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Buddhadharma : Fall 2018
GESHE LHUNDUB SOPA 45 Meditative concentration has many wonderful qualities, but three should be noted in particular. The first is that when we have mastered shamatha, all discursive thought ceases. Although some meditation techniques employ analysis, the purpose of shamatha meditation is for the mind to stay on its object for as long as may be desired without any distraction or agitation. Once we find the object, we do not examine it. In this meditation, the mind is like a butter lamp; once lit, it burns continuously for as long as the fuel lasts. The second special quality of shamatha is a mental clarity that is free of laxity and dullness. Generally we are able to focus on an object for only a short while. At a certain point we lose our clarity regarding the object and our mind becomes more and more dull, until finally we fall asleep. This is laxity or sinking. Both gross and subtle sinking are obstacles to meditative concentration. Tsongkhapa explained mental clarity in detail in the Lamrim Chenmo, specifying how the object appears and how the mind holds the object with an awareness that is neither too tight nor too loose. The third special quality of shamatha is a mental and physical pleasure, a naturally arising delight. Usually when we sit for a long time, the body starts to ache and does not want to cooperate with the mind. But with continuous mental training, a special energy– wind becomes active in the body. The body’s lack of cooperation with the mind slowly diminishes, and it becomes closer to the mind, which has already developed some mental pliancy. As the mind and its subtle physical vehicle, the energy–wind, begin to function in tandem, a physical pliancy is produced. Associated with this is a subtle sensual bliss beneficial for meditation because it eliminates any feeling of tiredness. As a result, yogis can remain for a long time in shamatha meditation. Some can stay in meditative absorption for days or even weeks without any hardship or without even noticing that they have a body. In brief, there are two types of pliancy: mental pliancy, which arises first, and then physical pliancy. Each of these produces a