Cover image for Calm abiding & special insight : achieving spiritual transformation through meditation
Calm abiding & special insight : achieving spiritual transformation through meditation
Dge-ʼdun-blo-gros, Dge-bśes, 1924-1979.
Publication Information:
Ithaca, N.Y. : Snow Lion Publications, [1998]

Physical Description:
334 pages ; 23 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library BQ7805 .L629 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
Central Library BQ7805 .L629 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

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Calm Abiding and Special Insight presents an intimate and detailed picture of the intricacies of meditation so vividly that the reader is drawn into a Tibetan worldview of spiritual development. Geshe Ged#65533;n Lodr#65533;, one of the foremost scholars of Tibet, reveals methods for overcoming afflictive states and disorders to create a mind which is stable, calm, and alertly clear. This book illustrates the mind's potential for profound transformation.

The dangers of not recognizing states contrary to successful meditation are great, and the possibilities of implementing the wrong antidote, or of overextending an appropriate one until it becomes counterproductive, are many. Through such detail, Geshe Ged#65533;n Lodr#65533; makes vividly clear a Tibetan approach to meditative transformation.

This is a completely revised new edition of Walking Through Walls .

Author Notes

Geshe Ged#65533;n Lodr#65533; (1924-1979) entered Debung Monastic University near Lhasa at the age of nine as a novice monk. He gained the degree of geshe in 1961 in exile in India as the first among three scholars who were awarded the number one ranking in the highest class. A scholar of prodigious intellect, he was famed for his wide learning and ability in debate. In 1967, the Dalai Lama sent him to teach at the University of Hamburg, where he learned to speak German fluently and became a tenured member of the faculty. He served as Visiting Professor at the University of Virginia in 1979.



Chapter One PREREQUISITES The six prerequisites for achieving calm abiding are: 1 staying in an agreeable place 2 having few desires 3 knowing satisfaction 4 not having many activities 5 pure ethics 6 thoroughly abandoning thoughts. Most of these are readily understandable, but a little commentary is useful for some of them. The fourth, not having many activities, means that when one begins to cultivate calm abiding and special insight it is unsuitable to initiate types of activities that discord with the activity of cultivation. As to the fifth, pure ethics, it is not necessary to have assumed the vows of a monastic or novice, but if one has taken either of these vows and broken them it is necessary to engage in confession and the intention to restrain from such activity in the future. This process is known as purification and renewal, and anyone who has broken vows must engage in it before cultivating calm abiding. Even a person who does not have vows must, if he or she has engaged in non-virtuous activities, confess them and develop an intention to restrain from them in the future and should then consider that these non-virtues have been purified. This is because, if one seeks to improve oneself from within a state of having committed non-virtuous actions, one's basis is defiled to begin with, and it is difficult to generate any improvement. The point here is that pure ethics, as a prerequisite of calm abiding, does not necessarily involve having taken vows.     The sixth prerequisite, thoroughly abandoning thoughts, means that one should abandon coarse non-virtuous thoughts such as a wish to kill or steal, and also thoughts whose motivation is neutral but might involve the generation of fright or fear.     The agreeable place mentioned as the first prerequisite should have four qualities: 1 Nourishment should be easily attainable. 2 The area should be free of wild animals. 3 The place should be one that does not harm. 4 One should be accompanied by friends who do not have different views. In the first quality, that nourishment should be easily attainable, "nourishment" refers to the coarsest of the four types of nourishment, food. People of the Desire Realm cannot live without depending on food and sleep. The four types of nourishment are (1) coarse food, (2) mental nourishment, (3) nourishment of intention, and (4) nourishment of consciousness. The sense of mental satisfaction that comes when a desire is fulfilled is called mental nourishment. Just as coarse food nourishes the body, so satisfaction nourishes or replenishes the mind upon fulfillment of a desire. The third type, nourishment of intention, is an action that projects the next lifetime. Since it generates or produces the next lifetime, it is called a nourisher, or nourishment; it is the second link of the twelve-linked dependent-arising. Similarly, the third link, which is called consciousness, is known as the food of consciousness. Just as the action that projects, or impels, a future lifetime is called a nourisher, so the consciousness which is imprinted with that action and which will at the time of the effect of that action in the future life be imprinted with other karmas is called a nourisher, or nourishment. Why is [the first link of dependent-arising,] ignorance, not called a nourisher? It is because ignorance is the agent that pervades everything; thus, it is not singled out as a nourisher.     There is still another type of nourishment, that of meditative stabilization. Persons who have achieved calm abiding and special insight and have proceeded to high levels of the path do not need to use coarse food; they have the nourishment of meditative stabilization. If you should wish to investigate this topic, the nourishment of meditative stabilization is discussed in the context of the four developing causes which replenish or increase the body: sleep, meditative stabilization, massage, and coarse food. The sources here are Kamalashila's Stages of Meditation and Maitreya's Ornament for the Mahayana Sutras and, in addition, the Sutra Unraveling the Thought and Wonch'uk's commentary on it.     The second quality of an agreeable place is that the area should be free of wild animals. For example, people go to remote areas to meditate, but it should not be where ferocious animals abide.     The third quality is that the place should be one that does not harm--for example, a region without earthquakes. This may at first seem to be of little purpose, or as if you are making yourself too important. It is not so, however, because based on the type of physical life-support that we now have, although we can indeed waste our lives, we can also achieve calm abiding, special insight, and so forth; therefore, it is absolutely necessary to take care of this body. Similarly, in tantra it is a basic infraction to disregard one's body or to feel that "whatever happens, happens," that it does not make any difference.     The fourth quality is that one should be accompanied by friends who do not have different views. There are many views--Madhyamika, Chittamatra, and so forth. There is the view of the transitory collection [as a real I and mine]; there are extreme views [of permanence and annihilation,] and so forth. Also, in general, there are two types of views, natural and adventitious. A person newly achieving calm abiding needs to do so with some associates. Ideally, these associates would be people who have already achieved calm abiding; if not, they should have some familiarity with the process. There would not necessarily be any fault in one's associates' having a different natural view--for example, if one person were of a very peaceful type and the other, very excitable. However, if their adventitious views were discordant, they probably could not serve as associates to one another in achieving calm abiding. A difference in adventitious view means that people have different systems of tenets or have an interest in different treatises or in different people.     The area should also have all the pleasant articles of yoga.     What other prerequisites are there? Asanga's Grounds of Hearers mentions the ten discriminations that are concordant in quality with the three trainings. They can all be included within the trainings in higher ethics, higher meditative stabilization, and higher wisdom.     There are ten practices that are concordant with the trainings, but I will not discuss them here.     The prerequisites of calm abiding are of two types: excellent and absolutely necessary. If you are without the former, it does not matter much, but if you lack the absolutely necessary prerequisites, the possibility of achieving calm abiding is interrupted; you cannot achieve it. As Atisha's Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment says: If the prerequisites for calm abiding deteriorate, Then, even if you meditate for a thousand years In order to achieve calm abiding, there is no time When you can attain meditative stabilization. Therefore, a yogic practitioner who wishes to achieve calm abiding must be able to distinguish between the excellent and absolutely essential prerequisites. The essential ones involve giving up non-virtuous conceptions and neutral ones causing fright. With regard to pure ethics, it is particularly important for someone who has committed murder to engage in the process of purification, involving confession and the intention of future restraint. Otherwise, it would be impossible for that person to achieve calm abiding. The other prerequisites, such as knowing satisfaction and having few activities, are not essential because there are some people who can engage in activities and also in the meantime achieve calm abiding. Excerpted from Calm Abiding & Special Insight by Geshe Gedün Lodrö. Copyright (c) 1998 by Jeffrey Hopkins. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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