Vipassanā 2008

Vipassanā means "insight" in Pali, the language the Buddha Gotema spoke in India some 2500 years ago. There are many kinds of Vipassanā extant today; the type which I enjoy practicing is quite minimalist, and depends purely on one's powers of concentration and observation. Without mantras, visualizations, commentary or vocalizations one simply observes physical sensation in a concentrated, systematic fashion.

It is not an easy technique because you are never shielded from these sensations, and they may be quite painful (they may also be quite blissful, which is far, far worse believe me!). But somehow, if one perseveres and is patient, these various pains dissolve seemingly on their own, and it's quite interesting to watch it happen.

Another great difficultly with something this minimal is that it's quite tempting to add to the technique. I believe that one continues to add subtle things to the technique until one gets very far along the path. I think that "noticing the things that you're adding" is actually an important part of the path. These additions tend to sneak up on you!

Of course, this is all well and good, but the "proof is in the pudding", so to speak. When considering any practice, the key question is: Does this make life better for you and those around you? Unequivocally the answer is yes, at least in my case.

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