Success in Shamata & Vipashyana

We’re focused on the following for this discussion:

  • Shamata is the practice of mental stability.
  • Vipashyana is the practice of insight meditation.

These are the arms of meditation that will support the practice of Mahamudra (or meditation upon the mind.)

Roots of Shamata & Vipashyana

  • Discipline
    • Devotion
  • Listening to Instructions
  • Reflecting on the Instructions
  • Accumulation of Merit

The three main roots are Discipline, Listening to Instructions and Reflecting upon the instructions.  Secondary roots are Devotion (which builds Discipline) and the Accumulation of Merit.


Discipline will depend on our life choices.  Most of us are practicing a life choice of what the old ones called “the householder.”   In modern parlance, we’d say this is the person who works a job and may (or may not) have a family.

We could think of this as the modernist.  Someone who interacts with the structures of society and through that, they are given their source of survival (pay checks, being able to rent a home, etc.)

There are some few who live alone, and off the grid.  These folks may or may not take monks/nun vows.  Such as these have different ideals and survival systems.

Discipline will be different depending on the individual.  For most, we will be modernists (getting paid for labor, the paycheck covering our essentials and non essentials for life.)

Discipline is a path from many traditions.  The Bushido of Japan speaks to Devotion (as does the Hagakure.)  Discipline is also a core feature in Greek Stoicism.   Another path, discussed a bit more below is that of Buddhism – which recommends the use of devotion, in order to build discipline.


Maintaining discipline can be through various means.  One particular form of effort (from the Buddhist path) is the act of devotion.

Devotion from this perspective is often towards the spiritual teacher, the “guru” or the lineage training you.


Merit is a return to action (karma) that benefits the spiritual path. An example of good merit would be those acts of body, speech, and mind.

Body merit is in the helping of others with physical work.  Mind merit is raised in the ways of universal compassion.  Speech merit is those good things we can speak.

Merit is also gained by meditation and spiritual practice.  An example would be the meditation upon a deity representing an aspect of enlightenment.

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