Yoga and Vipassana

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Types of Vipassana Meditations

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Vipassana – is the essence of the teachings of Lord Buddha. Generally, we cultivate a certain mental attitude towards numerous stuff and persons. This approach can cause pleasant or unpleasant feelings. When we mindfully look at our own state of mind, we will observe that it is our own attitude that has created that state of mind which results in one feeling or another. Feeling does not come from the object that you perceive but from your own state or mental attitude. This is why when several people look at the same object they can have several different feelings, several diverse opinions about the thing.

If we mindfully watch our own mind and feelings, we can observe very clearly and clearly that what we feel is our own creation and that we are totally responsible for it. Mindfully watching the continuous change of our own feelings can make us abstain from emotional responses and make us see the truth of our own feelings. Mindfulness of feelings will not cause us to think obsessive thoughts or abusive thoughts or harmful thoughts. By un-mindful thinking, we neglect our mind. The abused mind always generates abusive feelings, which always is troubling.

Four Types of Vipassana Meditations:

Loard Buddha gave an important discourse, called the Satipatthana Sutta “The Hymn of the Awakening of Consciousness”). In that discourse, Buddha tells his monks that they should go to a solitary place, sit down, and practice the four types of mindfulness.

He showed the way for developing self-knowledge by means of Kayanupassana (constant observation of the body), Vedananupassana (constant observation of sensation), cittanupassana  (constant observation of the mind), and Dhammanupassana (constant observation of the contents of the mind).

Kayanupassana,  ‘meditation on the body. This includes mindfulness of breathing (Pali, Anapana-sati). Counting mindfully the in-and –out breaths, connecting them, etc, are the methods. Mahasi Sayadaw, the great exponent of vipassana from Burma, has added a new method of observing the rising and falling of the abdomen method are the mindfulness of walking, talking, hearing, and other bodily functions, the postures of the body, the repulsiveness of the body, and the none ‘cemetery reflections’ too are included in this group. This technique, when perfected, will lead to the differentiation between the material and non-material (Pali, nama-rupaparicceda-nama). Then comes the knowledge that everything is rising and falling, everything is impermanent, and that there is no permanent self here. When this idea of impermanence, suffering, and non-self comes, the way to the attainment of peace, nibbana, has opened.

Vedananupassana, (Pali; Sanskrit, vedaana-anupasyana ‘the mindfulness of feeling’): In this technique, the feelings like desire and aversion, pleasant and unpleasant are observed minutely. Says Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi in the Noble Eightfold Path (p.84): ‘Feeling acquires a special importance as an object of contemplation because it is feeling that usually triggers the latent defilement’s into activity.’ So by being mindful of the feelings, we can understand that feelings are not something permanent. This idea of impermanence ‘overturns the three unwholesome roots’, greed, delusion, and aversion. This in turn leads to wisdom.

There are three kinds of feeling: pleasant, unpleasant and neither-pleasant-nor-unpleasant. We will use the term ‘neutral’ for this last form although it is not entirely accurate. According to its nature, feeling can be more specifically divided into five:

• bodily pleasant feeling
• bodily unpleasant feeling
• mentally pleasant feeling
• mentally unpleasant feeling
• balanced or neutral

Cittanupassana, (Pali; Sanskrit, cittanupasyana, ‘the mindfulness if consciousness or mind’): Here, the aspirant is asked to concentrate on the various functions of the mind: the awakening of desires, their dissolution; the awakening of anger, its going; the distraction of the mind, its dissolution, and so on. What happens when we observe the functions of the mind? The waves that arise in the mind are restrained. This could be compared to controlling the modifications of the mind that Patanjali’s Yoga teaches.

There may be a doubt here: since Buddhism doesn’t advocate the Self or anything permanent beyond the mind, what is it that observes the mind and its activities? Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi answers (The Noble Eightfold path p. 87): ‘As contemplation deepens, the contents of the mind become increasingly rarified. …At times there might appear to be a persisting observer behind the process, but with continued practice even this apparent observer disappears. The mind itself- the seemingly solid, stable mind-dissolves into a stream of cittas, flashing in and out of being moment by moment, coming from nowhere and going nowhere, yet continuing in sequence without pause.’ The natural fallout of perfection in this awareness is the attainment of nibbana, release from suffering.

Dhammanupassan (Pali; Sanskrit, dharma- anupasyana, ‘the mindfulness of mental objects’): In this final stage of vipassana, the aspirant concentrates on the five mental hindrances (sloth, anger, doubt, lust, greed); the five aggregates of clinging (formation of forms, forms themselves, their perception, feeling arising as a consequence, and the mental reaction to them); the six internal bases of the senses (the roots of eye, ear, nose, skin, tongue, and the mind); and finally, the one positive element is the contemplation on the seven factors of enlightenment.

This leads to true wisdom, consequently leading to the attainment of liberation from existential suffering. This is the scheme of vipassana bhavana.

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Author: Simon Wan

I enjoy every moment of my life. I like yoga and meditation.

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