Vipassana/ Insight Meditation
Vipassana is a meditation technique also known as insight meditation. Literally, the term vi-passana means to see through, to gain insight into the true nature of reality. Vipassana is an ancient Buddhist meditation technique attributed to Gautama Buddha over 2500 years ago. Modern applications of vipassana are known worldwide as mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT).
An Authentic realiztion into the nature of reality
Vipassana or insight meditation practice is not intended to reduce stress or improve mental or physical well being. These are sometimes a by-side of practice. However, the purpose of practicing vipassana is to gain an authentic experiential realization into the nature of reality. The way to achieve that is through an intentional training of awareness to physical and mental phenomena that occur in the present moment with a non-judging attitude.
A practitioner learns to divert attention to bodily sensations, emotions, feelings and mental formation and gradually gain insights into the three characteristics of life:
- Impermanence (Anicca): understanding the transitory nature of all phenomena.
- Dissatisfaction/ Suffering (Dukkha): understanding the disatisfactoriness which occurs due to our inability to accept the transitory nature of life. Suffering stems from our futile attempts to control life and change what is happening to us.
- Non-Self (Annata): realizing selflessness, emptiness and the lack of inherent existence of phenomena. To see through the interconnectedness of all phenomena.
The practice is intended to develop a deep, authentic, experiential understanding of the impermanence of all phenomena, full understanding of suffering and the causes for suffering and the path that leads the individual away from suffering.
The underlying principle is the investigation of phenomena as they manifest in the Four Foundations of Mindfulness namely body (and breath), sensation, mental formations and mind objects. The practice of Vipassana usually begins with placing attention to the movement of the breath and then gradually progresses towards paying attention to different sensations in the body, feelings, emotions, thoughts and finally the realizations themselves.
A Gradual Progres
Practicing Vipassana is an ongoing, evolutionary process, that continues to revel layer upon layer of mental purification. Gradually, the practitioner experiences lesser and lesser expressions of greed and attachments and lesser expressions of aversion (anger, fear, repulsion etc.). The practitioner eventually attains a profound experience of equanimity. From that peaceful state of mind one can penetrate the true nature of reality and attain nibbana and super-mundane levels of consciousness.
The Description of Wisdom in not Wisdom
The only way to understand the nature of things is to directly experience them. Reading about wisdom, listening to insightful talks and discussing wisdom with spiritual friends are all valuable assets but the only way to realize wisdom is through a direct experience. The description of wisdom is not wisdom.
For More information
For more traditional information about Vipassana check Buddhanet.net and dhammawiki.com. Check Dhamma Seeds for an inexhaustible information of different aspects of vipsaana practice from a western Buddhist approach.
For over 2500 years much wiser and more experiences teachers and scholars have written about Vipassana, Insight practice and/or Mindfulness practices. I don’t feel I’m qualified to add to the scholarly discussion of insight meditation practices. Rather, in this blog I share some personal experiences and understandings of the progress of insights, the way wisdom unfolds itself for me. I share some spiritual and practice experiences from the period of the two years retreat but I’m cautions with saying too much about it in order not to create more concepts and expectations from practice. I mainly write and share the way I view and live mundane experiences such as working, traveling. shopping and relating to others. Everything I write in this blog is my inner dialogue with life the way I perceive life from a dhamma (insight) point of view.