Spiritual attainments come on the basis of a well-concentrated mind. Growing numbers of people worldwide are practising mindfulness, which is an important part of the training in concentration. They are learning to meditate, and they are getting to know their mind in a way that hasn’t been possible historically in our culture.
The mind is trainable through these practices, and when it is trained it can be used in the process of personal transformation at a deep level. In the Buddhist tradition, the cessation of suffering and its causes, known as nirvana, can only be achieved on the basis of a concentrated mind.
This level of concentration, called calm abiding, is able to meditate clearly on its chosen object without effort, for as long as one wishes, without distraction. With such a degree of concentration one can integrate one’s mental perspective with the wisdom mind known as special insight.
The topic of the wisdom mind is covered in Chapter 9 of the Bodhicaryavatara. The first part of Chapter 8 which we will study in this class deals with the development of calm abiding. Learning about calm abiding will enhance our meditation practice tremendously. We will learn about the obstacles and their antidotes, and about the progression through different levels of concentration.
This is taught here in the context of the bodhisattva path to enlightenment for the sake of all beings. This is our motivation for practice. When it comes to developing calm abiding, a very strong motivation is needed, because the practice requires great determination. Calm abiding is an essential part of the path to full enlightenment.
Andy and Shan are continuing their exploration of the text ‘A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’ by Shantideva, trans. Batchelor, pub. LTWA. Previous sessions have been recorded and are available here if you are interested. This course is suitable for all who have an interest in making a positive difference in their lives, communities, and world.
Andy is registered with FPMT to teach up to the level of Basic Programme, and to lead retreats. His commitment to spreading the Buddha’s teachings is firmly based in his concern for the planet and the beings who share it. Shan was a Family and Systemic Psychotherapist and has worked for many years with young people with mental health and well-being difficulties and their families. Shan leads Buddhist meditations and facilitates dharma discussions in a variety of settings.
“May the frightened cease to be afraid,
And those bound be free.
May the weak find power,
And may their hearts join in friendship”
Shantideva, A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life