(f) How to train in each
This has three sections:
1. How to train in meditative serenity (Chapters 2-6)
2. How to train in insight (Chapters 7-26)
3. How to unite them (Chapter 26)
(i) How to train in meditative serenity
This section has three parts:
1. Relying on the preconditions for meditative serenity
2. How to cultivate serenity on that basis (Chapters 2-5)
3. The measure of successful cultivation of serenity (Chapters 5-6)
(a’) Relying on the preconditions for meditative serenity
At the outset, the yogi should rely on the preconditions for serenity, which make it possible to achieve serenity quickly and comfortably. There are six:
(1′) Dwelling in an appropriate area
The area should have five attributes: (a) easy access, so that necessities such as food and clothing may be readily obtained; (b) being a good place to live, where there are no wild beasts such as predators, no enemies, etc.; (c) being on a good piece of ground, in that it does not breed sickness; (d) offering good companionship insofar as your companions are ethically disciplined and likeminded; and (e) being well-situated inasmuch as there are not many people about in the day and little noise at night. Maitreya’s Ornament for the Mahayana Sutras states:
The intelligent practice in a place
Which is accessible, is a good place to live,
Offers good ground and good companions,
And has the requisites for comfortable yogic practice.
(2′) Having little desire
You do not strongly crave more or better robes, etc.
(3′) Being content
You are always content to have even the poorest robes, etc.
(4′) Completely giving up many activities
You give up base activities such as buying and selling; you also abandon excessive socializing with householders and renunciates, as well as pursuits such as medicine and astrology.
(5′) Pure ethical discipline
You do not violate precepts, doing deeds that are wrong by nature or wrong by prohibition, either in the case of vows of individual liberation or in the case of bodhisattva vows. If you do violate them through carelessness, you restore them promptly with regret in accordance with the teaching.
(6′) Completely getting rid of thoughts of desire, etc.
In the case of desires, contemplate their disadvantages in this lifetime, such as their leading to being killed or imprisoned, as well their disadvantages for the future, such as their leading to rebirth in miserable realms. Alternatively, eliminate all thoughts of desire and such by meditating with the thought that “Everything in cyclic existence, pleasant or unpleasant, is ephemeral and impermanent. Since it is certain that I will shortly be separated from all of these things, why should I crave them?”
I have explained these points according to the purport of Kamalasila’s second Stages of Meditation; you should learn more about them from Asaitga’s Sravaka Levels. These six topics cover the key causes and conditions for newly developing good concentration, for maintaining an existing concentration without deterioration, and for heightening your concentration. In particular, the most important ones are good ethical discipline, seeing desires as disadvantageous, and dwelling in an appropriate area. Geshe Drom-don-ba said:
We think that the fault lies only in our personal instructions. As we then seek only personal instructions, we are unable to attain concentration. This is the result of not abiding under its conditions.
The term “conditions” refers to the six explained above.
Moreover, the first four perfections serve as preconditions for the fifth, meditative stabilization. Kamalasila’s first Stages of Meditation states:
You quickly accomplish serenity when you disregard the desire for possessions and such, keep good ethical discipline, have a disposition to readily tolerate suffering, and joyously persevere. That being the case, sources such as the Sutra Unravelling the Intended Meaning teach that generosity and the other perfections are causes of the successively higher perfections.
Atisha’s Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment states:
When you lack the elements of serenity,
Even if you meditate assiduously,
You will not achieve concentration
Even in thousands of years.
Therefore, it is very important for those who sincerely wish to achieve the concentrations of serenity and insight to work on the elements or preconditions for serenity, such as the thirteen which are set forth in Asariga’s Sravaka Levels.
Lamrim Chenmo Pg28L16-Pg30LL08