sangyey wrote:I have been studying on the correct method of Shamatha and from my understanding is that the mental consciousness the only consciousness that does the meditation as opposed to the other 5 avenues of consciousness and therefore that is where you should keep your attention.
Is this correct?
At least the lineage following Asanga, Maitreya and Tsongkhapa teaches that the object is a mental object even if you first get familiar with an object through looking at it. However in case of breath it is perhaps not completely consistent to define it that way (?)
sangyey wrote:My object is the breath and a mantra but if the statement above is the correct way to practice it would seem like I am using the object as a focus point but I am really keeping my attention in the mental base as opposed to say the abdomen region where I find the breath most prominent.
Breath and mantra are two objects not one. There seems to be a misunderstanding if your intention is to follow the a.m. instruction.
sangyey wrote:Do you see where I am going with this? Either I could keep my attention within my abdomen region and uphold resting and clarity there or I could keep it in my mental base and uphold resting and clarity there.
Definitely could use some clarification because it is causing doubt in my practice and internal mental distraction.
Either you use the breath as an object or you use another object. I never heard or read of a mantra being used as object of shamata meditation if shamata meditation is understood as the one being described as covering nine stages and which is the prerequisite for insight meditation according to the a.m. lineage.
If simple "calming the mind" is what you mean with shamata then a mantra might do as well - but again: not in combination with another object like breath. In that way it may be used as a preparatory meditation practice for some "main" meditation.
But watch out! Breath can be used as an object for shamata and as an object for insight as well. The approaches are different. In case of shamata (covering the nine stages) the essentials are: one and only one object; focus one-pointedly on the chosen object and do not change the object before you have reached the goal (which of course is a matter of many meditation sessions). The goal is an "access concentration" on the verge of the 1st concentration (1st jhana).
Only after you have reached this goal once you can change the object as a means of gaining proficiency. But if you keep changing the objects before you will never reach the goal because (joyous) perseverance (5th paramita) is one of the decisive factors for success.
This is how I understood the teachings about shamata in the context of sutra
As a referenceMeditative States in Tibetan Buddhism