Shamatha-Vipashyana:It's Our Original Nature

Shamatha-Vipashyana: It's Our Original Nature

By Gaylon Ferguson

In the tradition of the buddhadharma that traveled from ancient India to Tibet (and, more recently, to various points west), the two main kinds of meditation practiced are shamatha (peaceful or calm abiding) and vipashyana (insight). These are two different but complementary types of training and a doctrinal description of what is completely natural to us: our innate wakefulness. Shamatha–vipashyana is yet another name for our original nature, also known as awakened heart, buddhanature, or basic goodness.

Essentially, the path of meditation involves using spiritual disciplines, or trainings, to help us uncover our innate nature. As Sakyong Mipham says in his guide to the practice of shamatha–vipashyana, Turning the Mind Into An Ally: “Peaceful abiding describes the mind as it naturally is… The human mind is by nature joyous, calm, and very clear. In shamatha meditation we aren’t creating a peaceful state—we’re letting our mind be as it is to begin with…




Gaylon Ferguson is an acharya (senior teacher) in the Shambhala Buddhist community. He has a doctorate in cultural anthropology from Stanford and is a faculty member in religious studies and interdisciplinary studies at Naropa University. He is the author of Natural Wakefulness: Discovering the Wisdom We Were Born With.

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Comment by Sarah Sunny on July 26, 2010 at 9:26am
I didn't know this, thanks for the enlightenment.

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