for the next round.

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addendum: that is of course my own understanding of things. –  A Nonimous Sep 3 at 14:19

IMO meditation is absolutely critical, but not at beginner's stages. I would even go as far as to recommend at least five years of practice before one tries meditation. What would that practice look like?

  1. Watch the mind for emotions arising due to giving anything high importance. Let go of those.
  2. Watch the mind for signs of behavior targeted at defending or advocating one's ego. Drop that.
  3. Watch the mind for indulging. Stop that.
  4. Protect your mind from garbage and negative information.
  5. Learn some Buddhist theory.

First three are effectively meditation in action, every second of every minute of every hour.

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Does it mean that all those Buddhists in Asia who don't meditate don't really follow the right path of Buddhism? –  michau Sep 4 at 11:17
That's right, however they are lay people not seeking Enlightenment. They follow general guidelines for good living. –  Andrei Volkov Sep 4 at 12:26

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