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Achieving Shamatha?

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Achieving Shamatha?
Answer
9/10/14 1:03 AM
http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2007/01/bg-002-alan-wallace-on-achieving-shamatha/ 

Alan Wallace talks about shamatha as a specific stage that one reaches in concentration practice where the mind undergoes a transformation and becomes exceptionally serviceable. I was wondering where this state would correspond on the Ingram/Theravada jhana map.

RE: Achieving Shamatha?
Answer
9/10/14 2:00 PM as a reply to masa.
Jacob Adam Smit:
http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2007/01/bg-002-alan-wallace-on-achieving-shamatha/ 

Alan Wallace talks about shamatha as a specific stage that one reaches in concentration practice where the mind undergoes a transformation and becomes exceptionally serviceable. I was wondering where this state would correspond on the Ingram/Theravada jhana map.

Why not flip the question. Read up on the jhana map starting here - MCTB Concentration vs. Insight
Then ask yourself, what is alan wallace talking about? Is he talking about jhana? if so which one? is he being clear? is it vague? what is "servicable"???
~D

RE: Achieving Shamatha?
Answer
9/10/14 3:29 PM as a reply to masa.
Concentration states, particularly hard jhanas, temporarily suppress mental noise and promote a sense of clarity and well-being. This makes the mind more malleable, which is why many traditions emphasize training in concentration before insight.

RE: Achieving Shamatha?
Answer
9/10/14 4:50 PM as a reply to Eric M W.
I have also wondered about this and was going to make it my first post on this forum at some point emoticon 

After reading "The Attention Revolution" by Alan Wallace, I made a goal of 'attaining' Shamatha (I failed due to my concentration bringing up lots of 'stuff'). Mr Wallace makes it very clear in his book that Shamatha is the culmination of a process; the result of training in concentration, not concentration itself. After training and reaching the higher states of abiding (ninth stage) and practicing concentration there, one may attain to a tenth stage called "shamatha" which is in practice irreversible. He specifically mentions that the attainment is accompied by a sensation on the top of the head, like pressing a ball onto the top of the brain if I remember correctly, or something to that effect. He believes there is some kind of definitive neurophysiological change when one attains Shamatha.

In fact in some lectures I've heard Wallace say that AFTER one attains Shamatha, THEN one can practice jhana. So it is a very different view from what is discussed on this forum. 

I am curious about this too because we talk about stages in insight practice which are reversible and stages which are not reversible. Perhaps the same is true in concentration practice? 

RE: Achieving Shamatha?
Answer
9/10/14 9:56 PM as a reply to heath.
heath:
I am curious about this too because we talk about stages in insight practice which are reversible and stages which are not reversible. Perhaps the same is true in concentration practice? 

Yep, that is precisely what I was wondering about.

RE: Achieving Shamatha?
Answer
9/10/14 11:20 PM as a reply to masa.
Culadasa wrote an interesting piece called the jhanas and mindfulness which describes how the stages of shamatha and states of jhana fit together. 
Found here:
http://dharmatreasure.com/the-jhanas-the-original-practice-of-mindfulness-and-insight-teaching-retreat-january-2011/

RE: Achieving Shamatha?
Answer
9/11/14 11:08 AM as a reply to masa.
Alan Wallace is contributing to confusion. He's describing concentration practice. Jhanas. His shamatha project never took off really. He's leet though. Dzogchen! emoticon

RE: Achieving Shamatha?
Answer
9/11/14 11:52 AM as a reply to heath.
heath:
He specifically mentions that the attainment is accompied by a sensation on the top of the head, like pressing a ball onto the top of the brain if I remember correctly, or something to that effect. He believes there is some kind of definitive neurophysiological change when one attains Shamatha.



Sounds like he's talking about crown opening.

RE: Achieving Shamatha?
Answer
9/11/14 7:58 PM as a reply to dat Buddha-field.
Alan Wallace's map is typical of Tibetan Buddhism

1. Shamatha
2. Vipassa
3. Dzogchen

In that order..

In comparison to the MTCB map, Alan Wallace has much higher standards for levels of concentration..and much higher levels for what he consideres Jhana (which I believe he says is something like being able to focus on an object for 24 hours straight without the slightest interruption

RE: Achieving Shamatha?
Answer
9/11/14 11:22 PM as a reply to Jinxed P.
Jhana term wars are old stuff, of which BAW is just one of the more extreme ones, as there are others in his end of the thing.

It is sort of like saying that only habaneros are peppers, or only Ferraris are cars. It sort of leaves no room for using the term jhana to describe a ton of interesting states that people can get into, just saying that only Ferraris were cars would leave you scratching your head about what to call all the other four-wheeled things rolling around on roads. It also cuts you off from plenty of the useful stuff in the Pali Canon and commentaries, as well as lots of other texts, advice that applies to those other degrees of meditative attainments and states.

MCTB goes out of its way to make sure that it says the world of jhanas is wide, and, at the extreme end, you can get into some really, really hard jhanic states that last a long time, such as what BAW talks about. I can appreciate macho stuff as much as the next guy, but without giving a set of terms to describe all the other jhanic states BAW's work is very incomplete and somewhat alienating to those who are attaining to concentration states but just not taking it as far as he is.

Further, from a pragmatic point of view, what I personally care most about is awakening, using jhanic states as a support for a healthy life, and also using jhanas as a support for the powers, and you don't need nearly that much concentration to do all of that, just like you generally don't need a Ferrari to get to work or a habanero to make your food tasty, though I appreciate both of those things.

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