Key to The Nine Stages of Tranquil Abiding (Shamatha) in Traditional Tibetan Thangka Way To Nirvana


Traditional Tibetan Thangka Way To Nirvana

Key to The Nine Stages of Tranquil Abiding (Shamatha) in Traditional Tibetan Thangka Way To Nirvana

  • The first stage is attained through the power of study and hearing.
  • The monk fixes his mind on the object of concentration.
  • The lasso represents mindfulness or recollection.
  • The hooked elephant represents clear understanding.
  • The flames, which progressively diminishes along the path represents the degree of effort needed to develop both recollection and understanding.
  • The elephant represents mind; its complete black color represents the gross form of mental dullness or sinking.
  • The monkey represents mental agitation; its black color represents distraction or scattering. The monkey at first runs wildly, leading the elephant.
  • The second stage is attained through the power of concentration.
  • This is achieved by lengthening the periods of concentration on the object.
  • The five senses; touch (cloth), taste (fruit), smell (perfumed conch), sound (cymbals) and sight (mirror) are the objects of distraction.
  • Beginning at their heads, the elephant and monkey begins to turn white. This shows the continuous progress in fixing and holding the object of concentration.
  • The third and fourth stages are attained through the power of memory or recollection.
  • The monk lassoes the elephant, fixing the wandering mind on the object.
  • The hare, which now appears on the elephant’s back, represents the subtle aspect of sinking. Here one is able to differentiate between the gross and subtle aspects of sinking.
  • The elephant, monkey and hare look back; showing that having recognized these mental distractions, the mind turns back to the object of contemplation.
  • The meditator holds a clear and detailed conception of objects.
  • Attainment of the fifth and sixth stages of meditative absorption through the power of clear comprehension.
  • Even the arising of virtuous thought must be perceived as a distraction from the object of concentration.
  • The monk hooks the elephant with his goad; the mind is stopped from wandering by clear understanding.
  • The mind is controlled.
  • The hare disappears and the mind is pacified.
  • The seventh and eighth stages are attained through the power of energetic preservance.
  • The monkey leaves the elephant and now squats behind the monk in complete submission. However there are still slight traces of black; this shows that even the subtlest sinking and scattering may continue to arise. Should they begin to arise they can be eliminated with the slightest effort.
  • The monkey disappears and the elephant becomes completely white. the mind can now remain continually in absorption on the object of concentration.
  • The ninth stage of mental absorption is attained through the power of perfection.
  • Perfect equanimity. The path has ended and the elephant is at rest. Form the heart of the meditation the monk emanates a rainbow.
  • The monk flies alone; bodily bliss.
  • Riding the elephant across the rainbow; mental bliss.
  • The monk wields the flaming sword of perfect insight and rides triumphantly black along the rainbow; Samsara’s root is destroyed by the union of Samatha and Vipashayana (sword) with emptiness (Shunyata) as the object of contemplation.

Control of the flame of supreme mindfulness and understanding represents the ability to examine and sublime meaning of Shunyata : the knowledge of the ultimate reality of the phenomena.These are the Key to The Nine Stages of Tranquil Abiding (Shamatha) in Traditional Tibetan Thangka Way To Nirvana.

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