This has three points: the nature of meditative stabilization, its subdivisions, and how to generate it in one’s mind-stream.


The nature of meditative stabilization is a mind that abides single-pointedly on any suitable virtuous object.


Its nature is twofold: mundane and supramundane.
Its orientation is threefold: samatha, special insight, and a union of the two.

Its functions are threefold: the meditative stabilization that causes one to abide in physical and mental happiness in this life, the meditative stabilization that accomplishes excellent qualities, and the meditative stabilization that secures the welfare of sentient beings. The first is the meditative stabilization that generates physical and mental pliancy as one places the mind in meditative equipoise. The second is a meditative stabilization that accomplishes the excellent qualities shared with sravakas, such as the clairvoyances, liberations, totalities, and masteries. The third is the meditative stabilization that accomplishes the welfare in eleven ways by means of meditative stabilization.


The thoughts regarding the benefits of cultivating meditative stabilization and the faults of not cultivating it will be explained in the chapter on Samatha.

The generosity of training in meditative stabilization possessing the six perfections is to abide in meditative stabilization oneself and establish others in it. The remaining are as above.



This has three points: the nature of wisdom, its subdivisions, and how to generate wisdom in one’s mindstream.


In general, wisdom is that which very thoroughly differentiates qualities in the thing that is being investigated. Here it is the wisdom that is skilled in the five areas of knowledge and so forth.


There are three: the wisdom realizing the ultimate, the wisdom realizing conventionalities, and the wisdom realizing the welfare of sentient beings. The first is the wisdom comprehending the suchness that is selflessness by means of a generic image [173] and the wisdom comprehending the suchness that is selflessness by means of something manifest. The second is the wisdom that is skilled in the five areas of knowledge. The third consists in knowing how to accomplish, without misdeeds, the welfare of sentient beings in this and future lives.


The third is to think about the benefits of generating  wisdom and the faults of not generating it. First, the Hundred Verses on Wisdom says:

The root of all the excellent qualities,
the seen and the unseen, is wisdom.
Thus wisdom should be fully embraced
in order to accomplish both.

The complete purity of the first five perfections, generosity and so forth, depends on wisdom. Although a bodhisattva gives his own flesh to someone who asks for it, like offering a leaf from a medicinal plant, he does not do it with the discursive thoughts of pride, discouragement, and so forth; rather he does it out of the suchness manifested by wisdom. When he practices ethics for the welfare of others, he purifies his ethics with the wisdom that sees the flaws of both cyclic existence and the peace of nirvana. His mind is subdued by means of the wisdom realizing the faults of impatience and the excellent qualities of patience, and so he is not consumed by offense and suffering. By means of wisdom, he understands well the basis for undertaking joyous effort and exerts himself in that, whereby there is great progress on the path. By means of the wisdom relying on a process of reasoning, he achieves the supreme joyful bliss of the meditative stabilization that abides in the meaning of suchness.

Those endowed with wisdom can accomplish without any contradiction two excellent qualities that appear to be opposed. Were a bodhisattva to become a universal monarch with power of the four continents, the minister of wisdom would prevent his succumbing to the sway of desirable objects. Likewise, although his love that sees sentient beings as likable is very strong, it is not even slightly mixed with attachment. Although he has lasting and intense compassion that cannot bear the suffering of sentient beings, he is without the laziness that is oppressed by sorrow and does not delight in virtue. Although he possesses immeasurable joy, he is without the restlessness that distracts the mind from a focal object. Although he possesses great and continuous equanimity, he does not neglect the welfare of beings even for an instant. This is all owing to wisdom, because wisdom eliminates the obstacles to accomplishing a balanced strength. [174]

Praise of the One Worth of Praise says:
The accord with conventionalities
without discarding ultimate reality.

Thus there is no need to discard ultimate reality, the great certainty one has gained that not even a mere particle of the referent object whose signs are being apprehended is established. That is not contradictory to, but in agreement with, the fact that conventionalities are found through a profound certainty that individual effects arise from their individual inner and outer causes and conditions. Although these are grossly contradictory for those without a sharp mind, for those who possess wisdom they are compatible and not contradictory.

The same text also says:

Regarding permissions and prohibitions,
some of your words are definitive
whereas others are not. Still
there is not contradiction among them.

Thus there are many contradictory permissions and prohibitions in the higher and lower vehicles and in sutra and tantra, and at the same time, they are to be practiced by a single person. Those without a sharp mind who seek the meaning of the countless scriptures see these two as contradictory whereas the skilled do not. This too is owing to wisdom.

Separated from wisdom, the other five – generosity and so forth – and the view will not be pure. The Compendium of the Perfections (6.5) says:

In those who strive for results in the absence of
their giving does not purify. It was taught
that the best generosity is to benefit others.
The rest only serves to increase wealth.

And (6.11):

If wisdom’s light does not dispel the darkness,
one will not come to possess pure ethics.
In the absence of wisdom, that discipline
will mostly be disturbed by afflictions through flawed

And (6.13):

Excellent qualities of patience will not remain in one’s
If it is disturbed by faults of distorted wisdom.
Nor will fame remain for a king without excellent
who hates to examine what is good and what is faulty.

And (6.16):

It is extolled as sublime for the learned. [175]
There is nothing more subtle and deep.
Without wisdom, the mind will not take the straight
completely unobscured by the fault of desire.

And (6.18):

Some believe wisdom’s way does not involve effort;
their view will not become completely pure.

As for a king’s fame here, a king who lacks excellent qualities may find fame once, but it will degenerate and pass.

Therefore it is necessary to generate wisdom. Its cause, hearing completely pure scriptures in accordance with one’s mental capacity, is set out in the Compendium of the Perfections (6.48):

One who studies little is blind and doesn’t know how
to meditate.
Without that, what understanding would someone
reflect on?
So from the cause of putting effort into studying
arises vast wisdom, through meditation with

Venerable Maitreya also says in his Sublime Continuum (5.14-15):

Conceptualization of the three spheres
is posited as the obstruction to omniscience.
Conceptualizations like miserliness
are posited as afflictive obstructions.

There is no cause apart from wisdom
that eliminates these, and therefore
wisdom is supreme. Since study
is its basis, study is supreme.

And the Compendium of Trainings in Verse (v. 22) says:

You should be patient. You should pursue study.
Then you should retreat to a forest.
Strive at equipoise meditation!

The holy beings of the past also said to first gather together in your mind the Dharma you have studied. Then reflect on it repeatedly, appraise it, and investigate it. Training merely to focus the mind is of no help if you allow yourself to forget the Dharma. The highest teachings are suitable for excellent meditators, and intermediate teachings are suitable for intermediate meditators. One’s knowledge of the Dharma should grow to the same extent as one meditates. Once this certainty has grown firm through such contemplations, you will no longer listen to the words of bad companions who say, “All virtuous and nonvirtuous thoughts are to be abandoned because they are conceptuality”. Rather, you will think, “The Dharma does not teach anything like that, [176] and my teacher also does not assert that,” and you will not listen to them. Lacking that, someone who has a little bit of faith but no wisdom will burst into tears when he sees a crying face and will burst into laughter when he sees someone who is laughing. Considering true whatever people say, like a river he will go wherever he is led.

When you train in wisdom, make it possess the six perfections. The generosity of wisdom is to abide in the state of wisdom oneself and to establish it in others. The remaining ones are as above.



Generosity is the same as explained in the context of the perfections. Pleasant speech is to teach the perfections to disciples. Meaningful conduct is to encourage disciples to engage in the meanings they were taught or to induce them to correctly adopt them. To act in accord with the meaning is to abide in the meanings one has introduced to others and train accordingly.

Ornament for the Mahayana Sutras (16.73) says:

Generosity is as before, while teaching it,
making others adopt it, and engaging in it oneself
are asserted, respectively, to be pleasant speech,
meaningful conduct, and accord with the meaning.

Why are the means of gathering disciples specified as four? In order to gather a retinue for the sake of introducing them to virtue, they first need to be joyful. For this purpose, (1) give them gifts of material things and benefit their bodies. Once they have become joyful in that way, in order for them to engage in the path, they first need to know how. For that, (2) explain the Dharma to them by speaking pleasantly, so that they eliminate ignorance and doubts, and make them understand the meaning unmistakenly. When they understand that, (3) cause them to engage in accomplishing virtue through meaningful conduct. Furthermore, if you do not practice that yourself but merely explain to others, “This is how you should engage and desist,” they will say, “Why do you tell others to practice it if you do not practice is yourself? You too still need to be corrected by others,” and they will not listen to what is to be practiced. However, if you practice that yourself, they will also think, “Since he himself abides in the virtue in which he guides me, there will definitely be benefit and happiness for me if I accomplish it,” and they will enter the path. Also, those who are already on the path will not turn away from it and will grow firm. Therefore you should (4) act in accordance with the meaning. [177]

Since the buddhas taught that the four ways of gathering disciples accomplish all the welfare of all disciples and that they are a good method, those who gather followers should rely on them. Ornament for the Mahayana Sutras (16.78) says:

Those who gather followers
perfectly rely on this method.
It accomplishes all the aims of everyone
and is extolled as an excellent method.

The Great Elder Atisha taught the way to accomplish [the six perfections] during meditative equipoise and post-meditation [in his Heart Summary (Hrdayaniksepa)]:

Bodhisattva conduct includes
the vast six perfections and so forth.
The yogi arising from meditative equipoise
steadfastly accomplishes the path of accumulation.

The Great Elder, Atisa, said [in his Concise Method for Accomplishing the Mahayana Path]:

Each time you rise from meditative equipoise
cultivate a view of all phenomena
as like illusions, such as the eight similes.
In post-meditation purify conceptuality
and emphasize the training in method.
At the time of meditative equipoise,
balance samatha and special insight
and cultivate them continuously.

For those whose minds are untrained, to hear about such wonderful but difficult conduct produces anguish. Although even bodhisattvas are unable to take it as a practice right from the start, if you come to understand it and acquaint yourself with it as something to aspire to, later on you will naturally engage in it without effort. That is why familiarization is important, for if you see it as impossible and refuse to familiarize yourself with training your mind in it, [178] you will be extremely far from the completely pure paths. Praise of Infinite Qualities (Gunaparyantastotra) says:

Practices that distress worldly beings to even just hear
about them,
and that even you have never practiced for an extended
will become natural to your through gradual familiarization
with those practices.
Hence it is hard to increase excellent qualities without

Therefore those who have taken bodhisattva vows must train in the conduct, but even those who have not taken up engaged bodhicitta by means of a ritual should try to develop the desire to train in it. The vows will be very stable if they are taken after enhancing one’s delight in the training. Therefore you should put effort into this.

This concludes the explanation of training in aspiring bodhicitta and the stages of the path of training in the conduct of the victors’ children in general within the stages of the path of persons of great capacity.




Training in the last two perfections in particular consists in methods for cultivating samatha and special insight because those two are included, respectively, in the perfections of meditative stabilization and wisdom. This has six points: the benefits of cultivating samatha and special insight, demonstrating that these two include all concentrations, the nature of samatha and special insight, the reason both need to be cultivated, how their order is definite, and how to train in each of them.


The Unraveling the Intent Sutra teaches that all the mundane and supramundane excellent qualities of the Mahayana and Hinayana are results of samatha and special insight. Someone might wonder, “Aren’t samatha and special insight excellent qualities of a mind that has attained a meditative state? How is it possible that all those excellent qualities result from those two?” Actual samatha and special insight are indeed excellent qualities of the mind that has attained a meditative state, as explained below. Therefore not all the excellent qualities of the Mahayana and Hinayana are results of the two. Nevertheless, all the concentrations that include a single-pointed mind placed on a virtuous object are included in the category of samatha, and all the virtuous wisdom minds that individually distinguish the ultimate mode of being from things in their variety are included in the category of special insight. It is with that intended meaning [179] that all the excellent qualities of the three vehicles are said to be results of samatha and special insight. Hence there is no contradiction.
The Unraveling the Intent Sutra also says:

After beings have cultivated
special insight and samatha,
they gain complete liberation from
the bondage of negative tendencies and signs.

The meaning of this verse is that “negative tendencies” are the imprints that remain in the mindstream and are capable of generating increasingly erroneous subjective states, while “signs” activate the imprints for perpetual attachments to erroneous objects. Instructions on the Perfection of Wisdom (Prajnaparamitopadesa) explains that the former are eliminated through special insight and the latter through samatha. Although those are the benefits of what are known as samatha and special insight, statements on the benefits of meditative stabilization and wisdom should also be understood as the benefits of these two. They have the same meaning even though they are not called samatha and special insight.  


The Unraveling the Intent Sutra says that all the limitless concentrations proclaimed in the Mahayana and the Hinayana are subsumed under samatha and special insight. Therefore, since those who strive in concentration cannot investigate all its limitless manifestations, they should thoroughly investigate how to practice the epitome of all concentrations, samatha and special insight.


The nature of samatha is set forth in the Unravelling the Intent Sutra:

Dwelling alone in solitude, you settle the mind
within and attend to those very phenomena you
have been reflecting on just as they are. Whatever
mind it may be, since that mind of attention
is continuously directed inward, it is called attention.
Repeatedly placing it in this way, it becomes
stable, and then physical and mental pliancy
arise, this is called samatha.

The meaning of this is that if the mind attends to it continuously without distraction and stays on the object by itself so that the bliss and joy of physical and mental pliancy arises, the concentration becomes samatha. This will arise from merely keeping the mind inwardly focused on its object of visualization without distraction; it does not depend on comprehending ultimate reality. [180]
The nature of special insight is set forth in the same sutra:

After achieving physical and mental pliancy, you
abide in that state and eliminate other aspects of
mind. With strong resolution you finely investigate
the very phenomena you have been reflecting
on just as they are, the object of concentration
being an internal image. Thus, with regard to the
images that are objects of your concentration,
any differentiation of the meaning of those objects
to be known, any thorough differentiation,
full investigation, full analysis, forbearance, acceptance,
classification, viewing, and conceptualization
is called special insight. In that way the
bodhisattva is skilled in special insight.

Here, “differentiation” is a differentiation of things in their variety, and “thorough differentiation” is a differentiation of the ultimate mode of being. “Investigation” is a coarse investigation, and “analysis” is a subtle analysis. The Cloud of Jewels Sutra says:

Samatha is a one-pointed mind;
special insight is fine investigation.

Venerable Maitreya also says [in Ornament for the Mahayana Sutras 14.8]:

Distilling words about phenomena
should be known as the path of samatha,
while a full analysis of their meanings
should be known as the path of special insight.

And (18.66):

In reliance on proper stability,
samatha and special insight
serve to place the mind on mind
and thoroughly differentiate phenomena.

This says that placing the mind in reliance on correct concentration is known as samatha, and the wisdom thoroughly differentiating phenomena is known as special insight. Bodhisattva Levels presents it just like that, and the second Stages of Meditation also says:

Once distraction toward external things has been
pacified, resting with joy and pliancy within the
mind itself, continuously and naturally engaging
its internal object, is called samatha. At the time of
abiding in that samatha, any thorough analysis of
suchness is known as special insight. [181]

Instructions on the Perfection of Wisdom explains this in the same way.

According to Bodhisattva Levels and Instructions on the Perfection of Wisdom, samatha and special insight can each have both the ultimate mode of being and things in their variety as its object. Therefore samatha and special insight are not differentiated by way of their objects. There is samatha that realizes emptiness, and there is also special insight that does not realise emptiness. Also, when the scattering to external objects has been pacified and the mind abides on an internal object, this is called samatha, whereas seeing something special or superior is called special insight.

Some claim that the mind abiding nonconceptually without a vibrant clarity of cognition is samatha whereas if it does have a vibrant clarity it is special insight. But this is not correct because it contradicts everything explained above and because this distinction is merely the distinction between concentration with or without laxity. This is also because every concentration of samatha must definitely be free of laxity, and in every concentration that is free from laxity, clarity of the mind will definitely arise.

Thus to identify whether a mind is a concentration or a wisdom that observes emptiness, you must check whether that mind realizes either of the two selflessnesses. This is because there are countless nonconceptual concentrations of bliss and clarity in which the mind is not directed at the ultimate nature of an object. It is established by direct perception that it is possible for a mind to apprehend without discursive thought but not find the view that realizes the ultimate mode of being. Therefore there is not the slightest contradiction in the arising of nonconceptual concentrations that do not understand emptiness. From that point of view, when the mind is held for a long time, the power of the mind being so held gives rise to serviceable winds. Bliss at that time is not precluded because when the serviceable winds arise, it is natural for bliss and joy to arise in the body and the mind. Once that has arisen, the power of one’s clear sensation of bliss and joy produces clarity in the mind. Therefore you cannot posit that all blissful, clear, nonconceptual concentrations realize suchness. Consequently, since bliss, clarity, and nonconceptuality arise in concentrations that do not realize emptiness, and since there are also many concentrations in which the mind is not directed at emptiness and yet do have bliss, clarity, and nonconceptuality, one must distinguish between the two. [182]


Why is it not enough to cultivate either samatha or special insight? Why must one cultivate both? To illustrate, when you light a butter lamp at night in order to look at murals, if the butter lamp is both very bright and does not flicker due to wind, you will see the painted figures very clearly. However, if the butter lamp is not bright or is bright but flickers in the wind, you will not see the forms clearly. Likewise, with respect to viewing the profound meaning, you will see suchness clearly if you have both wisdom that ascertains the meaning of suchness without error and the imperturbability of a mind that stays on its object at will. However, if you do not have the wisdom that realizes the ultimate mode of being, you will not penetrate the ultimate mode of being no matter how much you familiarize yourself with concentration, even if you have nonconceptual concentration and your mind remains unscattered. On the other hand, if you have the view that comprehends selflessness but you lack the firm concentration in which the mind remains single-pointed, you will be unable to see the meaning of the ultimate mode of being clearly. Therefore both samatha and special insight are necessary.
The second Stages of Meditation says:

With special insight alone without samatha, the
yogi’s mind is distracted to other objects, and it
will be unstable like a butter lamp in the wind.
Consequently, the light of exalted wisdom will not
shine forth brightly, which is why you should rely
on both equally.


A mind with the power of samatha will not be
moved by the winds of conceptualization, like a
butter lamp secluded from the wind. Through
special insight you eliminate the snares of all
inferiors views so that others no longer lead you
astray. As the Moon Lamp Sutra describes it:

Through samatha’s power, you will be immovable;
through special insight, you will be like a mountain.

You will know the meaning of reality if you analyze with wisdom that is conjoined with the meditative equipoise of samatha that is not unbalanced by laxity or mental excitement. With that intention the Compendium of the Dharma says: [183]

When your mind is in meditative equipoise, you
will know reality as it is.

The first Stages of Meditation says:

Since the mind is unsteady like water, there is no
abiding without the basis of samatha. A mind that
is not in meditative equipoise cannot know reality
as it is. The Blessed One said, “A mind in meditative
equipoise fully knows reality as it is”.

When you accomplish samatha, it not only eliminates the fault of your wisdom consciousness wandering off while correctly analyzing selflessness it also eliminates the fault of distraction during all analytical meditations that you do with fine investigative wisdom: on impermanence, actions and their effects, the faults of cyclic existence, love, compassion, training in bodhicitta, and so forth. As a result, everything virtuous you do is powerful because when you focus on each individual object, whatever it may be, you are never pulled away to something else. Until you obtain samatha, any virtuous practice you do will be weak owing to a predominance of distraction. It is as Entering the Bodhisattva Way (8.1) says:

A person with a distracted mind
is in the fangs of the mental afflictions.

And (5.16):

The Sage taught that recitation,
ascetic practices, and so forth,
even if you pursue them at length,
are pointless with a distracted mind.


Entering the Bodhisattva Way (8.4) says:

Having understood that special insight
conjoined with samatha destroys the afflictions,
first seek samatha…

As this says, you first accomplish samatha and then cultivate special insight based on it.

With regard to that you may wonder the following. The first Stages of Meditation says that the object observed in samatha is unspecified when it says, “Its object of observation is unspecified”. And as explained above, the objects of samatha can include both conditioned phenomena and ultimate reality. [184] Therefore it should actually be possible to first understand the meaning of selflessness and then, by focusing and meditating on that, to simultaneously generate both samatha, a mind not distracted, and special insight observing emptiness. So why first seek samatha and then cultivate special insight?

This is how samatha precedes special insight. Prior samatha is not necessary to induce an understanding of the view that realizes selflessness, because the view is also seen to arise in the absence of samatha. Prior samatha is also unnecessary to induce an experience of mental transformation concerning that view, because even without samatha there is nothing contradictory in an experience of mental transformation arising through repeatedly cultivating analysis by means of fine investigative wisdom. If it were contradictory, it would absurdly follow from the same reason that the experience of mental transformation arising with respect to impermanence, the faults of cyclic existence, or training in bodhicitta would also depend on samatha.

In what way, then, does samatha precede special insight?

Here the context for the generation of special insight is that of ordinary beings with no prior realization arisen from meditation who newly generate it. In this regard, there is a method of meditation on selflessness with a special awareness that realizes emptiness. Its peculiarities will be explained below. Apart from that, analytical meditation is necessary in the vehicle of the perfections and in the three lower classes of tantra because special insight, which is a realization born from meditation, does not arise unless you have examined the meaning of selflessness by means of fine investigative wisdom and then engaged in analytical meditation upon it. If you seek an understanding of selflessness and repeatedly analyze its meaning prior to accomplishing samatha, you will be unable to accomplish samatha in reliance upon that because you have not accomplished samatha. If you perform nonanalytical placement meditation, however you can accomplish samatha in reliance upon it, but this will only be a method for accessing samatha, and you will need a method for accessing special insight distinct from that. Therefore you seek special insight afterward. That is why you do not deviate from the order of seeking samatha first and then cultivating special insight in reliance upon it. If the method for generating special insight in this system did not require the generation of pliancy by means of the analytical meditation of fine investigation, there would be no particular reason to seek samatha first and then cultivate special insight in reliance upon it. [185]

It is completely unreasonable to not meditate in accordance with that order. The Unraveling the Intent Sutra says that you cultivate special insight in reliance upon the attainment of samatha, as mentioned above. Furthermore, the line “The latter grow based in the earlier ones” refers to the sequence of meditative stabilization and wisdom within the six perfections. In particular, the arising of the higher training in wisdom in reliance upon the higher training in concentration is an order in which you first cultivate samatha before special insight is cultivated. Bodhisattva Levels and Sravaka Levels (Sravakabhumi) also say that special insight is cultivated in reliance upon samatha. Essence of the Middle Way, Entering the Bodhisattva Way, and the three volumes of Stages of Meditation, as well as Jnanakirti and Santipa, set forth that you seek samatha and then cultivate special insight. Therefore the assertions of some Indian masters that you start out by generating special insight through analysis with fine investigative wisdom without seeking samatha separately are in contradiction to the texts of the great trailblazers. Therefore it is inappropriate for the intelligent to rely on them.

This is the order of samatha and special insight when you newly generate them. Later on the order is unspecified, because you continue to cultivate samatha after you have cultivated special insight.

Someone might say, “Well, the Compendium of Abidharma says:

Some have attained special insight but have not
attained samatha. They strive for samatha in reliance
upon special insight.

Why is that?” We would respond that this does not refer to those who have failed to attain the samatha included in the preliminary stage of the first dhyana but to those who have failed to attain the samatha of the actual first dhyana and above. Samatha of the first dhyana and above are in fact attained in reliance upon direct realization of the four truths. This is because, as stated in Levels of Yogic Practice:

Furthermore, you can fully understand as they
really are the four truths, from suffering up to the
path without having attained the first dhyana and
so forth. As soon as you understand them, you
place the mind and do not perform any thorough
differentiation. In reliance upon just that superior
wisdom, you apply yourself to superior states of

In general, [186] to put is simply, the nine mental states are known as samatha, while the four investigations of thorough differentiation and so forth are known as special insight. However, actual samatha and special insight, as explained here, must be posited as occurring after pliancy has arisen.


This has three points: how to train in samatha, how to train in special insight, and how samatha and special insight unite.

(to be continued…)