Experiencing Vipassana — Part 2

Notes from doing 10 days of Vipassana meditation for the first time in my life

Photo by Emily KenCairn on Unsplash

Knowledge / Observations

At the end of each day, there would be a 1.5 hour discourse by S.N. Goenka explaining the meditation practice for the day and relevant philosophy of Vipassana. The discussion below follows from the same.

The nature of the mind and the goal of Vipassana

The mind is described as perceiving reality through a four stage process:

  • Recognition: The part that draws meaningful interpretations from the sensory inputs coming to your mind. Recognising the shape as a circle or a woman, the sound as a child or a crow, etc.
  • Evaluation: The part the passes judgement and attaches emotion to what has been perceived and recognised. An angry man, a beautiful woman, a bitter taste, etc.
  • Volition: The final reaction of the mind towards the evaluation it has received. Fear of the angry man, lust towards the beautiful woman, repulsion from the bitter taste, etc.

The eightfold path of Buddhism

In Buddhism/through Vipassana you’re trying to walk along the eightfold path.

  • Samadhi: Right thoughts (A pure mind)
  • Panya: Wisdom
  1. to abstain from stealing,
  2. to abstain from all sexual activity,
  3. to abstain from telling lies,
  4. to abstain from all intoxicants.
  • Chinta-maya panya: Wisdom gained from rational thought. Eg: You visit a restaurant and observe that the customers are leaving satisfied, the food smells delicious, etc. eventually concluding that food must be delicious.
  • Bhavana-maya panya: Wisdom gained through one’s own experience. Eg: You visit the restaurant and eat the food, experiencing and knowing for yourself that the food is good.

The bigger picture — according to Buddha

So why are we doing all this? What’s the bigger picture? Here’s how it goes:

Final thoughts

Vipassana as I experienced it, is a beautiful path to follow. Buddhism in its limited form as taught during Vipassana is a wonderful set of beliefs. It is less like a religion and more like an exercise routine. An exercise routine targeted towards your mind. In the course of our daily lives, we naturally chase the obvious and the visible: controlling our diets and our behaviours. Vipassana meditation focuses on the root of it all: the mind. It teaches us to look at the mind as a muscle that you’re trying to strengthen. This shift in perspective is extremely powerful. You go from helplessly experiencing your thoughts, emotions, sensations to being able to see them as something outside of you, with complete control of how you will react to them. You find a level of consciousness above the mind.

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