Shamatha and Vipashyana

Shamatha

In the Nalandabodhi Path of Meditation, you begin with a basic resting meditation practice called “calm abiding” or shamatha. Several different spiritual traditions teach shamatha meditation, but all forms of shamatha are designed to help calm the mind and bring forth its natural qualities of spaciousness, clarity, and attentiveness. These qualities allow you to work with the meditation practices that build upon the foundation of shamatha later on. Practice Instructors (PIs) work with newer students to determine which technique is most beneficial and at what point to introduce another shamatha practice.

After some months of familiarizing yourself with calm abiding, you begin working with vipashyana, or “clear insight” meditation, which is the next stage in the Path of Meditation. Like shamatha, vipashyana can also take on many forms and techniques. At this stage, however, clear insight involves the practice of analytical meditation: relying on the foundation of a calm and settled mind, you begin to investigate or analyze the true nature of your mind and how it creates its world.

Vipashyana

By practicing analytical meditation, you harness and further develop the more active, inquisitive, and penetrating qualities of the mind. This allows you to identify and gradually transform mistaken beliefs about the nature of experience By alternating calm abiding with clear insight, you gain a new certainty and confidence in emptiness (Skt. shunyata), the spacious and open, ultimate nature of reality. You also gain certainty and confidence in “dependent arising,” or the direct connection between the actions we perform and the quality of life we experience. Through this certainty, you gain the ability to lead a life that is of genuine and increasing benefit to yourself and others.

At this stage of the Path of Meditation, your PI encourages you to participate in longer meditation practice periods, to join the intensive weekend sittings at the Nalandabodhi center, or to go on group practice retreats.

 

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The practice of meditation is basically a process of getting to know yourself by becoming familiar with your mind. The Buddhist view of the mind is that it’s always awake. Its nature is awareness and compassion.
Whatever meditation practices we may do, they are all intended to increase our mindfulness and awareness, strengthen our sense of inner peace, and improve our ability to deal with our emotions as well.

— Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

 

A Community Approach to Meditation

In Nalandabodhi, you practice meditation both in solitude and with a group when you can. Practice Instructors and their instructees, as well as the entire community, are encouraged to gather regularly for practice sessions so that all may develop wisdom and compassion by realizing the nature of their minds.

Refuge Vows

During this first phase of practice, you may decide to take refuge in the “three jewels”: the Buddha, the dharma (the teachings of the Buddha and the Buddha’s tradition), and the sangha, or community of practitioners.    

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