(a) You should contemplate the merit in attaining an enlightened mind and freedom from the sufferings of samsara. You can also consider that through meditation it is possible to achieve heightened states of consciousness or supernormal powers or supersensible cognition that can enable you to truly help others. Telepathy is needed, for example, to gain a clear perception of the total situation so that you can offer appropriate assistance. Having a pure motivation is not enough. The most well meaning of intentions may inadvertently bring harm to others.
(b) If you are not able to proceed beyond this point you may need to reflect on your situation and/or seek help from your teacher. You may have to work on other aspects of cultivation before proceeding with concentration. Are the eight winds (gain, loss, honor, disgrace, praise, ridicule, pleasure or suffering) or emotions (anger, hatred, desire, etc) a problem? Are there problems stemming from any of the delusions like anger, hate, lust, greed, pride, jealousy, ignorance, etc.? See antidotes for each delusion. Are there physical illnesses that interfere with your concentration? You will need to heal the emotional or physical distress before proceeding. Apply introspection to understand the situation and once the affliction is reduced, it is best to wait and rest for a while before continuing to cultivate concentration.
(c) Excitement and mental sinking or inattentiveness are also prevalent at earlier levels; only laziness and forgetfulness are the more pervasive problems and must be dealt with first. When laziness and forgetfulness are no longer problems you are at Level 4.
(d) Inattentiveness or mental sinking (sometimes referred to as fading, numbness, listlessness or laxity) is not the same thing as foggy-mindedness or drowsiness. The latter is the cause of the former and is manifested in heaviness of body and mind leading to sleep and is a facet of delusion or ignorance.
(e) Discriminating alertness or discernment is a form of analytical wisdom where the main portion of your mind remains focused upon the object of meditation while a corner of your mind is checking to see if any of the obstacles have arisen. It must not be used too much or it will interrupt the flow of concentration.
(f) You must constantly give rise to a state of mind bent on leaving the cycle of reincarnation; bear in mind the impermanence of all conditioned things; ponder the suffering involved in descending into one of the three lower realms of existence; and the need for your three karmas to correspond with the teachings of the Master.
(g) A forceful and very effective technique for energizing the mind and overcoming gross mental sinking involves visualizing the mind situated at the heart in the form of intense white light. Then forcefully recite the syllable “PEI” while seeing this light rise quickly up through the body and out the crown of the head. The mind, in the form of this light, flies high up into space and becomes inseparable from it. Another technique is to visualize a thousand suns or look at an actual sunny location.
Amang Nopu Pamu, Dharma That Every Buddhist Must Follow,translated by Bodi Wentu Rinpoche, 2001.
Gampopa, The Jewel Ornament of Liberation, translated by Herbert V. Guenther, 1959.
Kalu Rinpoche, The Gem Ornament of Manifold Oral Instructions which Benefits Each and Everyone Appropriately, 1986.
Shantideva, Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life (Bodhicaryavatara)
Tsong-kha-pa, LamRim Chen Mo—The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, Volume Three, translated by the Lamrim Chenmo Translation Committee, 2002.