Vipassana (Insight) Meditation:
a Way of Liberation.
It is in this way we must
train ourselves, by liberation of the self through love. We will develop love, we will
practice it, we will make it both a way and a basis, take our stand upon it, store it up,
and thoroughly set it going.
- The Buddha, in Samyutta Nikaya
Insight meditation is one of the world's great contemplative practices, taught
by the Buddha himself over 2,500 years ago. Practicing this reliable approach to
cultivating the heart, we discover ourselves, and, make no less a discovery than how
suffering ceases and how happiness arises.
Vipassana is a way of direct seeing, direct transformation. It is not a practice
solely for the cushion nor only for the wee hours of the morning - with mindfulness
practice we see how to bring mimute-by-minute meditative awareness right into every facet
of our everyday life, into every corner of our personal experience. In Vipassana practice
we learn to see our inner and outer functioning in all situations directly, without
judgement, without the usual personality resistances which always introduce conflict into
our system. We see with the eye of love.
Insight meditation is only useful if it is lived, embodied experience, so we
lovingly hold ourselves in the most ordinary situations with a heart of wakefulness. It is
One of the greatest attractions of Vipassana is the absence of the esoteric, of
graduated paths with lots of signposts. No one becomes an expert, no one can fail.
The practice begins and ends with being awake.
- Christina Feldman, a teacher with Insight Meditation Society (IMS), USA.
Then, when through this wakefulness we see directly the process of
resistance to life-as-it-is, when we are really aware of it - without opposition,
without desire, without justifying or judging - then we will discover that the mind is
capable of being enormously sensitive, enormously compassionate, and can see deeply into
the true nature of reality.
Buddhism as a whole is quite different from the theological
religions with which Westerners are most familiar. It is a direct entrance to a spiritual
or divine realm without addressing deities or other 'agents'. Its flavour is intensely
clinical, much more akin to what we would call psychology than to what we would usually
call religion. It is an ever-ongoing investigation of reality, a microscopic examination
of the very process of perception. Its intention is to pick apart the screen of lies and
delusions through which we normally view the world, and thus to reveal the face of
ultimate reality. Vipassana meditation is an ancient and elegant technique for doing just
- Ven. Henepola Gunaratana, Mindfulness in Plain English.
When we have direct awareness of change, in ourselves and the world about us,
then we discover our basic sanity, our basic loving intelligence, and vistas of reality
open to us that were previously inconceivable. The freshness of moment to moment living
integrally unfolds in us.
It is said that after his enlightenment, the Buddha passed a man on the road who
was struck by the extraordinary radiance and peacefulness of his presence. The man
stopped and asked, "My friend, what are you? Are you a celestial being or a
"No," said the Buddha.
"Well, then, are you some kind of magician or
Again the Buddha answered, "No."
"Are you a man?"
"Well, my friend, what then are you?"
"The Buddha replied, "I am awake."
The name Buddha means "one who is awake," and it is this experience that is at
the very heart and essence of vipassana, or insight meditation. It offers a way of
practice that can open us to see clearly our bodies, our hearts, our minds, and the world
around us and develop a wise and compassionate way to relate to and understand them all.
- Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield, Seeking the Heart of Wisdom: the Path of
This is a path of liberation from human travail. Seeing through the realm of
transitory experiences to the utter peace of Nibbana is the aim of the teaching of the
Buddha and the purpose of the practice of Vipassana.
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