49. Tranquility of Mind Samatha is a method of training the mind to develop concentration. Samatha meditation is concerned with producing a one-pointed mind. Samatha is one of the two main methods of meditation, which is defined as silencing, or putting to rest the active mind, or let the mind fixed on one place, or in one position. It differs from “contemplation” which observes, examines, etc. Samatha deals with getting rid of distractions, rather than contemplation. When our physical body is at rest, it is called “samatha”; when the mind is seeing clearly, it is called “contemplation.” One of the seven names for meditation. Samatha also means quieting, ceasing, tranquility or serenity comes from the literature of Yogachara school and were put into practice in Tibet as a unified system of meditation. One-pointedness of mind, one of the mental factors in wholesome consciousness; however, samatha (tranquility of mind) rather in the negative sense of withdrawal. Vipassana is a more positive achievement (the quietude achieved) through the practice of dhyana, to cause subjugation or cessation of troubles. The various obstacles that encounter the development of shamatha are overcome through nine stages of mind, six powers and four mental activities. Meditation on tranquility, a method of contemplation on forty objects to acquire the mind of tranquility. Physical organism is at rest, in contrast with contemplation is when the mind is seeing clearly. Samatha is a kind of dhyana described as samadhi; it is defined as silencing, or putting to rest the active mind, or auto-hypnosis. The mind is centered or the mind steadily fixed on one place, or in one position. It differs from “contemplation” which observes, examines, sifts evidence. Samadhi or samatha has to do with getting rid of distraction for moral ends; it is abstraction, rather than contemplation. “Samatha” is a Sanskrit term for the state of mind where the mind is actually resting one-pointedly on an object so that not many thoughts arise and the mind becomes very stable and calm. Keeping the mind one-pointed is not samatha meditation because in true samatha, the object one focuses on should be something positive. We might think that “Samatha” is a state of no thoughts. This is not correct because in “Samatha Meditation” the mind is very calm, stable and clear so that it can distinguish and discriminate between all phenomena and see everything as very distinct. This clarity is called “Vipasyana”, or insight, and is developed through samatha. According to the Cloud of Jewels Sutra, our mind has many thoughts. It cannot focus on the object of attention because of the distraction of thoughts. If our mind can focus one-pointedly without this distraction, we have samatha meditation. In Samatha the mind is continuously focused inward so that it becomes very peaceful and all external distractions are pacified. The main obstacle to samatha is external distractions such as sight, sound, and taste. The development of samatha occured when the mind is continuously turned inward and naturally rests in that state. Relationship between the mental state and the object, re-establishment of attention, and uninterrupted attention, and dwelling effortlessly. Six powers of Samatha: Hearing the teaching, reflection, power of attention, clear comprehension, concenrated energy, and natural confidence. According to Master Khenchen Thrangu in “The Practice of Tranquility and Insight”, there are three basic kinds of samatha meditation in relation to the object of meditation. First, meditation with an external object. In the beginning we need an object to meditate on in the same way that a child needs to learn the alphabet before reading a book. We can place in front of us a piece of wood or stone that is small and focus our mind on it. To develop mental stability we begin with our attention on an object, first an impure object, and later you introduce a pure object such as a statue of the Buddha or a deity’s insignia or a special syllable. The purpose of meditation on an object is just to rest our mind on it to develop concentration. Second, meditation without an external object. In the beginning we meditate with an object and gradually move on to meditate without an object. The mind turns inward and focuses on a mental image of the Buddha in the form of a Yidam deity such as Avalokitesvara in Tibetan Buddhism. We can imagine to place the image mentally above our body, or visualize it in front of us, or visualize that our own body is the deity. Remember the purpose of meditation is not to simply stare at the image, but to focus the mind on the image so the mind will become still and stable. Third, meditation on the essential nature of things. Meditation by just resting in the essence means the mind is not focused on anything, but rests in a completely stable and unwavering state. It is to say we do not use any of the five non-conceptual consciousnesses that are used to experience a sight, sound, smell, taste, or body sensation. On the contrary, we only pay attention to two mental consciousnesses: unstable and stable mental consciousnesses. In the unstable consciousness, often called the mental consciousness, all kinds of thoughts arise and at times we feel attraction and happiness, other times dislike and unhappiness. This is the normal consciousness of the majority of us. The stable consciousness is the one that remains completely unaffected by good or bad thoughts, pleasant or unpleasant experiences. Therefore, we meditate with the sixth consciousness, called the mental consciousness because this consciousness deals with concepts. It is involved with the past, present, future; good and bad; all the different afflictions; and so on. The root of all these is mental consciousness, for it is the root of all thoughts and concepts. Therefore, in meditation we control the mental consciousness that experiences all thoughts, delusions, and feelings. We must control our mental consciousness in both knowledge of others (occurs when the mind turns outward) and knowledge of ourselves (the very direct knowledge of what we are thinking). When we are meditating, the mental consciousness is being absorbed into the basic or ground consciousness. Let thoughts come and go by themselves in our mind for they are just the play or manifestation of the mind in the same way that the waves are a manifestation of the sea. When it is windy, the waves in the ocean increases; when it is calm, the waves subside and the ocean becomes stable and calm. The ultimate goal of samatha is having the mental consciousness to become still and thoughts disappear with the mind becoming stable and very relaxed. 50. Sự Liên Hệ Giữa “Chỉ” và “Quán” Thiền Chỉ là căn bản cho tất cả thiền định. Tất cả các trạng thái thiền định, bao gồm thiền quán (vipasyana), đều thoát thai và phụ thuộc vào thiền chỉ. Khi chúng ta đạt được Chỉ, chúng ta không ở trong trạng thái hôn trầm hoặc trạo cử. Khi thiền chỉ được phát triển, chúng ta hoàn toàn loại bỏ tâm trạo cử; ngược lại, lúc đó tâm chúng ta có năng lực thẩm tra hoặc phân tích sự vật hiện tại. Loại bỏ tâm trạo cử dẫn đến sự nhận thức mọi sự vật rõ ràng và minh bạch. Nói cách khác, chúng ta đang đi vào thiền quán. Cơ sở của Thiền Minh Sát là trạng thái tam muội, một trạng thái thiền định không có các tư duy và khái niệm. Bản chất nguyên thủy của nó là cắt ngang tất cả những khái niệm sai lầm, không đúng, và sự hiểu lầm mà chúng ta có thể có. Căn bản của thiền minh sát là sự hiểu biết rõ ràng về sự vắng mặt của bản ngã. Một khi chúng ta đã phát triển được sự hiểu biết về vô ngã, chúng ta phải có khả năng trụ trên sự hiểu biết nầy một cách thư giản hoàn toàn. Sự hợp nhất về sự ổn định của tâm (thiền chỉ) và sự nhìn thấu được bên trong sự vật (thiền quán) xãy ra khi tâm dừng nghỉ và yên tĩnh, không phải trong trạng thái bình thường, mà trong trạng thái trí tuệ. 50. The Relationships Between “Samatha” and “Vipasyana” Samatha is the basis for all meditation. All meditative states, including Vipasyana, come from and depend on the development of samath. When one achieves samatha, one is not in a state of dullness or stupor. When samatha is developed, one eliminates distracting thoughts that keep one from being able to examine or analyze things. Removing the distraction of thoughts leads to perceiving things very clearly and distinctly. In other words, one is approaching “Vipasyana”. The basis of Vipasyana meditation is a state of samadhi, a meditation state without thoughts and concepts. Its primary quality is that it cuts through all the misconceptions, inaccuracies, and misunderstandings we might have. The basis of vipasyana meditation is the definite understanding of the absence of self. Once we have developed the understanding of “No-self”, we must be able to rest on it, and completely relaxed. The union of the stability of mind (samatha) and of insight (vipasyana) occurs when the mind is at rest and still, not in the ordinary way, but in the wisdom.