Shamatha: Meditation for Balanced Living

Discover a range of methods for developing meditative quiescence, or shamatha, particularly as a foundation for dzogchen practice.

What You’ll Learn

  • how to practice mindfulness of breathing
  • how to settle the mind in its natural state
  • the practice of “shamatha without signs”
  • how shamatha practice is a foundation for dzogchen and vipashyana practices
  • the theory of shamatha practice
  • how these practices can help you develop a more balanced life

About this Course

During this course you will explore in theory and practice a range of methods for developing meditative quiescence, or shamatha.

The course begins with the practice of mindfulness of breathing as taught by the Buddha, which is an especially effective approach to soothing the body and calming the discursive mind.

You will then explore an approach to shamatha that is particularly pertinent for Dzogchen practice, called “settling the mind in its natural state,” as taught by the nineteenth-century Dzogchen master Lerab Lingpa in his commentary to the Heart Essence of Vimalamitra.

Finally you will engage in the practice of “shamatha without signs” as taught by Padmasambhava in his classic terma Natural Liberation, where he explains how it relates to the realization of rigpa, or pristine awareness.

The achievement of shamatha is widely regarded in the Buddhist tradition as an indispensable foundation for the cultivation of contemplative insight (vipashyana), and this course is designed to provide students with a sufficient theoretical understanding and a basis in experience to enable them to proceed effectively toward this extraordinary state of mental and physical balance.



Lesson 1: Shamatha and the Search for Happiness

In this first lesson, Alan Wallace gives an introduction to shamatha meditation and relates this to the two types of happiness—that which comes from within, and from the external world.

About the Teacher

B. Alan Wallace
B. Alan WallaceDynamic lecturer, progressive scholar, and one of the most prolific writers and translators of Tibetan Buddhism in the West, B. Alan Wallace, PhD, continually seeks innovative ways to integrate Buddhist contemplative practices with Western science to advance the study of the mind. Dr. Wallace, a scholar and practitioner of Buddhism since 1970, has taught Buddhist theory and meditation worldwide since 1976. Having devoted 14 years to training as a Tibetan Buddhist monk, ordained by H. H. the Dalai Lama, he went on to earn an undergraduate degree in physics and the philosophy of science at Amherst College and a doctorate in religious studies at Stanford. He later studied Dzogchen with Gyatrul Rinpoche, a senior teacher in the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. With his unique background, Dr. Wallace brings deep experience and applied skills to the challenge of integrating traditional Indo-Tibetan Buddhism with the modern world. He is the author and translator of several books, including Düdjom Lingpa’s Visions of the Great Perfection (which provided the root text for this course), Stilling the Mind: Shamatha Teachings From Dudjom Linpa’s Vajra EssenceTibetan Buddhism from the Ground Up, Natural Liberation: Padmasambhava’s Teachings on the Six Bardos, and The Attention Revolution.