Achieving Shamatha

by Dr Alexander Berzin

Concentration and Alertness as

Automatic Features of Mindfulness


For achieving shamatha, we need to put our main energy on maintaining mindfulness (mental glue) on our object of focus. This means making effort primarily on holding on to the object. With mental glue, we automatically have concentration.

Mental glue and concentration are merely two ways of describing the same mental activity. Mental glue describes it from the point of view of the mental hold on the object of focus; concentration describes it from the point of view of mental placement (mental abiding) on the object.


Moreover, if we liken mental glue to the sun, then alertness is like the sunlight – it is automatically present. In other words, if we are able to maintain a mental hold on an object of focus with mental glue, this implies that we are automatically keeping a check to see if the hold is proper.


Occasionally, however, we need to apply a second type of alertness, one that makes a spot check of the condition of the mental hold on the object. When doing so, however, we only use a corner of our attention, so as not to be distracted from having the main focus of our attention be on the object of the meditation.

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© Bodhicitta 2020