Sunday, March 04, 2007

Vipassana

Hey, I just returned from my third Vipassana course (see http://www.dhamma.org/ for details)

What is Vipassana? For the basic facts and a clear explanation see the link above. Here are some less clear\self-contained and more personal thoughts: Vipassana is an exploration of reality with the object of understanding it better. To understand reality better not for the purpose gaining knowledge but for the practical purpose of living better. The approach is that our suffering comes from a misunderstanding of reality. Reality is never bad in itself. We only precieve it as bad and as a result struggle against our illusion trying to make it go away. And struggling against an illusion, when you think about it, is exactly what gives that illusion more substance. When practicing Vipassana, this is experienced in the most concrete form. When your mind gets tense, resisting what it feels, say, a pain in the leg. That feeling becomes more and more 'real', more and more solidified. On the other hand, when you simply take the approach of 'OK , this is what I am feeling, this is the current reality', these solidified feelings start to dissolve (though not necassarily right away). As you become more gentle with your current experience your current experience becomes more gentle with you. This progresses up to a stage where the entire body is felt as nothing more than subtle vibrations-no solidity anywhere (just to make it clear- I haven't gotten there yet..).
The emphasis here is on the practical significance. When you experience the body as something fluid and changing rather than something fixed and solid your attachment to the body and the sensations that run through it automatically decreases. You don't make as many futile attempts to hold
on to things after you clearly see that they are simply not stable in their basic nature. On the other hand, you are less worried about things that you don't like since you realize that they are also fluid and are going to change.
We've talked so far about the body and its sensations but an important idea an Vipassana is that everything comes down to the body. Everything is experienced eventually through the body. And therefore, by working with your body and your reactions to the body sensations, you can change your behaviour patterns regarding external situations more effectively than you could have ever done by directly working with the external situation. By the way, even a thought in this context, is an 'external situation' to some extent. As even in this case there is a sensation in the body accompanying the thought and that sensation is the actual experience you're directly reacting to rather than the abstract thought.
After seeing what I have written so far, I'd like to stress again-for a clear simple explanation see the link above.

Coming back from this third course, I am becoming more and more convinced that this technique of meditation is the key to making a real change for good both in my personal life and in humanity.
Looking at human history and things going on currently, it is obvious how much a deep change is required. It also becomes clear that no external solution will work. Going through history we see how solving this or that political\military crisis or external injustice just relieves a symptom (which is also good ofcourse), and a little later another external manifestation of the collective insanity begins.
It becomes clearer that a deep inner change in the minds of humans is the only real lasting solution.
I have always been frustrated by how westerm pshycology seems so
ineffective in making a real change in the deep level of the mind.
It seemed that suffering and unhappiness in my life were caused by
conditioning accumalated from an early age and it seemed that this conditioning is rooted deep and cannot be accessed or changed.
In this respect, I feel that Vipassana is truly different. Straight away from
the beginning, it enables you to go to the deep levels of the mind and make changes there, and a small change at the depth of the mind manifests itself
in countless ways in your external life.

So I guess the bottom line is that we will either reach a critical mass of humans who will make this change in themselves or blow up the planet-either way it's going to be quiet:)

p.s-I'd like to stress that I do not think that Vipassana is the only way someone can improve himself. I also think that maybe some people are simply not as screwed up as others to begin with(just to make it clear- I don't see myself as one of those people:) )

2 comments:

sosolobi said...

Hi,
I'll be doing my first 10 day soon in Belgium. Mid May. I live in Amsterdam. Somehow I landed on the Vipassana site past weekend, and knew right away I wanted to follow a course. Looking now for accounts of people who already followed a Vipassana course.
Thanks for sharing.
Shaniq

Ariel Gabizon said...

Good Luck!

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