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Words of Wisdom

On Serenity and Insight: Selections from “The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, Volume 3,” Part 1 of 2

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Tsongkhapa Lobsang Drakpa was also known by the honorific title Je Rinpoche. Tsongkhapa, whose birth and spiritual connection with the Manjushri Bodhisattva was foretold by the Shakyamuni Buddha, entered monastic life at age seven and was given the ordained name Lobsang Drakpa. Even after attaining the merits of the highest realization and perfect understanding, Tsongkhapa Lobsang Drakpa remained a humble enlightened Master. He REFRAINED FROM THE USE OF MIRACLE POWERS and instead shared His insights about pure moral conduct being the basis for successful spiritual training and development. Along with founding the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, Tsongkhapa Lobsang Drakpa also wrote several books, including “The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment,” which highlights a unified message from all Buddhist teachings as well as explaining how to put them into practice. 
Now we are going to present selections from Volume 3 of “The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment.” “The concentration that you will accomplish here has two special features: vivid intensity — an intense mental clarity — and non-discursive stability, staying one-pointedly on the object of meditation...” 
“Since the development of this sort of vivid intensity is blocked as long as there is laxity, while one-pointed non-discursiveness is blocked as long as there is excitement, laxity and excitement are the chief obstacles to achieving genuine concentration. So if you do not understand how to identify accurately the subtle and coarse forms of laxity and excitement, or if you do not know how to correctly sustain a concentration which stops these once you have identified them, then it will be impossible for you to develop serenity, not to mention insight. Hence, those who diligently seek concentration should master these techniques...Here, concentration refers to your attention remaining one-pointedly on an object of meditation; in addition, it must stay with the object continuously. Two things are needed for this: a technique in which your attention is not distracted from whatever it had as its original object of meditation, and an accurate awareness of whether you are distracted and whether you are becoming distracted. The former is mindfulness; the latter is vigilance. Vasubandhu's Commentary on the ‘Ornament for the Mahayana Sutras’ states: Mindfulness and vigilance bring about close mental focus because the former prevents your attention from wandering from the object of meditation and the latter clearly recognizes that your attention is wandering. If a lapse in mindfulness leads to forgetting the object of meditation, you will be distracted and will immediately lose the object upon which you are meditating. Therefore, the foundation of cultivating concentration is mindfulness which does not forget the object.” 
“It is said that you achieve concentration on the basis of mindfulness and that mindfulness is like a rope that actually fastens your attention to the object of meditation continuously, so mindfulness is the main technique to sustain in achieving concentration.”
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