"To reject practice by saying, ‘it is conceptual!’ is the path of fools. A tendency of the inexperienced and something to be avoided.”

— Longchenpa

Also see: Right Samadhi

Many people have a very warped understanding of the so called "highest teachings" such as Dzogchen and Mahamudra, thinking that these teachings allow us to bypass or skip meditation training, or that it does not require "practice" and "meditation". This cannot be further from the truth.

Here are the words from Lopon Malcolm, a qualified dharma teacher who was asked by his Dzogchen master, Kunzang Dechen Lingpa to teach Dzogchen -

Malcolm (Loppon Namdrol) wrote:

    Rongzom makes the point very clearly that Dzogchen practitioners must develop the mental factors that characterize the first dhyana, vitarka, vicara, pritvi, sukha and ekagraha, i.e. applied attention, sustained attention, physical ease, mental ease and one-pointedness. If you do not have a stable samatha practice, you can't really call yourself a Dzogchen practitioner at all. At best, you can call yourself someone who would like to be a Dzogchen practitioner a ma rdzogs chen pa. People who think that Dzogchen frees one from the need to meditate seriously are seriously deluded. The sgra thal 'gyur clearly says:

    The faults of not meditating are:
    the characteristics of samsara appear to one,
    there is self and other, object and consciousness,
    the view is verbal,
    the field is perceptual,
    one is bound by afflictions,
    also one throws away the path of the buddhahood,
    one does not understand the nature of the result,
    a basis for the sameness of all phenomena does not exist,
    one's vidya is bound by the three realms,
    and one will fall into conceptuality

    He also added:

    Dhyanas are defined by the presence or absence of specific mental factors.

    The Dhyanas were not the vehicle of Buddha's awakening, rather he coursed through them in order to remove traces of rebirth associated with the form and formless realms associated with the dhyanas.


    Whether you are following Dzogchen or Mahamudra, and regardless of your intellectual understanding, your meditation should have, at base, the following characteristics:

    Prthvi -- physical ease Sukha -- mental joy Ekagraha -- one-pointedness Vitarka -- initial engagement Vicara -- sustained engagement

    If any of these is missing, you have not even achieved perfect samatha regardless of whether or not you are using an external object, the breath or even the nature of the mind.


    Even in Dzogchen, the five mental factors I mentioned are key without which you are really not going to make any progress.


Samadhi/dhyāna is a natural mental factor, we all have it. The problem is that we naturally allow this mental factor to rest on afflictive objects such as HBO, books, video games, etc.

Śamatha practice is the discipline of harnessing our natural predisposition for concentration, and shifting it from afflictive conditioned phenomena to nonafflictive conditioned phenomena, i.e., the phenomena of the path. We do this in order to create a well tilled field for the growth of vipaśyāna. Śamatha ultimately allows us to have mental stability and suppresses afflictive mental factors so that we may eventually give rise to authentic insight into the nature of reality. While it is possible to have vipaśyāna without cultivating śamatha, it is typically quite unstable and lacks the power to effectively eradicate afflictive patterning from our minds. Therefore, the basis of all practice in Buddhadharma, from Abhidharma to the Great Perfection, is the cultivation of śamatha as a preliminary practice for germination of vipaśyāna.


A perfect śamatha is nothing more than the first dhyāna, attended by five mental factors: vitarka, vicara, prithi, sukha and ekagraha. This is a universal definition.

The idea that it takes a year to develop this experience is ridiculous. If you understand what you are doing, you can develop this experience in as little as a single afternoon.

Since the mental factors of vitarka and vicara drop off above the first dhyāna, when one 's motivation is to engage in vipaśyāna, it is not appropriate to cultivate anything more than this.

6 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    How does one to practice ,when confronted with physical ,bodily suffering,until becoming like space,free and unbounded?

  2. Soh Says:

    Before realization of anatta, you have to practice insight meditation and contemplate on anatta to realize anatta. Otherwise one cannot be free.

    As for physical and bodily suffering, one should still see a doctor.

  3. Soh Says:

    I don't know what's your practice background, have you achieved I AM realization? Are you going for I AM realization and practicing self inquiry?

    For anatta realization, it's best to practice vipassana with anatta stanzas in mind for contemplation.

    (2007 Lankavatara Sutra discussion)

    Participant 1: Yeah I think so. This means that I still need to do insight meditation?

    Thusness: Yes you have to do insight meditation. Even if you attain calmness you still have to do insight meditation. You must feel the awareness... You must sense it everywhere... That is very important for liberation. Now when we talk about awareness, we don't call it Self or we don't call it Mind. Why people call it Awareness is because they do not want to call it Self, because there is no Self. The reason they said Awareness, is because Awareness is not an entity. It is not a thing. It is just a point of luminous clarity. It is just clarity. But because we are so accustomed to thinking things in terms of object and subject, we always take Awareness as something. It must be somewhere inside, residing somewhere. Even if it is not residing inside the body it must be somewhere, someplace. This is the problem, you see. So when you say that let’s be aware. We always think of “how?” How to be aware? When we say “where is awareness”, they always look for a place, they always look for a something. This is how the mind react, this is what I call a momentum. They always behave this way. They do not know how to say “Just do nothing. Everything is expressing itself by clarity.” They always want to react, you see what I mean?

  4. Soh Says:


    Ck: john, how to practise vipassana in daily life?
    Thusness: just observe every sensation.
    Thusness: until one day u are able to experience "emptiness as form".
    Thusness: then it becomes effortless.
    Thusness: Truthz u cannot imagine the bliss when one clearly experiences that.
    Thusness: but there is no point to over stress anything.
    Thusness: Smile
    Ck: Thusness just observe every sensation... give me an eg?
    Thusness: when u breath, u don't have to care what is the right way of breathing, whether u breath hard or soft, smooth or fine...just experience as much clarity as u can...just that experience...regardless of what it is like.
    Thusness: same for all other experiences.
    Ck: wot abt sound? hows it?
    Thusness: when u hear, just the sound...the totality of the sound. There is no how but just to do away with all abitary thoughts. Hear the sound as clear as u can be.
    Ck: then wot abt thots?
    Ck: thots r v sticky Sad
    Thusness: thoughts seldom arise if the practice is correct. If it arises, then not to chase after its meaning. Not to answer urself what it means, not to dwell in 'what'...then u will resort to just the moment of awareness.
    Ck: when i try to be just openly aware, i notice that i jump from sense to sense
    Ck: like one moment hearing, then touch, etc
    Thusness: that is okie.
    Thusness: our nature is so.
    Ck: wots the rite way to do it
    Thusness: don't think that u should concentrate.
    Thusness: ur only duty is to sense with as much clarity as possible.
    Ck: and for all the sensations, i dun dwell in the 'what'?
    Thusness: ur mind is looking for a way, a method
    Thusness: but what that is needed is only the clarity.
    Thusness: however because our mind is so molded and affect by our habitual propensities, it becomes difficult what that is direct and simple.
    Thusness: just stop asking 'how', 'what', 'why'.
    Thusness: and submerge into the moment.
    Thusness: and experience.
    Thusness: i prefer u to describe.
    Thusness: not to ask how, what, why, when, where and who.
    Thusness: only this is necessary.
    Ck: ok
    Thusness: if u practice immediately, u will understand.
    Thusness: if u entertain who, what, where, when and how, u create more propensities and dull ur own luminosity.

    Ck: i shuffle btw self inquiry, observing sensations n thots, being aware... its ok rite
    Thusness: yes
    Ck: means start work i'll hv even more propensities...
    Thusness: that is when u do not understand what awareness, but it is true to certain extend. :)


    (10:07 PM) Thusness: tell me what u think is awareness?
    (10:07 PM) Thusness: in ur own words
    (10:07 PM) Thusness: just say
    (10:08 PM) AEN: just the knowingness, the sensation or thoughts etc
    (10:09 PM) Thusness: look at the skin of ur hands
    (10:09 PM) AEN: ok
    (10:09 PM) Thusness: looks real?
    (10:09 PM) AEN: yea
    (10:09 PM) Thusness: touch it...feel it as much as u can
    (10:10 PM) Thusness: can u don't think of a background
    (10:10 PM) AEN: yea
    (10:10 PM) Thusness: and know that, that is awareness?
    (10:10 PM) AEN: ya
    (10:10 PM) Thusness: that is all.

  5. Soh Says:


    [22:37] <^john^> so far what do u understand about awareness?
    [22:38] hmm like u say lor... awareness is never lost
    [22:39] <^john^> what is awareness right now?
    [22:39] <^john^> when u say thought arises, is thought awareness?
    [22:41] thought is not awareness, but there is awareness of thought
    [22:41] lol
    [22:41] <^john^> so what is thought?
    [22:42] <^john^> and where is awareness?
    [22:42] <^john^> same like taste, is the taste awareness?
    [22:45] i think u cant define awareness to a 'thing' Razz
    [22:45] <^john^> so is taste or thought a thing? Smile
    [22:47] <^john^> u practice meditation now right?
    [22:47] <^john^> Smile
    [22:47] never practise for quite some time Razz
    [22:47] taste or thought is not a thing
    [22:47] lol
    [22:49] <^john^> so do u think awareness is a party behind thinking thought or experiencing taste?
    [22:49] <^john^> Smile
    [22:49] <^john^> lol
    [22:49] no
    [22:49] <^john^> taste is not a thing, then what is it?
    [22:50] just the awareness
    [22:50] <^john^> experience this awareness with totality. :)

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Hv u ever contemplate of one day going to live in secluded mountains, free frm distractions of modern life,and strive for the ultimate goal?