What is Vipassana
The meaning of Vipassana
The benefits of Vipassana
Basic Walking, Sitting, Standing and Turning
Guideline for Meditators on retreats

What is Vipassana  

By Ven. Phramaha Bhatsakorn Piyobhaso

According to Buddhism, there are two burdens namely Gandha dhura; burden of study, task of learning and Vipassana dhura: the burden of insight development, task of meditation practice. In Buddhism there are two kinds of meditation; the first is Samatha or calmness meditation. Calmness meditation is the way to calm down the mind, it aims at developing concentration. By concentration we mean the unwavering state of mind in which attention is fixed on a single object. In the state of concentration, the mind is feed from five hindrances namely, sensuous desire, ill will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and anxiety and doubt. The elimination of the nindrances set the mind in concentration and this in turn enables one to develop wisdom. As the Buddha said;
When wisdom is supported by concentration,
Its fruit and advantage become great.

The second is Vipassana. Its pratice is concerned with Strengthening and sharpening mindfulness so much that it helps one to develop wisdom, which sees things as they really are. Having realized the truth, one achieves liberation and attains Nirvana.
Unlike calmness meditation, which is practiced in solitude, Vipassana meditation can be practiced in daily life, while one is talking, teaching, walking or working. The Buddha explained the method in detail as follows;
A monk, when walking, knows that he is Walking,
when standing, knows that he is Standing,
when sitting, knows that he is Sitting,
when lying down, knows that he is Lying.
In whatever way his body is disposed, he knows that is how it is.

The meaning of Vipassana  
Vipassna is a Pali word which means seeing clearly, seeing specially or seeing through (Vi : clearly, specially, into, through + passana : seeing). Vipassana means introspection, intuitive wisdom, intuitive knowledge. Vipassana is often translated as Insight. It is the method of practice discovered by the Lord Buddha, which led to his enlightenment over 2,500 years ago. (Perhaps explain the Pali language)

Seeing what clearly? Insight into what?

Vipassan means seeing through the true nature of reality or Insight into the true nature of reality. It means seeing things as they truly are. Vipassana is the direct and intuitive understanding of the true nature of all mental and physical phenomena. What does " Insight " really mean. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu said " the expression insight into the true nature of things " refers to seeing transience, unsatisfactoriness and non-selfhood, seeing that nothing is worth getting, nothing is worth being, seeing that no object whatsoever should be grasped at and clung to as being a self of as belonging to self, as being good or bad, attractive or repulsive.

Vipassana is intuitive knowledge or Insight into the true nature of nama (mind: consciousness, mentality) and rupa (body: materiality, physical form) which make up the Five Aggregates of Existence (Panca Khandha: Rupa (body, physical form), Vedana (feeling), Sanna (memory, perception), Sankhara (mental formations, volition), Vinnana (consciousness).

Vipassana is the realization that all mental and physical phenomena are Impermanent (Anicca), Suffering, (Dukkha) and Non-self (Anatta). These three characteristics of all phenomena (Tilakkhana) are the marks of Insight wisdom and are the main objects of Vipassana Meditation.

Vipassana is the direct realization of the true nature of nama and rupa. All conditions whether internal or external, mental or material are Impermanent, Suffering and Non-self (Anicca, Dukkam, Anatta).

The objects of " Vipassana " meditation are the position of the body at the present moment, plus all sensations, emotions and thoughts which arise as a result of the contact between body and mind and the environment, or the internal interaction between sensations and mental processes at the point when they occur.

In " Vipassana " the aim is freedom. Freedom from the burden of suffering. It is gained through Insight wisdom. As mindfulness and concentration develop in a state of optimum balance and if there is enough energy and Sampajanna or clear comprehension, then Insight wisdom can arise.

In " Vipassana " meditation, concentration and energy levels are brought up by the practice of walking meditation and also by mindfulness of the postures and positions of the body at all times, this is termed in Pali " Iriyapatha ".

In " Insight " meditation the aim is neither to forceably exclude sensations or thoughts, nor to repress them but to see clearly how they arise, have being and pass away. A certain level of concentration and energy is necessary to keep them in our sphere of attention. Without this level of concentration our minds jump all over the place, never attending fully to any one object. This is often described as a " monkey mind " . We need to give the " monkey " a definitive task to do so that his attention span increases and control improves. It is very difficult to stop your mind " jumping around " simply by and effort of will. The method used in " Insight " " Vipassana " meditation, of slowing down movements and making simple mental acknowledgements, is very effective tool to enable us to gain " stability, unshakeability and equilibrium."

In " Vipassana " the meditator clearly perceives all that occurs in the present moment in " this fathom long body ". Because he or she is not attached to anything, it is possible to be aware of the deepest tendencies within. It is possible to be clearly aware of the very root of attachment and aversion to whatever occurs and through clear seeing eradicated these tendencies at the point where they originate. In Buddhism this it termed the " eradication of defilement ". And enlightened being is one who has eradicated all defilement. He is freed from their controlling influence. Through unbiased and non-prejudiced, clear awareness it is possible to see the process by which we become entangled in attachment. This " seeing " has the meaning of being aware, or of understanding. It is mental in that there is bare awareness but it is not limited to the narrow confines of thought. It is experiential in that feelings arise and are or ignored, but it is not absorption into sensations, however rarified they may be. Through clear comprehension based on mindfulness and concentration, it is possible for attachments and aversions to untangle themselves. The deepest tendencies of the mind are seen for what they really are, and so they lose their power to control.

Vipassana is based on the Satipatthana, the four foundations of mindfulness:
1. The mindfulness of the body
2. The mindfulness of the feelings
3. The mindfulness of the mind
4. The mindfulness of the mind-objects.

The meditators who develops Insight Knowledge (Vipassana Nana) will realize that everything inside oneself and in the world outside of oneself is constantly changing, uncertain or Impermanent, is stressful, dissatisfactory or Suffering; and is uncontrollable, devoid of substance, not belonging to oneself, or Non-Self. These Three characteristics are the True nature of all phenomena.

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