Rinpoche gave a teaching in three sessions on The Nine Stages of Shamatha Meditation, organised on Zoom by the Vietnamese group Phat Phap Pay Tang Dong Karma Kagyu.
Videos are with Vietnamese translation, audio recordings are English only.
by Maggy Jones
Shamatha meditation is practised in all forms of Buddhism. The well known painting of an elephant, a man and a monkey illustrates the 9 stages of Shamatha and the 6 Powers. Three reasons for practice for different types of people. The importance of the 3 Trainings – Good Conduct, Meditation, Wisdom. Remember, whatever you do will affect everything around you – good and bad.
There are different translations for “Shamatha”; “calming the mind” is often used and is an accurate description. Rinpoche describes several methods – use what works for you. 1st Stage is good instructions. Drukpa Kunley’s meditation. There must be balance between relaxation and focus. Rest the mind. Explanation of the painting. Our minds have not become more busy, but meditation makes us aware of how busy it is. Q & A
2nd Stage. Always start your meditation by examining your motivation. Rinpoche explains the influence of the channels and how to use these. Our mind is our worst enemy but can also be our strongest guide. To change our ways is not easy, like curing an addiction. We must work hard but without stress. Don’t pay much attention to the thoughts that arise – good, bad – just let them go. Relax but do not sleep; stay alert.
In the picture the elephant gradually becomes white (calmer) and the man catches up. The 9 depictions of the elephant represent the 9 stages of shamatha. The curves of the road are 6 Powers. 1st Power is Listening. 2nd Reflection. 3rd Mindfulness. 4th Awareness. 5th Diligence. 6th Complete Equanimity. Rinpoche explains. The rabbit is subtle dullness which you only discover with Mindfulness. Q & A
These 9 stages are not different meditations but the same meditation at different levels. Shamatha is “Taming the Mind”. You know how beneficial meditation is and you rejoice. The man is now in front of the elephant, leading it and the monkey only hangs onto its tail. At this stage the full Power of Awareness is perfected. The rabbit has gone. The man is now in control. These are the first six stages. The 7th is almost complete pacification of the mind. Distractions are slight, negative emotions are fewer and weaker. Shamatha will control these but only vipassana will eradicate them. The elephant (your mind) is almost completely white, but diligence is needed to maintain your clarity when you are not in meditation. The 8th is “one-pointedness”. Some effort is still needed but you can control the strength of negative emotions and actions. At the 9th stage no effort is needed you have equanimity – a balanced approach, attending to matters with compassion and dignity. Group Meditation, with guidance from Rinpoche