Why learn Vipassana Meditation
There are many techniques that can assist one to attain self-liberation and self-realization. Some are better than others. With all due respect, some should be composted because what they are actually doing is strengthening the prison walls.
Some are better for Xavier and less helpful to Esmeralda. Some have been hidden in the folds of religion or spirituality, where they can tend to be clouded or clothed by maxim, dogma or belief system. Others seem too simple and are not practised because people can tend to assume that complexity is a sign of value when sometimes, the opposite is true: complexity can mislead and sometimes generate fear.
Other techniques are so hard that re-training the mind to practice them is a task usually cast off.
The weird thing is that many people mistake spirituality and other frameworks for being necessary on the path to liberation. People who are not spiritually or religiously inclined, what then? Are they effectively blocked out from liberation?
Not all techniques to attain self-realization or sovereignty (or whatever words you want to use to describe it) are of equal usefulness.
Certain techniques are more valuable than others when it comes to liberation and attainment of freedom.
For example, if all your techniques use the mind to create maps out of the maze, you will never leave the prison, for the mind IS the maze, and trying to leave the maze using your mind is like using a telescope to view a photon or a submarine to explore the sky.
Which is not to say that a mind-map technique may not have its use in your toolkit, just that it cannot be a totality, as it keeps you within the mental house when we need to understand how to step outside of that house (and come back, because we live there).
As well, everyone will need a collection of techniques.
Vipassana, while useful, will not be your only technique, but it can be a vital part of your toolkit.
A technique that is intended for liberation may do the hard task of dislodging the human from their mind and bringing them into their breath. It may build up and vitalize the breath body, that life-essence. It may use sound purposefully and like a broom to evict dis-harmonic stagnations from the body or mind.
It may teach how to access presence or emotional-coherence and how to not be dominated or controlled by the thought-domain. All of these are useful, and most of us realistically need a collection of techniques that each help with different nuances of our totality—given that we are complex beings with a composite of aggregate parts: mind, essence, body, various sub-selves, organs, nervous system, blood chemistry, breath body, and all the others, all vibrating at different frequencies.
The technique of Vipassana may be one of the more useful and powerful techniques because it is able to re-train the mind away from creating suffering. While the technique was preserved within the Buddhist tradition, the technique itself, without any accompanying doctrine, ideology, philosophy, or belief system, is truly the jewel. So when we are talking about vipassana in this paper, then, please know we are discussing the actual meditation technique that is non-sectarian and is faith agnostic, and we are not discussing any accompanying doctrine or belief whatsoever: just the technique itself.
It is the technique itself that teaches us to observe and gather insight from reality directly, rather than assuming a philosophy that was offered by a secondary source.
sitting under a tree
The technique of vipassana was originally taught by Gautama Buddha. As the story goes, before he became the Buddha, Siddhārtha sat down under a fig tree in defiance of sorrow. Plunked himself under the green canopies, startled off a disgruntled blue bird and declared, “I am not moving from this here spot until I am free.”
So he sat. And sat. And sat. And sat. And he observed. And sat.
And sat. And observed.
And finally after a kazillion units of time, he realized something. He discovered what creates misery, what creates sorrow, how suffering in any size, shape or form is generated, and how to eradicate it, so you can live.
Want to learn?
the Buddha Mix
Look, from some people’s perspectives, Buddha taught only one thing: a simple technique on how to realize reality and come out of suffering.
That is the technique of vipassana.
It is said he taught a whole lot else, but from one perspective, Buddhism and all its derivatives were not taught by Buddha.
Buddha may well have taken Buddhism, folded it into a paper airplane, and launched it along a crosswind to fall into a vast wetland, where soggy, it would decompose into its component parts and become bog once more.
Not to disparage any Buddhists reading these words. Nor to say their framework doesn’t have value or can’t be useful–it most certainly does for many. We didn’t say “don’t do that,” we just said: Buddha may not have actually have taught much of, or any, doctrine, framework, or belief.
Instead, like any good teacher, he may have been more interested in teaching people how to perceive beyond belief, how to directly relate to reality, and to show how people could experience truth for themselves, through the portal of their own body.
He may have been more interested in teaching others how to perform a simple technique that they could use for insight into reality to arise and for suffering and pain to be eradicated. Not offering a set of already perceived beliefs—but how to re-attune to way of living that one could consider the living truth.
2500 years later
Once upon a time (many years ago), there was a girl who went to a vipassana meditation centre in the tradition of Goenkaji, a Burmese man who taught the simple technique of vipassana as it was originally taught by Buddha.
There she learned a technique, a scientific method, that changes the habit patterns of the mind so the mind begins to become purified and freed from its negative frameworks and patterns of conditioning and seeing, where the mind learns to drop “reaction.”
She did not learn by reading smart-ass books. She did not learn by hearing someone else sharing their experiences, or by learning theory & philosophy.
She learned because she did it, and taught the cells of her body and mind to become re-trained to the process of insight.
Vipassana meditation is a method to eradicate and eliminate our past, solidified mental conditioning, all of our complexes and ‘knots’ and traps, our old negative habit patterns of mind/body/emotion so that we become free to perceive reality without the filters of the prison mind and become free to access the breath and the flow of power that comes with it.
It is a way, through the direct experiencing of reality’s continually changing “phenomena,” that eradicates the suffering lodged in the body so we may be free to live at the centre and heart of things, so we can become the conscious creators of reality, instead of ones unconsciously reacting to what is already created.
This is not to say that upon practising it we will be free of suffering. But it is to say that it enables us to not allow suffering to control our lives and dictate our song.
In this way, we do not pass on suffering, but begin to clean up centuries of the stuff.
The technique teaches us how to see and experience reality without the filtering effect of the mind—a technique that has freed hundreds of thousands of people throughout the centuries.
Freed them from what?
From the chains. From what Blake called ‘mind-forged manacles.’ From the horror and the undeclared, invisible flatness. From hate, despair, nothingness, misery, the monotone of quietly living, dead, from the fake, from the pretense, from the masks and lies and veils. From the mind’s ruts and stories and patterns that are negative and fuel negative emotions. Self-loathing, anger, frustration, anxiety, worry, cruelty, violence.
Such conditions are universal; pain is universal. This is true. Surprisingly, what is also universal is the remedy.
Why Vipassana is an effective technique
There are many remedies to suffering.
The technique taught by Buddha is just one particular remedy. That is so. But all remedies that work share something in common. And so, while there are many reasons why this technique is so useful, bright, brilliant, and to be frank, more effective than many, there are three reasons that would like to speak for themselves.
|1| Vipassana teaches you to rely on yourself, to be your own saviour, master and teacher. You’re the One You Have Been Waiting for.
Sorry, but there is no one else.
There’s you, and you taking cosmic responsibility in each moment.
The technique is done yourself, and it will teach you how to learn directly from reality. We talk about first sources and secondary sources when we research things. You can learn about a plant from a book or directly, from a plant. You can learn about reality from a book, or directly—with this technique. It will offer the only frame possible to encompass them all: a non-frame.
|2| The technique takes us directly to the root, first source and cause of any suffering, and when it gets there, it neutralizes it.
This technique is fundamentally different than most of our chosen attempts to remedy suffering such as drugs, music, distraction, denial, plane ticket to Timbuktu, ignoring, postponing, wailing, raging, freezing in place, eating, falling in love, and thousands more.
Even many kinds of popular meditation work to “calm” the mind, which can be a useful technique in certain high stress or panic situations and can be used effectively, but such a technique does not eradicate our negative mental frameworks or teach us how to encompass and process whatever is arising in the moment.
Even “calming the mind” can be a form of distraction or a band-aid—yes, sometimes quite necessary, to be sure, but too many band-aids aren’t fixing the initial reason you are getting wounded.
Most of what we do to try to help ourselves are at best, band-aids. And with colossal ignorance, because we don’t realize we are doing it, we continue to generate the growth of our own miseries. This technique teaches us how to start where we are, at whatever fractaling branch of misery we have followed, and turn around to follow that branch back to the tree, back to the root, back to the source, and nullify it. The pain is not then simply hidden or re-directed but faced, felt, assimilated, processed and then gone, nada, zilch, zero, extinct, bye-bye, va-voom.
|3| Vipassana, surprisingly, is a blueprint for any moment. It teaches the art of living. It re-trains the body how to act instead of the body-mind’s habitual inclination to react, and herein lies its power.
It has been said that
“Love is action, all else is reaction,”
and vipassana will literally re-train the body to cease reaction, a formidable, incredible, and worthy task that is more important than most of us will at first realize.
The process is a base map to use on any moment of reality, because it teaches us how to generate new causes rather than react to old ones. As we begin to teach the body to “act not react,” we are literally changing the habit responses of the body at a cellular and subatomic level.
We are becoming capable of mastery.
|4| This is a rational mental technique sourced from the high mind, and there is nothing esoteric or spiritual about it. Mindfulness is not religion.
This technique is a logical process that purifies us by changing the old habit patterns of the mind; it eradicates harmful mental conditioning; it eliminates sorrows and teaches us how to not generate new ones; it shows us how to leave the machinations of ‘mind’ and enter a deeper level of consciousness, which is where true intelligence is located.
Humans have allowed their minds to be the governing intelligence of their selves, when the mind can better serve if it becomes a tool of the Sovereign (or governing intelligence), not the Sovereign itself.
|5| Benefits begin immediately, each time we perform the technique correctly, though at first, they will be subtle.
Vipassana will sharpen the mind, make it like a finely-tuned instrument of perception, so keen that the mind will become aware of what is aware of what is aware. As you fine tune your mind and train it to perceive subtleties, you will come to realize Reality and come to realize how to flow with it and not resist the inevitable.
It starts immediately upon practise. Are we there yet?
what’s the catch?
|1| It’s hard, especially at first, because it goes against how we have been conditioned.
The re-framing of our minds to be able to access silence as our dominant “thought” and remain in equanimity no matter what is arising in the body field—is difficult.
And that is what we are teaching ourselves: to remain equanimous and aware no matter what the sensations of the now, are. We are conditioned to react.
To re-train our body-mind to let go of reaction in favour of perception and equanimity is a large task.
|2| We may have vastly underestimated the above point.
Programming vs de-programming
Many techniques and teachings are simply offering more programming, and however much one thinks it useful (and it may be for certain goals) — it is still programming.
This technique does the opposite: it de-programs the programs, attempting to bring one back to a blank slate reality, to a zero point, and it is because of this that its value is manyfold, and why it is here being recommended. Because it is about origins.
We are not suggesting that learning from external sources is a moot point, only that it needs to become a secondary point. The first source of everything is within the self, and one can only access this living truth without distortion if the mind is trained, otherwise the distortions will cloud the information given and cloud the perceiving faculties.
The human mind system is programs upon programs within programs. The mind fields are cluttered with distortion and belief systems, most of which are in disharmony. Cutting through the noise, is vipassana. De-programming the illusion, cleaning up.
Between this and that
Vipassana will teach the flow of balance between.
Between what? Between this and that. Between the apparent contradictions.
Between body and mind, between breath and body. Between structure and non-structure, limits and freedom, centrifugal with centripetal, outward with inward. The correct proportion of the balance between changes depending on the situation and context and point of awareness, and vipassana can teach how to hold both, which as humans, we are asked to do.
Vipassana, which translates to something like “seeing things as they are,” is a technique that works: probably because it is able to join what is unique with what is common, what is unknown with what is known, what is dark with what is light, what is formless with form, stillness with movement, mind with body: it is able to unite your finite self and its mind ships with the infinite self and it’s non-mind non-ships, and in the corridor of connection between the illusion of now and that which is without illusion, insight arises, and truth is know experientially through your own body and recorded there for you to reference in any moment.
These words are a lie
Yes, they are. All words are, because they are not reality but descriptors of reality. Every word is a metaphor, a lie to some degree, a likeness, a resemblance, a facade.
Words are not the reality itself; they are a map of the reality, the story of the reality, the image of reality, the account or explanation of the reality.
Don’t learn from words and books and secondary sources, or rather—do—but before you learn from the reflections of IT, learn from IT, directly.
Vipassana will show you how.
The technique will cleanse you of your past mis-constructions of reality, and provide a foundation as the way you can interact with reality.
As if it is offering you the most primal blueprint possible to offer: the first blueprint, and it is the only blueprint that is not a blueprint at all: it is nothing, the first cause and primal void.
Where can you learn vipassana? There are various teachers and courses. There is a 10 day course from the Vipassana Foundation to learn the technique. The course, including lodging and food, is free. You must stay for the entire 10 days, and you must agree to the rules of the course.
Students who have completed a course are invited to volunteer their time, to serve at another course to assist, so that others may benefit from the course as well. All courses are run by volunteers. Students who have completed a course may also donate financially if they choose, to assist the Vipassana Foundation in offering these free courses to all interested humans, but donations are not mandatory.
World website: http://www.dhamma.org
There are many centres in various locations around the world, and you can use this site to find centres that are offering courses, nearest you, as well as FAQs and other information.
The website will explain how a course is run, and what you have to do to take one. The nature of the course will seem quite ‘severe,’ though there are reasons for all the rules you are asked to follow during the course. These rules are mostly to minimize distractions to allow your journey to unfold, and so you and others may have a very focused and beneficial experience. You will also be asked to agree to a few things, including not harming any living thing, not lying, not talking, and not engaging in sexual activity, to name a few.
The course is not for the faint of heart or mind.
It has been lovingly called “meditation bootcamp.” If you are expecting a retreat and rejuvenation, a spa, a calming and massaging experience: this is not it. This is nothing less than an open-source operation on your mind, to eradicate your calcified sufferings and re-train your mind to action, not reaction.
A quick word of caution. The course is difficult and isn’t recommended for people suffering from psychiatric conditions, schizophrenia, or another mental imbalance, or anybody going through a strong emotional upheaval. If you are really unbalanced, it might be a bit much. It’s hard. A true challenge.
Tips so you don’t die from this technique
You are going to struggle to learn this technique.
If you don’t struggle, you aren’t really doing it, or else your mind body and emotional body are already free, clear, coherent, mastered, and humming along with the harmony of the cosmos, creating love wherever you go, consistently, for the benefit of all beings across dimensions and times.
No? Well then it’s going to be hard. Here are three tips that may help to know, before you go.
|1| Don’t worry about the structure and the tradition surrounding the technique.
Ie, the rules, any belief, any doctrine that you pick up in the course of the course. There is very little of this anyway, because 97% of your time spent in the course is just you, practising the technique of vipassana. But don’t let the structure of the course worry you. It’s not important to like or not like it, to agree or not agree (such as to the agreements you make to not lie, not steal, etc).
It’s just a structure set up so you can learn the technique. Every vipassana centre is a bit different. Some have a bit more tradition than others, and this turns some people off, but I strongly urge you to simply ignore this part of the course, to not let it bother you at all. It is unimportant. Just learn the technique. When I went, this part didn’t concern me. You don’t have to adhere or not adhere to it.
|2| Don’t analyze the technique you are given. Your job is to practise the technique.
You will not initially understand it. It is so subtle and powerful it escapes the mind at first. You will not understand why it helps or how, or what it is doing to you to release your suffering or how it is training your body.
You will not understand why it is so &^%$#ing hard to do it.
You will curse the person who told you to go take a course. But if you are going to go, then do this: surrender to the technique. Try it, sincerely, and with all your effort, for the full ten days. Don’t analyze it with your mind: realize that the insight you are looking for will arise AS YOU PRACTICE IT.
|3| This will become apparent because it is part of the technique, but the process is to continually let go of mind and its thoughts, and focus on your breath, and your body.
When you forget this (which will happen almost ceaselessly) and you have a thought, just come back to the breath. Always come back to the breath. Another thought? Back to the breath. Another, oh it’s a question. You want to answer it, you want to explore it, you start to answer it and realize—no, you are in your mind, thinking again.
Come back to the breath. Every thought that arises, let it go. Back to your breath.
Let your breath become the vehicle you ride on, the bridge you walk, the corridor you traverse, the boat you sail on, the only thing that matters: the everything. Aaaaaand back to your breath. Again. Your breath is your best friend and the most important thing to be conscious of.
You will also practice body awareness in the course as well. The breath becomes the boat you sail through your body to feel and be aware—without thought.
Yep. So. Good luck.
We all require a collection of techniques to attain Sovereignty and be cool in this crazy world.
Everyone requires different techniques, and a collection of them, and we would never suggest vipassana be your only one.
That said, we have yet to discover someone who went and sincerely learned the vipassana technique and was not benefited. Our minds have 11,000 years of ancient calcifications to overcome: the human mind system has been embroiled in base thoughts and negativities and distorted calcifications for a long time, and almost anyone’s life can be benefited by learning to hone the powers of the mind so that it creates goodness, not suffering. You just have to go deep with vipassana. Deeper, all the way back to origins. It’s not easy. But it’s good.
Left to itself, without training, the human mind will almost always create suffering.
It is time to clear the quagmire of calcified negativities. Each of us must take responsibility for doing this ourselves, and as we each clear our personal mental quagmire, the collective quagmire becomes smaller, and eventually the human mind will become able to create and sustain new realities on planet earth, ones that are beneficial to all beings.
Humans will leave the distortions of the lower mind and use the breath, the heart, and the higher mind to create acts and creations of goodness, harmony, beauty, and wonder, for all.
Whatever techniques you choose, and lets hope there are a lot of them, all of which help wing you wildly—let’s do it, together.