Vipassana meditation holds a crucial part in Buddhist traditions. The sole purpose of Buddhism is to reduce the pain of the living and therefore uses spiritual beliefs and techniques like meditation to achieve the same. Buddhist followers believe that by practicing meditation regularly, the practitioner can attain two states of mind known as Samatha and Vipassana. Before getting to the state of Vipassana the meditator must first excel in Samatha. The meditation technique of Vipassana provides the opportunity to apply the three aspects of life – right speech, right action, and right livelihood because these are the aspects that make sense for people.
Vipassana Meditation Meaning
Vipassana is the technique to achieve the state of ‘insight’ where the disciple gains the power of ‘visualizing the true form’. It concentrates on forming a connection between mind and body through continuous practice. The basis of vipassana meditation is strong concentration. The lesser the area of distraction, the stronger the concentration will be. Vipassana is also called as Vipasyana in Sanskrit. It is derived from the Pali words ‘vi’, and ‘passana’, where ‘vi’ refers to ‘special’ and ‘passana’ refers to ‘seeing’. So, Vipassana means ‘special seeing’. Paccakkha is synonymous to Vipassana which means ‘evident to senses.’ Vipassana is called as ‘Lhakthong’ in Tibet where ‘lhak’ means ‘superior’ and ‘thong’ means ‘to view’ thus, ‘to view the superior.’
Evolution of Vipassana
The roots of Vipassana meditation lie within ancient India. It was later on discovered by Gautam Buddha nearly 2500 years ago. Buddha inculcated this ancient meditation technique in his preaching, and it became an important part of Buddhist traditions. Numerous Buddhist followers adopted it over time which resulted in the widespread popularity of the practice of Vipassana. Some studies claim that by the 10th-century vipassana was not practiced in the Theravada traditions as it was believed that Buddhism had degraded. But around the 18th century, it was re-introduced in Myanmar which laid the foundation of the 20th century Vipassana Movement. This movement not only re-invented Vipassana meditation but also simplified the techniques of meditation.
Vipassana Meditation vs. Samatha Meditation
According to Buddhism, it is not possible to directly practice Vipassana meditation. So, before practicing Vipassana, the meditator must first understand Samatha meditation and its technique. The first step towards Vipassana meditation is excelling in the Samatha technique. Samatha is the technique where the meditator attains ‘peace of mind or calmness of the mind.’ It leads to more focusing power and makes one more sensible towards the environment. Samatha meditation uses the method of single point meditation.
As soon as the disciple excels in Samatha, he can further move to Vipassana. Vipassana means to see the true form of things, i.e. ‘insight. ’ It focuses on self- evolution with the help of self – monitoring. It results in a more balanced mind and a feeling of much more happiness by eliminating mental impurities. As mentioned in Theravada Buddhist traditions, there are three symbols of existence – the anicca ‘impermanence’, dukkha ‘feeling of unsatisfaction’, and anatta ‘absence of separate self’. Vipassana helps the practitioner to have an insight into these symbols of existence. It is the essence of Buddha’s teachings and the real experience of truth.
Vipassana Meditation Technique
Once the foundation of Samatha is laid, the meditator is ready to move one step ahead, i.e. towards Vipassana. The traditional ways of practicing Samatha includes the techniques of the seven-point pose, the body sensitive pose, and breathing meditation. When the meditator learns to calm the mind and get rid of distractions, the next step is self-exploration or self-monitoring. In self-monitoring, the aim is to find the mental impurities present in the mind and eliminate those slowly and gradually leading to more clarity of perception and understanding of life. As the perception gets clear and clear, the sufferings tend to reduce the aim of Buddhism.
There is as such no particular technique to practice Vipassana. But practiced by some, there is one technique that uses self-monitoring or focusing on one’s physical sensations. It is systematic and passionate monitoring of one’s sensations unfolding the truth of mind and body. Sensations lead to the direct experience of reality.
Until and unless something comes in contact with the physical senses, its existence is doubted. The contact of mind or body with an object produces sensation and provides the link to experience all the world phenomena. Physical sensations closely relate to the mind and reflect the present mental state of the meditator while Mental sensations arise from mental objects like- emotions, memories, thoughts, fear, hope, etc. A corresponding sensation follows every action, and by observing these sensations, the meditator can observe the mind in its actual form. While practicing Vipassana, the meditator has to be in solitude, breaking all the ties with the material world for some time and indulge entirely in self-observation.
How to Practice Vipassana Meditation?
We are presently in the age of advanced technology. There are various ways to practice vipassana meditation. The practitioner can join online classes by professional meditators. Another way is to stream into video websites with related content. For people willing to move out and learn face to face can join the Vipassana meditation centres.
There are numerous Vipassana Meditation centres in India that offer vipassana meditation techniques. Those interested in India and its culture can join an Indian centre. Some of the famous Indian centres are located in cities like Mumbai (Dhamma Pattana), Igatpuri (Dhamma Giri), Jaipur (Dhamma Thali), Bodh Gaya (Dhamma Bodhi), Dharamsala (Dhamma Sikhara), Bangalore (Dhamma Paphulla), Chennai (Dhamma Setu), etc. The above mentioned are few top centres in India. There are approximately 202 vipassana meditation centres located in 94 countries like Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Canada, UK, etc. to name a few. The interested ones can go through the websites of different centres for more detailed information.
Vipassana Meditation leads you on to the path of spiritual awakening. Enlighten your mind and soul by adopting the practice and reach the zenith of peaceful living.