(b’) How to cultivate serenity on that basis
This has two parts: (1) preparation and (2) actual practice.
Practice the six preparatory teachings explained above and especially cultivate the spirit of enlightenment for a long time; also, in support of that you should do the meditative practices that are shared with persons of small and medium capacities.
(2’) Actual practice
This has two parts: (1) meditative posture and (2) the meditative process itself.
(a’’) Meditative posture
Kamalasila’s second and third Stages of Meditation say that you should take up an eight-point posture on a very soft and comfortable seat: (1) Cross your legs in the manner of the venerable Vairocana, using either the full-lotus posture or the half-lotus posture as appropriate. (2) Your eyes should be neither wide open nor too far closed, and they should be fixed on the tip of your nose. (3) Sit with your awareness directed inward, keeping your body straight without leaning too far back or being bent too far forward. (4) Keep your shoulders straight and even. (5) Do not raise or lower your head nor turn it to one side; set it so that your nose and navel are aligned. (6) Set your teeth and lips in their usual, natural positions. (7) Draw your tongue up close to your upper teeth. (8) Your inhalation and exhalation should not be noisy, forced, or uneven; let it flow effortlessly, ever so gently, without any sense that you are moving it here or there.
Asanga’s Sravaka Levels gives five reasons for sitting as the Bud- ha taught, cross-legged on a seat, stool, or grass mat: (1) This posture in which the body is pulled together well is conducive to the arising of pliancy, so you will develop pliancy very quickly. (2) Sitting in this way makes it possible to maintain the posture for a long time; the posture does not lead to physical exhaustion. (3) This posture is not common to non-Buddhists and our opponents. (4) When others see you sitting in this posture, they are inspired. (5) The Buddha and his disciples used this posture and bestowed it upon us. Asanga’s Sravaka Levels says that, in light of these reasons, you should sit cross-legged. It also says that you keep your body straight so that lethargy and sleepiness will not occur.
Thus, at the outset you have to meet these eight points of physical conduct, particularly the calming of breathing just as I have described above.
(b’’) The meditative process
Broadly speaking, the “stages of the path” tradition indicates that you achieve serenity by means of the eight antidotes which eliminate the five faults listed in Maitreya’s Separation of the Middle from the Extremes (Madhyanta-vibhaga). Personal instructions passed The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path down from Geshe Lak-sor-wa (dGe-bshes Lag-sor-ba) explain that in addition to that you have to achieve serenity through the six powers, the four types of attention, and the nine mental states which Asanga’s Sravaka Levels explains. The scholar Yön-den-drak (Yon-tan-grags) says:
The methods of the nine mental states are included in the four attentions, and the six faults and the eight applications which are their antidotes are the method [for achieving] all concentrations. This is agreed upon in all teachings about the techniques for meditative stabilization—including those in most sutras, Maitreya’s Ornament for the Mahayana Sutras and Separation of the Middle from the Extremes, Asanga’s texts on the levels, and Kamalasıla’s three Stages of Meditation. Those who first have the preconditions for concentration will definitely attain concentration if they use these methods to work at it. Nowadays, supposedly profound oral traditions on meditative stabilization lack even the names of these techniques. These texts do not indicate that you will achieve concentration without the preconditions for concentration and these techniques, even if you work at it for a long time.
This is stated in his text on the stages of the path; it speaks of reaching pure certainty about how the classic texts present the way to achieve concentration. In that regard, since the general way of teaching the stages of the paths of the three vehicles is demonstrated at length in the noble Asanga’s five texts on the levels, the texts that teach these practices are very extensive. Among these five, one text gives a detailed explanation, while the others do not. Asanga’s Compendium of Determinations (Viniscaya-samgrahani) says that his Sravaka Levels should be used to understand serenity and insight, so it is the Sravaka Levels that is most extensive. Also, the venerable Maitreya discusses the methods of the nine mental states and the eight antidotes in his Ornament for the Mahayana Sutras and Separation of the Middle from the Extremes. Following them, such learned Indian masters as Haribhadra, Kamalasıla, and Ratnakarasanti wrote much about the process of achieving concentration. On the general sense of concentration the tantras are very consistent with the explanations in these classic texts, except that they use different objects of meditation, such as divine bodies, drops, and syllables. In particular, texts in the sutra class provide very extensive discussions of problems—such as the five faults of concentration—and ways of clearing them away.
However, those who know how to practice on the basis of those classic texts alone are as rare as stars in the daytime. Those who impose on those texts the stains of their defective understanding derive only a superficial comprehension and maintain that the instructions that reveal the quintessential meaning lie elsewhere. When the time comes for them to put into practice the process of achieving concentration which these texts explain, they do not even research how to do it.
The personal instructions of this treatise stress only the practices from the beginning to the end which are derived from the classic texts. Therefore, herein I will explain the methods used to achieve concentration drawing on the classic texts.
Lamrim Chenmo Vol. 3 Pg30LL07-Pg33L10