KonchokZoepa wrote:this may work for some people but i think that most westerns mind are not really that interested in some third eye in deity's fourhead or a seed syllable in the heart that they could develop 4 hours of single pointed concentration.
Anything can be an object of concentration, self as deity, front generalization, seed syllable, visualizing tigle, mantra, whatever, that is not different from Shamatha.
in fact, you can find books on shamatha
that reccomend such practices as shamatha
When I got to talk to one of my teachers about this (shamatha vs, sadhana etc.), he told me that Chenrezig sadhana represents a complete practice, and includes Shamatha. I realize there might be differences of opinion of course.
There's some truth to the thing about westerners, but I think it's mainly that so many people are conditioned to freak out about anything remotely spiritual, so the very idea of visualizing deities etc. bothers them, thus they are simply more comfortable with focus on the breath etc. Less to do with one or the other "working better", and more to do with the fact that one is simply to out there for many people to consider at first.
I like visualizing stuff that is visually pleasing, rather than trying to focus on breath etc. so much, because it simply works better for me, I can actually concentrate better. Literally two practices of Chenrezig when I started I experienced deep concentration than in years of Zazen..so I think it depends entirely on the person. Same for sadhana involving music, that brings on almost immediate clarity and focus for me, I imagine for some it's the opposite and it would drive them crazy.
Anyway on the OP, I don't understand the fuss really, seen so many doctrinaire answers on here about how lay life involves all these distractions that need to be dispensed with. I've read the Pali Canon too, but my life is what it is...so whatever can be achieved, simply talking about it's disadvantages isn't real fruitful.
Even the Pali Canon with it's emphasis on renunciation mentions things like minfulness of the triple gem as a practice for householders, so obviously, someone thought lay practice was worthwhile.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen