When practicing samatha meditation, at first it may seem as if the mind is only becoming more restless. This is because you look at your mental processes with an ever stronger magnifying glass and will perceive your resltessness with increasing refinement.
Every time you reach a new point of calm you become aware that even this point is essentially still restless.
In his book The Heart of Compassion the Tibetan Buddhist teacher Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche writes beautifully about this process by describing five stages of concentration:
(1) Meditation like a waterfall pouring down over a cliff. The thoughts continuously follow one another , and at first seem even more numerous than usual, because you have become aware of the mind’s movement.
(2) Meditation like a river rushing through mountain gorges. The mind alternates between periods of calm and turbulence.
(3) Meditation like a wide river flowing easily. The mind moves when disturbed by circumstances, but otherwise rests calmly.
(4) Meditation like a lake lightly ruffled by surface ripples. The mind is slightly agitated on the surface, but remains calm and present in its depth.
(5) Meditation like a still Ocean. An unshakeable, effortless concentration in which antidots to discursive thoughts are redundant.
With samatha meditation on buddho you try to achieve the highest possible concentration. That is the foundation for wisdom.
Slowly but Surely
The path of samatha meditation is not a fast path. Is is the gradual path to liberation as taught by the Buddha.
Samatha meditation requires faith, mindfulness, energy, patience and loving-kindness.
However, these qualities do not have to be present at the start of the practice. You develop them naturally as your meditation practice progresses.
Thoughts such as “I can’t meditate” can therefore be left aside. Anyone who puts time into the meditation process takes steps, slowly but surely.
Taking the time to meditate is enough, no matter what happens afterwards. It’s just a matter of continuing and trying again and again.
Slowly but surely. Maybe 10 minutes or 20 minutes a day, but meditate every day, that is very important.
Ahba very often emphasizes the patient and gradual development of the mind.
The Dhamma (the truth) so he says, is very beautiful if you see it slowly, little by little. What you get quickly you also lose quickly, but what you have worked hard for, what has come slowly, that satys with you for a long time.
When you meditate on buddho your mind slowly becomes pure and clear. Concentration can then arise and you become receptive to wisdom. With this wisdom you know how things work, in yourself and in the world.
Your life then becomes very easy.
This text was previously published in Samatha Meditation: Foundation for Insight.
Do you want to start meditating or deepen your practice?
We offer personal guidance, completely on a donation basis.
You yourselves must strive, the Buddhas only point the wayBuddha, Dhp 276