by Naomi Ozaniec
Vipassana means to see things as they really are. Vipassana meditation develops a knowing about the world based on direct perception, rather than the more usual reliance upon intellectual concepts of the world. In Tibetan, the term is translated to mean ‘superior seeing’, ‘great vision’ or ‘supreme wisdom’. In English the term is less effectively translated as ‘insight meditation’.
Vipassana meditation is intended to precipitate insight into the essential nature of reality; this existential and transpersonal goal will be unfamiliar to anyone just beginning meditation practice. The realization of supreme wisdom might be seen as an ultimate goal; the expert mountain climber has a unique view but the novice does not expect to stand at the summit. Insight meditation, supreme wisdom, the way of superior seeing cannot be self-taught; teaching takes place through residential intensive courses or from a personal teacher within a particular school.
Vipassana meditation is not confined to a single tradition and includes a wide number of techniques: contemplation, introspection, analytic meditation, experiential observation and meditations on impermanence and lack of independent essence, all designed to break down conceptual constructs and habitual thinking. For instance the concept, ‘tree’ describes a wide range of phenomena which share certain qualities, yet trees are not identical and a deeper analysis reveals that the tree consists of many interdependent functions each dynamically interactive, the concept is therefore a gross oversimplification of experience. The way to supreme wisdom via insight begins by replacing familiar conceptual ideas with the immediacy of direct perception; then the world will come to life.
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