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Lions Roar : July 2018
PHOTOBYSHODDYPHOTOGRAPHER/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM English, shamatha is often referred to as calm abiding and vipa- shyana as clear seeing. My teacher, the late Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, usually called them mindfulness and awareness. The Tibetan Buddhist path is traditionally divided into three stages. These are referred to as the yanas, the three vehicles that carry us forward on the spiritual path. At each stage, shamatha and vipashyana meditation play a central role. But the nature of the practice, and the reasons we do it, evolve quite naturally over time. Here’s how some of the goals of meditation change as we progress from yana to yana. To make friends with yourself and be less of a nuisance to others As beginners, the first order of business is simply to tame our mind. We need to settle down and develop more ease, to sim- plify and learn to be still. It is like finding the eye of the hurri- cane. It’s nice, but it’s not at all viewed as the endpoint. The real work requires us to look honestly at our mind and way of life. It is quite natural: the more we settle down, the more is revealed. As we become less speedy, we begin to see ourselves and our world with greater clarity. That makes it possible for us to disrupt the negative thought patterns and habits that lead us to harm ourselves and others. This is a continuing process, a way of making friends with ourselves and becoming less of a nuisance to others. To open the mind and expand the heart The two threads of shamatha and vipashyana continue in the Mahayana. Here, the stillness of mindfulness relaxes and opens into a glimpse of emptiness, and the clarity of awareness under- mines our self-obsession to uncover a naturally arising compas- sion. This is the foundation for deliberately cultivating a more free-flowing compassion through contemplative exercises. An important component of meditation at this stage is the skillful application of meditative awareness in compassionate engage- ment in the world—meditation in action. To transform confusion into wisdom In the Vajrayana, shamatha, or formless practice, becomes a way of resting within unbounded and ever-expanding spacious- ness, and vipashyana practices such as visualization provide direct access to the brilliance and energy pervading that space. In an explosive expansion of Mahayana vision, Vajrayana prac- tice reveals the wisdom within our ordinary, everyday experi- ences and challenges us to view the world as a sacred mandala and as a dynamic unity of luminosity and emptiness. JUDY LIEF is a Buddhist teacher, editor of many of the teachings of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and author of Making Friends with Death. You’re Caught in a Dream. Wake Up! When you see that much of your life is spent in dream- like states, says Pema Khandro, you are freed from the suffering they cause. IF WE THINK ABOUT IT, we see that our lives are consumed by a series of dreamlike states: memories, daydreams, fantasies, future