What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

falcon
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What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by falcon » Sun Aug 26, 2018 5:40 pm

In other words,

Is the Vissudhimagga standard for attaining Jhana and Shamatha necessary for the attention to one-pointedly focus on the Rigpa? Or Kamalashila's or other Sutta style Jhanas?

Where on the sliding bar standard of light to deep Jhanic abosrption is sufficient to begin being exposed to Rigpa?

Or is there already a standard in Dzogchen preliminaries that indicate the tradition of Shamatha/Jhana that should be cultivated?

Marc
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by Marc » Sun Aug 26, 2018 8:39 pm

falcon wrote:
Sun Aug 26, 2018 5:40 pm
In other words,

Is the Vissudhimagga standard for attaining Jhana and Shamatha necessary for the attention to one-pointedly focus on the Rigpa? Or Kamalashila's or other Sutta style Jhanas?

Where on the sliding bar standard of light to deep Jhanic abosrption is sufficient to begin being exposed to Rigpa?

Or is there already a standard in Dzogchen preliminaries that indicate the tradition of Shamatha/Jhana that should be cultivated?
Hi Falcon,  

Technical / Traditional answer:
Malcolm had pointed in a past thread that, according to Rongzom Mahapandita, the 1st Dhyana is a pre-requisite for serious / legit Dzgochen practice. However, I would be tempted to say that he possibly meant an absorption not as deep as that of the Vissudhimagga‘s 1st Jhana ...  

Dzogchen cycles often include some Shamatha preliminaries, but as far as I know, these do not seem to aim at deep states of absorption but rather to lighter states of mental peace and lucidity

Personal specualtion:
The minimum effective dose of mental stability for the nature of mind to be introduced & recognized might be lighter than that needed for an effective Dzogchen practice, without too much struggle and difficulties. Indeed, I have heard a few Dzogchen teachers saying than for westerners the issue is not so much having a glimpse a RIgpa, but rather having the trust / guts to follow through and really « go for it » whole heartedly in life & practice.


This is why Dzogchen provides many important methods such as Semdzins and Rushen to further refine / clarify / stabilize once understanding.

Hope this helps,  
Cheers
M  

falcon
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by falcon » Mon Aug 27, 2018 1:15 am

Thank you for the thorough response.

Any contending word to that of Alan Wallace's stance that the Vissudhimagga should be the standard? :jedi:

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passel
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by passel » Mon Aug 27, 2018 1:31 am

Visuddhimagga doesn’t have a dzogchen connection- treat them as separate traditions, because they are. Most dzogchen books will describe shamatha of a particular sort, to give you an idea. Alan Wallace teaches some kinds of shamatha as a preparation for dzogchen, and has a lot of material on the subject. Mingyur R., Tsoknyi R., and Tenzin Palmo have a lot to say on the topic. Dzogchen isn’t interested in jhana. If you have access to teachings and centers that aren’t dzogchen but are looking to build a foundation for it, look for vipassana type teachers who teach ‘choiceless awareness’ or breath meditation, and some zen places, too. Basically anywhere you can get a bit of good instruction or at least ignore bad instruction, and then an environment and schedule that gives you time to work on the basics. It’s great to get really targeted instruction and support, but that’s rare, so doing a bit of homework can make the resources you do have much more effective.
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

TrimePema
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by TrimePema » Mon Aug 27, 2018 1:42 am

You might be better served looking at the stages of shamatha and asking a nyingmapa lama from that point of view.

To answer your question, there are what are called special shamatha which are forms designed to bring swift progress along the stages of shamatha. One is introduced to them when it is necessary to develop shamatha to a certain extent.

If you are interested in learning these forms, you will have to begin by finding a teacher and following their path of progressive stages of meditation.

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passel
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by passel » Mon Aug 27, 2018 2:21 am

Marc wrote:
Sun Aug 26, 2018 8:39 pm
Dzogchen cycles often include some Shamatha preliminaries, but as far as I know, these do not seem to aim at deep states of absorption but rather to lighter states of mental peace and lucidity
They're deep, they're just not narrow. Peace and lucidity is good. There's more.
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

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passel
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by passel » Mon Aug 27, 2018 2:25 am

TrimePema wrote:
Mon Aug 27, 2018 1:42 am
You might be better served looking at the stages of shamatha and asking a nyingmapa lama from that point of view.

To answer your question, there are what are called special shamatha which are forms designed to bring swift progress along the stages of shamatha. One is introduced to them when it is necessary to develop shamatha to a certain extent.

If you are interested in learning these forms, you will have to begin by finding a teacher and following their path of progressive stages of meditation.
9 stages of shamatha could form a useful foundation, but 9 stages of shamatha are not dzogchen shamatha, or mm shamatha; they are sutra shamatha. So fine/ good/ skillful, but not the shamatha you find in dzogchen teachings, exactly.

It's great if one can meet one of theses "teachers" everyone keeps talking about, but the authentic ones are rare indeed- it takes more than just hanging up a shingle to be a teacher. Self-reliance is called for if you don't want to waste your precious human life; you want to be able to learn from a teacher when you do encounter her or him. That takes some heavy butt-to-cushion application using the instructions that you already have.
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

krodha
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by krodha » Mon Aug 27, 2018 4:05 am

Śamatha needn’t be Dzogchen specific.

As mentioned above the mental factors that accompany the first dhyāna are an ideal foundation for Dzogchen practice. The “first dhyāna” means the initial dhyāna in the very same dhyānic strata cultivated in sūtrayāna.

krodha
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by krodha » Mon Aug 27, 2018 4:11 am

Noteworthy prior examples of what Malcolm has written on this subject:
  • Samadhi/dhyāna is a natural mental factor, we all have it. The problem is that we naturally allow this mental factor to rest on afflictive objects such as HBO, books, video games, etc.

    Śamatha practice is the discipline of harnessing our natural predisposition for concentration, and shifting it from afflictive conditioned phenomena to nonafflictive conditioned phenomena, i.e., the phenomena of the path. We do this in order to create a well tilled field for the growth of vipaśyāna. Śamatha ultimately allows us to have mental stability and suppresses afflictive mental factors so that we may eventually give rise to authentic insight into the nature of reality. While it is possible to have vipaśyāna without cultivating śamatha, it is typically quite unstable and lacks the power to effectively eradicate afflictive patterning from our minds. Therefore, the basis of all practice in Buddhadharma, from Abhidharma to the Great Perfection, is the cultivation of śamatha as a preliminary practice for germination of vipaśyāna.
And,
  • Rongzom makes the point very clearly that Dzogchen practitioners must develop the mental factors that characterize the first dhyana, vitarka, vicara, pritvi, sukha and ekagraha, i.e. applied attention, sustained attention, physical ease, mental ease and one-pointedness. If you do not have a stable śamatha practice, you can't really call yourself a Dzogchen practitioner at all. At best, you can call yourself someone who would like to be a Dzogchen practitioner a ma rdzogs chen pa. People who think that Dzogchen frees one from the need to meditate seriously are seriously deluded.
And,
  • Whether you are following Dzogchen or Mahamudra, and regardless of your intellectual understanding, your meditation should have, at base, the following characteristics:

    Prthvi -- physical ease
    Sukha -- mental joy
    Ekagraha -- one-pointedness
    Vitarka -- initial engagement
    Vicara -- sustained engagement

    If any of these is missing, you have not even achieved perfect śamatha regardless of whether or not you are using an external object, the breath or even the nature of the mind... Even in Dzogchen, the five mental factors I mentioned are key without which you are really not going to make any progress.

falcon
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by falcon » Mon Aug 27, 2018 4:42 am

Thanks Krodha,

Regardless of how deep one is able to abide in Jhana absorption (24 hrs still in first jhana. 2 weeks without breath in fourth as the Vissu examples). As long as the 5 hindrances are gone, that state is sufficient for Dzogchen practice?

krodha
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by krodha » Mon Aug 27, 2018 5:09 am

Also per Malcolm, from the sgra thal ‘gyur tantra:
  • The faults of not meditating are:
    the characteristics of samsara appear to one,
    there is self and other, object and consciousness,
    the view is verbal,
    the field is perceptual,
    one is bound by afflictions,
    also one throws away the path of the buddhahood,
    one does not understand the nature of the result,
    a basis for the sameness of all phenomena does not exist,
    one's vidyā is bound by the three realms,
    and one will fall into conceptuality.

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weitsicht
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by weitsicht » Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:20 am

What is that?
Vitarka -- initial engagement
Ho! All the possible appearances and existences of samsara and nirvana have the same source, yet two paths and two results arise as the magical display of awareness and unawareness.
HO NANG SRI KHOR DAE THAMCHE KUN ZHI CHIG LAM NYI DRAE BU NYI RIG DANG MA RIG CHOM THRUL TE

PeterC
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by PeterC » Mon Aug 27, 2018 1:54 pm

falcon wrote:
Mon Aug 27, 2018 1:15 am
Thank you for the thorough response.

Any contending word to that of Alan Wallace's stance that the Vissudhimagga should be the standard? :jedi:
When Alan Wallace talks about “achieving” shamatha he is referring to access concentration to the first jhana

I don’t know which interpretation of the jhanas he refers to though. As you know there is a lot of difference between what the vishudhimagga describes and what the Pali canon describes, and this is one of a number of debates amongst Theravadans on the role of the jhanas

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heart
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by heart » Mon Aug 27, 2018 2:14 pm

falcon wrote:
Mon Aug 27, 2018 4:42 am
Thanks Krodha,

Regardless of how deep one is able to abide in Jhana absorption (24 hrs still in first jhana. 2 weeks without breath in fourth as the Vissu examples). As long as the 5 hindrances are gone, that state is sufficient for Dzogchen practice?
Not really necessary to train in shamatha until you meet a Dzogchen master and get accepted as a student. Training to much in shamatha can make it difficult to recognize the natural state.

/magnus
"We are all here to help each other go through this thing, whatever it is."
~Kurt Vonnegut

"The principal practice is Guruyoga. But we need to understand that any secondary practice combined with Guruyoga becomes a principal practice." ChNNR (Teachings on Thun and Ganapuja)

LoveFromColorado
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by LoveFromColorado » Mon Aug 27, 2018 3:47 pm

PeterC wrote:
Mon Aug 27, 2018 1:54 pm
When Alan Wallace talks about “achieving” shamatha he is referring to access concentration to the first jhana
To expand on this a little bit, Wallace often says "access to" the first jhana. The interpretation he gives here is that "access to" the first jhana is achieved when one can achieve meditative stability for up to four hours (meaning no distraction at all - not even for the length of a thought - and only focused concentration on the object of meditation). The first jhana requires 24 hours of meditative stability which often requires years/decades of retreat to accomplish (according to Wallace). He himself does not claim to have achived the first jhana from what I can ascertain (in fact I think the opposite, he claims not to have attained it, at least in his Wisdom Academy teachings).

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Malcolm
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by Malcolm » Mon Aug 27, 2018 4:24 pm

weitsicht wrote:
Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:20 am
What is that?
Vitarka -- initial engagement
Initial engagement with the object of meditation, i.e., vitarka.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Malcolm
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by Malcolm » Mon Aug 27, 2018 4:26 pm

falcon wrote:
Mon Aug 27, 2018 1:15 am
Thank you for the thorough response.

Any contending word to that of Alan Wallace's stance that the Vissudhimagga should be the standard? :jedi:
The Visuddhimagga should not, under any circumstance, be regarded as the standard for defining these things In Dzogchen teachings. Dzogchen is squarely within the Sarvastivada/Sautrantika Abdhidharmakośa tradition. Therefore, it's definitions are the ones salient to Dzogchen practice and concepts.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

PeterC
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by PeterC » Mon Aug 27, 2018 4:42 pm

LoveFromColorado wrote:
Mon Aug 27, 2018 3:47 pm
PeterC wrote:
Mon Aug 27, 2018 1:54 pm
When Alan Wallace talks about “achieving” shamatha he is referring to access concentration to the first jhana
To expand on this a little bit, Wallace often says "access to" the first jhana. The interpretation he gives here is that "access to" the first jhana is achieved when one can achieve meditative stability for up to four hours (meaning no distraction at all - not even for the length of a thought - and only focused concentration on the object of meditation). The first jhana requires 24 hours of meditative stability which often requires years/decades of retreat to accomplish (according to Wallace). He himself does not claim to have achived the first jhana from what I can ascertain (in fact I think the opposite, he claims not to have attained it, at least in his Wisdom Academy teachings).
I doubt you would find many teachers thinking that this was a prerequisite for practising Dzogchen, and you would indeed find many who believe that it would be counterproductive to do this.

The advocates of the Vishudhimagga definitions of the jhanas also tend to overlook inconvenient comments in the text such as the following (remember that these achievements are strictly sequential):
Now, the kasina preliminary work is difficult for a beginner and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. The arousing of the sign is difficult for one who has done the preliminary work and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. To extend the sign when it has arisen and to reach absorption is difficult and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. To tame one’s mind in the fourteen ways after reaching absorption is difficult and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. The transformation by supernormal power after training one’s mind in the fourteen ways is difficult and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. Rapid response after attaining transformation is difficult and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it.

LoveFromColorado
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by LoveFromColorado » Mon Aug 27, 2018 5:24 pm

PeterC wrote:
Mon Aug 27, 2018 4:42 pm
I doubt you would find many teachers thinking that this was a prerequisite for practising Dzogchen, and you would indeed find many who believe that it would be counterproductive to do this.
Thanks PeterC - I am not saying Wallace says this is a prerequisite. This is simply his articulation of Shamatha training and approaching the first jhana. Wallace views Shamatha as a useful tool to train the attention and mind that is often disregarded even by many in the various Tibetan traditions not to mention elsewhere outside of Buddhism (Shamatha is not strictly Buddhist). In Wallace's terms, Shamatha is a technology of the mind but not a practice in and of itself to advance along the Buddhist path. In fact, he articulates that many get to Shamatha thinking they have achieved enlightenment whereas they have only trained their mind to focus and not advance along a path at all.

Shamatha and approaching the first jhana is the first step in practicing traditional Vipassana. Trying to do Vipassana without Shamatha is akin to "spinning your wheels" in many respects (at least according to Wallace). That said, Shamatha/Vipassana and Dzogchen (or other practices) can be mutually exclusive to a large degree. Shamatha/Vipassana are found in other spiritual traditions (Hindu, Jain, etc.). That said, I don't think it is counterproductive necessarily to engage in these practices but (in my opinion) is not a prerequisite or a mandatory thing.

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Malcolm
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by Malcolm » Mon Aug 27, 2018 5:33 pm

LoveFromColorado wrote:
Mon Aug 27, 2018 5:24 pm
Shamatha/Vipassana are found in other spiritual traditions (Hindu, Jain, etc.). That said, I don't think it is counterproductive necessarily to engage in these practices but (in my opinion) is not a prerequisite or a mandatory thing.
Sorry, but a correction is in order here. Vipaśyāna is strictly Buddhist. And since you are conversing within the Tibetan tradition, you should not mix up Theravada Abhidhamma concepts with their counterparts in Sarvastivāda, which forms the basis of the Indo-Tibetan tradition.

Kamalaśilas Middle Bhavanakrama, this the presentation most commonly referenced in Tibetan Buddhism.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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