Analysing the distinction between Shamatha (Concentration meditation) with support and Shamatha without support (repost)

~ Phurpa Tashi Rinpoche

What is Shamatha without support? When one naturally rests without any object or support, the mind relaxes calmly without any alteration, now and then one sustains mindfulness without any laxity, this is Shamatha without support.

But take note, at the beginning, if we rely on thought to fabricate and create a meditative state without any support, this means that your meditation has not passed beyond the scope of Shamatha with support. For instance, when you rest your mind in a state of emptiness, this emptiness becomes your object of meditation. When resting the mind on the “union of clarity and emptiness”, then the “union of clarity and emptiness” becomes your object of meditation. When you are resting naturally, the so-called “natural resting” becomes your support of meditation. At this time, your meditation remains within the limits of Shamatha with support and has not yet reached the point of “Shamatha without support”.

Shamatha without support occurs through practice, it does not arise as a result of your conceptualisations or thinking. Therefore, when we teach meditation, we are always teaching first about Concentration with support before we explain about Concentration without Support. Because even if we allow you to practice Concentration without Support, your view and insight remains within the boundary of Concentration with Support, and the so-called “Shamatha without Support” becomes merely another change of terminology. In reality, one has not yet transcended the realms of Shamatha with Support .

Thus we should not only understand the process of meditation, but we should also be genuine in our practice, not using all kinds of terms/labels to mask our practice and not using our intention or thoughts to artificially manufacture some supposed experiential-state.

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