Vipassana meditation is a technique of self transformation through self observation. The term, translated from either Pali (Vipassana) or Sanskrit (Vipasyana), literally means "insight into the nature of reality." It dates back to the time of Gotama Buddha, over 2500 years ago, and continues to be practiced throughout the world.
A code of discipline is usually applied whilst practicing vipassana that builds upon the principles of moral conduct (sila) to such a degree that an adherent can develop improved concentration (samadhi) and thereby achieve wisdom, (panna). Sila, samadhi and panna are all essential aspects in the attainment of Nirvana and the process of becoming of an arhant.
By focusing on the constant flow of air at the tip of the nostril meditation encourages the observation of the ever changing process of inhalation and thereby sharpens one's awareness of one's own impermanence. The imaginary boundary between inside and outside is breached during the inbreath and close examination of this event improves our sense of connectedness. Direct experience of these phenomenon is said to be the path of purification.
However, purification is not necessarily the removal of impurity so much as attaining the state of tranquility. A frequent analogy that is made when discussing meditation is that of a muddy or murky pool in which a lotus flower grows. The flower will send its roots deep down into the mud but will slowly rise to the surface of the pool where it will face the clear air and bright light of the sun, and bloom. In time, if undisturbed, the muddiness of the pool will settle to form a deeper sediment and the pool will appear clear. It is thought that a mind focused on mediation undergoes a similar transformation, from being unclear and crowded with thoughts to being crystal clear and refreshing. The term single pointed attention is often used to describe the desired for state of mind.
The claims for what Vipassana is and is not are are set out clearly at the start of any meditation retreat. The technique is not a form of organized religion and is therefore available to anyone irrespective of race, community or creed.
What Vipassana is not.
- It is not a rite or ritual based on blind faith
- It is neither an intellectual nor a philosophical entertainment
- It is not a rest cure or a holiday
- it is not an escape from the trials and tribulations of everyday life.
- It is a technique that will eradicate suffering.
- it is a method of mental purification that will enable a person to challenges with equanimity.
- It is an art of living.