Teaching on "Calm Abiding Meditation"

Ven. Dagom Rinpoche

translated by David Molk

Dagom Gaden Tensung Ling, Bloomington, IN

June 24, 1999

Transcriberís note: Words in brackets [ ] are editorial. The bold/italicization of certain phrases is also editorial.

The transcription begins after the preliminary chants and prayers have taken place.

Please set your motivation according to the stages of the path to enlightenment, which would involve considering such topics as precious human life, death and impermanence, karma and so on; up to the motivation of awakening mind, of Bodhicitta, that "for the sake of all sentient beings throughout space, who have been oneís own mother in the past, in order to free them from suffering and guide them to happiness, that I myself must attain the unexcelled goal of perfect complete enlightenment as quickly as possible by whatever means necessary. It is for this purpose that Iím going to listen to these teachings of the holy Dharma."

Whatever practice of the teachings of Buddha we engage in, ultimately itís all intended for the attainment of that completely awakened state of full enlightenment. Itís intended to lead to that.

No matter what kinds of activities beings in the world normally are involved in, it always comes down to looking after their own interests. This is the nature of worldly activities. So, when in any practice of the Great Way Teachings of the Buddha, the Mahayana--there, whatever practice is done, whatever activity is engaged in, in that spiritual practice itís always for the sake of ALL sentient beingsí happiness.
 
 

Today I will have an explanation concerning the developing of "Calm Abiding," or samatha, the perfectible concentrated and quiescent state of mind.

The reason that this is something thatís important for us is that the condition thatís behind us (wandering around throughout cyclic existence, around the wheel of existence, conditioned by ignorance and suffering) is that our mind is attracted to various things, gets involved with various kinds of objects, and falls under the influence of confusion, craving, attachment, aversion, anger. And then because of that, we engage in various actions that are unskillful and harmful, which then leave imprints on our consciousness, which then causes us to go through these experiences; and this is the process that is behind us wandering around through cyclic existence, our minds being uncontrolled, and then falling under the influence of these various kinds of afflicted states. So itís the fact that weíre controlled by our minds--we do whatever our mind dictates to us--and then our mind is controlled by these delusions and afflicted states, like craving and aversion.

Now, we could say that the owner of our body and our mind is ourselves--we have body, we have mind. And yet, we can pretty much take care of our body, but we canít take care of our mind. And the reason that we canít control our mind, or we canít really take care of it, is that the mind wonít stay focused in any one direction, but rather just wanders around without control. Itís out of control...oneís mind is like a wild elephant. So if a mad elephant gets loose, itís just going to trample all the flower and uproot things, and cause a lot of destruction. Therefore this crazed elephant-like mind needs to be subdued, or controlled. This controlling or subduing comes in two facets, then: subduing the body and subduing the mind. But between those two, subduing the body and subduing the mind, subduing the mind is the most difficult.

One time when Buddha was alive in India, there was one Indian king who lived in a remote region. He was a very powerful king. And in his kingdom he had this great elephant. And there was an elephant trainer in the kingdom--the greatest elephant trainer--who the king instructed: "Now you train this great elephant." And so he trained the elephant very well, so that the elephant would do any kind of work necessary, great skill. And once he had trained the elephant completely, he offered the elephant to the king. One day, the king decided to ride this bull elephant, and the trainer got on behind, and they went off into the forest. Once they got into the dense forest there, there was the scent of a female elephant, that wafted through the wind and reached them. So, when the elephant got the whiff of that, he just went crazy. He just took off through the forest. The trainer said to the king, "See one of these branches passing overhead? Just grab onto that branch, as soon as you can." So they did manage to grab hold of a branch, and that way saved their lives.

Well, the king was quite upset with the elephant trainer, and he scolded him."What have you done? You give me this elephant whoís not controlled." And he was just about to give him some kind of punishment, some kind of sentence. But the elephant trainer was very respectful and apologized, saying, "Well I did train the elephant; I trained the elephantís body. But the elephantís mind, I am not able to train." And the elephant trainer said, "Because of that, when the elephant got the scent of that female elephant, he had to go in that direction; but after seven days heíll come back. Heís very well-trained." And sure enough, after seven days, back came the elephant.

So the elephant trainer brought the elephant before the king again, and in order to demonstrate just how well-trained the elephant was, he had a huge ball of iron--which was even heated, so that it was red-hot and the elephant trainer instructed the elephant to lift, take hold of that burning iron and lift it, and the elephant did, right away. He was perfectly trained. Then the king believed the trainer, and said "Well yes, it does seem that the body of the elephant is well-trained, but who could possibly train the mind?" And the trainer replied "Well, Iím able to train physical actions, the body of the elephant. But as far as training the mind, there lives in India one known as the Buddha, and he can train the mind." So then the kind went to seek out Buddha, and he did find the Buddha, and received teachings of Dharma from the Buddha. I told this story to illustrate how our mind is like a wild elephant, and to show the need for subduing that.

So developing the mindís ability to focus on whatever object itís placed [upon], continuously, single pointedly, is the purpose behind training in whatís called "calm abiding" or samatha.

In regard to that, there is a scripture called Lamp on the Path to Enlightenment, which was composed by the great master Atisha. And in that text he explains that in order to develop calm abiding, the perfectly concentrated, peaceful, focused state of mind, itís necessary to gather certain conditions. Otherwise, if those conditions are not gathered, then even if one tried to train the mind for thousands of years, one would never be able to accomplish such a perfectly focused and single-pointed state of mind. So, how many different kinds of conditions did he mention? He mentioned six collections of causes or conditions that need to be gathered for success in this.

The first of these was to stay in a conducive place. Secondly; to have few desires. Third, to cultivate contentment. Next, to abandon "hustle and bustle" of many activities. Then, "pure morality." And then, giving up attachment to desires. (And thereíll be an explanation of what that means.)

As regards the first of these, (1) abiding in a harmonious or a conducive place, the qualifications of such a place are explained in a scripture called the "Sutra [Alankara]," Ornament of the Sutras. This scripture is the speech of the protector Maitreya. This is one of five teachings that Maitreya gave to master Asanga, when Asanga came to the pure realm of Tushita.

(1a) In that text, the words indicate that what this means is that first of all, one needs to have all of oneís necessities, such as food and drink and so forth, easily accessible. Otherwise, if such things are not readily available in the place that one would do meditation, then one would have to spend a lot of time going someplace, or involved in procuring those.

(1b) And, he said the place should be "an excellent place," which means that itís very good if the place can be one thatís blessed, through Buddhas and Bodhisattvas having come there. And lacking that, then in place of that, maybe a place where oneís direct root spiritual teacher has come, and itís been blessed through that, and that would be good. In general, if one goes to a sacred place, then oneís self is blessed through the preciousness of that place. So if you check, when you go to a sacred site, your mind feels very happy and joyful, and you get kind of a different feeling from being in such a place.

(1c) Thirdly, the earth needs to be good there, and what that means, is that it needs to be a place thatís suited to oneís self and oneís health, that by being there it doesnít cause one to get sick; thereís no poisons, or something in the environment. And this means that some people get sick if they get sick in a very cold place, and some people get sick if theyíre in a very hot place; it needs to be a place thatís suited to oneís own personal constitution. And if the water thatís in that place is fit for oneís self, and agrees with oneís self, thatís very important.

(1d) And also if there are good friends around, or a good helper, if one could have a good helper in that place, thatís very beneficial for developing oneís meditation. For instance, if one is in quite an isolated place, and got sick, and if one had a good companion nearby, then theyíd be able to help oneís self, so you could help each other out. And it does need to be a good quality of friend, a person whoís a good person; that is, if they were some kind of negative person, in some way, then that would be harmful to oneís meditation practice. So the most important factor there is that they have a view, or philosophy or ideas that are harmonious with oneís own. If oneís views are not harmonious, thereís danger that after being in that place for some time you could get into fights and arguments with that person. Thereís a lot of cases where you get involved with somebody and youíre talking about different subjects and then all of a sudden something comes up on which you disagree--you have differing views on, and then things go sour. So, the best would be if that other person is someone who doesnít like to see oneís self get involved in harmful activities, so that theyíre kind of stable, have their own stability, and if they were to see you getting involved in something thatís going to be harmful to you, that they would be afraid of that, they wouldnít want to see that. But, if one gets more than, say, two or three friends, if it gets to be too many people together, then that can also create problems. Thereís a danger you could just get involved in conversations, or the whole day gets wasted in just idle chatter.

(1e) Then the next factor thatís mentioned in terms of the place being conducive is that it should be a place that is free of too much noise, like rushing water, or wind, a place where thereís not too much sound from the elements. In Tibet, the loudest sounds that would tend to be there continually in the environment would be the sound of rushing water. So thatís specifically mentioned, that there should not be too much sound of water. And it should be an area in which thereís no danger from wild animals, and also, no danger from bandits or different kinds of dangers like that.

So, there are five different characteristics that are thus mentioned for the place to be conducive.
 
 

And next, from oneís own side, one needs (2) to have few desires: not always wishing for something better, more, just to give up such excessive desire.

And next is mentioned (3) to be content, or satisfied, meaning that whatever one does obtain, in terms of the place or the food or whatever, that one remains satisfied and content with that.

Next, itís mentioned (4) to be free of the hustle and bustle of a lot of different activities. So if one has a lot of different kinds of work one is involved in at that time, or simultaneous with that, it will be difficult to develop such a peaceful and concentrated state of mind. So if one has a lot of activities that one is involved in, then as one is meditating to develop a calm, single-pointed state of mind, the mind will wander to those various activities.

In Tibet, there was one person who had a lot of work, a lot of activity that he was involved in; he had a lot of prayers, or recitations that he did. So one time he forgot one of the things he was supposed to do. He couldnít remember what it was he was supposed to do, so he said "Bring me my prayers, so I can do my meditations." As soon as he got involved in doing his recitations and his prayers, then immediately he remembered that other thing that heíd forgotten to do! Thatís why one needs to give up many activities if one is going to try to do this kind of meditation. Or, one needs to at least have a break from a lot of bustling activities.

And then, one needs (5) to be able to protect well whatever vows one has taken. ["pure morality" or moral discipline.] Why is this? Itís because for the development of such a calm abiding state of mind, a peaceful state of mind which can stay placed or focused on a particular object, what needs to be remedied is inner distractions: the wandering distractions of the mind. So in order to counter inner distractions or wandering, one needs to first of all to counter the external distractions, wandering. And so to restrict external distractions or wandering, thatís the purpose of moral discipline. So, this external distraction or wandering means the speech and physical body getting involved in different kids of distractions or wandering. And so when one restrains the speech and physical activities from getting involved in different kinds of harmful actions, thus this is the function of moral discipline, that keeps from external distractions, keeping the speech and the body restrained. So thatís one of the most important things for developing a calm, focused inner state of mind, is restraints of moral discipline on the speech and body.

And then, to accomplish calm abiding, a calm focused state of mind, one needs to (6) reduce oneís attachment to objects of desire. Because otherwise, as soon as any kind of attractive form presents itself, or sounds, one wonít be able to accomplish samatha. And so for someone whoís practicing to develop this kind of focused, calm state of mind meditation, to be around where thereís a TV would be a big obstacle. This was not a problem in ancient times!

And so, if one wishes to accomplish this kind of meditation, then these are the kinds of conditions that need to be gathered together.
 
 

And so then, getting down to the actual practice of developing calm abiding state of mind, or samatha, then what it entails is being able to focus and place the mind on a single point, single object of some sort. So what needs to be done before one actually then places oneís mind on the object?

[The Five Faults that prevent the development of perfect samatha meditation:]

(1) Laziness needs to be averted; thatís the first step. Now, the ultimate antidote to laziness is a state of workability and bliss of the body and mind that arises through the meditation, because when that arises, then one would just naturally have absolutely no laziness or aversion to meditation. So when the body and the mind develop this state of bliss through meditation, such that they become completely pliable and flexible, then thereís absolutely no obstacle or problem with focusing the mind on any virtuous object, anything that would be beneficial.

At present you might find that any time you try to place your mind on some virtuous object, or something thatís a spiritual object that thereís some resistance there, that the mind starts to get tired very quickly. And thatís because one has not developed this blissful pliability of the body and the mind. So, because one has not developed this kind of flexibility and blissful state, whatís left is that there are certain dysfunctional qualities there in the body and mind.

Now in order to really cut through the laziness what is necessary is joyful effort and perseverance. And in order to develop such perseverance and effort, one needs to have strong aspiration. If one doesnít have a very strong aspiration to accomplish such a meditation, then one would never be able to keep persevering at it. And in order to develop such aspiration, the necessary factor is to develop faith or conviction in the positive qualities that are developed as a result of such meditation. So faith, aspiration, perseverance, and this pliability and blissful flexibility of body and mind, these are . . .

[SIDE A of the tape ENDS HERE, but the sentence probably continued to say "the four antidotes that counter laziness," since Rinpoche says that again subsequently.]

[SIDE B] Now, there are different kinds of thoughts that prevent one from accomplishing a perfectly focused, peaceful state of mind, or samatha. Now the first of these is laziness; now you understand what laziness is. (Principally here, weíll be talking about the laziness that wants to put it off until later, that procrastinates. But another kind of laziness is a mind thatís interested in various kinds of negative activities, that IS interested and would wish to persevere in harmful activities.) Thatís prior to actually then focusing on the object in meditation.

(2) But then when one actually comes to focusing the mind on the object of meditation, then the problem is what is called "forgetting the instructions." But in this case, what "instructions"refers to is not just instructions in general, but it refers to the object of oneís meditation; in other words, forgetting that object or losing it. So the antidote to such a problem is mindfulness, or remembering.

(3) So after developing mindfulness or memory, or the ability to hold and remember the object of meditation, then there are other faults that arise, which are referred to as excitement and "sinking." Excitement refers to the mind getting involved with objects of attachment. And if, in the meditation, oneís mind wanders away to an object of attachment such that one completely forgets the object, then this is a case of "gross excitement" having occurred. And if in the meditation one is able to remember the object, so that the object of the focus is still there, but thereís one part of the mind or kind of an undercurrent which the mind is wandering off to this object of desire, then thatís a case of the "subtle excitement." At first in practicing this kind of meditation, itís this gross kind of excitement that is an obstacle that occurs a lot. Now when the mind is well-abiding on, or resting on, the object that itís been placed [upon], then "sinking" is a problem that occurs. There are also gross and subtle forms of this. "Gross sinking" means that from the side of the object thatís appearing to the mind, that thereís a certain haziness to it, or itís not clear, itís not very clear, and also from the side of oneís mindís focus on that object, that thereís a lack of intensity. So when both of these are occurring, the mind is in a very slack state. This is the "gross sinking." Before that happens, thereís a kind of fogginess or sleepiness that one experiences. But that sleepiness, or that fogginess of the mind, is NOT whatís being referred to here, though, as sinking. Thatís grosser.

But now, if thereís a factor of stability in oneís focus, where the mind is staying well-stabilized on that object, and itís also appearing clearly, but just from the side of the mind thereís a lack of intensity in the way the mind is holding that object, then this is the "subtle" kind of sinking. This kind of "subtle sinking" is the most harmful, the most dangerous of problems that can be encountered in developing calm abiding meditation. And thatís because in this state of "subtle sinking," there is good stability of the object, and also itís appearing clearly, so itís quite often been mistaken for perfect calm abiding, perfectly developed samatha. So this is something that one needs to be able to discern through oneís own experience; the only way to understand whatís being meant here is through the practice, and developing experience through the meditation.

(4 and 5) So now, as the antidote to these faults of sinking and excitement, there needs to be alertness or introspection. This is the state of mind which checks up, to see whether these kind of faults are present or not. Introspection is kind of like a spy thatís checking to see whatís going on in the meditation. This is its activity. And if sinking or excitement is occurring, then there needs to be an antidote; there needs to be something done to dispel those. But thereís a problem of another fault, which is over-application: if the mind is well-focused, and thereís actually perfect concentration going on, but then the mind is over-active, checking up too much and continuing to try to apply some kind of antidote when thereís actually no antidote needed. And so the antidote to that is then non-application, or refraining from applying introspection and antidotes when theyíre no longer necessary. Because if there is that kind of over-application, then it can again lead to excitement and other faults occurring again. Now in the case that excitement and sinking are occurring, then there is a need to apply some kind of antidote. So that would be a problem if one didnít apply the antidote at that point. So the antidote to that is the application of these things.

So in any case, [to sum up] there are five faults that prevent the development of perfect samatha meditation. So what are these? Thereís:

1) laziness;

2) forgetting the instruction, forgetting the object;

3) and then sinking and excitement, counted as one;

4) then not applying the antidotes, and then

5) over-application of the antidotes.

Those are the 5 faults.

The antidotes to those are eight in number. Thatís because thereís

1) faith;

2) aspiration;

3) perseverance;

4) this flexibility, this blissful "pliancy" (pliancy might be one of the best words to describe that, pliancy of body and mind); and

5) mindfulness,

6) introspection,

7) applying the antidotes, and then

8) non-application of antidotes when theyíre not necessary.

So thereís eight antidotes, which counter those five problems that can be encountered. Thatís because there were these four antidotes which counter laziness, which were the faith, aspiration, perseverance, and the pliancy; and the antidotes to "forgetting the object" (which is called "forgetting the instructions") and thatís mindfulness, remembering it. Then the antidote to excitement and sinking is introspection, that alertness. And then the antidote to non-application when antidotes are necessary is applying them, and then the antidote to over-application when the antidotes are no longer necessary is "no application." Those counter each other like that.

So as itís said, that by applying the eight antidotes to the five faults, one will accomplish samatha.
 

[Objects of Meditation]

Furthermore, then, on the actual process of the meditation, one needs to seek out the object; one needs to find the object of oneís meditation. So in general, the types of objects that can be used as the focus of this meditation are in four categories. (1) Thereís whatís called "pervasive objects." (2) The next category of objects are called "objects which overcome afflictions." So, say somebody normally gets very involved with craving or attachment; then, an object which would counter that, which would be an antidote to that. Or, say someone tends to get angry a lot, then there could be an object of meditation which would specifically focus on or be an antidote to that, some state of mind that counters that. (3) Then thereís whatís called the "objects for scholars," very learned. And then thereís (4) a further category of objects which is called "objects which overcome delusions." (Here David (translator) conferred briefly with Rinpoche in Tibetan). And this fourth category, thereís two types, one of which is the type of object that would counter a manifest delusion as itís arising in the mind. That is, it simply counters those delusions manifesting, but doesnít counter them from their very root, or their seed. And then another type of object which does, which is able to eliminate those deluded states of mind from their very root, from the seed.

(1) The first of these categories, which are called "pervasive objects," these are in two categories also. One is an object, a pervasive object which relates to the objects of the mind (when you think about the differentiation between subject-object), and then another type of pervasive object which focuses on subjective mind. So thereís pervasive objects of the type of "objects of mind," and then thereís pervasive objects of the type related to the subjective mind itself.

So first of all, as relates to the subjective mind itself, [there are] what we would call "pervasive objects." Within that, thereís a further differentiation into two types: one which is called "reflection which is free of conceptuality," and secondly, what is called "reflection which has conceptuality." And actually, Rinpoche mentioned, and may explain more, that the reflection that is without conceptuality refers to focusing the mind without whatís called "insight," the application of insight in the meditation; so, simply stabilizing the mind. And then, the reflection with conceptuality is a meditation that does involve insight, developing the investigation or the insight into the nature of the phenomena itself, not just simply placing the mind on it or focusing on it.

So why is it called "reflection?" Itís called reflection because when the mind focuses on an object, itís not actually focusing on that naked object, but rather itís focusing on an idea of that object, or whatís called a generic image of that object. Thatís what the mind actually sees; it doesnít contact the object nakedly. An example of that would be: say, you observed the form of a Buddha in a statue or thangka (a painting), then what you would actually focus on in the meditation would be an image of that in your mindís eye. So you see, itís not a case of meditation where your eyes remain focused on the external object. So if your meditation required you staring at the object, then as soon as you closed your eyes, the object would be lost.

Now in terms of this category of pervasive objects in the context of objects of mind: then an easy way to talk about that is in two categories of conventional objects and ultimate objects. [Here followed a brief discussion between David (translator) and Rinpoche.]

That will be sufficient for the discussion of pervasive objects right now.

(2) Going onto the second main category of objects--I think we could give an alternative, or better translation, [which] would be objects which "overcome use" or "overcome enjoyments." An example of this would be if, say, attachment was a problem for oneís self, then the type of object that would be used here would be ugliness. One would focus on the unattractive. And if anger or hatred was a state of mind that one tended to get involved in a lot, then the type of object that would be used here would be love--developing the mind into a state of love, that being the object of oneís samatha meditation. So these are the type of objects that are called objects which . . . [ David (translator) here asks Rinpoche a question ]. . .literally, "overcome enjoyment" or "overcome use."

(3) Then the next category of "objects for scholars," objects of the learned, these would be like [for example] "The Five Aggregates." If youíre familiar with Buddhist terminology this means the five components of . . . certain categorization of the components of a living being, "aggregates." Another type is whatís called "The Twelve Sources." This really means "sources of consciousness." And then another of these pervasive objects [?] would be "The Eighteen Elements," which means these 12 sources of consciousness and the objects of consciousness themselves.

(4) Now the fourth category is the "objects which overcome delusions." And so, as was mentioned, there are two types here: thereís one type which would be an object which would enable one to bring the delusions into a non-manifest state, but in which the strength of the delusions would not really have been destroyed completely; they would still be there in potency kind of form, but they would just be brought to a state of not manifesting. And then thereís the second type in this fourth category, in which an object of meditation does counter the delusions along with their great potency (potential for developing them.)

So now this has been pretty complex, hasnít it? (laughter) Pretty difficult to understand, isnít it? I can tell by looking at your eyes... (more laughter)...theyíve become a little glazed.

So in general you can use any of these types of objects for your object of meditation, in samatha meditation. And really, any kind of object can be used. Thereís a story from the past about an oxherder using the horn of the ox as his meditation object, and accomplishing the samatha meditation just based on that. So because he had so much contact with these animals, then he was very familiar with their horns, and he could. . .that object of the horn was the perfect object for him.

Some non-Buddhist meditators will take a small pebble or a small piece of wood, something like that, as an object for their samatha meditation. But taking an object for oneís meditation like the form of a Buddha has the advantage that one can accomplish the samatha meditation on that basis, but then at the same time, even before one has accomplished that meditation, one will be creating merit; one will be creating positive potentials all along the way. And if one takes some kind of neutral object, like a stone, or wood, then one can accomplish samatha, a perfectly focused, calm state of mind on that, but until one accomplishes that, thereís no positive energy generated.

So. . .for the object of oneís samatha meditations, itís very good to focus on Buddha. And that object, that form of the Buddha that one focuses upon, should be quite small.

Really thereís some preparations that are traditionally done prior to that kind of meditation, what are called "six preparatory practices." And as one comes to the end of those six preparatory practices, one is visualizing oneís spiritual guide, oneís spiritual teacher, on the crown of oneís head.

(Some conferring here between David (translator) and Rinpoche)

And so the way one would proceed from that: one would visualize a very fine thread of light coming from the heart of oneís spiritual guide, on the crown of oneís head. . . over oneís forehead, like Rinpoche is demonstrating, down to the level of oneís navel, so that right in front of oneís navel, one would visualize this form of a Buddha, seated upon a cushion of a lotus and a moon. And there, contemplate; focus on the form of a Buddha, with the crown protrusion, golden color, the hands in the position of the earth- touching mudra, the right hand touching the cushion just over Buddhaís right knee, and then the left hand palm facing upwards in the lap with the alms bowl resting in it, and one visualizes them in that way. And youíd be visualizing them facing towards oneís self.

So I say at the level of the navel we donít mean joining the navel, but just out, slightly. Rinpocheís demonstrating; looks like about 8, 10 inches away from your navel, but at that level of the navel.

Now if the spiritual guide describes that form of the Buddha, saying "The Buddha has two eyes, this golden complexion, with the legs crossed, in whatís called "vajra position," then thereís a certain image that immediately appears to your mind, right?

So when that is described to you, and thereís immediately something that appears to your mind, then that very thing that has appeared to your mind, thatís what you focus on, for your meditation.

And when that first occurs, maybe just a partial form of the Buddha appearing, maybe just the crown protrusion or maybe just the eyes, or just the head, or maybe just the lower part of the body with the kind of golden hue to it. Whatever it is that appears, you should focus on just that, at first. And as soon as that appearsĖthen this is whatís called "finding the object," when one has found the object of oneís meditation. And one needs to then focus the mind on just that, without letting the mind wander to anything else. And as one does that, the tendency in the beginning will be that immediately the mind wanders away and loses it.

So in any case, how has one found the object to begin with? Itís called "through the power of the hearing." Because weíre hearing that description from the spiritual guide, identifying the object, pointing out the object to you. Then, hearing that description, thereís something that pops into your mind. So the power or the force that enables one to thus find the object is called the power of the hearing.

Then, after practicing with this for some time, bringing that object back by thinking of the description one has heard, then at some point--say, in the course of meditating for about a minute on the object, that at any point during that minute one becomes able to keep the object for a little longer, maybe like, 13 seconds. And once one is able to hold it or keep it in oneís observation for 13 seconds, then one has reached whatís called the first placement in nine stages of developing the samatha meditation, which is called the "inner placement," "placing the mind."

So in order to accomplish samatha, the calm abiding meditation, one needs to pass through these nine states of setting. . .nine stages of setting, or "settling" the mind.

[The Nine Stages of Samatha Meditation]

(1) The first of these is called "placing the mind within." Or, you could say "inner placement." There are six forces that are coming to play in this process. And itís said that that first placement, the inner placement of the mind, comes about through the force of the hearing, or the "power of the hearing;" maybe "force" would be a good word to use, through the force of the hearing. So through the force of hearing the description, then one has found the object, and then places the mind on it.

So in the course of this, one will recognize discursiveness; one will recognize thoughts. And it will seem like thereís even more thoughts appearing than normal. But actually, prior to placing the mind on the object like this, the mind has been distracted, wandering around, we just never noticed how many thoughts were coming into the mind. Thus you get an experience of recognizing the thoughts.

(2) Then through the force of thinking of that object, bringing it to mind again and again, then one becomes able to extend the period of holding the object a bit longer. And thatís the next stage, which is called "the continual placement."

The measure of this would be that, say, if during the course of meditating on the object, or sitting for three minutes, that for one minute one would be able to hold the object without losing it. So, comparing these two stages, the first and the second, in the first stage where the mind is placed, inwardly placed on the object, thereís a lot more distraction outside at that stage than there is in the second stage. And so at that second stage the mind is able to remain placed on the object for a longer period than in the first stage. And at that second stage of continual placement, one has an experience, and it seems like oneís thoughts are losing energy. . .the thoughts are getting exhausted, theyíre not coming with such [unintelligible word] or so often as before. This second placement is accomplished through the force of contemplating or thinking, so among the six forces, thatís the force that enables one to attain this second placement, which means thinking of the object again and again.

(3) Then, the next stage is accomplished through oneís mindfulness becoming stronger and stronger, such that at a certain point, as soon as the object is lost, as soon as the mind wanders outward to something else, then the power of the memory or the mindfulness becomes so strong that it can immediately bring the mind back to the object. And if it happens again and again, [it] immediately brings the mind back to the object. And this is called the "patch-like placement of the mind."

So at this point of the patch-like stage, or patch-like placement, the period of the distraction has become very much reduced, so that the period of placing the mind, abiding on the object is now much more than the length of the distraction. For instance, maybe in the course of one minute of meditating on the object, maybe only 13 seconds of that would be time that was distracted from the object. So at this point itís said that one has the experience of the "elimination of the intensity of the thoughts." So before, the thoughts were getting tired, right? But now, itís called the erasure or the elimination of the intensity of those thoughts. This stage of the patch-like placement is accomplished through the force of mindfulness, of remembering the object.

(4) And as the mindfulness gets stronger and stronger, the mind becomes more and more focused inwardly, brought in, collected in. Then one reaches the next stage, the fourth stage, which is called the "close placement." And at that point, there is no longer any loss of the object. The object is never lost, itís always kept in the awareness. But even though the object is no longer lost, at any time, the sinking and excitement at that time present a lot of problems.

The difference between the third and the fourth stage is that [in] the third stage the object is still lost from time to time...but in the fourth stage itís no longer lost: even though there may be sinking and excitement occurring, the object itself is not lost. So that fourth stage is also accomplished through the force of the mindfulness.

[Rinpoche begins talking, then END OF SIDE B TAPE CHANGE]

..that youíre familiar with already; the idea is that youíre remembering it, mindfulness.

And to that mindfulness, the aspect of the object needs to be something thatís clear, something thatís been understood clearly or seen clearly. So the function of that mindfulness is the prevention of the mind from wandering away from the object. So mindfulness is just like a rope taking the example of the elephant, itís like "tying the elephant to a stake."

(5) Now, continuing to meditate from this fourth sage of close placement, and because the mind has become very withdrawn, very much drawn inward, then thereís a lot of obstructions that arise from the sinking. So thatís why the fifth stage is called "subduing." Because at that stage there needs to be a lot of vigilance paid to subduing that "sinking" that occurs. That fifth stage of subduing is attained through the force of introspection that alertness, or that introspection.

What happens as the mind gets so intensely withdrawn is that it gets kind of lowered, it gets brought down too much, and so the mind therefore needs to be uplifted somewhat at that stage in order to subdue that sinking. So in order to do that, one reflects on the advantages and the benefits of developing that calm abiding, that perfectly focused, peaceful state of mind. But as one applies this uplifting of the mind by thinking of such things as the benefits of samatha meditation, it subdues that sinking, but then it can overbalance into the excitement again.

(6) So therefore, the next stage is called "pacifying," meaning pacifying the excitement that occurs. Because at that stage, one needs to be very vigilant towards seeing excitement arise, and applying antidotes to that. So the difference between the fifth and the sixth stages is that [in] the fifth stage thereís a lot of danger from the sinking that needs to be countered, and one needs to be vigilant about that; but at the sixth stage, itís the excitement thatís more prevalent, and one needs to be vigilant about applying the antidotes for that. This sixth stage of pacifying is also attained through the force of introspection or alertness.

(7) At the seventh stage, oneís mind no longer goes under the influence of the sinking and excitement. The sinking and excitement still need to be countered at that time, but the mind is never lost to them; at that stage it never comes under the influence of the sinking and excitement. So at that point the sinking and excitement become like. . . they become kind of. . .the example is, ok, say an adult is wrestling with a child; the child is coming onto the adult, trying to fight with them, and so the adult needs to kind of hold their arms or do something to restrain them. But the child canít harm the adult. Itís like that, at that time, with the sinking and excitement; they still need to be countered, they still need the antidotes applied to them, but the mind no longer can be beaten or come under the influence or be controlled by the sinking and excitement. So the name of this seventh stage is "complete pacification." So at that stage, itís still possible that the excitement and sinking can occur, but it becomes much less, much rarer. And that seventh stage is also attained through the force of introspection.

(8) By continuing to meditate, then, with the force of joyful effort, or enthusiasm, then the sinking and excitement no longer occur at all. And one no longer even has to watch out for them; one no longer has to be vigilant for them. This is the eighth stage, which is called "becoming single pointed." And itís accomplished through the force of enthusiasm.

(9) And by continuing on then, through the force of complete familiarity, then one reaches the ninth stage. And at that point the object of the meditation appears effortlessly and spontaneously. And that ninth stage is called "equipoise," or "equal placement." Now as one continues the meditation at this stage, then at a certain point one starts to get a heavy feeling on the crown of oneís head. It would be similar to the feeling of, say, in cold weather, and your head was shaved, then a hand was placed on the crown of your head. A kind of a warm feeling, there, on the crown of oneís head, and then because of that, what happens next is that thereís a kind of warmth that arises in oneís navel area. And because of the increase of that heat - that inner heat at the navel - the inner energies, or psychic winds, the psychic energies in the body, particularly the psychic energy thatís very flexible starts to flow; a very workable or flexible [energy] starts to flow evenly throughout oneís body. And at that point any dysfunctionality or inflexibility or unworkability of the mind is completely eliminated; the mind gains that kind of pliancy in which thereís no reluctance or no obstruction to the mind focusing on any positive, beneficial object. Remember I talked about pliancy, this kind of blissful flexibility or pliancy being an antidote to laziness, at the beginning? Well, itís at this point that one then experiences that.

And not only does oneís mind become totally pliant, in this way, and blissful, but then oneís body also develops this pliancy, and one gets a feeling of being very light, as if one could fly through space. And based on this pliancy of the body, this experience coming, then thereís a physical bliss that then one experiences. And then after that, then one experiences the bliss of mental pliancy, where oneís mind also becomes very blissful-feeling. And then at a certain point, that experience of the bliss of the mental pliancy subsides somewhat, and at that point one is said to have obtained whatís called "immutable pliancy." And itís at that point that one has accomplished samatha meditation.

So thus there were 6 forces that came into play: the force of hearing, the force of thinking or contemplating, the force of mindfulness, the force of introspection, and the force of enthusiasm, the force of complete familiarity; those are the 6 forces.

Now there are 4 kinds of application that are said to be used. The first and second stages of setting the mind are attained through a kind of application thatís called the "tight" application. Then in the third to the seventh settings of the mind, the third to the seventh stages, those are said to be attained through an application that is called "interrupted application." And then the eighth, through "uninterrupted application;" and then the ninth, through spontaneous application. So by first of all identifying the 5 faults, the 8 antidotes, the 6 forces and the 4 means of application, then one actually engages in the meditation of samatha as its been described, by passing through these 9 stages.

I think Iíll leave the explanation here, and now leave some time for questions.


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