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The technique of Vipassana is a simple, practical way to achieve real peace of mind and to lead a happy, useful life. Vipassana means "to see things as they really are"; it is a logical process of mental purification through self-observation.

From time to time, we all experience agitation, frustration and disharmony. When we suffer, we do not keep our misery limited to ourselves; instead, we keep distributing it to others. Certainly this is not a proper way to live. We all long to live at peace within ourselves, and with those around us. After all, human beings are social beings: we have to live and interact with others. How, then, can we live peacefully? How can we remain harmonious ourselves, and maintain peace and harmony around us?

Vipassana enables us to experience peace and harmony: it purifies the mind, freeing it from suffering and the deep-seated causes of suffering. The practice leads step-by-step to the highest spiritual goal of full liberation from all mental defilements.

Historical Background

Vipassana is one of India’s most ancient meditation techniques. It was rediscovered 2500 years ago by Gautama the Buddha, and is the essence of what he practiced and taught during his forty-five year ministry. During the Buddha’s time, large numbers of people in northern India were freed from the bonds of suffering by practicing Vipassana, allowing them to attain high levels of achievement in all spheres of life. Over time, the technique spread to the neighboring countries of Burma, Sri Lanka, Thailand and others, where it had the same ennobling effect.

Five centuries after the Buddha, the noble heritage of Vipassana had disappeared from India. The purity of the teaching was lost elsewhere as well. In the country of Burma, however, it was preserved by a chain of devoted teachers. From generation to generation, over two thousand years, this dedicated lineage transmitted the technique in its pristine purity.

In our time, Vipassana has been reintroduced to India, as well as to citizens from more than eighty other countries, by S.N. Goenka. He was authorized to teach Vipassana by the renowned Burmese Vipassana teacher, Sayagyi U Ba Khin. Before he died in 1971, Sayagyi was able to see one of his most cherished dreams realized. He had the strong wish that Vipassana should return to India, the land of its origin, to help it come out of its manifold problems. From India, he felt sure it would then spread throughout the world for the benefit of all mankind.

S.N. Goenka began conducting Vipassana courses in India in 1969; after ten years, he began to teach in foreign countries as well. The course is taught at several centers throughout India & abroad.

(The text in the above paragraphs is taken from site http://www.vri.dhamma.org/general/vipintro.html as it was not possible for me to give a better introduction to this great technique of meditation. Although I am explaining the technique with my perspective, one must go through the site mentioned above to learn the technique in detail.)

In a 10 days residential course one has to observe certain code of discipline & strict schedule. The most important of them is Noble Silence i.e. complete silence of speech, body and mind. One abstains from any vocal communication as well as communication through gestures throughout 10 days of course. One attains the silence of mind through observing ones incoming and outgoing breath. If the mind wonders from this observation process, one has to simply accept that "the mind had wondered away" without reacting to it, without any guilt or depression and resume the observation of incoming and outgoing breath. Thus one does not struggle with his mind, rather tries to concentrate it with the help of breath while accepting its general behavior of wandering away. As a result mind gradually stops wandering. In this process, the mind becomes so scuttle that it starts noticing sensations arising and decaying on our body.

Usually our mind is accustomed to craving for pleasant situations (or sensations) and has an aversion to unpleasant situations (or sensations). When we start observing the sensations on our body, the mind behaves the way it is accustomed to. In this meditation we observe these sensations with equanimity thus we start changing the behavioral pattern of mind and gradually free ourselves from the habit of carving & aversion (raag & dwesha).

It is easy to understand the behavior of mind or the process of our reaction through this simple block diagram :

Although everybody understands this process intellectually but has never experienced it on ones own body. When one experiences this cycle of reaction of mind on ones own body and stops reacting. the mind gradually starts getting accustomed to the new behavior and thus one is able to gradually break this pattern of craving / aversion and free oneself from the miseries of the world.

What do you do in a  10 days camp (a brief) ?

Ist day : One pays attention to the incoming and outgoing breath. Whether it is coming out / going in through left nostril or right nostril or from both the nostrils. One simply observes that the breath is going in and coming out. If the mind wanders away in this process, one simply accepts that "the mind has wandered away" and resumes the observation of breath.

2nd day : One starts paying attention to the touch of incoming and outgoing breath. Whether it is touching the inside wall of nostrils or at the outer ring of nostrils or it is touching the area above the upper lip and below the nostrils.

3rd day : One starts observing whether one is feeling any sensation on the aforesaid areas. The sensation could be anything e.g. tingling, pulsating, vibrating, pricking, warmth, crawling of ants, coolness or any other sensation which can not be named. It is not important to name or classify a sensation rather only the acceptance / observation of the sensation is important. One does not expect a particular type of sensation, rather observes whether a sensation is present at the moment. If no sensation is present then one has at least ones breath touching the area and one simply observes the touch of breath. By the end of this day one starts noticing strong sensations on the area mentioned above.

4th day : The attention is brought to the crown (brahma-randhra) and one observes the sensation taking place at this place very attentively. Now one gradually scans the whole scalp area for whatever sensation is present. One gradually brings the awareness down to other parts ob body sequentially and observes the sensations. One does not expect a particular type of sensation. One simply accepts whatever sensation is present, be it a gross sensation ( pain, numbness, dead area etc. or any other unpleasant sensation) or a scuttle sensation (of pulsation, vibration, tingling etc.)

5th day : One continues with the practice of observing the sensations throughout body. One does not develop craving or aversion for a particular sensation. If the sensation is gross one simply observes it with an equanimious mind  with accepting the law of impermanence  (i.e. anything which is born is bound to die and the same hold true for these sensations too). One similarly observes the scuttle sensations too.

6th day : One continues with the practice explained on the 5th day but now apart from crown to leg one moves attention from leg to crown too.

7th day : One continues the practice of observing the sensations on the body with moving attention simultaneously and symmetrically to multiple organs at a go and covers the rest of the organs from head to toe later on. The journey of moving attention  from head to toe and toe to head would continue.

8th day : The process of moving attention from head to toe continues but now one observes the whole body in one go and if there are still some gross sensation on some part of the body, one pays attention to them separately. Even if there is a flow of vibration (or scuttle sensations), one should scan organ by organ after two whole body scans. While observing these sensations (be it a flow of vibration on the whole body or a flow of vibration on some parts of body with rest of the body having gross sensations) one always maintains equanimity (i.e. no aversion to gross sensations and no craving towards scuttle sensations). Equanimity is the key-word to success and one has to continuously pay attention whether the mind is behaving with equanimity.

9th day : One now moves ones attention and tries to observe the sensations on the inside of body too and also inside the spinal chord.

10th day : One is taught a new form of meditation the "mitta-bhavana", the meditation of compassionate love or loving friendship and this day one breaks the noble silence. Although one can not leave the camp on this day but one can talk to his fellow meditators. One is allowed to leave the camp the next morning.

The first three days of meditation is called "Aana-pana" whereas the meditation from 4th to 9th day is actual "Vipassana".

Here, I have given only the basics of the process one follows at a 10 days camp, one has to attend the course to learn the process actually and learn its relevance in detail. It is one the best meditation processes and one of the most powerful meditation process I have encountered so far.


On Mon, 09 Feb 2004 Barbara Zimmerman bzimm312@earthlink.net wrote :

How do you feel about Goenkaji's view on Reiki.  When I sat my last course it was suggested by the teacher that Goenkaji would like serious meditators to put reiki aside.  I will look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,

Barbara Zimmerman


My views on REIKI & VIPASSANA

To me REIKI and VIPASSANA both are the paths of enlightenment.

If you are going to a battlefield, you cannot say that you should only have a battle tank and if you have one and have full faith in it, you would never need an assault rifle. A rifle has its own use whereas a tank has its own. None can be replaced by the other. Of course, Vipassana is extremely powerful practice as compared to REIKI against your fight with "Karma", "Craving" & "Aversion". But, I feel that both of them support you on this path provided you understand both of them in their totality. To me, REIKI was sort of an orientation course towards the path of enlightment.

I do agree by Goenka ji's preaching that one should not mix anything with VIPASSANA, and whenever I do a camp, I commit myself totally to it. I fully agree with him that VIPASSANA is an absolute path which can take you to liberation but it is not an easy path, which everybody can practice. I have come across many people who couldn't continue VIPASSANA after their first camp just because it’s strict code of discipline. The moment you try to discipline your mind against a particular kind of craving or aversion, it tries to revolt. Whereas, I feel that if you allow your mind to gradually change its behavior pattern, it would accept it without much resistance (that is what Vipassana teaches through its meditation). REIKI does not enforce a strict code of discipline but The "Code of discipline" comes automatically to all the serious followers of REIKI. And that makes it is easy to practice REIKI.

Most of the people related to REIKI consider it merely a healing process (of physical and mental ailments) whereas I feel that you don't heal the ailments, rather you heal the "Karma" associated with that ailment and get rid of it. Once you are free from ailments then you gradually reach to your latent "karma" too. In REIKI you draw energy from the "Universal Life Force" (you may name it anything, Shiva / Shakti / Brahm etc. depending on your sect but it is the one and the same) and also generate your own energy through meditation, whereas in Vipassana you become the source of energy itself.

Vipassana, from the day one tries to ensure that you detach yourself (get rid of craving and aversion, and insists on it), whereas, REIKI (if you surrender yourself completely to it) does not insist on your detachment, rather, it brings a gradual change in you where you get detached from the material world.

Teachers at VIPASSANA camp insist that you should not practice anything else, especially REIKI while practicing Vipassana. They are right in their own way. Whenever a REIKI follower sits for meditation, he gets connected to the universal life force energy and there is a continuous flow of energy through you. If at the same time you start doing Vipassana, your ENERGY FLOW may become too high to handle. This uncontrolled energy flow may result in serious abnormalities like loosing consciousness, loosing mental balance for short period or a permanent mental breakdown. AND if this happens the Vipassana/Vipassana teacher would be blamed for it. Whereas it would be totally your fault that you could not handle the excess flow of energy. If you know how to handle the flow of energy, and control/break its flow when it is approaching your body limit, it can not harm you, rather, both the processes of Vipassana and Reiki become complementary to each other.

I would say that Goenka ji’s teaching that you should not mix any other form of meditation with Vipassana is very much right. He does not want any mishap with you at a Vipassana session, this may frighten others and may defame such a beautiful and great practice. If one is contented with better health, peace of mind, healing power and some spiritual achievements, one may go for Reiki, BUT to achieve complete enlightenment, one has to go for Vipassana.

 

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This site was last updated 07/18/10