Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

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Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Mandrake » Sun May 06, 2012 3:17 pm

I heard from several sources that Master Tsong Khapa states that a shamatha in the form realm is an absolute prerequisite for a direct perception of emptiness.

I've searched all over for the source of this, and the relevant quotes. Could anybody here help me out? Or do you perhaps know somebody I could contact in order to find the sources and exact quotes?

I would appreciate this very much!


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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Will » Sun May 06, 2012 5:16 pm

Which sources? Oral sources or written.

Do you really mean 'form realm' ie rupa-dhatu?
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Lhug-Pa » Sun May 06, 2012 6:08 pm

While we're at it....

Are the desire, form, and formless realms all in samsara?

Or is it only the desire realm that is in samsara?

The Deva Loka for example is in the desire realm right? And since the Deva Loka is the highest Loka of samsara, this would put the form and formless realms above samsara. So then why have I also read that the form and formless realms are also in samsara?
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Will » Sun May 06, 2012 6:12 pm

Lhug-Pa wrote:While we're at it....

Are the desire, form, and formless realms all in samsara?

Or is it only the desire realm that is in samsara?

The Deva Loka for example is in the desire realm right? And since the Deva Loka is the highest Loka of samsara, this would put the form and formless realms above samsara. So then why have I read that the form and formless realms are also in samsara?


There are 5 or 6 deva realms in the kamadhatu, and another 25 or so in the form & formless realms. But all of these 3 realms are samsara.

Here is a chart of the realms of the Three Worlds: viewtopic.php?f=77&t=8188
Last edited by Will on Sun May 06, 2012 6:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Tom » Sun May 06, 2012 6:13 pm

Mandrake wrote:I heard from several sources that Master Tsong Khapa states that a shamatha in the form realm is an absolute prerequisite for a direct perception of emptiness.

I've searched all over for the source of this, and the relevant quotes. Could anybody here help me out? Or do you perhaps know somebody I could contact in order to find the sources and exact quotes?

I would appreciate this very much!


Mandrake


The discussion in the Great Stages of the Path sheds a little light on this. For example ..

"This approximation of concentration is called a one-pointed mind of the desire realm, but understand that it is not fit to be presented as genuine meditative serenity." LRCM III p.82

and …

"These are the marks and signs to be known by yourself and others as "the criteria for having achieved attention." You who have achieved such attention have these marks:
1. The achievement in small measure of these four: your mind belongs to the level of form, physical pliancy, mental pliancy, and one-pointedness of mind…" LRCM III p.85

and …

" If you do not first establish in your mind-stream the concentration of serenity explained previously, it is not possible for the actual knowledge of insight which is focused on either the real nature or the diversity of all phenomena to arise." p.95

Now, I have a question.

John Powers has suggested that Tsongkhapa asserts that, "only people who have directly realized emptiness and who have an unusually keen wish to benefit others are suitable vessels for highest yoga tantra." Can anyone supply a reference for such a statement.

He seems to suggest it is in "several places in the Great Exposition of Secret Mantra, as well as in his commentary on Asanga's "Chapter on Ethics." I have had a quick look for it in those sources and could not find it . Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Tilopa » Sun May 06, 2012 11:26 pm

Tom wrote:Now, I have a question. John Powers has suggested that Tsongkhapa asserts that, "only people who have directly realized emptiness and who have an unusually keen wish to benefit others are suitable vessels for highest yoga tantra." Can anyone supply a reference for such a statement.

I can't supply a scriptural reference however what I've consistently heard over the years is that tantra was taught for bodhisattvas eager to achieve E and for whom the sutra path was too long. ie: their compassion was so vast they couldn't bear the thought of spending aeons on the path. The implication is that one should be an actual bodhisattva before engaging in higher practices. The common Gelug presentation of the 3 Principles of the Path - renunciation, bodhicitta and correct view of emptiness as the foundation of tantric practice also seems to imply that one should first be a realized bodhisattva but in reality sutra and tantra are practiced in a harmonious and non contradictory manner at the same time. HYT is also presented as a unique method by which a yogi can quickly generate a realization of emptiness in which case it's a result of the practice and not necessarily a prerequisite.
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Tom » Mon May 07, 2012 12:40 am

Tilopa wrote:
Tom wrote:Now, I have a question. John Powers has suggested that Tsongkhapa asserts that, "only people who have directly realized emptiness and who have an unusually keen wish to benefit others are suitable vessels for highest yoga tantra." Can anyone supply a reference for such a statement.

I can't supply a scriptural reference however what I've consistently heard over the years is that tantra was taught for bodhisattvas eager to achieve E and for whom the sutra path was too long. ie: their compassion was so vast they couldn't bear the thought of spending aeons on the path. The implication is that one should be an actual bodhisattva before engaging in higher practices. The common Gelug presentation of the 3 Principles of the Path - renunciation, bodhicitta and correct view of emptiness as the foundation of tantric practice also seems to imply that one should first be a realized bodhisattva but in reality sutra and tantra are practiced in a harmonious and non contradictory manner at the same time. HYT is also presented as a unique method by which a yogi can quickly generate a realization of emptiness in which case it's a result of the practice and not necessarily a prerequisite.


Thanks Tilopa. Yes, the pre-requisite of the Bodhisattva intention is required even for sutra Mahayana practice, and a good understanding of the three principle paths as a preliminary for tantric practice are always stressed by Gelugpa Lamas. What I have never heard or read is the assertion that only people who directly realize emptiness are proper vessels for HYT. This simply does not make sense given, for example, the tantric methods for attaining example and meaning clear light. Further, it seems that even shamatha is not a pre-requisite for generation stage practice as this can be achieved with the subtle generation stage.

Although here is more from Powers,
"Although Tsong kha pa agrees with the majority opinion of his day that highest yoga tantra is the pinnacle of Buddhist practice, he also indicates that it should be reserved for the exceptional trainees who directly realize emptiness."

He uses this as evidence to put forward that, "He began his analysis in the Great Exposition by agreeing with the generally accepted notion that tantra is the supreme system of Buddhist practice, but then defined tantra in such a way that it marginalized practices that he considered to be dangerous for most trainees."

Again this simply does not make sense given that the majority of Tsongkhapa's works are on Tantric subjects. I don't doubt that there might be a quote out there from Tsongkhapa emphasizing the direct realization of emptiness as a preliminary for tantric practice. If there is I would like to identify it so I can read it in context.
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby asunthatneversets » Mon May 07, 2012 1:24 am

Lhug-Pa wrote:While we're at it....

Are the desire, form, and formless realms all in samsara?

Or is it only the desire realm that is in samsara?

The Deva Loka for example is in the desire realm right? And since the Deva Loka is the highest Loka of samsara, this would put the form and formless realms above samsara. So then why have I also read that the form and formless realms are also in samsara?


I always interpreted form realms to be tangible phenomena such as objects and such, and formless realms to be intangible phenomena such as experiences, emotions, thoughts etc... attachment to (or identification with) either being the tie that binds one to samsara. I know they are interpreted other ways though.
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Tilopa » Mon May 07, 2012 2:58 am

Tom wrote:What I have never heard or read is the assertion that only people who directly realize emptiness are proper vessels for HYT.

I don't recall reading or hearing that either....why not write to Alex Berzin or Bob Thurman for clarification?
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Jnana » Mon May 07, 2012 4:09 am

Mandrake wrote:I heard from several sources that Master Tsong Khapa states that a shamatha in the form realm is an absolute prerequisite for a direct perception of emptiness.

I've searched all over for the source of this, and the relevant quotes. Could anybody here help me out?

Yes, the minimum requisite śamatha is the first proximate meditative stabilization which is not a desire realm mind. Je Tsongkhapa, The Small Exposition of the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment:

    Well then, what plane incorporates the samadhi in which pliancy has not yet arisen? That samadhi is included in the plane of the desire realm. Although such single-pointed attention is present there, it is a plane of non-equipoise; it is not established as a plane of meditative equipoise. The Bhumivastu says that this is due to the fact that it is not accomplished by means of lack of remorse, by supreme pleasure and joy, and pliancy.

    Thus, without having achieved pliancy, even when mindfulnes is not applied continually, the mind may naturally become non-conceptual; and this samadhi, which seems as if it can be integrated with all activities of moving, walking, lying down and sitting, is called single-pointed attention of the desire realm. But it is not genuine Quiescence....

    The Sravakabhumi says that ... due to the attainment of mental engagement and quiescence that are included in the first proximate meditative stabilization, one achieves the small level of mental engagement on the plane of meditative equipoise.

Thus, in the Gelug lamrim system the ninth mental abiding -- setting in equipoise (samādhāna) -- is still a desire realm mind, and not an actual śamatha. According to this system an actual śamatha is a form realm mind. Geshe Gedun Lodro, Calm Abiding and Special Insight:

    When one cultivates the nine mental abidings that precede calm abiding, these nine are all minds included within the desire realm. When, however, after achieving these nine, one attains calm abiding, one has attained a mind that is included within an upper realm. The upper realms are the form realm and the formless realm.

Kyabje Lati Rinpoche is quite explicit on this point regarding nyer bsdogs mi lcogs med. Meditative States in Tibetan Buddhism p. 70:

    It is called calm abiding because the meditator has calmed the distraction of the mind to external objects and the mind abides stably on an internal object of observation. At the same time, the meditator attains the preparation (nyer bsdogs, sāmantaka) called the not-unable (mi lcog med, anāgamya), which is a mind not of the desire realm, but of the form realm.

And this attainment of an actual śamatha -- a form plane meditative equipoise -- is considered a necessary prerequisite prior to engaging in actual vipaśyanā. One attains this śamatha on the path of accumulation, then progresses by alternating between stabilizing meditation and analytical meditation on the path of application until a union of śamatha and vipaśyanā is achieved at the time of entering the path of seeing, and along with this the first direct perception of emptiness. Cf. Lati Rinpoche & Denma Locho Rinpoche. Meditative States In Tibetan Buddhism, p. 125.
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Tom » Mon May 07, 2012 5:27 am

Jnana wrote:One attains this śamatha on the path of accumulation, then progresses by alternating between stabilizing meditation and analytical meditation on the path of application until a union of śamatha and vipaśyanā is achieved at the time of entering the path of seeing, and along with this the first direct perception of emptiness. Cf. Lati Rinpoche & Denma Locho Rinpoche. Meditative States In Tibetan Buddhism, p. 125.


This is not correct. I would check the source to make sure this is what it says. The union of śamatha and vipaśyanā (on the object emptiness) gains one entry into the path of preparation, the repeated familiarization of which leads to the path of seeing.
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Jnana » Mon May 07, 2012 5:43 am

Tom wrote:This is not correct. I would check the source to make sure this is what it says. The union of śamatha and vipaśyanā (on the object emptiness) gains one entry into the path of preparation, the repeated familiarization of which leads to the path of seeing.

Yes, my mistake in paraphrasing. The translation of Lati Rinpoche states:

    They achieve an actual concentration of the path of accumulation and then take cognizance of emptiness. Then, through the alternation of stabilizing and analytical meditation, they eventually achieve a union of calm abiding and special insight observing emptiness and finally, direct perception of emptiness and then proceed on up through the path to Buddhahood.
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Mandrake » Mon May 07, 2012 4:27 pm

Jnana,
Thank you very much, this helps!
Would any discussion about the prerequisite of shamatha for effective vipashyana also be found in The Greater Exposition... ?

All the best
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Jnana » Mon May 07, 2012 10:11 pm

Mandrake wrote:Would any discussion about the prerequisite of shamatha for effective vipashyana also be found in The Greater Exposition... ?

Most likely. I think it's implicit even when not explicitly stated as such.
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Tom » Mon May 07, 2012 11:46 pm

Mandrake wrote:Would any discussion about the prerequisite of shamatha for effective vipashyana also be found in The Greater Exposition... ?


It is discussed quite extensively in that work.
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby emptydreams » Tue May 08, 2012 11:41 am

Tsongkhapa did not say shamanta is the prerequisite for tantra, but the result of shamanta which is samadhi is a pre-requisite. One is the path, the other is the result. In any tradition, the result of shamanta is ALWAYS samadhi. If you dont have it means you're not doing it right, or you need to do more.

Samadhi is a pre-requisite for wisdom (prajna) to develop. Without samadhi one will not be able to cut through self made delusions and self grasping which is nothing but a tight wad of delusions.

In Mahamudra and Dzogchen, Shamanta and Vipashyana is always paired together. In Liberation of the palm of your hand, it is stated that for lay practitioners, it is easier to do vipashyana compared to shamanta as our minds are always analyzing something.
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Tom » Tue May 08, 2012 1:34 pm

Jamkar wrote:Tsongkhapa did not say shamanta is the prerequisite for tantra, but the result of shamanta which is samadhi is a pre-requisite.


It is the development of meditative stabilization (ting 'dzin | samādhi) that is required to achieve calm abiding (zhi gnas | śamatha).

In relation to calm abiding and Tantric practice Tsongkhapa says,

"Therefore, while yogis in the highest yoga tantra tradition may not develop the insight bearing the aspects of calmness and coarseness which focuses on the diversity of all phenomena, or the serenity generated by this insight, they must develop serenity. Moreover, the point at which serenity first arises, in terms of the stage of generation and the stage of completion, is during the first of these two." LRCM III : 95.
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Son » Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:29 am

Lhug-Pa wrote:While we're at it....

Are the desire, form, and formless realms all in samsara?

Or is it only the desire realm that is in samsara?

The Deva Loka for example is in the desire realm right? And since the Deva Loka is the highest Loka of samsara, this would put the form and formless realms above samsara. So then why have I also read that the form and formless realms are also in samsara?


There are twenty six deva-lokas, and only six of them are in our desire world, the sensual sphere. Sixteen more exist in the rupaloka or form sphrere (of which you speak), where even the subtle pleasures of sensual desire are devoid. They are referred to as rupa-devas. And four realms exist in the arupaloka, where there is no form but only mind.
All realms of existence are samsaric. More accurate than saying "realms in samsara," it is better to think of samsara as being within the realms. Ergo, samsara means "continuous flow." The continuous flow lies within the realms of existence, for all beings including devas of all degrees (that is, excluding those suddhavasa rupa-devas who have achieved nibbana). However, it's also true to say that the realms exist within the "continuous flow," vice versa.
It's strange that way.
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Son » Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:34 am

Tom wrote:
Jnana wrote:One attains this śamatha on the path of accumulation, then progresses by alternating between stabilizing meditation and analytical meditation on the path of application until a union of śamatha and vipaśyanā is achieved at the time of entering the path of seeing, and along with this the first direct perception of emptiness. Cf. Lati Rinpoche & Denma Locho Rinpoche. Meditative States In Tibetan Buddhism, p. 125.


This is not correct. I would check the source to make sure this is what it says. The union of śamatha and vipaśyanā (on the object emptiness) gains one entry into the path of preparation, the repeated familiarization of which leads to the path of seeing.


At any rate, it is taught that of the four ways to achieve nirvana, three of them require both tranquility and insight in union. Tranquility preceded by insight, insight preceded by tranquility, or the two cultivated in unison. The fourth is a spontaneous realizing of self through calm recognition of dharma.
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Tom » Mon Aug 20, 2012 2:11 am

Son wrote:At any rate, it is taught that of the four ways to achieve nirvana, three of them require both tranquility and insight in union. Tranquility preceded by insight, insight preceded by tranquility, or the two cultivated in unison. The fourth is a spontaneous realizing of self through calm recognition of dharma.


Since the context of the discussion was Tsongkhapa's views it might be useful to add that Tsongkhapa would not agree with the above statement. For him the initial cultivation of genuine insight must be proceeded by serenity. This is because, as he explains in the LRCM, without having first achieved the pliancy of serenity, analytical meditation is unable to bring about the pliancy required for it to qualify as genuine insight. So, for Tsongkhapa genuine insight requires serenity as a cause.
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