Vipassana The Buddha Style of Meditation

The literal meaning of Vipassana (Vipasyasana); ‘Vi’ means “in a special way” and ‘pasyana’ means “to see, observe”. So Vipassana means “to see observe in a special way”, “to perceive the things as it is”. It aims at seeing the things or situations in reality without any illusion or delusion. Vipassana tries to seek the truth. The explanation of Vipassana is given in Buddhist literature. The original literature regarding Vipassana, are in Pali language. It is somewhat similar to the Sanskrit language. Theravada tradition insights the three marks of existence: impermanence, suffering, and realization of non-self.

  • “Impermanence (Anitya)” means everything in this world is temporary. No situation or matter remains permanent. Everything keeps changing.  
  • “Suffering (Dukkha)” is found everywhere in the world. People may illusioned by seeing pleasure. In fact, the world is full of illusion. However, Lord Buddha has given the techniques to get rid of sorrow.
  • “Non-self (Anatma)” is an important reality. A person identifies himself with the situation or sorrow. Whenever he realizes that he is unattached to situations, events, misery, etc; then he can live a perfect life.

From The Meditation Buddha discover ultimate reality:

  • There is sorrow in life.
  • There causes of sorrow.
  • There is a path to eliminate sorrow.
  • Arya-astangik Marga ie “Eightfold noble path” is the way to eliminate sorrow.

Vipassana meditation was the technique for the Buddha to attain enlightenment. It is an ancient technique through which many people got enlightenment in the period of Buddha. This meditation has two bases:

o    Consciousness on respiration  

o    Consciousness on body sensation.

And the purpose of being conscious is to create equanimity. So, Vipassana is also termed as “Samatha Meditation”. As it requires awareness, consciousness, it is also named as “Mindfulness Meditation”.  Thus this meditation requires mindfulness and equanimity. Lord Buddha had discovered this meditation technique. He became fully enlightened at the age of 35. Then he started to teach this meditation to the mass of people.

For the practice of Vipassana meditation, a meditator sits for meditation and begins with the awareness of respiration keeping the torso straight and unmoved. The eyes are closed so that mind does not wander on external things. His backbone and head neither should lean frontwards nor backward. One must be at the present for the perfect practice of meditation. If the body is crooked forwards, the mind tends to shift to past experiences and thoughts. Similarly, if the body is leaned backward, the mind tends to fly with future imagination and thinking. So the alignment of the body must be straight to practice meditation.

Now, the meditator observes his inhalation and exhalation. Sometimes it may happen that the mind cannot identify the breaths. If so, he needs to inhale and exhale with his own effort. It makes to feel the breaths. Doing this he starts knowing the breath. Gradually, he starts knowing natural and spontaneous respiration.  If the breath is faster, he just knows that the breath is faster without any judgment and reaction. If the breath is slower, he just knows it without any reaction and judgment.

The purpose of meditation is to get reality. If one starts to judgment or reaction then he misleads the path. When the meditator starts observing the breath, it becomes subtler and subtler. Sometime it may happen that breath has stopped for some moment. Whatever it may be one should just know the incoming and outgoing respiration. If it is inhalation, know it as it is. If it is exhalation, know it as it is. Never try to shift from reality. The mind is linked to respiration. So, this helps to explore the mind. Observation of respiration is a primary phase of meditation.

After this, the meditator starts observing the sensation of the body. He observes the sensation of the whole body from the top of the head to toes and vice-versa. Again, the meditator may experience different types of sensation like pain, pleasure, heat cold, perspiration, etching, tickle, pressure, soft, rough, vibration, etc. Whatever the types of sensation there may be, but the meditator should not generate any attachment or aversion to it. He should neither judge nor react on it. Just know the reality. Judgment and reaction are the barriers of the truth. Neither be happy with pleasure nor be sad on pain. They both are ephemeral. Never identify yourself with them.

The self is always unattached and free from all the bondage.  Whatever the element is in the universe, those all are within the human body. So, knowing the element within the framework of the body one can understand the reality of the entire universe. Just with the study of the self, one can realize the whole world. Being mindful of the sensation of the body one starts understanding the reality. One can understand the law of nature. One can understand the principles of mind and matter. During the meditation, the mind may go in past and sometimes in future. We have nothing to do with past and future as these are not in our hands.

We are gifted with the present. So, we always try to remain on the present without dwelling on past or future. Whatever is being happened on respiration and sensation, we just become concentrated on it. Our work is- only knowing, feeling, or realizing in an equanimous manner. This activity gives the knowledge of mind and matter. As we understand the mind and mater including its law; we surpass across it.  We transcend the physical world. Then we will realize these are changing, non-self, and sorrow.  After this, we start knowing the metaphysical world. 

After knowing the world of changing, non-self, and sorrow; we will know that world which is beyond sorrow and beyond changing. Continuous practice leads to ultimate truth and enlightenment. There are many paths that lead towards enlightenment. But the history and religious literature have shown that there were a maximum number of people who attained enlightenment at the period of Buddha through the practice of Vipassana. 

For the Vipassana meditation, one-hour sitting is necessary, twice a day- morning and evening. In other times he works everything being conscious and mindful. He eats being conscious on breaths or the sensation, he moves being mindful, he sits being mindful, he speaks being mindful. Whatever he does, they all are done being mindful. He becomes conscious of his thoughts. So he is the master of the self.

Some of the people practice Vipassana meditation to get the health benefit. But practicing Vipassana meditation with aim of health is not good. Curing the various diseases, even HIV AIDS (scientific research has already discovered it) will be cured by this meditation, providing ultimate health is a byproduct. The aim always should be enlightenment, not health. For example- rice cover is byproduct while grinding the rice. So health is byproduct on the path of enlightenment. Nowadays the original technique of Vipassana is taught in the Vipassana center started by SN Goenka. It is taught in more than 50 countries with free of cost.