Help on shamatha

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.
MatthewAngby
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Help on shamatha

Post by MatthewAngby » Tue Apr 17, 2018 12:45 pm

Does anyone have any advice given by great masters or rinpoche on their advice for Shamatha meditation? I’m currently doing it on a daily basis. Also , what does Shamatha aim to achieve ultimately ?

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Grigoris
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Re: Help on shamatha

Post by Grigoris » Tue Apr 17, 2018 1:39 pm

MatthewAngby wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 12:45 pm
Does anyone have any advice given by great masters or rinpoche on their advice for Shamatha meditation? I’m currently doing it on a daily basis. Also , what does Shamatha aim to achieve ultimately ?
Yes, it seems supremely logical to me that since you have spent so many years honing your concentration with mindfulness practice, that it is now time for you to embark into insight practice. I reckon you are ready as you will ever be! :thinking:
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: Help on shamatha

Post by Virgo » Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:35 am

MatthewAngby wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 12:45 pm
Does anyone have any advice given by great masters or rinpoche on their advice for Shamatha meditation? I’m currently doing it on a daily basis. Also , what does Shamatha aim to achieve ultimately ?
There are nine stages. First three are the most practical/important. This can be learned at most TB centers. There is a lot online also. Short sessions are good. First thing in the morning is also good as the mind settles down easily at that time of day. You can do the 9 round breathing first, or 3 round, and Guru Yoga if you wish. You can use the breath or a Buddha image.

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MatthewAngby
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Re: Help on shamatha

Post by MatthewAngby » Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:56 am

Grigoris wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 1:39 pm
MatthewAngby wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 12:45 pm
Does anyone have any advice given by great masters or rinpoche on their advice for Shamatha meditation? I’m currently doing it on a daily basis. Also , what does Shamatha aim to achieve ultimately ?
Yes, it seems supremely logical to me that since you have spent so many years honing your concentration with mindfulness practice, that it is now time for you to embark into insight practice. I reckon you are ready as you will ever be! :thinking:
This pratice merely trains my mind to be more calm and perhaps will help me in the future. Mm.. I have no idea what you’re trying to convey tbh, despite the sacarsm intended.

PeterC
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Re: Help on shamatha

Post by PeterC » Wed Apr 18, 2018 8:48 am

MatthewAngby wrote:
Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:56 am
Grigoris wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 1:39 pm
MatthewAngby wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 12:45 pm
Does anyone have any advice given by great masters or rinpoche on their advice for Shamatha meditation? I’m currently doing it on a daily basis. Also , what does Shamatha aim to achieve ultimately ?
Yes, it seems supremely logical to me that since you have spent so many years honing your concentration with mindfulness practice, that it is now time for you to embark into insight practice. I reckon you are ready as you will ever be! :thinking:
This pratice merely trains my mind to be more calm and perhaps will help me in the future. Mm.. I have no idea what you’re trying to convey tbh, despite the sacarsm intended.
Some proponents of shamatha say that its perfection is absolutely nothing
Some critics of excessive focus on shamatha say that nothing is achieved by it
Both regard the practice as essential
:sage:

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Re: Help on shamatha

Post by Punya » Wed Apr 18, 2018 9:57 am

MatthewAngby wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 12:45 pm
Does anyone have any advice given by great masters or rinpoche on their advice for Shamatha meditation? I’m currently doing it on a daily basis.
The usual advice is to begin with short sessions on a daily basis.
Also , what does Shamatha aim to achieve ultimately ?
Shamatha means “peaceful abiding” or “tranquility.” Also called mindfulness or concentration meditation, shamatha is an important introductory practice that leads to the practice of vipashyana, or insight meditation.

The purpose of shamatha meditation is to stabilize the mind by cultivating a steady awareness of the object of meditation. The traditional practice of shamatha uses different kinds of supports or anchors for our practice. Eventually, this leads to practicing without supports and meditating on emptiness itself in an open awareness. For this particular practice, the instructions will be for shamatha meditation using the breath as the focus of our practice.

Shamatha meditation allows us to experience our mind as it is. When we practice shamatha, we are able to see that our mind is full of thoughts, some conducive to our happiness and further realization, and others not. It is not extraordinary that our minds are full of thoughts, and it is important to understand that it is natural to have so much happening in the mind.

Over time, practicing shamatha meditation calms our thoughts and emotions. We experience tranquility of mind and calmly abide with our thoughts as they are. Eventually, this leads to a decrease in unhelpful thoughts.

When we experience stable awareness, we are then ready to practice vipashyana, in which we develop insight into what “mind” is by investigating the nature of thoughts themselves. In the Vajrayana tradition of Buddhism, the ultimate goal is to practice calm abiding and insight in union, which opens the door to realizing the true nature of mind.
www.lionsroar.com/how-to-practice-shama ... -shamatha/
We abide nowhere. We possess nothing.
~Chatral Rinpoche

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Re: Help on shamatha

Post by Grigoris » Wed Apr 18, 2018 10:35 am

MatthewAngby wrote:
Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:56 am
Grigoris wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 1:39 pm
MatthewAngby wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 12:45 pm
Does anyone have any advice given by great masters or rinpoche on their advice for Shamatha meditation? I’m currently doing it on a daily basis. Also , what does Shamatha aim to achieve ultimately ?
Yes, it seems supremely logical to me that since you have spent so many years honing your concentration with mindfulness practice, that it is now time for you to embark into insight practice. I reckon you are ready as you will ever be! :thinking:
This pratice merely trains my mind to be more calm and perhaps will help me in the future. Mm.. I have no idea what you’re trying to convey tbh, despite the sacarsm intended.
My mistake, I misread the title! :emb:
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Wayfarer
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Re: Help on shamatha

Post by Wayfarer » Wed Apr 18, 2018 10:55 am

My take on Buddhist meditation of any kind, is that it’s a really demanding discipline. Face it - ‘don’t sleep in, get up early and sit still in an uncomfortable position for some significant period of time’ - minutes or hours, depending on your fortitude. And why? Don’t ask for a reason - only practice for no gaining idea. That’s it. So stop looking for a payoff - there is no payoff. The payoff is learning how not to look for payoffs, learning how not to want. Learn that, and the rest just follows.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Re: Help on shamatha

Post by Miroku » Wed Apr 18, 2018 12:35 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Wed Apr 18, 2018 10:55 am
My take on Buddhist meditation of any kind, is that it’s a really demanding discipline. Face it - ‘don’t sleep in, get up early and sit still in an uncomfortable position for some significant period of time’ - minutes or hours, depending on your fortitude. And why? Don’t ask for a reason - only practice for no gaining idea. That’s it. So stop looking for a payoff - there is no payoff. The payoff is learning how not to look for payoffs, learning how not to want. Learn that, and the rest just follows.
:good:

But back to the OP.

There is no better reason to do shamatha than to achieve realization and benefit countless beings. With this motivation you will for sure reap all benefits. But ultimately you have to go beyond shamatha. As far as I understand it (and my understanding is very low) shamatha is practiced in order for one to be able to practice lhagtong. So you still your mind in order to gain the insight into the nature of mind, if I am correct.

The other benefits are basiacally that you do not get as distracted, being present and mindfull is easier and therefore it is easier to life according to dharma and ultimately reach enlightenment (because mind becomes a helpful tool, not a burden nor obstacle (like it is normally)).

But honestly do not expect much. I love shamatha, but find it to be the hardest meditation. It makes you face yourself, forces you to sit with your confusion adn that is boring, frustrating and not easy at all.
Child, if you are not hypocritical and out of control, that is conduct.
~ Padampa Sangye

You say such clever things to people, but you do not apply them to yourself.
The faults within you are the ones to be exposed.
~ Padampa Sangye

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Re: Help on shamatha

Post by seeker242 » Wed Apr 18, 2018 12:58 pm

MatthewAngby wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 12:45 pm
Also , what does Shamatha aim to achieve ultimately ?
Ultimately, the alleviation of suffering. Calmness allows for "seeing things as they actually are" and that's required for liberation.
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!

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Malcolm
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Re: Help on shamatha

Post by Malcolm » Wed Apr 18, 2018 3:05 pm

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.
Buddhahood in This Life
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-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
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which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

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Matt J
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Re: Help on shamatha

Post by Matt J » Thu Apr 19, 2018 3:17 am

Matthew, I have personally found it difficult to learn any meditation techniques outside of a retreat. However, there are also online classes one can take (many of them will discount/reduce/eliminate the cost depending on the student). Have you tried to learn from some one who's been there?

One online class I have take and can recommend:

https://learning.tergar.org/course_libr ... -living-1/
"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: Help on shamatha

Post by practitioner » Thu Apr 19, 2018 3:31 am

Wisdom Posdcast has 2 episodes with Alan Wallace where he spends a great deal of time discussing shamatha. I think you may find them helpful.

PS. There is also one with some guy named Malcolm...
One should do nothing other than benefit sentient beings either directly or indirectly - Shantideva

madhusudan
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Re: Help on shamatha

Post by madhusudan » Fri Apr 20, 2018 10:32 pm

Here is another online course option:

https://learn.wisdompubs.org/academy/courses/shamatha/

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Re: Help on shamatha

Post by javier.espinoza.t » Sat Apr 21, 2018 4:50 am

MatthewAngby wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 12:45 pm
Does anyone have any advice given by great masters or rinpoche on their advice for Shamatha meditation? I’m currently doing it on a daily basis. Also , what does Shamatha aim to achieve ultimately ?
it's aim is to settle our mind, make it softer, clearer, calm. To experiment calm state.
also, this is a practice that in the end is intended to realize the emptiness knowledge.

-afaik- according to ChNN calm state and also emptiness knowledge are:
in the sutras, the main point.
in the tantras, one aspect of our condition.
Identities are false and not true

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Re: Help on shamatha

Post by Vasana » Sat Apr 21, 2018 8:54 am

I reccomend this transcript from the preliminary teachings of a 1 year shamatha retreat led by Gen LamRimpa who has over 20 years retreat experience. It's translated by Alan Wallace and has some excellent advice and guidance. It's based on a Tsongkhapa/Gelug text but the training it's self is applicable to all schools.

Samatha Meditation: Tibetan Buddhist Teachings on the Cultivation of Meditative Quiescence

" what does that term, 'extremely stable mind," mean? It means a mind sufficiently able to focus upon emptiness without wavering to any other object ."

Definitely don't neglect shamatha. The first step is just as you are doing - to find out the advantages and benefits of shamatha.

Even if someone has a brief glimpse of the union of shamatha and vippassana, without stability, that insight is said to be like a candle exposed to the wind. Shamatha is like putting a protective layer of glass around the flame so that it can remain stable.

Also check out Jamgon Kongtrul and Kamalishas writing on Shamatha and vippassana.
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'When alone, watch your mind. When with others, watch your speech'- Old Kadampa saying.

MatthewAngby
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Re: Help on shamatha

Post by MatthewAngby » Sat Apr 21, 2018 9:10 am

Malcolm wrote:
Wed Apr 18, 2018 3:05 pm
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.
I see. Thanks all!! But by the way, when I do shamatha, my breath is very forced for some reason and there is much congestion in the chest, something preventing me from breathing peacefully. The breathing seems very fast and rigid, making me feel out of breath. When I try to slow my breath, I get more agitated . What’s wrong with my meditation :///

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Vasana
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Re: Help on shamatha

Post by Vasana » Sat Apr 21, 2018 11:52 am

Read/watch/ attend the various treatsies and teachings on Shamatha. In these all of the faults and antidotes are systematically explained. Agitation and dullness are some of the main faults. In general, breathing shouldn't really be forced during shamatha even if you're using the breath and sensations related to the breath as an object of focus. It gets very easy for the ego/mind to try and force it's attention on the breath or object in a really heavy handed way rather than simply placing it on the object without getting lost in dullness or distraction.

Alan Wallace and Thrangu Rinpoche are great sources of textual and practical shamatha advice.
'When alone, watch your mind. When with others, watch your speech'- Old Kadampa saying.

MatthewAngby
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Re: Help on shamatha

Post by MatthewAngby » Sun Apr 22, 2018 2:57 pm

Vasana wrote:
Sat Apr 21, 2018 11:52 am
Read/watch/ attend the various treatsies and teachings on Shamatha. In these all of the faults and antidotes are systematically explained. Agitation and dullness are some of the main faults. In general, breathing shouldn't really be forced during shamatha even if you're using the breath and sensations related to the breath as an object of focus. It gets very easy for the ego/mind to try and force it's attention on the breath or object in a really heavy handed way rather than simply placing it on the object without getting lost in dullness or distraction.

Alan Wallace and Thrangu Rinpoche are great sources of textual and practical shamatha advice.
Im trying to do shamatha without object. So i just let my mind go free and busy while i remain aware of it. i stay in that awareness, which really helps me more than focusing on breath. Is this the right way to do shamatha without object?

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Vasana
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Re: Help on shamatha

Post by Vasana » Sun Apr 22, 2018 9:01 pm

How much shamatha with an object have you done and for how long to be able to distinguish when it is personally beneficial for you in steadying the mind? You can use objects other than the breath.

Read the books from those who are considered authoritative on this topic. Don't be satisfied with just one source. Survey the teachings. Meditating before studying isn't the most effective way of going forward. How do you know you have a correct or comprehensive understanding about formless shamatha or shamatha in general if you havn't read the advice from those who are well trained in it? I mentioned some of these above to keep you busy and of course you're practicing Kagyu, right? See what the renowned Kagyu masters say. There are easily accesible YouTube teachings if you can't get any books right away.

I also really can't recommend the book from Gen LamRimpa /Alan Wallace enough. So much so that I wish I encountered it years ago!
'When alone, watch your mind. When with others, watch your speech'- Old Kadampa saying.

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