Session 29: Settling the Mind and Pushing Past the Ceiling on our Shamatha Practice

B. Alan Wallace, 18 Nov 2010

Alan begins the first session of this week by a useful explanation on the sources of suffering in Modernity and the impediments that arise in our path to bliss, luminosity and non-conceptuality. Modernity seems to be perfect to increase Obsessional-Compulsive-Delusional-Disorder (OCDD), through work, stress, entertainment… In this pathological context, OCDD is taken to be normal. Contemplative traditions (Buddhism has not the monopoly here) come to the scene by claiming: “this might be normal, but this is not healthy”. If the source of suffering is internal (in our own minds), -rather than external (lack of sufficient external stimuli/hedonic pleasure)- then there is no point in “trying to get the world to turn out right”. The hedonic row always ends in a tragedy. Comparatively, the Dharma path is a comedy, because it has a happy ending. Five obscurations can be obstacles in our meditative way to substrate consciousness: 1. Craving to sensual pleasures, 2. Ill will, 3. Laxity and dullness, 4. Excitation, (including remorse, regret, anxiety and fear), and 5. Uncertainty (in our own capacity). Five remedies or antidotes can be applied to overcome them, respectively: 1. Single-pointed attention, 2. a sense of Well-being, 3. Applied thought (coarse examination), 4. Bliss (enthusiasm for the practice eventually creates bliss, and once it arises, fear vanishes), and 5. Subtle investigation, applied thought (perseverance in the practice). A rich and clear introduction precedes a guided meditation on Settling the Mind in its Natural State. This practice can not only subdue these mental obscurations, but actually terminate them.

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