The Parami of Dhyana or Concentration.
Welcome to this Dharma if you Dare bonus episode. We hope you enjoyed this Soundbite from Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat on the fifth of the six paramis, dhyana, usually translated as concentration or absorption. If the paramis are new to you, you can hear an introduction and overview to the topic by finding [season three episode 4] in the podcast feed.
Qapel: So in dhyana or absorption meditations, there are basically six factors that you want to try to balance in your state at any given time. So, three of them are active and three of them are passive and this is about all we’ll say about it tonight. The balancing part of this fulcrum is mindfulness or awareness. Then you have interest. You can’t have a good meditation without interest and where there’s interest there tends to be a lack of calm. So that’s the balancing factor on the passive side. You want calm. You have got to be calm, but you want to be interested. Calm and interested. So these two factors balance each other
CS: The next two are concentration and energy, Okay, that’s great, carry on.
Q: So, concentration, you want to be concentrated. But if you have too much concentration what happens to your energy? It goes really flat and if you have too much energy, where does your concentration go? So, you want to balance these two. Now you have got four. And the last two are joy, you want to have joy. Happy, happy. But what happens if you’re really happy? You tend to cling to it so you need to have equanimity. So these two balance each other. You need equanimity, but you need joy. So these six factors balance each other in all directions. You balance the joy and the equanimity, you balance the concentration and the energy and you balance the calm and the interest and then you’re in you are in a good state.
So at any given moment in time, if you’re feeling that you’re not very unified with the totality of life, just ask yourself which factors are either overpowering or underrepresented,
CS: Right. This can be used as a diagnostic. If you’re feeling kind of crummy, you can just go through this list and see which ones are out of balance and apply the other to bring them into balance.
Q: And the amazing thing about the path of liberation is you don’t have to do anything. You just have to let the sin liberate itself by noting what’s missing or what’s in the way or what doesn’t need to be there and allowing it to drop.
CS: And so all that’s really required is awareness and meditation brings ever greater awareness. It’s just worth saying I have a good friend who says he practices mindfulness in every moment and I think that he does, he’s a very thoughtful person, but there’s just no substitute for meditation. The power of meditation to develop greater awareness is profound and so learn to love it because it is so, so good for our liberation. So good for becoming more calm, becoming more joyful, becoming more loving, and so on.
Q: So, does anybody want to be a volunteer just for a minute? Andy. He did put his hand up! So your state right now, of these seven factors, how would you say they are doing in terms of their balance?
ANDY: Good concentration.
A: The energy is low.
Q: Okay, so energy is interest, right? So, why are you not so interested?
A: Because I know the list?
Q: Exactly! He already knows the list. So how does he go from something he already knows to interest? By applying it in the moment. He says, “ in this moment I’m not super interested because I’ve heard this list before. So, how do I get interested if I heard this list before?” Become interested in your disinterest. Why am I disinterested, even though I heard this before? All of a sudden he’s interested in his disinterest. What happens to the disinterest? It is gone.
CS: And this is the very important difference between knowledge and realization because we can know the list, but we’ve realized the list when we’re manifesting it. It’s a very, very important distinction, especially in this day and age. When everybody and anybody can read about enlightenment on the internet. We’ve got to be able to distinguish the difference between knowledge and manifestation.
Host: We hope you enjoyed today’s sound bite. To download a free paramis reference sheet and to access more resources on this topic, visit PlanetDharma.com/paramis. If you find the teachings of Planet Dharma resonate and are wondering how to explore them further, we recommend our free online course called “Wake Up: Four Paths to Spiritual Awakening.” This self-study course gives an introduction to the main approaches that Doug and Catherine employ with students to help them find their speediest path to spiritual awakening. You can learn more and register for free by visiting PlanetDharma.com/wakeup.
See you next time. And may all our efforts benefit all beings.