The nine stages of meditation


Here follows a text wherein the stages of meditation. I quote the whole text since its clear and very helpful. For me this shamatha practice is the basis of my daily activities.

The Tibetan word for Shamatha meditation means calm. The practice of Shamatha meditation develops the ability to focus the mind in single-pointed perfect concentration and is a prerequisite for the development of vipashyana or analytical insight meditation. Shamatha meditation should ideally practice in an isolated place and one should seat in meditation posture of Vairochana Buddha. The object of concentration is usually the image of the Buddha or a deity. The illustration of the development of mental tranquility is brilliantly depicted in this thangka in nine progressive stages of mental development which are obtained through the six powers of study, contemplation, memory, comprehension, diligence and perfection. The first stage is attained through the power of study and or hearing. The monk fixes his mind on the object of concentration. Here a monk chasing, binding, leading and subduing elephant whose colour progresses from black to white. The elephant represents the mind and its black colour the gross aspects of mental dullness. The monkey represents distraction or mental agitations, and its black colour, scattering. The hare represents the more subtle aspect of sinking. The hooked goad and lasso which the monk wields represent clear understanding and mindful recollection. The progressive diminishing along the path represents the decreasing degree of effort needed to cultivate understanding and recollection. The five sense objects represent the five sensual source of distraction.
The details are as follows; As mentioned above, the monkey represents mental agitation; its black colour distraction. The monkey at the first runs a 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 objects. The five senses of touch are objects of distraction. Beginning at their heads, the elephant and monkey begin to turn white. This shows the continuous progress in fixing and holding the objects 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 aspects 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 these mental distractions, the mind turns back to the object of concentration. The meditator holds a clear and detailed conception of the object.

Attainment of the fifth and sixth stages of meditative absorption is achieved through the power of clear comprehension. The monkey now follows the elephant; the arising of distraction diminishes. Even the arising of virtuous thoughts 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 perseverance. 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. Now the monkey disappears and the elephant becomes completely white. The mind can now remain continually in absorption on the object of concentration, Single-pointedness of mind. The ninth stage of mental absorption is attained through the power of perfection. Perfect equanimity, the path has ended and elephant is at rest. From the heart of the meditating monk emanates a rainbow like ray. The monk rides the elephant; the attainment of shamatha. Riding the elephant across the rainbow; mental bliss. The monk wield the flaming a sword of perfect insight, and rides triumphantly back along the rainbow; samsara’s root is destroyed by the union of shamatha and vipashyana with emptiness as the object of contemplation. Control of the flame supreme mindfulness and understanding represents the ability to examine the sublime meaning of shunyata.

The upper part of the illustration, where the rainbow emanates from the monk’s heart, represents the tenth and eleventh stages of transcendental mental absorption. The tenth stage of bodily and mental bliss is symbolized by the monk riding the elephant. The eleventh stage is represented by the monk riding the elephant back across the rainbow. From the monk’s heart emanates two dark rainbows, which the monk is just about to cut asunder with his flaming sword of wisdom. There two rainbows represent karmic hindrances and mental illusion, and the obscurations of the instincts of mental distortion.


On Meditation.

Nyoshul Khenpo Rinpoche. A great Dzogchen Master.

Nyoshul Khenpo Rinpoche

These days there are many people that have ideas about what meditation is and how one should do it. This tendency is a result of all the information on available on the internet and published books from all kind of teachers, or so called teachers. Its hard to find ones way in all this information. Many of them ask a lot of money to do their courses and to get a certificate. Also these days people tend to do a course for a couple of years and going to teach themselves. I’m not sure this is the right way, and of course they ask money for it as well.

If I speak for myself I meditate for 22 years now started in 1994 and I still haven’t the idea to teach myself. I think one should learn this from an authentic teacher. Sogyal Rinpoche I consider as an authentic teacher and I consider him as my root teacher.  Perhaps I’m a bit old fashioned with this but I also think its important to be taught in a lineage.

There are hundreds of methods of meditation. The one I use is from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and helps me a lot on my path as I wrote on the influences on my Path part of this blog. Its called Shamatha or calm abiding along with the Mantra of Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche. Its my daily practice and cornerstone of all other practices and meditations I do. One doesn’t have to be a Buddhist to use these principals since they are universal.


Seven line Prayer to Guru Rinp0che. A very powerful invocation of Guru Rinpoche.

On the northwest border of the country of Urgyen

In the pollen heart of a lotus

Marvelous in the perfection of your attainment

You are known as Lotus Born

And are surrounded by your circle of Dakinis

Following you I will practice

I pray you, come and confer your Blessings.


My favorite Mantra of Padmasambhava. Chanted by a great Master. Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche.  This Mantra I use a lot.

The 100 syllable mantra. I use this mantra often as well. Its a purifier and has a lot of power to heal others.



Its important to do this practice daily. Better 5 minutes a day then 1 hour a week. One should be enter into a state of being that one maintains the whole day long. Integration of this state of mind is essential otherwise its a technique that one does once or twice a day and no one benefits from it. Discipline, patience and balance is what it requires to do this practice. Sometimes it takes many years before results are experienced. And this can be very difficult in a society where people are used to instant results. Actually one should let go result since it only makes more concept how it should be and this is an obstacle on the Path.


Beside this for I use also a mediation I’ve learned in Amorc (used in mysticism)  and the Hermetic order of the Golden Dawn, the A.’.A.’. and from private teachers. Sometimes its also a mix with ritual. To have a quiet mind and have an understanding of the mind is essential to make progress on the Path no matter what spiritual path it is.