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Serenity and insight

Serenity and insight

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.

  • Definitions of serenity and insight
  • Four ways to attain samatha and vipashyana
  • Beneficial internal and external factors for their development
  • Different objects of concentration and their purposes
  • Meditating on the image of the Buddha

Gomchen Lamrim 123: Serenity and Insight (download)

Contemplation points

  1. Venerable Chodron said that to have serenity, we have to eliminate the distractions towards external objects of the senses. Why is this such an important step in cultivating serenity? What are distractions you face in your own meditation? What antidotes can you apply to begin cultivating focus on your object of meditation?
  2. Venerable Chodron said that countering mental chatter, a big hindrance on the path, is about shutting off our “opinion factory.” We think our opinions are who we are. In what ways do you find this true in your own life?
  3. Clarity and stability are two qualities we want to develop in serenity meditation. What are they and how do they contribute to serenity?
  4. Why is it so important to have the proper conditions to do serenity meditation (having few desires, cultivating contentment, having few activities, practicing pure ethical conduct, and rejecting thoughts of desire)? How do each of these contribute to attaining serenity?
  5. Consider each of the benefits of serenity: the body is comfortable and satisfied, the mind is happy and peaceful, the mind can easily be directed towards virtue, we don’t create as much negativity, our virtue is potent, using it to realize insight, we overcome rebirth in samsara. What does thinking of these benefits do for your mind? How might having them transform your interactions with others and the world? How might having them transform your own confidence and joyous effort?
  6. How do mindfulness and introspective awareness work to help the mind counter laxity (which hinders clarity) and restlessness (which hinders stability)?
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.