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Meditation Fundamentals

There are two types of meditation: shamata, or single focus,
meditation, and vipassana, or analytic, meditation.

Shamata meditation does not use thought processes. Vipassana meditation
does use some degree of thought in the search for ultimate reality.
The ultimate goal is to go beyond ordinary perception. Meditation is
not a way to escape the harshness of the world, but a way to see the
harshness of the world is a creation of our own mind and then to prevent
our mind from creating this nastiness or harshness.

To achieve this, it is necessary to combine the two types of
meditation.

To make meditation part of your life, you need courage, interest and
inspiration. This will come when you understand the benefits.

Benefits

Shamata meditation helps us realize when we are getting angry. We learn
to see the prime cause of anger arising, and we learn how to stop that.
We become fully aware of the consequences of our actions before we
engage in them. This helps us to abstain, to refrain from negative
actions.

We find it easier to let go of our emotions, to free ourselves from the
control emotions have over us.
These things happen only when we acquire a good understanding of
shamata meditation and gain personal experience after training in
shamata meditation.

Finally, we will see that we collect misinformation from the appearance
of objects. Our deluded mind affects how objects appear, and when those
objects don’t match our expectations, we experience disappointment,
frustration and anger.

In our minds, objects are attractive or unattractive. Consequently, we
feel attachment, desire, clinging, longing. Or we feel repulsion,
aversion, dislike, rejection.

Or we feel even more complicated emotions, such as jealousy. Jealousy
has anger within it, the quality of wanting and not wanting. It is more
complicated than attachment. Outrage, malice and resentment are also
complicated emotions.

Attachment is a strong feeling of intimacy. But it also includes
self-interest, so attachment is not compassion. As long as self-interest
is present, compassion is not.

Shamata meditation

In shamata meditation we withdraw our focus from the external world and
its objects. We turn inward. We stop focusing on the five senses. We try
to improve the quality of awareness by attaining mental stability and
mental clarity.

Without stability and clarity we are not meditating. We are simply
experiencing a deep calmness.

Nor are we meditating when we experience a sinking sensation. The
sinking sensation is a warning we are on our way to sleep. We may
experience that as a sort of peace, but afterward, we will return to our
normal behavior.

Once we learn to meditate, to emphasize stability and clarity, we can
attain joy or bliss. We carry that into our post-meditation period when
we are dealing with daily life. The more we gain stability and clarity,
the more we gain a fresh and alert mind. The longer we remain fresh and
alert, the more likely we are to see objects as they really are.

When you meditate:

1. Bring your mind here

2. Stop thinking (as much as you can)

3. When thoughts arise, don’t suppress them, just let them come and go.

Don’t pay attention to them. Don’t listen to the tune of your thoughts.

After some practice, you will notice longer periods of time between
thoughts.

Then you will not only be able to remain in a thoughtless state of
mind, you will also be able to keep something in your awareness as an
object of meditation.

Finally, there will be no separation between your focus and yourself,
no duality. What remains active is your awareness of the object of
meditation.

Geshe Dakpa Topgyal
Columbia, SC, January 20, 2001