What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

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

Post by Spelare » Sat Sep 01, 2018 9:43 pm

If the OP is still interested in cultivating śamatha prior to connecting with a guru, this book by Tony Duff looks pretty good. His premise is to teach śamatha-vipaśyanā in a way that aligns well with the approach of Mahāmudrā and Dzogchen, yet which does not reveal any of the inner aspects that require in-person guidance from one's teacher. It's called "A Complete Session of Meditation."

https://www.amazon.com/dp/9937572711/

He says he began to develop the book while working as a translator for Mingyur Rinpoche, and it features some words from Rinpoche at the beginning about one's "enlightened core" as the basis for practice. Then it gives some citations of sūtras and masters about buddha-nature, a presentation of the path using the Four Dharmas of Gampopa, and Duff's explanations of how to construct a complete session of meditation (refuge & bodhicitta, meditation on emptiness, dedication of merits). He says the structure resembles Five-Part Mahāmudrā without the elements that require empowerment: visualizing oneself as a deity and performing guru yoga. The book closes with a taste of the vajra vehicle approach that's just enough to entice one to seek out a qualified teacher.
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LolCat
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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by LolCat » Sun Sep 02, 2018 3:08 am

Spelare wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 9:43 pm
If the OP is still interested in cultivating śamatha prior to connecting with a guru, this book by Tony Duff looks pretty good. His premise is to teach śamatha-vipaśyanā in a way that aligns well with the approach of Mahāmudrā and Dzogchen, yet which does not reveal any of the inner aspects that require in-person guidance from one's teacher. It's called "A Complete Session of Meditation."

https://www.amazon.com/dp/9937572711/

He says he began to develop the book while working as a translator for Mingyur Rinpoche, and it features some words from Rinpoche at the beginning about one's "enlightened core" as the basis for practice. Then it gives some citations of sūtras and masters about buddha-nature, a presentation of the path using the Four Dharmas of Gampopa, and Duff's explanations of how to construct a complete session of meditation (refuge & bodhicitta, meditation on emptiness, dedication of merits). He says the structure resembles Five-Part Mahāmudrā without the elements that require empowerment: visualizing oneself as a deity and performing guru yoga. The book closes with a taste of the vajra vehicle approach that's just enough to entice one to seek out a qualified teacher.
A similar practice outline(I think) by Mingyur Rinpoche himself:
https://learning.tergar.org/2016/04/23/ ... -the-path/
https://learning.tergar.org/2013/10/07/ ... -the-path/
https://learning.tergar.org/course_libr ... -the-path/

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

Post by Nyingjetsal » Sun Sep 09, 2018 12:40 am

Well, as a student of both Alan Wallace and of Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche I think like this.

Alan teaches shamatha from the point of view of different traditions, but his approach is characterized by his training in gelugpa/lamrim as well as Sri Lankan Therevada. That approach is a gradual one where you start out with shamatha, and after having stabilized shamatha to at least access jhana you move on to the investigative vipassana and so forth. He also teaches shamatha from what he calles 'the discovery approach' which is the nature of mind perspective. Here he says that you may glimps the nature of mind if receiving the pointing out instruction but without a stable mind you will loose it again, therefore shamatha training supports your nature of mind training.

From the point of view of TUR approach, shamatha as taught in the gradual approach is a dualistic fixation which locks the mind onto an object and thus hinders awareness from becoming aware of itself. In this approach one starts with the pointing out instruction and as support for that the ngondro (I've heard Kalu Rinpoche say that Shamatha may be an alternative approach for those who are not drawn to ngondro), and after having gotten a glimps of the natural state, one trains in letting be Into the natural state by looking and letting be many short times repeated again and again. When recognizing awareness, natural inherent stability is allowed to unfold. Stability is therefore naturally present without having to 'force' it through shamatha alone which here is considered an artificial 'man made' peace. TUR said that this approach is much faster and that it is unnecessary to go the much longer path of first training in a fixated, man made state which sooner or later has to be abandoned anyways. The view is therefore emphasizes because it is that which one needs to become familiarized with. It is the ones true nature which is beyond content, stillness and movement. From a dzogchen perspective I guess the experiences of jhana, bliss, non-conceptuality, clarity and so forth are considered as meditative experiences, and are thus a sidetrack if one fixates on them.

Perhaps this is also true fron the basic vehicle. In a story from the Therevada Forest Tradition which Ajahn Chah told to his student Jack Kornfield, Chah said that he first practiced many years alone in the forests. He acheived great meditative experiences such as being able to transform his body into light, mastering the jhanas and so forth. But when he met his teacher Ajahn Mun, and shared his experiences Mun was not impressed. He Said: "Chah you've missed the point, those are just meditative experiences, you need to look into what it is that is aware".

/Erik

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

Post by Nyingjetsal » Sun Sep 09, 2018 5:55 am

Would just like to add, that the main difference between Alans and the TUR approaches is if one starts out with shamatha and then vipassana (like for example Shantideva describes) or if one starts with Vipassana and then stabilizing that.

Not sure Alans approach is the standard approach for Lamrim, not trained in that tradition myself, but if I understood correctly one normally starts with clarifying the view from a detailed study and debating of Madhyamaka and on that basis one goes on to practice shamatha, and then integrating that stabilization with vipassana though contemplation of the nature of reality.

Guess the main point here is that in all traditions one needs to integrate shamatha and vipassana, but the question is at what point this integration takes place.

/Erik

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

Post by heart » Sun Sep 09, 2018 9:13 am

Nyingjetsal wrote:
Sun Sep 09, 2018 12:40 am
Well, as a student of both Alan Wallace and of Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche I think like this.

Alan teaches shamatha from the point of view of different traditions, but his approach is characterized by his training in gelugpa/lamrim as well as Sri Lankan Therevada. That approach is a gradual one where you start out with shamatha, and after having stabilized shamatha to at least access jhana you move on to the investigative vipassana and so forth. He also teaches shamatha from what he calles 'the discovery approach' which is the nature of mind perspective. Here he says that you may glimps the nature of mind if receiving the pointing out instruction but without a stable mind you will loose it again, therefore shamatha training supports your nature of mind training.

From the point of view of TUR approach, shamatha as taught in the gradual approach is a dualistic fixation which locks the mind onto an object and thus hinders awareness from becoming aware of itself. In this approach one starts with the pointing out instruction and as support for that the ngondro (I've heard Kalu Rinpoche say that Shamatha may be an alternative approach for those who are not drawn to ngondro), and after having gotten a glimps of the natural state, one trains in letting be Into the natural state by looking and letting be many short times repeated again and again. When recognizing awareness, natural inherent stability is allowed to unfold. Stability is therefore naturally present without having to 'force' it through shamatha alone which here is considered an artificial 'man made' peace. TUR said that this approach is much faster and that it is unnecessary to go the much longer path of first training in a fixated, man made state which sooner or later has to be abandoned anyways. The view is therefore emphasizes because it is that which one needs to become familiarized with. It is the ones true nature which is beyond content, stillness and movement. From a dzogchen perspective I guess the experiences of jhana, bliss, non-conceptuality, clarity and so forth are considered as meditative experiences, and are thus a sidetrack if one fixates on them.

Perhaps this is also true fron the basic vehicle. In a story from the Therevada Forest Tradition which Ajahn Chah told to his student Jack Kornfield, Chah said that he first practiced many years alone in the forests. He acheived great meditative experiences such as being able to transform his body into light, mastering the jhanas and so forth. But when he met his teacher Ajahn Mun, and shared his experiences Mun was not impressed. He Said: "Chah you've missed the point, those are just meditative experiences, you need to look into what it is that is aware".

/Erik
Thank you Erik, that was a great summary indeed.

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

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

Post by dharmafootsteps » Sun Sep 09, 2018 9:31 am

Nyingjetsal wrote:
Sun Sep 09, 2018 12:40 am
Well, as a student of both Alan Wallace and of Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche I think like this.

Alan teaches shamatha from the point of view of different traditions, but his approach is characterized by his training in gelugpa/lamrim as well as Sri Lankan Therevada. That approach is a gradual one where you start out with shamatha, and after having stabilized shamatha to at least access jhana you move on to the investigative vipassana and so forth. He also teaches shamatha from what he calles 'the discovery approach' which is the nature of mind perspective. Here he says that you may glimps the nature of mind if receiving the pointing out instruction but without a stable mind you will loose it again, therefore shamatha training supports your nature of mind training.

From the point of view of TUR approach, shamatha as taught in the gradual approach is a dualistic fixation which locks the mind onto an object and thus hinders awareness from becoming aware of itself. In this approach one starts with the pointing out instruction and as support for that the ngondro (I've heard Kalu Rinpoche say that Shamatha may be an alternative approach for those who are not drawn to ngondro), and after having gotten a glimps of the natural state, one trains in letting be Into the natural state by looking and letting be many short times repeated again and again. When recognizing awareness, natural inherent stability is allowed to unfold. Stability is therefore naturally present without having to 'force' it through shamatha alone which here is considered an artificial 'man made' peace. TUR said that this approach is much faster and that it is unnecessary to go the much longer path of first training in a fixated, man made state which sooner or later has to be abandoned anyways. The view is therefore emphasizes because it is that which one needs to become familiarized with. It is the ones true nature which is beyond content, stillness and movement. From a dzogchen perspective I guess the experiences of jhana, bliss, non-conceptuality, clarity and so forth are considered as meditative experiences, and are thus a sidetrack if one fixates on them.

Perhaps this is also true fron the basic vehicle. In a story from the Therevada Forest Tradition which Ajahn Chah told to his student Jack Kornfield, Chah said that he first practiced many years alone in the forests. He acheived great meditative experiences such as being able to transform his body into light, mastering the jhanas and so forth. But when he met his teacher Ajahn Mun, and shared his experiences Mun was not impressed. He Said: "Chah you've missed the point, those are just meditative experiences, you need to look into what it is that is aware".

/Erik
Really useful write-up, thank you. My first retreat was shamatha with Alan Wallace, then after that I mostly studied with Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche and Chögyal Namkhai Norbu. Alan emphasised shamatha so much that the different approaches confused me for a while.

It's extremely useful to hear a concise summary TUR's approach to help me understand CNR's teachings on this now.

It sounds to me like ChNN is probably quite similar in this respect to TUR. Does anyone know if that's the case?

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Re: What Shamatha tradition best prepares one for Dzogchen?

Post by Aryjna » Sun Sep 09, 2018 9:47 am

dharmafootsteps wrote:
Sun Sep 09, 2018 9:31 am


It sounds to me like ChNN is probably quite similar in this respect to TUR. Does anyone know if that's the case?
At first I thought ChNNR's approach may be a bit different because I didn't know what other teachers do, but the more I learn about other teachers, those who teach Dzogchen at least so Alan Wallace may differ because he comes primarily from a different background, the more it seems they all have the same approach, first the DI and then you practice for purification/accumulations and for clarifying doubts. It seems even the Kadampa masters, who are often mentioned as mainly sutra practitioners, did the same thing according to Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche:
The Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones wrote:According to the pith-instructions of the precious Kadampa teachers, you are first introduced to the nature of the mind, absolute bodhichitta, and you then cultivate compassion for all beings, relative bodhichitta.

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

Post by LoveFromColorado » Tue Sep 11, 2018 12:20 pm

Great recap of Wallace's approach. Coincidentally, I am working through his Shamatha training material on Wisdom Publications, and in the current segment I am on he explicitly warns against reifying the subconscious as its own entity existing from its own side and instead recommends looking at it as bringing more subtle degrees of experience into our explicit awareness. In other words, not wrapping "borders" around the subconscious mind but instead increasingly recognizing more subtle degrees of thought ("raising" one's awareness, if you will).

In light of this discussion I think this is a pertinent point. I am paraphrasing but I hope that makes sense :)

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

Post by Malcolm » Tue Sep 11, 2018 3:51 pm

Aryjna wrote:
Sun Sep 09, 2018 9:47 am
dharmafootsteps wrote:
Sun Sep 09, 2018 9:31 am


It sounds to me like ChNN is probably quite similar in this respect to TUR. Does anyone know if that's the case?
At first I thought ChNNR's approach may be a bit different because I didn't know what other teachers do, but the more I learn about other teachers, those who teach Dzogchen at least so Alan Wallace may differ because he comes primarily from a different background, the more it seems they all have the same approach, first the DI and then you practice for purification/accumulations and for clarifying doubts. It seems even the Kadampa masters, who are often mentioned as mainly sutra practitioners, did the same thing according to Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche:
The Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones wrote:According to the pith-instructions of the precious Kadampa teachers, you are first introduced to the nature of the mind, absolute bodhichitta, and you then cultivate compassion for all beings, relative bodhichitta.
Early Kadampas were all from Nyingma families...
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

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

Post by Nyingjetsal » Tue Sep 11, 2018 7:40 pm

LoveFromColorado wrote:
Tue Sep 11, 2018 12:20 pm
Great recap of Wallace's approach. Coincidentally, I am working through his Shamatha training material on Wisdom Publications, and in the current segment I am on he explicitly warns against reifying the subconscious as its own entity existing from its own side and instead recommends looking at it as bringing more subtle degrees of experience into our explicit awareness. In other words, not wrapping "borders" around the subconscious mind but instead increasingly recognizing more subtle degrees of thought ("raising" one's awareness, if you will).

In light of this discussion I think this is a pertinent point. I am paraphrasing but I hope that makes sense :)
Yes, exactly. In the gelupa tradition one distinguishes between coarse mind, subtle mind and very subtle mind. Coarse mind is our dualistic everyday perception which sort of corresponds to the desire realm, then we have the subtle mind which Alan refers to as the substrate consciousness (what is sometimes referred to as alaya consciousness or ground consciousness) which is the basis for samsara and were we hang out when our senses have imploded into absorption which corresponds to the heavenly realms of highest desire realms (acess jhana?), form realm and formless realm, and then finally very subtle mind which corresponds to the mind of clear light (rigpa) which is corresponds to the ones nature and is beyond all realms.

To notice thoughts, no matter hos subtle these thoughts are means that we are doing something, and that we have a meditation object. When there is an object there is a subject and therefore it is a dualistic meditation that would according to the TUR perspective be a doing which occupies the mind and therefore blocks recognition... No matter if we are in absorption or in a very ordinary emotion, from the perspective of rigpa all those mindsets have the same essence, the problem is just that we don't recognize that essence. So no matter how lofty meditation, it is just experiences... I think it is better to discuss these matters with experienced teachers, in my case I'm just running the risk of bad karma by spreading confusions...

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

Post by passel » Tue Sep 11, 2018 9:01 pm

Well, that’s an accurate summary of well-published statements, so if you’re spreading misinformation you’re hardly to blame!
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

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