Mental constancy

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One of the four progressive levels of mental stability in which the mind is on the plane of ethereal forms (form realm). They are attained on the basis of a stilled and settled state of shamatha, known in this context as the indispensable preliminary stage of the first level of mental constancy (bsam-gtan dang-po'i nyer-bsdogs mi-lcogs-med). Each has a preliminary stage (nyer-bsdogs, Skt. sāmantaka) and an actual state (dngos-gzhi, Skt. maula), with the actual state of the first divided into a mere actual state and a distinguished actual stage. With each of the four actual states of mental constancy, one achieves a temporary cessation or blockage of the manifest aspect of certain phenomena so long as the mental constancy is maintained. Therefore, they are called worldly paths of meditation. Each preliminary stage is the actual antidote for achieving this blockage, and has two mental factors accompanying it: coarse and subtle discrimination (dpyod-rtogs). Here, coarse discrimination means looking down on lower states and features of them that one wants to block and discriminating them as course and inferior. Subtle discrimination means looking up to the actual state of mental constancy and its blockages one is seeking to achieve and discriminating them as subtle and superior.

Tibetan: བསམ་གཏན། bsam-gtan

Sanskrit: dhyāna

Pali: jhāna

Synonyms: Dhyana


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