Concentration has become somewhat of a generic term in Buddhism today, but in general it refers to the degree of steadiness of the mind on a chosen object. This is the ability to fix the mind on a specific range of experience and have the mind remain more or less with the chosen object of meditation. This is a quality of steadiness, and if there is no steadiness in the mind, it will be unable to perceive more subtle phenomena because distractions, agitation, and other hindrances take the mind away from the intended object.
The SigmaTropic System relies on a 3-category classification of concentration leading toward access concentration. This 3-category classification allows for an optimal use of whatever mind state one is currently experiencing, by introducing Christian and Tibetan Buddhist ideas into the practice at various levels, leading to a physioemotional transformation of the heart and mind. The practices are specifically designed for the modern householder with attachments such as family obligations.
Map of Calm-Abiding Progress in the SigmaTropic System
3CC – Three Category Concentration
In early practice, the mind is in either of three different types or levels of general mindfulness and continuity of attention. At each category, different practices are employed, in order to maximize the transfer of energy from the hindrances and the ambient energy of restlessness and other stress to the energy of calm-abiding and alert presence.
Category I Concentration –This mind state is characterized by interrupted attention, frequent dullness and distraction, and gross manifestations of the 5 hindrances. The meditator attempts to engage with a meditation object, but soon finds they cannot stabilize the mind or when they do so, they fall asleep. Each person tends to be different, but most people have either of two tendencies. In this category of consciousness, the meditator is stabilizing the mind and generating a positive foundation for the practice. The practice system capitalizes on repetition, devotion, and diligence. Practice themes include:
- Energy cultivation
- Accumulative concentration
- Hindrance combat
- Devotion part I- Faith
Category II Concentration – This intermediate category has more subtle manifestations of the grosser hindrances defeated in the previous category. There is relatively continuous attention, with a tendency toward either subtle dullness and/or subtle distraction. Continued diligent application of the meditation technique is essential in this stage of practice. Practice themes include:
- Suppressing subtle dullness
- Advanced energy cultivation
- Devotion part II, practice
Category III Concentration – In this category of consciousness, there is continuous attention, vivid mindfulness and clarity with infrequent subtle dullness and distraction, but effort is continually needed to keep the mind on track with the chosen meditation object. Practice themes:
- Introductory jhana practice
- Devotion part III, fruition
- Introductory energy transmutation
SSS – Three Stage Samatha
Without the hindrances, the mind has a naturally radiant and blissful nature. When the meditator begins to experience deeper and deeper states of calm and focus, a series of energetic and physiological blossoming processes start to occur. They happen as the different parts of the mind unify into a collective, self-realized, effortless flow machine. During the process, the personal identity is seen to be a set of sensations that were somehow emphasized or exaggerated to create a sense of “me” from stuff in the senses and mind. This disappears and the meditator no longer feels like a separate entity from the world of sensations. When the mind has the qualities of samatha (calm-abiding), insight experiences occur. These can be thought of as events that challenge and contradict some assumption held in the mind, and that event can lead to realization, which is the integration of the new information into the mind system as a whole. Insight, as described in this system is knowledge gained by insight experiences that lead to a cessation of dukkha.
Stage I Samatha – Effortless sustained attention with vivid mindfulness. The mind is sharp and focused and has a high level of baseline mindfulness, with freedom from gross manifestations of the 5 hindrances as a baseline state. At this level of samatha, a state free of the hindrances is easily reached via intention, and the seven factors of awakening are all present to a moderate degree. With the slightest intention the mind is vividly present with everything and there are no hindrances. There is a distinct, skilled clarity that can be easily reached at the slightest intention. However, in daily activities this state of mindfulness is often lost and contractions and suffering can occur. At this level of samatha, the main themes are:
- Dependent Arising and Cessation
- Advanced Energy Transmutation
Stage II Samatha – Effortless mindfulness with autovipassana. The mind vipassanizes itself automatically, spontaneous jhanas and insight experiences occur. Jhana and cessation ability are developed off cushion and in daily life, and synchronous events and intuition/empathic phenomena tend to become more obvious, common, and compelling. This is quite a pleasant state of mind. The jhanas are readily accessible at a light intention, the mind is quite unified and intentions therefore carry a powerful charge on the mind. This is assumed to be the end state, as the jhanic baseline and sense of flow and satisfaction is quite enjoyable and profound, but it naturally develops into stage III samatha.
- Automatic Energy Transmutation
- Bodhicitta and Compassion
- Advanced Visualization
- Advanced magick
- Identity Exchange
Stage III Samatha – Synchonization – Flow and perfection. “Rigpa” All events, sensations, phenomena are seen as synchronous, perfect, comprehended in context, and this perception comes along with a removal of the personal self-other distinction, the self-other duality collapses and there no longer is a sense of a personal distinction in basic perception between oneself and the world. Things are seen as they are, an energetic process of interaction. The sense of jhanic bliss may fade away once we’ve reached this stage of development, but even for this person just inclining toward noticing the seven factors (that continue to be in the background) put them into a blissfully pleasant Stage II Samatha state, which is a baseline state similar to 3rd jhana.
From this supramundane perspective, the personal dukkha has ended, and now there is an energetic process of energy exchange in the “person” and their effect on and benefit for the collective. It is no longer about the personal identity, and they experience themselves as an energetic process and part of the totality, there are no borders and thus transpersonal thinking becomes a baseline way of seeing.
- Collective Awakening
- Empathic Attunement
- Teaching dharma
- Skillful means
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