(2’)) The method for developing vigilance that recognizes laxity and excitement
It is not enough just to have an understanding of laxity and excitement; you have to be able to develop vigilance that accurately detects whether laxity or excitement is present during meditation. Moreover, by gradually developing powerful vigilance, not only must you develop vigilance that recognizes laxity and excitement as soon as they occur, you must also develop a vigilance that recognizes them when they are on the verge of occurring, before they have actually arisen. This is demonstrated by statements in Kamalasila’s last two Stages of Meditation:
If you see your mind become lax, or in danger of laxity…
You see your mind become excited or in danger of becoming excited.
Until you develop such vigilance, you cannot reliably conclude that you have had flawless meditation—free of laxity and excitement— during a given period of time. This is because, not having developed powerful vigilance, you cannot be sure whether laxity and excitement have occurred. Likewise, in a passage that begins, “There is recognition of laxity and excitement…,” Maitreya’s Separation of the Middle from the Extremes says that you need vigilance in order to recognize laxity and excitement. Accordingly, if you have not developed vigilance such as would preclude any failure to recognize the presence of laxity or excitement, then even if you try to meditate for a long time you will pass the time under the influence of subtle laxity and excitement, failing to sense laxity and excitement while they are occurring.
Question: How do you develop this vigilance?
Reply: Its most important cause is the process of maintaining mindfulness which I explained above. If you can develop continual mindfulness, you will be able to avoid forgetting the object of meditation and becoming distracted. Thus, since this prevents a prolonged failure to sense the presence of laxity and excitement, you can easily recognize laxity and excitement. This will be perfectly evident if you examine in terms of your own experience how long it takes to recognize laxity and excitement when mindfulness is impaired and how quickly you recognize them when it is not impaired. With this in mind, Santideva’s Engaging in the Bodhisattva Deeds states:
When mindfulness dwells
At the gate of your mind for its protection,
Then vigilance will appear.
And Sthiramati’s Explanation of the “Separation of the Middle from the Extremes” states:
The statement, “There is recognition of laxity and excitement by vigilance if mindfulness does not lapse,” indicates that mindfulness, when fully present, is accompanied by vigilance. That is why it says, “if mindfulness does not lapse….”
The following cause of vigilance is distinctive to the way to maintain vigilance. Focus your mind on a visualized image of the body of a deity, etc., or focus on a subjective aspect such as the quality of experience being simply luminous and aware. Then, while you stay mindful as explained above, hold your attention on the object while continuously monitoring whether it is scattering elsewhere. Know that this is critical for the maintenance of vigilance. As Santideva’s Engaging in the Bodhisattva Deeds says:
Examining again and again
The states of the body and the mind—
Just that, in brief,
Is what it means to preserve vigilance.
Thus, with this method you develop vigilance that notices laxity and excitement when they are on the verge of arising, while with the method for maintaining mindfulness you prevent forgetfulness in which attention is distracted and slips away. Hence, you have to properly distinguish these two. Otherwise, if you practice as is done nowadays—combining all these awarenesses with no understanding of their distinctions—I am afraid that the concentration resulting from a muddled cause will itself be muddled. Therefore, it is very important to make a very precise analysis of this in accordance with each of the major authoritative texts, and then to determine it in your practice. Do not place your hopes on sheer determination, for Aryasura’s Compendium of the Perfections says:
Using only joyous perseverance, you will end up exhausted.
If you practice with the aid of wisdom, you will achieve the great goal.
(b’)) Using the remedy for failing to try to eliminate them even when they are recognized
As explained above, you develop very powerful mindfulness and vigilance through proper use of the methods for maintaining mindfulness and vigilance. Vigilance is then able to notice even very subtle laxity and excitement, so there is no problem recognizing the occurrence of laxity and excitement. However, when you make no effort to stop those two as soon as they arise, your complacency or failure to apply yourself constitutes an extremely serious problem for your concentration. For, if you practice in this way, your mind will form bad habits and then it will be extremely difficult to develop a concentration free of laxity and excitement. Therefore, to remedy a failure to apply yourself to the elimination of laxity and excitement, cultivate the intention called application, or effort.
This section has two parts: (1) intention and the way that it stops laxity and excitement, and (2) the underlying causes of laxity and excitement.
Lamrim Chenmo Pg60L12-Pg62LL14