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Meditative stability

Meditative stability

The text turns to training the mind on the stages of the path of advanced level practitioners. Part of a series of teachings on the Gomchen Lamrim by Gomchen Ngawang Drakpa. Visit Gomchen Lamrim Study Guide for a full list of contemplation points for the series.

  • Concentration in daily activities is different from meditative concentration
  • Precautions before we reach serenity
  • Six conditions necessary to develop concentration
  • A list of scriptural sources for teachings on serenity
  • Four basic categories of meditation objects

Gomchen Lamrim 110: Meditative Stability (download)

Contemplation points

  1. As important as having concentration is in our daily life, meditative stability is different in that the goal is to single-pointedly put the mind on an object without going to another object. Consider how that is different from having concentration in your everyday life and why being able to concentrate single-pointedly is vital to the spiritual path.
  2. Consider some of the benefits of meditative stability that Venerable Chodron listed. How do these benefit you personally? How does it allow you to benefit others?
    • Our virtuous activities become more focused.
    • We can understand the teachings on a deeper level.
    • It is necessary to having a direct perception of emptiness.
    • It is essential for generating the superknowledges.
  3. Consider some of the precautions that Venerable Chodron listed. Why is it important to be aware of these early in our spiritual growth?
    1. Be cautious of becoming attached to the bliss of concentration.
    2. Be cautious of confusing serenity with liberation.
    3. Be cautious to maintain a Dharma motivation.
    4. Be cautious to always follow the guidance of a spiritual mentor and to check your experiences with them.
  4. With all the wonderful benefits of generating meditative stability, why is it that our teachers don’t encourage us to make it our principal practice at the beginning of the path?
  5. There are six conditions necessary for generating serenity. Consider why each is important and what you can do now to help to set up these conditions in your life:
    • Living in a favorable place
    • Having a clear and correct understanding of all the methods to developing serenity before going into retreat
    • Being free from coarse desires, having few desires
    • Being satisfied and content
    • Being free of involvement in worldly activities and commotion
    • Living in pure ethical conduct
  6. Remember, even if we don’t have these six conditions to do retreat, we can still cultivate some level of meditative stability that is helpful to our spiritual progress. What are ways you can cultivate meditative stability in your current practice, both on and off the cushion?
  7. Inspired by the benefits of cultivating meditative stability, make a determination to take steps to develop it both on and off the cushion now, as well as begin to accumulate the causes and conditions necessary to do serenity retreat in the future.
Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.