What Is Vipassana? Science & History Behind Vipassana Meditation

When people try all the remedies for permanent happiness, peace and joy in life, then they come under the shelter of spirituality. People associate spirituality with religion, but this is not the truth. The basis of spirituality is science while religion is based on faith.
One of the many paths of spirituality is Vipassana Meditation. Let us know a little about it.

What Is Vipassana Meditation?

Vipassana means “ To See The Things As They Really Are ”. This is a kind of meditation in which we go into the depths of our subconscious mind and cleanse it from the depths.

We are distraught, frustrated, and unhappy many times during our lifetime. When this happens, it is not limited to us, but it spreads like an infection to more people. In other words, we go on sharing distraction, frustration and unhappiness within others. We never ask ourselves, is this the right way to live life?

We all want to live a life of happiness, peace, and bliss. And we also want to create such an environment around us. But can it happen? The answer is “no”. The impurities hidden in our mind do not allow this to happen. Vipassana Meditation eliminates these impurities from the root.

By doing Vipassana Meditation:

  • We get permanent peace of mind 
  • We get rid of sorrows and get bliss
  • Our Self Understanding increases

This technique has innumerable benefits.

Two Aspects Of Vipassana Meditation

Breaking The Barrier Between Conscious & Subconscious Mind

Often, the conscious mind does not know what reactions are taking place in the subconscious mind. Due to this ignorance of the conscious mind, there are constant reactions in the subconscious mind. And when these reactions come at the level of the conscious mind, then it becomes so powerful that our mind surrenders to them. This is only due to ignorance of the conscious mind.

By the Vipassana Meditation, the entire mind becomes aware and conscious. Ignorance is removed.

Equanimity

In Vipassana Meditation, we practice feeling every sensation arising on the body with Equanimity. In the beginning, our mind is not set in Equanimity. We often react to good and bad sensations.

But during the practice, there are some moments when our mind is in Equanimity. These moments are very beneficial in changing the nature of the mind. Through constant practice of Vipassana Meditation, we reach that stage when we keep smiling in any situation.

History Of Vipassana Meditation

  • Vipassana is one of the oldest meditation techniques in India. This technique of ancient India had gradually become extinct. About 2500 years ago, Gautama Buddha rediscovered it and became enlightened. He attained Nirvana only through Vipassana Meditation.
  • Gautam Buddha did not confine this precious technique to himself but went on sharing it. Many people in northern India took advantage of this technique during his time. Those people got rid of sorrows and attained ecstasy.
  • Gradually, the disciples of Gautam Buddha spread Vipassana Meditation in neighboring countries of India such as Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka, Bhutan, etc. People of those countries also took the benefits of this technique and were free from sorrows.
  • After Gautam Buddha, it was in its pure form in India for a few centuries. But after about 5 century it completely disappeared from India.
  • However, even after complete extinction from India, it was protected in its pure form by the neighboring country of Myanmar (Burma). Following the Teacher-Student tradition, a few selected people of Myanmar benefited the people, without any kind of adulteration in it for more than 2000 years.
  • The credit for bringing this technique back to India goes to S.N. Goenka. Vipassana has now spread to more than 90 countries of the world, no longer confined to Myanmar and India. S.N. Goenka learned Vipassana in Burma from his mentor Sayagyi U Ba Khin. He had a strong desire that the Vipassana Meditation once again spread in India. For this, he chose S.N. Goenka. S.N. Goenka could not refuse his order. And the Vipassana came again in India.
  • S.N. Goenka came to India in 1969 and organized the first camp. At that time, people in India had not even heard of the name of Vipassana. This was completely new to the people of India. S.N. Goenka continued his work with initial difficulties. After 10 years, he taught this technique to people even after going abroad. He prepared more than 800 co-teachers. Those co-teachers organized camps all over the world.
  • As more people from India and different countries benefited from this technique, more and more centers were established.
S.N. Goenka
S.N. Goenka | Image Credit: Elephant Journal
Sayagyi U Ba Khin.
Sayagyi U Ba Khin | Image Credit: Vipassana Research Institute

Science Behind Vipassana Meditation

This technique of meditation is entirely based on science. This is the science of our subconscious mind. Very few people know about the subconscious mind.

Many impurities are hidden in the depths of our subconscious mind like anger, greed, jealousy, malice, hatred etc. These impurities are called Sankharas in Vipassana. Every moment these Sankharas come on our body in the form of sensations. Our mind reacts to these sensations and makes us feel anger, greed, jealousy etc.

It is a habit of the mind that it sees sensations in two ways. Good sensations  and bad sensations. Our mind reacts to both these sensations moment by moment. Whenever the mind likes a sensation, it craves it again and again. On the contrary, when the mind does not like any sensation, the mind becomes very distraught.

This technique reverses this nature of the mind. It works in two ways:

  1. It makes the mind so sharp that it can feel the sensations arising on the body.
  2. Whenever a Sankhara arises on the body in the form of sensation, it destroys the Sankhara by keeping the mind in Equanimity.

It has two benefits:

  1. Our mind stays in Equanimity. It stays equanimous in favorable and unfavorable conditions. The mind does not get distraught or overjoyed.
  2. It destroys the impurities hidden in our subconscious mind one by one. We get happiness, peace, and joy.

There are countless benefits of Vipassana.

Sensations airse on the body while doing Vipassana meditation
We Feel Sensarions While Doing Vipassana Meditation

Power of Vipassana Meditation

In Vipassana Meditation, we practice keeping the mind in equanimity while feeling the sensations arising all over the body. Within 10 minutes of practicing with an equanimous mind, we feel refreshed. A calm and equitable mind also empowers the body. We have knowledge of the unwavering relationship between body and mind through Vipassana.

A calm mind has amazing powers. A calm mind is always:

  • Sacred
  • Full of love
  • Full of Compassion
  • Fearless
  • Full of mercy
  • Selfless

In this state, the effect of the words spoken by us is also very strong because these words originate with the vibration of the sacred mind.

Vipassana makes us:

  • A good human being
  • Mentally healthy
  • Physically healthy
  • Full of joy
  • Generous

How Does Vipassana Work?

If we have a good practice of observing the breath and sensation, then for any reason, when the impurity arises in the mind, the first thing happens  to be changed the breath and any kind of biochemical reaction that occurs in the body alerts us that an impurity is arising in the mind’s stream. If we start to look at the breath and the subtle sensation, then naturally the eradication of the impurity that arises at that time will begin to be eradicated.

Being like this is not an escape from reality, because the disturbance that created the impurity till the inner is looking at the truth.

This art of seeing oneself through continuous practice becomes as much a part of our nature, and gradually comes a situation that the impurities do not arise,if they arise, then cannot go on for a very long time.

How To Learn Vipassana Meditation?

  • To learn Vipassana, we have to do a residential course of 10 days. This course is organized under the supervision of the teachers at various meditation centers.
  • First of all, we have to fill a form on its official website. In the form, we fill the name of our desired center or nearest center.
  • This course has some rules and time table. Students have to follow those rules strictly.
  • Students have no contact with the outside world during the entire course.
  • For the first three-and-a-half days of the course, the students are given the practice of Anapana. In this, students have to concentrate on their incoming and outgoing breath. Anapana sharpens our mind, which is very useful in Vipassana Meditation.
  • After this, students are taught Vipassana. For the subsequent six and a half days, the students do Vipassana Meditation. Through this technique, students learn a lot about the depths of their subconscious mind.
  • The course ends on the eleventh day.

Frequently Asked Questions Related To Vipassana Meditation

Q: Does one have to adopt Buddhism to learn Vipassana?

A: Vipassana is not related to any religion or caste. People of any religion and caste can learn it. Vipassana is the science of our subconscious mind. It has nothing to do with religion.

Q: How long should one practice Vipassana?

A: Vipassana is the nutritious diet of our mind. This is a lifetime practice. Just as the body needs proper and nutritious food to function properly, similarly, the right diet is needed to keep our mind healthy. Vipassana meditation works the same diet. The practice of Vipassana Meditation for 1 hour in the morning and evening is sufficient.

Q: Is it mandatory to take a 10 day course to learn Vipassana Meditation?

A: Yes, it is mandatory. Vipassana is impossible to learn without taking a course. This is a rare meditation. It requires rigorous practice to learn. It can be learned only by following strict rules and routines.

At the Vipassana meditation center, there is an appropriate environment to learn it. Students learn this technique while staying in strict rules and discipline. It is impossible to find this kind of atmosphere at home or anywhere.

Q: Why do we observe only bodily sensations and not mental sensations?

A: What do we experience are not only bodily sensations but are also mental sensations. A dead body cannot feel sensations. Mind and body are always together, only then sensations are experienced.

Q: How do we know that we are getting rid of the impurities of the mind?

A: You have to assess it yourself. After a few days of regular practice, you will feel that you are becoming calmer than before.

You will be able to see for yourself that the things you used to get angry about before, now your mind does not react at all to those things. By regular practice of Vipassana Meditation, you will realize by yourself that your greed, fear, jealousy, etc. are decreasing.

Q: How does Vipassana liberate us?

A: Vipassana makes us see the truth. It keeps our inner truth in front of us.

Liberation means “To Witness The Ultimate Truth“. To see the ultimate truth, great effort and effort have to be done with understanding. Whatever truth is being revealed to us during practice has to be sensibly accepted as it is.

The meditator, while researching the truth, moves from gross states to subtle states. He/she goes on observing and eliminating the disorders inside him/her. Gradually, his/her impurities go away.

By regular practice of Vipassana, we feel the molecules of body and mind in pieces in our sensations. There also comes a moment when the pieces stop falling. And when it breaks, we get to see the Ultimate Truth.

It cannot be described in words. After this, I, mine, you, and yours are lost forever from within us. This whole universe belongs to us and we belong to the whole universe.

Q: What is the use of Vipassana in daily life?

A: Vipassana is used only in daily life. What is the technology that is not used in daily life? Vipassana meditation is a rare but simple technique.

We go through many mental impurities every day. We spend our lives through various impurities like anger, greed, rate, etc. throughout the day.

It is very painful. Whenever an impurity arises, it makes us very distraught. In that distraction, we harm ourselves and others by taking wrong decisions.

Vipassana eliminates the impurities of our mind and frees us from distraction. We make the right decisions without getting distraught and do well for ourselves and society.

Q: What difficulties do we face in learning Vipassana?

A: Whatever difficulties are encountered while learning Vipassana, they are all created by the mind.

The nature of our mind is to react to everything and always keep wandering. In Vipassana, we practice changing this nature of the mind and the mind does not like this thing. Our mind does not like change. Therefore, the mind constantly creates new difficulties during this course. During practice, the mind wanders repeatedly and does not involve in the meditation.

But to learn this precious technique, we have to move forward facing the difficulties created by our mind with patience and perseverance. From the seventh or eighth day of the course, the mind slowly starts coming under our control.

Vipassana is a rare meditation technique, and we should not panic over the difficulties created by the mind while learning it.

Q: What will happen if we violate any rules during the course?

A: To learn Vipassana Meditation, we have to follow the rules and timetable of the center. There is no exemption of any kind in this.

Dhamma Sevaks are at the center to ensure that every student follows these rules correctly. If any rule is violated by mistake, then the Dhamma Sevaks request us to follow the rules.

But if someone repeatedly willfully violates the rules, then his/her complaint goes to the teacher and the further decision depends on the teacher.

But mostly this does not happen. The students who come to learn Vipassana are told the rules and routines of the center before the start of the course. If someone wants to go back before the course starts, he/she can go.

Q: Does Vipassana also treat physical diseases?

A: Yes, but as a byproduct. Through the practice of Vipassana, the seeker begins to understand the relationship between mind and body. Both mind and body are connected. If one has a bad effect, then the other itself is badly affected. And if one has a good effect, then the other is automatically affected well.

Q: Can children learn Vipassana Meditation?

A: Yes. Almost every center has a children’s course. This course is for children from 8 to 17 years.

 

Conclusion

Vipassana is one of the major spiritual paths. Everyone wants to live a life of happiness, peace, and bliss. Vipassana is such a precious gem that roots out the impurities of our subconscious mind (anger, greed, jealousy, malice, etc.) and brings happiness, peace, and joy in life.

It is completely based on science. It works on the psychology of our subconscious mind. It teaches to recognize the hidden Sankharas in the subconscious mind as physical sensations. And by keeping the mind even in equanimity, it finishes them one by one. Vipassana teaches us the art of living life properly by freeing the mind from impurities.

Vipassana requires hard work and perseverance to learn. Even in adverse mental conditions, the mind has to be firmly engaged in learning this precious meditation. We have to learn this, strictly following the rules of the center during the course of 10 days. Different courses of Vipassana are conducted at Vipassana Centers.

If you are also interested in spirituality and want to follow a spiritual path that practically changes your life, then Vipassana is one of the best choices.

Famous Vipassana Centers In India:

  1. Igatpuri Vipassana Center (Dhamma Giri)
  2. Jaipur Vipassana Center (Dhamma Thali)
  3. Delhi Vipassana Center (Dhamma Sota)
  4. Mumbai Vipassana Center (Dhamma Pattana)
  5. Bangalore Vipassana Center (Dhamma Paphulla)
  6. Kolhapur Vipassana Center (Dhammalaya)
  7. Pune Vipassana Center (Dhamma Punna)

Thanks for reading this article. Be happy.

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