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Shamatha Meditation Tibetan Buddhist Practices

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This class is based on precious, authentic and original teachings of the Buddha based on the Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy. The word shamatha (in Sanskrit samatha) means “calmly abiding”, as this meditation helps our mind to become peaceful, stable, clear, aware and harmonious. The Shamatha Meditation is for beginners and teachers of meditation, for those who are aspiring to seek self-realization or who look for ways to remove the causes of their own suffering, or who wish to achieve a state of peace. There are no pre-requisites for this class. Each student will benefit according to their motivation.

The purpose of shamatha meditation is to stabilize the mind by cultivating a steady awareness. When we practice calm abiding meditation, we are able to see that our mind is full of thoughts, some conducive to our wellbeing, and others not. Over time, practicing calm abiding meditation calms our thoughts and emotions. We experience tranquility of mind. Unless one has the stability of the mind of calm abiding, one can never gain the wisdom.

It is well known that the primary purpose of the Buddha’s teachings is to attain enlightenment by practicing two forms of meditation: concentration meditation and analytical meditation. The first aims at achieving calm abiding (shamatha) while the second aspires to gaining special insight (vipassana). A mind that is pacified while abiding in single-pointed concentration is referred to as the state of calm-abiding. When such a state is attained, special insight becomes possible. This particular form of wisdom, when coupled with the bliss of meditative suppleness induced by the power of contemplation, is capable of discerning every phenomenon. In other words, calm-abiding is the temporary cessation of mental disruptions of the mind. By calming the mind, it becomes clearer. This allows for profound analysis of wisdom to completely eliminate the very root of these mental disruptions.

Content: 

  • Preparation for meditation
  • Simple vs. authentic Shamatha Meditation
  • Conditions for Shamatha Meditation
  • Benefits of Shamatha Meditation
  • 5 obstacles to calm-abiding and 8 antidotes
  • Nine stages of Shamatha Meditation
  • Achieving the six powers
  • Special insight or wisdom

The life story of the Buddha begins in Lumbini, near the border of Nepal and India, about 2,600 years ago, where the man Siddharta Gautama was born. Although born a prince, he realized that conditioned experiences could not provide lasting happiness. After a long spiritual search he went into deep meditation, where he realized the nature of mind. He achieved the state of unconditional and lasting bliss: the state of enlightenment, of buddhahood. This state of mind is free from disturbing emotions and expresses itself through peace, happiness and active compassion.

“Knowing that the mind’s afflictions are overcome through penetrating insight suffused with stable calm, you should first seek the peace of calm abiding, which is found in joy and non-attachment for the world.” – Śāntideva

Buddha Shakyamuni transmitted teachings to Maitreya and Manjushri, and respectively to Asanga and Nagarjuna, who then transmitted them to the two Lamas, Serlingpa (Suvarnadvipi-Dharmakirti of the Golden Isles) from Indonesia and Rikpekouyouk (Vidyakokila the Elder). These two teaching lineages were united in the 11th century by the Indian Master, Atisha Dipamkara, who devoted himself for seventeen years to the Dharma and the people of Tibet. He in turn transmitted the teachings to his principal spiritual son, the Tibetan master Dromtonpa. These instructions outlined the fundamentals of the path, namely calm-abiding (shamatha) and special insight (vipassana). Atisha wrote the original text, A Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, in which he extracted the essence of teachings of the Buddha and organized 84,000 sutras into a clear, step-like arrangement that makes it easy for an individual practitioner to understand and practice the Dharma. This genre of teachings is known as Lamrim, or steps of the path. These were then carefully preserved and passed on in an interrupted lineage of masters to Lama Tsongkhapa (1357-1419). The Gelugpa (Gelug or Yellow Hat) school of Tibetan Buddhism practices revolve around the teachings of Atisha and Tsongkhapa. The 14th Dalia Lama, His Holiness the Tenzin Gyatso follows the Gelugpa school. Brana received transmission of teachings in this lineage from a Tibetan Lama.

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