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Which book on meditation would you recommend?

Posted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:38 pm
by Stephen18
Dear all,

I am looking for a book on meditation from the Gelug school that is like a handbook that I can practice according to, preferably set in stages.

When I was a Theravadin, I tried following according to Ajahn Brahm's "Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond". Is the Dalai Lama's "Stages Of Meditation: Training the mind for wisdom" the best choice? Anything by Lama Yeshe per chance?

Many thanks and metta/maitri!

Re: Which book on meditation would you recommend?

Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 2:24 am
by passel
Gen Lamrimpa, Calming the Mind, also published under the title How to Practice Shamatha Meditation. Realizing Emptiness is the companion volume on Vipashyana.
They’re stage-based and not restricted, so you don’t need tantric empowerment (although it’s always important to get instruction).

Alan Wallace follows Gen Lamrimpa closely in the Attention Revolution; Gen Lamrimpa follows Tsongkhapa closely in the third (English language) volume of the Lam Rim Chenmo. Take Alan’s book with a grain of salt- but overall it’s really useful

Re: Which book on meditation would you recommend?

Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 3:27 am
by Stephen18
Thank you so much, Passel! Bought so many books recently but that's the last set I needed and now I should get down to reading them all. Cheers!

Re: Which book on meditation would you recommend?

Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 3:36 am
by Stephen18
A technical question. In Theravada, one is usually advised to first calm the mind through samatha and only then use this calm mind as a basis for practicing vipassana. Is it the same in Tibetan Buddhism and Gelug with regards to shamatha and vipashyana? Is it important which should come first or can they even be practiced simultaneously or in tandem?

Re: Which book on meditation would you recommend?

Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 4:13 am
by passel
Well, they would usually put some versions of the outer preliminaries before either, but if memory serves, Tsongkhapa says for most shamatha first, then vipasyana, but some the other way around or both together. Some of Kagyus will say that if you practice shamatha with intelligence, vipasyana comes naturally.

Wallace stumps for an extremely deep state of shamatha before you can do any other practices effectively, but I think that’s a minority view.

There’s a guy called Culadasa who has an ideosyncratic but clever take on Gelug-style but Theravada informed stage based meditation. He’s not my cup of tea but I know folks who get a lot out of his book- it’s on Amazon- or hpb.com is better

Re: Which book on meditation would you recommend?

Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 4:21 am
by passel
First Panchen Lama’s mahamudra text is worth a look at some point. There’s a translation with an exceptional commentary by the Dalai Lama at Alex Berzin’s website under the title the Gelug-Kagyu Mahamudra. It’s a whopper, though, and the translation is tough sledding- but it’s well indexed so if you’re curious you can find a lot of treasure in there

Re: Which book on meditation would you recommend?

Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 5:10 am
by Stephen18
Thanks, Passel. In shamatha, do you still have the same four form jhanas, four formless jhanas and the cessation of perception and feeling as ninth?

Re: Which book on meditation would you recommend?

Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:35 am
by Ayu
Stiphan wrote:
Thu Oct 26, 2017 5:10 am
Thanks, Passel. In shamatha, do you still have the same four form jhanas, four formless jhanas and the cessation of perception and feeling as ninth?
As far as I understood, Shamata from the viewpoint of Lamrim is a bit different than what the Palicanon explains for Theravadins. The latter is Shravakayana. In Mahayana they don't call it Jhanas, AFAIK. It's another system that distinguishes the different stages as five paths and ten bhumis.

I think, it is quite well explained in the Berzinarchives: https://studybuddhism.com/en/advanced-s ... ightenment ---> "Progressively Developing the Five Pathway Minds as a Shravaka, Pratyekabuddha, or Bodhisattva" . There they compair the paths of the different traditions and the differences become clear.

Shamata has 10 stages as well. This is again something different, I believe. It is well explained in the Lamrim, the chapter about Shamata.

Re: Which book on meditation would you recommend?

Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:48 am
by Stephen18
You have dhyana, though. What are your dgyanass?

Re: Which book on meditation would you recommend?

Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 9:16 am
by Ayu
Stiphan wrote:
Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:48 am
....dgyanass?
:?: Please elaborate. I don't understand.

Re: Which book on meditation would you recommend?

Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 9:53 am
by Ayu
I found some sources in English, but they are audios only.

"191. Levels of Dyana and Absorbtion Needed for Attaining Arya Paths, and Refutation of Flawed Methods for Gaining Shamatha — October 15,2013"

”196. The nine stages for settling the mind - November 19, 2013"


https://studybuddhism.com/web/x/nav/gro ... 09351.html

Re: Which book on meditation would you recommend?

Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 10:17 am
by Stephen18
Ayu wrote:
Thu Oct 26, 2017 9:16 am
Stiphan wrote:
Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:48 am
....dgyanass?
:?: Please elaborate. I don't understand.
Typo on my phone. I meant dhyanas. In Theravada they have 8 or 9 jhanas. Dhyana is the Sanskrit equivalent. Are they similar in Mahayana and Vajrayana?

Re: Which book on meditation would you recommend?

Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 11:00 am
by ratna
Stiphan wrote:
Thu Oct 26, 2017 10:17 am
Typo on my phone. I meant dhyanas. In Theravada they have 8 or 9 jhanas. Dhyana is the Sanskrit equivalent. Are they similar in Mahayana and Vajrayana?
Dhyāna in Sanskrit = Jhāna in Pali. Same thing in Mahāyāna and Śrāvakayāna. The nine stages of śamatha you see in Mahāyāna are preparatory stages below the first Dhyāna/Jhāna.

The achievement of the four Dhyānas and above is just not emphasized in Mahāyāna because they're not necessary there, so they're more like scholars' topics of study.

R

Re: Which book on meditation would you recommend?

Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 1:02 pm
by passel
Dhyana is a flexible teaching term, don’t confuse signifier with signified. TB preserves teachings on the dhyanas, because they preserve everything. See Meditative States in Tibetan Buddhism, I forget the author. But on the ground, they don’t use them as a teaching device. So whether different terminology and methodology cover the same skill sets and experience is an open question; straightforward comparison will lead to distortion. There’s no there there.

(One example: AW equates Visuddhimagga access concentration with the his presentation of the attainment of shamatha. So after you’ve traversed the nine levels and can rest in the Alaya vijnana for four hours at a stretch without the arising of any gross phenomena, you’re ready to begin jhana practice. Not real user friendly.)

Also, dhyanas and 9 stage shamatha both fall into sravaka level practice. Motivation and insight into two emptiness is basis for Mahayana.

Best to take it all with a grain of salt, and to try not to read one set of instructions through the lens of another. Take questions to the cushion and check in with a teacher whenever you can. You just make the most of the materials available to you and don’t get overly literal about paths and stages. Dharma is for sentient beings not sentient beings for dharma. Best of luck