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Nine stages to Shine

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Nine stages to Shine

(tib.: sem ne gu) There are nine stages of settling the mind into a state of shamatha.

1.Setting the mind (sem jog pa) on the object of focus. At this stage, we are merely able to set or place our attention on the object of focus, but are unable to maintain it and have very little ability to hold the object except for a brief moment now and then.
2. Setting with some continuity (gyun du jog pa). Here, we are able to maintain our mental hold on the object for a minute of two before losing it. It takes some time before we recognize that we have lost the object and before we can reestablish our focus. The periods of distraction are longer than the periods of concentration.
3. Resetting (len du jog pa). Here, we are able to recognize as soon as we have lost our mental hold on the object, and we are able to reset or restore our focus immediately. Characterized by shorter breaks in concentration at this stage.
4. Closely setting (nye war jog pa). Here, we do not lose our mental hold on the object anymore, but there are still lots of coarse dullness and agitation. We no longer struggle to keep the object, but struggle with the quality of meditation.
5. Taming (dul war jed pa). Here, we no longer experience gross agitation or gross and middling dullness. However, we experience subtle dullness.
6. Stilling (zhi war jed pa). Here, although there is no longer great danger of subtle mental dullness, nevertheless in uplifting the mind, we became too excited and experience subtle agitation.
7. Complete stilling (nam pa zhi war jed pa). Here, although the danger of subtle flightiness or dullness is minimal, we still need to exert effort to rid ourselves of them completely.
8. Single-pointedness (tse chig tu jed pa). At the beginning of the session, you make a small effort to place the mind on the object, and then it remains there effortlessly. 
9. Setting with ease (nyam par jog pa). There is effortless entering and abiding in deep meditation. This is the attainment of single-minded concentration (ting nge dzin, Skt. samadhi.)
 
When, in addition to single-minded concentration, we gain the mental factor of an exhilarating sense of mental and physical fitness to concentrate perfectly on anything for as long as we wish, we gain shamatha.

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"Your up and down emotions are like clouds in the sky; beyond them, the real, basic human nature is clear and pure."
- Lama Zopa Rinpoche

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