Introduction

Taming the Mind

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Shamatha, Vipashyana and Beyond

This course focuses on the practice of shamatha meditation. While you may see and hear of shamatha and vipashyana (vipassana) meditation taught together, shamatha and vipashyana are two different types of practice.

Before we indulge in any exotic techniques, playing with the energies, playing with the sense perceptions, playing with visions in terms of religious symbolism, we must sort out our minds fundamentally.

Trungpa Rinpoche

With vipashyana, or contemplative insight, you can examine the nature of reality. While you may aspire to the practice of insight, it is highly recommended that you begin with shamatha— mindfulness practice, the practice of peaceful abiding.

For vipashyana—awareness—to occur, you must be able to focus your mind. The mind must be stable. The deep practice of shamatha is the essential ground from which to realize how your mind is right now.

Do not be fooled into thinking of shamatha as just preliminary practices from which to jump ahead to the next thing. Don’t be thinking “what's after this?" When you understand thoroughly what shamatha is, you see that shamatha goes quite a ways toward understanding profound truth.

Note: This course teaches shamatha, the first topic covered in Turing the Mind Into an Ally. In the near future we'll continue this exploration with a course on contemplative meditation.

Training the mind through peaceful abiding is a practice that anyone can do. Although it has its roots in Buddhism, it is a complement to any spiritual practice.