What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

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

Post by florin » Thu Aug 30, 2018 3:52 pm

Wallace, in his book on shamatha from Dudjom Lingpa's revelation, suggests that the tremendous potential that can be developed by extensively training in shamahta, can become infinitely more powerful if on that basis we continue to train in vipashyana, generation, treckchod, thogal, etc.
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by LoveFromColorado » Thu Aug 30, 2018 4:13 pm

That is also the main reason that shamatha is not by itself the true path of liberation; it needs to be conjoined with the clear seeing of vipashyana on every level, all the way to complete enlightenment.
Not to interject or defend Alan Wallace, but he says this exact same thing in the Shamatha teachings I have heard from him. To paraphrase his words, Shamatha is a mind technology/tool only, not a path. The goal is to approach the first jhana in order to then engage in Vipassana (presumably in the context of Dzogchen).

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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by passel » Thu Aug 30, 2018 4:22 pm

heart wrote:
Thu Aug 30, 2018 3:21 pm
The natural state of totally naked awareness has the quality of being unimpeded; that is true freedom. Recognize the moment of totally open and unimpeded awareness, which does not hold or dwell on anything whatsoever. This is not the mere absence of thought activity, as in induced serenity. That is one major difference. That is also the main reason that shamatha is not by itself the true path of liberation; it needs to be conjoined with the clear seeing of vipashyana on every level, all the way to complete enlightenment.
http://blazing-splendor.blogspot.com/20 ... tulku.html

/magnus
Ya. That’s my understanding of his position too. Not sure how you get to don’t do shamatha from that.
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by Spelare » Thu Aug 30, 2018 6:05 pm

passel wrote:
Thu Aug 30, 2018 4:22 pm
Ya. That’s my understanding of his position too. Not sure how you get to don’t do shamatha from that.
I think the point he's making is that it doesn't make sense to do śamatha alone if we aspire to liberation. Now, Wallace does sometimes teach śamatha-only retreats, but his intent is to offer something that is a mental technology of benefit to anyone, not only Buddhists or those seeking to awaken. And then he adds vipaśyanā for those who want more than that ethically neutral technology.

If one's intent is to wake up, it is hard for me to imagine a good reason to cultivate śamatha alone for any length of time. It makes sense to receive view teachings all the way along, from the very beginning. They seem to help even in coming to a sense of peace and stillness, let alone the arising of more profound insight. And they help us not become attached to this or that meditative state, reminding us that having experiences is not the goal.

Contriving to avoid being introduced until one has achieved a measure of success at stilling the mind through effort does not seem likely to avert the risk of clinging to the view at a conceptual level. Knowing how discursive thought operates, one should expect such reification to happen repeatedly. It's just par for the course. But the more we glimpse, taste, and investigate, the less prone we are to confuse any intellectual assemblage for the uncontrived actuality it is attempting to emulate.
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by heart » Thu Aug 30, 2018 6:42 pm

passel wrote:
Thu Aug 30, 2018 4:22 pm
heart wrote:
Thu Aug 30, 2018 3:21 pm
The natural state of totally naked awareness has the quality of being unimpeded; that is true freedom. Recognize the moment of totally open and unimpeded awareness, which does not hold or dwell on anything whatsoever. This is not the mere absence of thought activity, as in induced serenity. That is one major difference. That is also the main reason that shamatha is not by itself the true path of liberation; it needs to be conjoined with the clear seeing of vipashyana on every level, all the way to complete enlightenment.
http://blazing-splendor.blogspot.com/20 ... tulku.html

/magnus
Ya. That’s my understanding of his position too. Not sure how you get to don’t do shamatha from that.
TUR never taught shamatha as a separate practice, that is where you get lost. At least if you are heading towards Dzogchen.

/magnus
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by passel » Thu Aug 30, 2018 6:44 pm

Talking past each other here. Nm.
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heart
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by heart » Thu Aug 30, 2018 6:57 pm

Spelare wrote:
Thu Aug 30, 2018 6:05 pm
passel wrote:
Thu Aug 30, 2018 4:22 pm
Ya. That’s my understanding of his position too. Not sure how you get to don’t do shamatha from that.
I think the point he's making is that it doesn't make sense to do śamatha alone if we aspire to liberation. Now, Wallace does sometimes teach śamatha-only retreats, but his intent is to offer something that is a mental technology of benefit to anyone, not only Buddhists or those seeking to awaken. And then he adds vipaśyanā for those who want more than that ethically neutral technology.

If one's intent is to wake up, it is hard for me to imagine a good reason to cultivate śamatha alone for any length of time. It makes sense to receive view teachings all the way along, from the very beginning. They seem to help even in coming to a sense of peace and stillness, let alone the arising of more profound insight. And they help us not become attached to this or that meditative state, reminding us that having experiences is not the goal.

Contriving to avoid being introduced until one has achieved a measure of success at stilling the mind through effort does not seem likely to avert the risk of clinging to the view at a conceptual level. Knowing how discursive thought operates, one should expect such reification to happen repeatedly. It's just par for the course. But the more we glimpse, taste, and investigate, the less prone we are to confuse any intellectual assemblage for the uncontrived actuality it is attempting to emulate.
Good points, I don't understand how you can separate shamatha from vipaśyanā. I find it utterly unattractive. Probably why I never been very attracted to the traditional Mahamudra approach until my master, Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche, explained that you never practice them separate it is more a slow natural progression towards all vipaśyanā.

/magnus

/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 » Fri Aug 31, 2018 1:25 am

heart wrote:
Thu Aug 30, 2018 6:57 pm
I find it utterly unattractive
Maybe chalk it up to skillful means, different strokes for different folks then? Wallace was authorized to teach through a lineage of Dudjom Lingpa and has spent many years studying under the direct guidance of HHDL. I think those two facts alone would give his teachings some level of credence.

Personally, in my opinion, we are all so different in terms of where we are along our respective paths that it is impossible to be dogmatic about any of these types of details especially in a broad way.

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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by passel » Fri Aug 31, 2018 6:45 am

Just for the sake of enrichment, here's the way one modern dzogchen teacher taught shamatha at one time, to a group of people who, I'd speculate, were a mix of experience levels and had different goals and intentions for their practices. Only some of them would be likely to go on and do dzogchen. As heart observes, there's quite a lot of vipashyana in it as well, if you know what to look for. I think it's interesting:

http://www.deerparkthimphu.org/activities/shamatha.html

This one takes breath as object tho the principles would apply to shamatha on any object or none.

Here's one from a 19th c dzogchenpa, notice the very formal, scholastic style:

http://www.lotsawahouse.org/tibetan-mas ... e-shamatha

Here's Mipham the great, in a fine poem; I've heard that he knew a thing or two about dzogchen:

http://www.lotsawahouse.org/tibetan-mas ... centration

That one is the best of the three, imo. I haven't been able to locate Lerab Lingpa's instructions for settling the mind. They are truly a thing of beauty. Very, very open; very deep if you give them some serious cushion time. If you're inclined to and that's your karmic affinity- everyone different in this regard I believe.

Just trying to indicate a little sliver of the diversity of views. I'm aware that some dzogchenpas do no explicit shamatha at all and I'd bet they manage just fine. Viva la difference.
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by weitsicht » Fri Aug 31, 2018 8:46 am

The lama I started off with also does shamata only.
He is fully trained from Sertar and shamata may also have been a good excuse to apply as little English as necessary.
But he also explained his choice: Westerners are so full of babbling though of which one first of all has to become aware and calm down before anything else can happen. Still that resounds very much with what I perceive in everyday Alltag.
That approach laid out a very good basis for my path I should say.

Getting DI too early and not knowing what to do with it I think can become an obstacle in the continuation.

I am not sure we should judge on the Gurus' preferences. He needs to ascertain in a certain way that students stay on track, whatever obstacle arises. Different upaya for that I guess

On the other hand, would I have stayed with that lama, I would have still looked for myself, not knowing what to look for.
But I should say that I moved, it was no intentional abandonment- another karmic circumstance maybe.

I still like doing shamata, it has a special flavour now, as Mingyur R' said.
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

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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by Aryjna » Fri Aug 31, 2018 9:01 am

Spelare wrote:
Thu Aug 30, 2018 6:05 pm
If one's intent is to wake up, it is hard for me to imagine a good reason to cultivate śamatha alone for any length of time. It makes sense to receive view teachings all the way along, from the very beginning. They seem to help even in coming to a sense of peace and stillness, let alone the arising of more profound insight. And they help us not become attached to this or that meditative state, reminding us that having experiences is not the goal.

Contriving to avoid being introduced until one has achieved a measure of success at stilling the mind through effort does not seem likely to avert the risk of clinging to the view at a conceptual level. Knowing how discursive thought operates, one should expect such reification to happen repeatedly. It's just par for the course. But the more we glimpse, taste, and investigate, the less prone we are to confuse any intellectual assemblage for the uncontrived actuality it is attempting to emulate.
Yes, it does not seem to make sense to postpone the introduction. Furthermore, in light of impermanence, which is considered the most important thing to contemplate and take to heart, I cannot see how it makes any sense to postpone the pointing out instructions or empowerment for any complete beginner with a real interest. What if you are doing shamatha for a few months and then get run over by a bus before having the chance to receive the pointing out instructions? Is the teacher who told you to do that, and as such may have averted you from receiving DI from another qualified master, going to take responsibility for what happens to you?

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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by treehuggingoctopus » Fri Aug 31, 2018 11:18 am

florin wrote:
Thu Aug 30, 2018 3:52 pm
Wallace, in his book on shamatha from Dudjom Lingpa's revelation, suggests that the tremendous potential that can be developed by extensively training in shamahta, can become infinitely more powerful if on that basis we continue to train in vipashyana, generation, treckchod, thogal, etc.
One controversial statement I have heard Wallace make is that you cannot sufficiently develop shamatha through mantra recitation (as in ngondro or deity practice). It is even stranger considering the fact that he claimed he is repeating what Dudjom Lingpa had to say on the issue -- all the Dudjom Tersar teachers I have come across argue that the opposite is true.
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by Marc » Fri Aug 31, 2018 11:27 am

We tend to artificially reduce Shamatha to a "technique", i.e watching the breath, focusing on A etc...

However, it is more a quality to be developed rather than mere technique.

Therefore, whatever practice helps in pacifying / tranquilizing / stabilizing the mind is a kind of Shamatha.

Whether one's object of practice is the breath, mental events, or compassion, the 3 Jewels, our guru's kindness, or the four thoughts etc... All these practices, if done properly, develop Shamatha.  

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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by PeterC » Fri Aug 31, 2018 11:32 am

This thread is getting close to citing one teacher to say that another teacher doesn't know what they're doing. That's usually not a great idea.

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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by treehuggingoctopus » Fri Aug 31, 2018 12:14 pm

I am not really criticising Alan Wallace. I am quite OK with the fact that teachers teach in a billion often (mildly) contradictory ways. (That said, I do not think I agree with Wallace's position -- which, my disagreement notwithstanding, may still be a useful thing to present a particular audience with.)
. . . there they saw a rock! But it wasn't a rock . . .

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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by Matt J » Fri Aug 31, 2018 4:23 pm

That's a bit of a straw man. Any practice that fosters an unhealthy attachment is problematic.

Personally, I think shamatha is under-practiced in the West. I find it hard to believe that a lay person (as most of us are on this forum) would have any issues with "too much" shamatha. I would think that the opposite is the problem--- in fact, nearly every Buddhist teacher of any school I've been with has started out with shamatha. Without some level of calming and focus, I don't see how any practice is possible.

I can see an issue with extreme, one pointed Visudhimagga-type of concentration, but frankly that is only really attainable in long retreats. So I was curious to hear the context of the warning.
passel wrote:
Thu Aug 30, 2018 5:12 am
Matt J wrote:
Thu Aug 30, 2018 4:09 am
How so? What type of shamatha?
PeterC wrote:
Thu Aug 30, 2018 2:58 am
Which statement? The second - that training too much in shamatha can make it difficult to recognize the natural state - is something that a number of reputable teachers will tell you
Any type that fosters unhealthy attachment to the three nyams. Any type w/o renunciation and bodhicitta especially can go askew.
"The essence of meditation practice is to let go of all your expectations about meditation. All the qualities of your natural mind -- peace, openness, relaxation, and clarity -- are present in your mind just as it is. You don't have to do anything different. You don't have to shift or change your awareness. All you have to do while observing your mind is to recognize the qualities it already has."
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by Matt J » Fri Aug 31, 2018 4:24 pm

Not in the same way they don't, at least not in my experience.
Marc wrote:
Fri Aug 31, 2018 11:27 am
We tend to artificially reduce Shamatha to a "technique", i.e watching the breath, focusing on A etc...

However, it is more a quality to be developed rather than mere technique.

Therefore, whatever practice helps in pacifying / tranquilizing / stabilizing the mind is a kind of Shamatha.

Whether one's object of practice is the breath, mental events, or compassion, the 3 Jewels, our guru's kindness, or the four thoughts etc... All these practices, if done properly, develop Shamatha.  
"The essence of meditation practice is to let go of all your expectations about meditation. All the qualities of your natural mind -- peace, openness, relaxation, and clarity -- are present in your mind just as it is. You don't have to do anything different. You don't have to shift or change your awareness. All you have to do while observing your mind is to recognize the qualities it already has."
--- Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by Malcolm » Fri Aug 31, 2018 4:29 pm

treehuggingoctopus wrote:
Fri Aug 31, 2018 11:18 am
florin wrote:
Thu Aug 30, 2018 3:52 pm
Wallace, in his book on shamatha from Dudjom Lingpa's revelation, suggests that the tremendous potential that can be developed by extensively training in shamahta, can become infinitely more powerful if on that basis we continue to train in vipashyana, generation, treckchod, thogal, etc.
One controversial statement I have heard Wallace make is that you cannot sufficiently develop shamatha through mantra recitation (as in ngondro or deity practice). It is even stranger considering the fact that he claimed he is repeating what Dudjom Lingpa had to say on the issue -- all the Dudjom Tersar teachers I have come across argue that the opposite is true.
As does Mañjuśṛmitra and Rongzom Chokyi Paṇḍita. This is also contradicted by Saroruhavajra's presentation of the nine stages of śamatha in the context of the Hevajra sadhana and so on.
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by passel » Fri Aug 31, 2018 4:52 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Fri Aug 31, 2018 4:29 pm
treehuggingoctopus wrote:
Fri Aug 31, 2018 11:18 am
florin wrote:
Thu Aug 30, 2018 3:52 pm
Wallace, in his book on shamatha from Dudjom Lingpa's revelation, suggests that the tremendous potential that can be developed by extensively training in shamahta, can become infinitely more powerful if on that basis we continue to train in vipashyana, generation, treckchod, thogal, etc.
One controversial statement I have heard Wallace make is that you cannot sufficiently develop shamatha through mantra recitation (as in ngondro or deity practice). It is even stranger considering the fact that he claimed he is repeating what Dudjom Lingpa had to say on the issue -- all the Dudjom Tersar teachers I have come across argue that the opposite is true.
As does Mañjuśṛmitra and Rongzom Chokyi Paṇḍita. This is also contradicted by Saroruhavajra's presentation of the nine stages of śamatha in the context of the Hevajra sadhana and so on.
I’ve never heard of a tantric 9 stages- that’s very interesting to me.

As I’ve said before in this and other threads- Wallace is an outlier- his model is based on his PhD dissertation, which is based on the idea that the Lamrim Chenmo, the Visuddhimagga, and theBhavanakramas are in more or less perfect accord, which I think introduces distortions, compounded when he starts bringing various presentations of dzogchen into the mix. Then he’s based a large portion of his professional life on that presentation. Trouble is that it doesn’t really work the way he says it does once butt meets cushion after a few hundred hours. He’s a tough case- I still like a lot of his translation work, but I pretty much abandoned his model as not useful for my own practice years ago.

A tough thing about Wallace is his difficulty taking feedback or dealing w legitimate counterpositions. Faced w a conflicting legitimate position, he either says it’s saying what he is, the audience just can understand that, or says the counter position is hopelessly misguided and not the dharma. But he can sure hook the newbies!
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by monktastic » Fri Aug 31, 2018 5:57 pm

This passage from Mingyur Rinpoche might be illuminating.
In the instructions of the Mahamudra system, the disciple is taught shamatha without reference point. ... There is a specific instruction that goes with this style of practice. It is called “the three of abiding, moving, and knowing”.
...
If you train yourself well, it will turn into a process where the mind is abiding, then it moves and just as it moves there is knowledge of the movement and that very knowledge then causes the movement to become part of the abiding. Thus, the mind goes back to dwelling because of the movement but it is the factor of knowing that causes it to do so.
...
This means that the practice can easily turn into one of unified shamatha-vipashyana that has insight into the reality of mind. This is the style of the Vajra Vehicle shamatha practice rather than the sutra vehicle shamatha which develops a very stable mind but one that is relatively dark and unknowing. In particular, this is how the practice of Mahamudra is done according to the Four Yogas of Mahamudra.
"Shamatha" means different things in different contexts. Alan teaches multiple styles of shamatha.
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa

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