Vipashyana Meditation Buddhist Meditation

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    2009, Taoshobuddha

    All rights are reserved. No part of this publica be reproduced, stored in a retrieval sy

    transmitted, in any form or by any means, mephotocopying, recording or otherwise, withwritten permission of the originalTAOSHOBUDDHA MEDITATIONS.


    Cover design and graphics: Anand Neelam



    ion maytem or

    chanical,ut priorublisher


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    The word Taoshobuddha comes from three words,and Buddha. The word Tao was coined by the ChiLau Tzu. It means that which is and cannot be put inis unknown and unknowable. It can only be expenot expressed in words. Its magnanimity cannot beinto finiteness. The word Sho implies, that which is

    sky and deep like an ocean and carries within itreasure. It also means one on whom the existence blessings. And lastly the word Buddha implies theOne; one who has arrived home.

    Thus, TAOSHOBUDDHA implies one who is exiwhom the existence showers its blessings and oarrived home. THE ENLIGHTENED ONE!


    tao, sho,ese master,to words. Itienced andcondensedast like the

    ts womb ashowers itsnlightened

    stential, one who has

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    A flower that never knew about the sun and a flowerthat has experienced the sun are not the same. Indeedthey cannot be. Because a flower that has neverwitnessed the rising sun can never feel the rising sunwithin! Such a flower is dead. It has the potentiality butthe potentiality has not attained fruition. It has never

    known its own spirit. However, a flower that haswitnessed the sunrise has also seen something arisewithin itself. It has discovered its own soul. Now thisflower is no more a flower. The flower has known adeep happening within.

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    To create this inner sun of awareness within, Buddhainvented a technique of meditation almost twenty-fivecenturies ago. This technique not only creates the innersun of awareness, but at the same time it also allowsthe awareness to penetrate into every cell of the bodyand then to the entire being. The technique thatBuddha invented is known as Anapana Sati Yoga. This isthe yoga of incoming and outgoing breath awareness. Itis also known as Vipashyana meditation. The word

    Vipashyana has two words put together Vi andPashyana. Vi means neutral and Pashyana means to see.Thus, Vipashyana means to look at everything with aneutral attitude.

    Vipashyana is also known as Insight Meditation. It wasdiscovered by Buddha to unravel the questions arising

    in his mind to know the truth. When Buddha was born,his father was of a well-advanced age. Astrologers werecalled in. One of the younger astrologers said thatBuddha would leave the kingly splendor in search of Truth. While the other astrologers suggested ways tochange the destiny, it was suggested that he bemarried. Also it was made sure that nothing unusual be

    allowed to happen around him as metaphysicalquestions would arise in him seeing the leaves turningyellow and then falling etc. So he was married toYashodhara and around the palace where he was living,all dried leaves were picked up before sunrise. Allarrangements were made so that no unusual questionswould arise in his mind. However, Buddha had not come

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    to rule any kingdom. One night he first saw an old man,then a sick person, and finally a dead body. That was thedestined night. It is said that these three men were theEnlightened masters of the past, who came to guide andpave the path for Buddha. He questioned his charioteerabout these events. He was told that such is the destinyof each human being. Buddha did not return to thepalace that night. He decided to seek the answer tothese questions. So he embraced the life of a wandering


    Then it was believed that there were two majortechniques of meditation. First of these techniques wasof concentration. This involved experiencing variousstages of meditative absorption. This is called jhana ordhyana . Buddha went to two masters of the time to

    learn this. In the process he attained the highest state of jhana . Yet still he was far from the Truth or Dhamma, sohe asked his teachers if they had anything more tooffer. But they were honest enough to say no. Buddhadid all that was needed to attain the highest spiritualstate and then left.

    Then he came across the other form of meditativepractice which was also used. This was the practice of self-mortification or self-torture. It was believed then,that by tormenting the body the self or ego wouldvanish. This could be accomplished in several ways,including fasting or lying on a bed of nails. Buddha wentthrough all these techniques. For six years he wandered.

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    His last master was Alarkalam. For six months Buddhalived on one grain of rice. He practiced the fastingintensely. Nothing happened!

    After a long period of fasting he became very frail andweak. He had no energy to live. He was lying half unconscious under a banyan tree when he wasdiscovered by a cowherd boy. The young boy realizedthat the recluse must have been fasting for a long time

    and that had weakened his body. But Buddha did notsee the boy. The boy was wise enough to give milk toBuddha but Buddha was so weak that he could not openhis mouth. The boy hesitated to touch Buddha as hebelonged to a lower caste but realizing the situation hedecided that even though it was a sin to touch Buddha,it was more important to save him. He could ask for

    forgiveness afterwards.

    Buddha felt better after drinking the milk and wasfinally able to move. He saw the boy sitting next to himrespectfully, so Buddha enquired who he was. The boysaid that he was a cowherd and asked for forgiveness.Buddha consoled the boy; he told him that he had done

    the right thing and there was no need to ask forforgiveness. Further Buddha said, We are not good orbad simply because we are born in a low or high family.Our goodness depends on our actions.

    So Buddha stayed under the tree. In the evening heheard a song coming from the nearby forest. The song

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    was being sung by a group of girls who were collectingfirewood in the forest. The song meant that if thestrings of the musical instrument were too tight theywould break on being used. Also if the strings were tooloose the instrument would not make the right sound.The strings would have to be neither too tight nor tooloose. Thus, Buddha saw the futility of the extremepaths and also the dangers of attachment to them. Sohe decided to pursue the middle path himself. He

    realized the significance of the middle path. He thenwent to Niranjana River and sat on the bank to meditateand discover the middle path.

    It is said that Buddha wanted to cross the riverNiranjana but he was so weak that he fell into it; it wasa shallow stony river. He held on to the branch of a tree

    leaning from the other shore. He thought about thefutility of his actions of the past few days. He thought,now that I am so weak, what would I be able to doeven if Enlightenment happened? He could not sleep.He remained awake the whole night watching the starsdisappear in the sky. Somehow he came out of theriver! He made a seat of grass under a Bodhi tree and

    sat for meditation. Then a woman came by to offer himsome food as offering of her good fortune. She thoughtthat God had come to her in this human form of a holyman sitting under the Bodhi Tree. She offered Buddhaexcellent food in forty-nine pieces on a beautiful platter.Buddha ate all that was offered and then again began tomeditate without any further need for nourishment. It

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    was now sunset. He decided not to move again untilEnlightenment happened.

    That night, at near about midnight, Buddha was stronglytempted by Mara or Maya or illusion. It is the symbol of all obstructing forces. The three daughters of Mara Desire, Lust, and Aversion came to persuade him toleave the path of meditation and return to the palaceand become the king. This did not affect Buddha who

    was tranquil. This made Mara angry, so he sent hisarmies by land and air to frighten Buddha. He becameafraid; he opened his eyes and raised his hand to wardoff the attack. But then he realized there was no one.They were, in fact, his hallucinations.

    Buddha continued his meditation. He was tranquil and

    restful. He meditated watching his mind until dawnwhen each star in the sky had disappeared. With this,something dawned on him. Buddha got a clear insightand inner understanding of all the phenomena, bothwithin and without. Enlightenment happened at thatvery moment! The thing which Buddha was waiting foryears, happened that precise moment. It was during

    meditation Buddha discovered the technique of Vipashyana or Insight Meditation.

    The meditation is such that it not only creates an innerawareness, but simultaneously allows the awareness topenetrate to the very cells of the body, to the whole of

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    ones being. It is also called Anapana Sati Yoga. It is ameditation.

    That brings awareness of incoming and outgoing breath.It is based on constant or attentive awareness. Weattach various meanings to awareness. We have to beclear about its meaning. When Buddha spoke of breathawareness, he meant to look attentively withoutapplying any knowledge or information. It means that

    we simply look with a quiet mind, without making anycomment or applying knowledge, interpretation, orexplanation! The art of neutral observation is not soeasy. By doing so, we can see that the mind can beemptied of its contents. Then we can understand theway the mind works and also examine the contents of the mind. This is the way to meet everything fully with

    the whole being and with all the energy that you have.Then there is no more dissipation of energy. And it canbe directed for looking at what is going on. This islooking beyond appearance. It is significant tounderstand that we are simply looking at and notlooking for. There is a vast difference between lookingat and looking for. When we are looking at there is no

    more expectation, which is an aspect of looking for. If we look for something in meditation and there isexpectation, the disappointment is bound to come. Thiswill lead to clinging, loss of energy, and mentalimbalance. It is important to look attentively andsilently. This will bring clear understanding and insightinto the nature and the contents of the mind. Buddha

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    explained the same in Satipatthana Sutra. These sutrasare related to mindfulness. Buddha explained thatawareness is only for intuitive understanding andawareness itself, not for anything else.

    Intuitive insight gradually develops along the path of awareness. We may see that this incorporates threemain factors namely: attention, awareness, andwatchfulness. These three words explain the techniques

    of insight. Insight is developed if we follow this properly,in other words when the meditation is done in the rightway.

    However, in the early stages, insight is closelyconnected with intellect. This is mainly because of conflicts within and the knowledge that we have. But

    with insight, we come to understand what we know;insight gets deeper. And thus is revealed the differencebetween insight itself and the function of intellect. Thetwo go on cooperating in deep meditation. But this isquite different from what we have known originally.Intellect gets still and becomes receptive when insightoperates. Now intellect will pick up the signals given by

    the insight words and concepts.

    We need to allow intellect to be quiet and passive. Thenintellect becomes subservient to insight. It can no moreremain active all the time. When intellect is undulyactive we cannot attain the emptiness of the mind. Wecannot come to total silence. When we attain stillness,

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    then we can see without obstruction. This seeing isinsight! And thus the meaning of the method of Vipashyana!

    To begin the process we need to cultivate our attention.And in developing this attention, we need some primaryobject as focus. In Vipashyana we use the rise and fall of breath as the preliminary object. We need not regulatethe breath. Just let it be as it is. Let the breath move in

    and out as naturally as possible without anyinterference of the mind. As the breath moves in andout, observe the rise and fall. This is the first step for themind, to see the nature of the rising and the passingaway in the physical sense of breathing.

    As an individual we go on breathing unconsciously.

    Breath is Prana. Breath is lan vital. Yet still breathing isunconscious. We are unaware of it. And if we were tobe aware of breathing in order to breathe, we woulddie. Sooner or later we would forget. Thus, we cannotremember anything continuously. Breathing establishesa connection between our voluntary and nonvoluntarysystems. We can, however, control our breathing to

    some extent. At times we can even stop breathing for awhile. But no way can we stop breathing permanently.It goes on without any effort on our part. One can be incoma for months, yet still breathing goes on. Breathingis an unconscious mechanism.

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    There are two aspects of breathing the Incomingbreath and the Outgoing breath. When you breathe inand pause, there is a gap, and then you breathe out.After you breathe out, there comes another gap, beforeyou start breathing in or inhaling again. Therefore, thereare two gaps. The first one happens within you after thebreath comes in. This creates a Center within. This isknown as your Soul or Inner Center. The other happenswhen the breath is out and waiting to come in. This gap

    is called Parmatman or Cosmic Center. If the breath thathas gone out does not come in, it is referred to as Deathwhile the gap within is called Life.


    Buddha used breath as a vehicle for two things

    simultaneously. First to create consciousness andsecond to allow this consciousness to penetrate to thevery cells of the body1 Breathe consciously, wasBuddhas message. Buddha never meant pranayama. Itwas meant to make breath an object of awareness. Butnot changing it.

    There is no need to change the breath. Leave it as it is.Just natural! The only necessary thing is, breatheconsciously. As the breath comes in, allow theconsciousness to move in. And let the consciousnessmove out with the outgoing breath. Let there be totalattention on breath. Move with it. Flow with it. Neverforget even a single breath. Buddha is reported to have

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    said that if you can be aware of your breath for evenone hour, you are already Enlightened. But never let asingle breath be missed.

    Definitely, one hour seems like a small fragment of time. But it is not so. When you are trying to be aware,one hour seems like a millennium. It is so becausegenerally you cannot be aware of your breath for morethan five of six seconds. Only a very alert person can be

    aware even for that long. We miss awareness everymoment. You can start awareness with incomingbreath, but no sooner the breath has come in you aresomewhere else. And suddenly you realize that youwere to breathe consciously but the breath has goneout and you were somewhere else.

    To be conscious of the breath simply means that nothought can be allowed. Thoughts distract yourattention. Buddha never said to stop thinking. His onlyemphasis was on conscious breathing. And when youbreathe consciously, thoughts cease automatically. Youcannot breathe consciously and think at the same time.

    As a thought comes in your mind, your attention iswithdrawn from breathing. A single thought is morethan enough to make you unconscious of breathing.This technique seems very simple, but it is vital. Buddhatold his monks to do whatever but not to forget onesimple thing: the incoming and the outgoing breath.

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    As you continue to do this frequently, you will grow inconsciousness. It is difficult. But once you have donethis you can no longer remain the same person. You willbe a different person and a different being. As you beginto breathe in and out consciously, by and by you moveto your center. It is so because each time you breathein, your breath and with the breath the life forcetouches the very center of the Being.

    Physiologically you think that breath just purifies theblood. This is a bodily function. But when you begin tobe aware of your breathing, by and by you go deeperthan physiology. Then one day you will begin to feelyour center, right near your navel. You can feel yourcenter only when you move with the breathcontinuously. You have to continue, because as you

    reach nearer the center, it will be even more difficult toremain aware. You can start when the breath isentering. When it is almost touching the nostrils, beaware of it. As it move inwards, awareness will be moredifficult. A thought may come in or a sound orsomething else may happen and you move away fromthe awareness.

    If you can reach to the very center, for a brief momentbreath stops and then comes in a gap. The breathcomes in and then goes out, between these two there isa subtle gap. This gap is your center the center of thebeing. It is only after practicing this breath awarenessfor a sufficiently long time you will be able to remain

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    with the breath. You can be aware of the gap only whenthere is no breath movement. Now the breath is neithercoming in nor going out. Between these subtle gaps,between two breaths, you are at your center. Thus,breath awareness was used by Buddha as a means of reaching to the center.

    Be conscious when you breathe out. Again there is agap. In fact, there are two gaps; one gap comes after

    the breath comes in and before it goes out. Another gapcomes in when the breath is out and before it comes in.This second gap is more difficult to be aware of. Andbetween these incoming and outgoing breaths lies yourcenter. However, there is another center the CosmicCenter. You may call this as God. The Cosmic center liesbetween when the breath goes out and before it comes

    in. However, these two centers are not two differentthings. In the process first you become aware of yourinner center and then you become aware of your outercenter or the cosmic center. Then one day ultimatelyyou know that these two centers are one. Thus, theouter and the inner lose their significance.

    Buddha says, move consciously with the breath. Thenyou will create a center of awareness within yourself. Asthis center is created, awareness will begin to move toyour very cells and provide nourishment to the cells asevery cell needs oxygen. It can be said that each cellbreathes. Even the earth breathes, say scientists. Withthe universe breathing in, the earth expands and when

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    the universe breathes out, the earth contracts.According to Hindu scriptures, creation is Brahmassingle incoming breath and destruction or dissolution isBrahmas outgoing breath.

    There are three aspects of anything that is going on.They are rising, existing, and falling away. In case of breathing, it can be said that there is a cessation of breath. This can lead to a silence and therefore, it is

    possible for us to transcend the consciousness of breathing. It seems that breathing automatically stopsbut in reality it is not so. Breathing gets deeper andeven. Then you breathe internally and do not feel themovement. When we do not see the gentle movementit is said that breathing has stopped. So when silencebecomes more significant then you can transcend the

    consciousness of breathing. In that case do not cling tothe object. The preliminary object is only to start with.Naturally you tend to pay attention to the immediateobject which is evident. Thus, there is no set object.Everything that enters the consciousness eventuallybecomes the object of meditation. We identify withattention, awareness, and watchfulness. In this process

    we are not the observer. And when we begin withmeditation, both the mind and the body discharge.However, we have to know what is happening, knowing

    just for the sake of knowledge and not for doinganything. Awareness is at work, but we are no more.

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    When you sit in meditation for long, your legs tend togo to sleep. You will get concerned about it; let the legsgo to sleep, but keep the body in an upright position.Sometimes the legs may wake up, but you shouldremain unconcerned. And do not move because of painor discomfort. If you move, you cannot observe all thatis going on in the mind. The body will certainly feel thediscomfort. In that situation go on looking constantly. Apoint will come when knowing happens. So no more

    doing, instead seeing alone!

    Also when you are sitting in the rain let the rain dropsfall and just observe what is happening in your body andthe mind. Feel your attitude. When a situation arises donot look for any technique to get out of that situation.Be in that situation completely, because without it you

    cannot learn. Life is always open. Life has both shallowand deeper moments. Go through every aspect of life.Expect nothing, but take things as they are and as theycome.

    In this form of meditation keep your eyes closed. Keepyour attention steady and focus on the rise and fall of.

    In the Eastern monasteries, before meditation begins, abell is rung three times. One has to listen to the soundfrom the beginning to the end, follow the sound, and beaware of the continuity of hearing.

    When meditation begins there are fears anduncertainties. Buddha narrated a story to his monks to

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    help them in practice. It is said, once a man came acrossfour poisonous snakes, symbolic of water, earth, fire,and wind. He became afraid. To escape them he raninto a village expecting some help. There he did not findanyone. This made him more fearful and uncertain aswell. He ran until he came across a vast stretch of water.He did not know what to do. There was no boat to takehim to the other shore. He became even morefrightened. He decided to make a raft. He collected

    some reeds and branches and made a raft. Then hestarted his journey. On reaching the other shore heabandoned the raft. He was now free to enjoy himself on this new island.

    Something like the above happens in meditation. In thebeginning it maybe like trying to escape from these

    poisonous snakes. Sooner or later we shall arrive at achallenging situation. And in that situation we cannotrely on anything. Nothing is available. But then when welook into ourselves, we can bring about everything weneed and build a raft.

    Buddha told the monks that this raft was for crossing

    the ocean of life, not to cling to it. When there isclinging, grasping, and attachment then you may stay inthe ocean or you may even drown. Also, you cannotcarry it with you as you set foot on the other shore.Then it will become an unnecessary burden. Alltechniques and teachings are for help to flow. Whenyou try to hold on to them, you become rigid and fixed.

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    Then no movement is possible. All such techniques areuseful but never fix yourself on them. When you arefixed to any specific teaching then you become narrow-minded. When you are sick you takereatment andmedicine. Also you follow a particular pattern of treatment and take precautions. But once you are curedyou do not carry the prescription anymore. All yourprescriptions, treatments, and medicines are droppedthen. So when you are fixed you are narrow-minded. No

    more openness! No flexibility or adaptability! When youwant to move from one position to another, be alwaysopen. In that case awareness becomes stronger. InBuddhism this is self-reliance.


    Quite often it happens when you are doing VipashyanaMeditation, there is an upsurge of energy. And becauseof this you feel very sensual. You are so silent andenergy is not dissipated. Generally, much energy isdissipated unnecessarily. This makes you feelexhausted. So when you are sitting ideally, you

    automatically become a reservoir of energy. This goeson getting bigger and bigger and then there comes apoint when it begins to overflow. This makes you feelsensuous. Sensitivity arises. It appears as if all sensesare now fresh and alive. You feel as if you have taken abath. This happens.

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    For this very reason, Buddhist monks who have beendoing this meditation for a long time do not eat much. Itis not that they suppress appetite. There is no need.They eat once, a very small meal. It is almost like abreakfast. Even sleep gets less, but there is no loss of energy. They go on working hard. They naturally engagein works like wood cutting, gardening, and field work. Infact, they work the whole day, but still there is nodissipation of energy.

    Also, the sitting posture is very energy consuming. Thelotus posture Buddha uses is such that all ends of thebody meet feet upon feet, and hands upon hands.From these points energy moves and flows out. Energyalways moves from the nerve ends. That is the reasonthe male sex organ has a particular shape so that energy

    leaks out. When too much energy is flowing within andyou are unable to do anything, it gets released throughthe sex center.

    During a sexual act, a woman never releases energy.This is the reason that a woman can go on making loveto many persons in one night but a man cannot. A

    woman can even conserve energy, if she learns thetechnique of conservation. She can even get energy.

    No energy is released through the head because of its

    rounded shape. Thus, the brain never loses energy,

    instead it conserves it. Energy never leaks from any

    rounded shape. This is the reason all planets and stars

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    are round in shape. So when you sit in the lotus posture

    you become rounded. Therefore, when one end

    releases energy the other receives it. Instead of going

    out, the energy moves within almost like a circle! Energy

    is conserved, and thus the body becomes a reservoir of

    energy. Because of this you feel full; you may not have

    eaten but there is certain fullness. This is a good sign,

    enjoy it!

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    A technique of breath awareness

    To create this inner sun of awareness within, Buddha invented a

    technique of meditation almost twenty-five centuries ago. This

    technique not only creates the inner sun of awareness, but at the

    same time it also allows the awareness to penetrate into every cell of

    the body and then to the entire being. The technique that Buddha

    invented is known as Anapana Sati Yoga. This is the yoga of incomingand outgoing breath awareness. It is also known as Vipashyana


    The word Vipashyana has two words put together Vi and Pashyana.Vi means neutral and Pashyana means to see. Thus, Vipashyanameans to look at everything with a neutral attitude.