Seven mental processes

The seven mental processes (Wyl. yid la byed pa bdun) are the mental processes by means of which the samadhis of the four dhyanas and four formless absorptions are attained. Sometimes only the first six are mentioned.[1]

  1. mental process of precisely discerning characteristics (mtshan nyid rab tu rig pa'i yid byed)
  2. mental process of conviction (mos pa las byung ba'i yid byed)
  3. mental process of thorough separation (rab tu dben pa las byung ba'i yid byed)
  4. mental process of gaining joy (dga' ba sdud pa'i yid byed)
  5. mental process of examination (dpyod pa yid byed)
  6. mental process of the culmination of engagement (sbyor ba'i mtha' yid la byed pa)
  7. mental process of the result of the culmination of engagement (sbyor ba'i mtha'i 'bras bu yid byed)

Khenpo Pema Vajra says:

Once pliancy is attained, there is a foundation for developing the wisdom of vipashyana. This is the preparatory stage which is known as ‘the capable stage.’ At this point, there are seven mental processes through which the main part of dhyana meditation is accomplished.
Firstly, there is the mental process of precisely discerning characteristics, in which one understands the positive and negative qualities of the three realms and their respective causes, the mental afflictions of the different levels of existence as well as the special qualities of dhyana meditation.
Secondly, there is the mental process of conviction, which is the confident belief arising out of this meditation that the flaws of the lower levels should be discarded, while the qualities of the higher levels should be attained.
Then, the mental process of thorough separation involves discarding the coarser type of thoughts that should be abandoned by applying the antidote to the mental afflictions of a lower plane of existence.
When one is freed from these mental afflictions of a lower stage, one attains the joy and physical wellbeing of mental and physical pliancy, and this is known as the mental process of gaining joy.
The mental process of examination means that while the mind is abiding at a particular level, the mental afflictions of the level below should not arise, and so one deliberately focuses on a given object and carefully examines the mind, abandoning any afflictions that do develop.
The mental process of the culmination of engagement is the unimpeded path during which the antidote that overcomes the subtle mental afflictions of the lower level arises in the mind.
The mental process of the result of the culmination of engagement is the path of total release, at which point there is no longer any need to apply an antidote, the mental afflictions of the lower level having been totally eradicated.
This is how the mind of the main dhyana practice is accomplished.[1]

Alternative Translations

  • six/seven attentions
  • six/seven mental engagements

Footnotes

  1. See for example Kangyur Rinpoche, Treasury of Precious Qualities, Shambhala, 2001, n. 219, p. 388 (where they are refered to as the six types of attention) and B. Alan Wallace, Bridge of Quiescence: Experiencing Tibetan Buddhist Meditation, pp.217-8 (where they are referred to as the six mental engagements)

Source

RigpaWiki:Seven mental processes