VIPASSANA MEDITATION AND ITS HISTORY
This is perhaps one of the most famous types of meditation in the world, but lets try to learn a little bit more.
The term “Vipassana” derives from the Pali language and means “see things in depth how they really are”.
This word practically contains the same essence of the practice.
In this case “seeing things for what they really are” means removing all the mental patterns that we built and in most cases do not “see” reality for what it truly is but filter it according to our experience, our stories, our patterns. In a few words each of us has a subjective vision of the world depending on our past experiences, and we look at things depending on how we perceive them rather than for what they actually are.
Vipassana Meditation thus serves to fight these filters and see everything exactly for what it actually is, this certainly allows us to live more free.
Vipassana meditation is one of the most ancient techniques of meditation in India and has been rediscovered 2500 years ago by the Buddha.
Vipassana meditation is considered to be the essence of the teachings of the Buddha and during his 45 years of teaching has helped thousands of people to face suffering, to understand the spirits in their minds and to live a more serene life free from patterns.
At the beginning Vipassana spread throughout India and neighbouring countries very quickly, but then its success suddenly ended up supplanted by other techniques.
But, fortunately, in Myanmar, some teachers managed to pass on the technique as it was taught by the Buddha and it is thanks to this meticulous work that it fortunately reached us.
In the last years this technique was taught mainly by S.N. Goenka who studied for fifteen years in Myanmar with Sayagyi U Ba Khin. After his studies he started to teach Vipassana in India in 1969 founding a centre and hasn’t stopped since, founding many others around the world.
Lets take a look in short to all the steps of Vipassana meditation.
Over the recent years many different faces of the same technique have been spread and Vipassana can be practiced in many ways but the principles on which this meditation is based are always the same.
Let us see which are these principles:
As the practice is deepened one becomes aware that everything is in constant change (anicca), both what is within us and also everything that surrounds us is meant to change sooner or later.
It is very important therefore to understand this principle because many of our problems are caused by attachment to someone or something, and according to this theory, it does not make sense to be so because everything is destined to change.
– The existence of the I (me)
We are prone think that there is an I and act thinking that there is an I that exists as a person and this does nothing but cause great pain.
Thanks to Vipassana meditation we can clearly see that, since everything changes continuously both inside and outside of us, a real I (anatta) does not actually exist. This is because what we are now is different from what we were a few seconds ago and from what we will be shortly.
It is therefore useless to attach ourselves to this individuality because it is only an apparent reality hence, it will all arrive to the nonexistence of I, and the allegation that there is only a stream of events in continuous change.
According to Buddha suffering (dukkha) is not caused by external situations but is caused by ourselves.
We are in fact responsible for the conditions we create in our body and in our mind so that the seeds of suffering grow and are transformed into plants, the idea is that we let the pain enter or create it.
With the Vipassana one can therefore avoid planting other seeds of suffering and plan only those of happiness.
One of the most important things in practice is equanimity (upekka).
Thanks to the constant practice we can develop an attitude of equanimity against everything that has happened to us in life.
I.e. we recognize that both things that we consider “positive”, both those that we believe “negative”, will sooner or later end, hence it makes no sense to cling excessively to positive and to have an attitude of aversion towards the negative, everything will end sooner or later.
Awareness (sati) is another fundamental trait. This is necessary both to practice as also one of the qualities that we acquire thanks to practice.
As we deepen our practice we gain a deep awareness of the breath and the sensations of the positions assumed by the body, its parts, thoughts and also of the pitfalls of the mind such as the mental scheme where unaware we are the victim of ourselves and of our continuous reactions.
Vipassana is a very widespread meditation that usually thought in residential retreats.
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