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I know there are a lot of practices in many different traditions. Can you redirect me to some source where different types of practice are somewhat classified? I'm not clear how this could be done, but maybe something in the lines of this book?

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  • This really depends on what tradition your discussing. And I'd really suggest against Amazon.com links... I've changed it to the link from his site. Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 1:09
  • You could also try Wisdom Books. They are specialized in Buddhism. Maybe they have an answer for you.
    – user321
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 13:41
  • I know it is a huge topic as even "mind" is a term not clear between traditions, but maybe someone had gone in the adventure of comparing practices before...
    – Abdul
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 22:44
  • I think this sort of question is off-topic, in the sense that it doesn't ask a clearly answerable question about Buddhism, asking instead for resources. If you were to change the question to ask specifically for a practice taxonomy, it would then be considered too broad. Either way, I'm thinking it's a bad fit for our site. Commented Jul 5, 2014 at 17:43

2 Answers 2

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As has been pointed out, this is a vast question, and I doubt it's answerable in anything other than a pile of doctoral theses and then some, but I'll make a small attempt at a piece of it.

I'll point you to one comparative study that could maybe act as a lead in your search. It is "Self-transformation According to Buddhist Stages of the Path Literature" by Jared Lindahl. In it Lindahl compares in some detail the path described by Buddhaghosa in "The Path of Purification" (the Visuddhimagga), with an ostensibly different path described by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal in "Mahāmudrā: The Moonlight".

Obviously this is very far from a complete taxonomy as you were asking, but it at least shows that a comparison/contrast can be done. All you have to do now is repeat what Lindahl has done, for every known practice area, and voila! Let us all know when you're done ;-)

P.S. Dan Ingram talks about connections between the different practice "maps" (as he calls them), in his "Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha". Ingram himself says his primary influence is Therevadan practices, especially those taught by Mahasi Sayadaw, but he seems to know enough to be able to make linkages between various attainments outlined on that path and similar attainments on other paths. So that book is (with my usual "don't get too caught up in the Dark Night panic" caveat) is worth a look.

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The book that I have read that comes closest to a comparative study of meditation practices is the Meditative Mind by Daniel Goleman. It compares meditation techniques from a variety of different religions and non-religious traditions. Obviously there is a lot of information about Buddhist techniques (Zen. Tibetean etc..) but it goes into Hindu techniques, Sufism, Christian and secular such as Transcendental Meditation. It covers the dhyanas and the differences between concentration and insight practices.

It was out of print when I bought it but it's easy to pick up a used copy - a quick google picks up loads. It's been a while since I read it but I remember liking it. Flicking through it again now is tempting me to read it again.

EDIT

Sorry - I've noticed that you have asked for practices in general not meditation practices. But I'll leave this answer standing as perhaps part of the answer. It is still a good comparative study

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