Now, we have completed the section about Jhana or attaining Samadhi. The meditation method that cultivate stillness of mind (Aka. Samadhi) is known as Samatha Meditaion. There are various way to still the mind and different methods appeal to different people. Some methods are more effective for certain people. This is because our minds have different inclinations. Some people can still their mind better by watching their breathe. Some can still their mind by relying on devotions towards a particular Buddha. Some are better with a mantra. Some just listen to the sea waves and can experience stillness, and some just concentrate on a color disc. There are many methods.
As mentioned previously, the stilling of mind is not unique to Buddhism. More importantly, it is not enlightenment yet.
Once, we are successful in achieving stillness of mind (aka Jhana), the next step is to develop wisdom. Perceiving the Truth.
“With his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, he directs and inclines it to knowledge and vision.
There is an intention and effort to direct our mind towards insight meditation. It doesn’t just happen by itself. This is why before the Buddha, various meditation masters did not attained enlightenment. They were stuck with Jhana and did not progress further. Whereas, Buddha was not satisfied with Jhana. He knew that it is not Enlightenment yet.
The meditation that develop wisdom / insight is known as Vipassana Meditation.
So how do we do Vipassana Meditation?
He discerns: ‘This body of mine is endowed with form, composed of the four primary elements,
Earth – Solid state matters, Water – liquid state matters, Fire – Temperature, Air – Gaseous matter.
The idea is to observe our body objectively and perceive it without any delusions.
born from mother and father, nourished with rice and porridge,
Our body is created from the father and mother elements (ok, that means sperm and egg cell) and then grew from an embryo to what we are today. Again, an objective reflection of our state of being.
subject to inconstancy, rubbing, pressing, dissolution, and dispersion.
A reflection of how our body is growing , shrinking and aging; ultimately dying. Again, an objective examination of our state of being.
And this consciousness of mine is supported here and bound up here.’
Then we examine our consciousness. Our state of being and how it is being bound by our experience of our human body. Our life and our body. Our identity and our sense of being.
The objective of all the above is to realize non-I. To break through the illusion of an “I”.
This is also why, our human existence is very important for gaining this breakthrough. For enlightenment, it is easier if we have a physical body; and unlike animals, a human body is conducive for stillness of mind and development of insights. This allow us an opportunity to break through delusions of existence. (Reminder: we are not aiming for non-existence or nothingness)
It is also important to remember that the above meditation or reflection or examination is to be done with a mind that is strengthened with 4th Jhana. (Metaphorically: Like having a black belt to smash through the walls?)
Just as if there were a beautiful beryl gem of the purest water — eight faceted, well polished, clear, limpid, consummate in all its aspects, and going through the middle of it was a blue, yellow, red, white, or brown thread — and a man with good eyesight, taking it in his hand, were to reflect on it thus: ‘This is a beautiful beryl gem of the purest water, eight faceted, well polished, clear, limpid, consummate in all its aspects. And this, going through the middle of it, is a blue, yellow, red, white, or brown thread.’ In the same way — with his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability — the monk directs and inclines it to knowledge and vision. He discerns: ‘This body of mine is endowed with form, composed of the four primary elements, born from mother and father, nourished with rice and porridge, subject to inconstancy, rubbing, pressing, dissolution, and dispersion. And this consciousness of mine is supported here and bound up here.’
When we cultivate our mind to the level of 4th Jhana, the examination of our human state of being is like how Buddha describe it to the layman Kevatta. It is just like examination of a clear crystal with perfect eyesight. In another word, we “see” it as it is. Very objectively. We also see how our sense of being (unenlightened identity) is an illusion.
From this sutta, we might conclude that one must gain Samadhi before practicing Vipassana Meditation. Some Buddhist subscribe to this approach. One practice at a time.
Personally, I am more jumbled. Especially since, I kinda learn from different traditions and schools.
When we have Jhana, our mind is very strong. When we examine our body, it is like looking at it as if it is a crystal? Imagine that! In another word, we are like having an “x-ray” mental vision and able to perceive the body inside out. Not kidding. That is the power of our mind. When we develop mastery of Jhana; we obtain mastery of the mind. That is why meditator can “send their mind” out to investigate faraway places and know what is happening there, read another person’s thoughts, and etc. This sutta actually talks about this later but let us not get distracted. We are aiming for Enlightenment yah?
So back to Vipassana meditation. As mentioned, our Vipassana meditation becomes “more powerful” after we develop Jhana.
However, some teachers explained that Vipassana meditation can be practiced before gaining jhana.
I think Vipassana meditation can lead to us “letting go”. And when that happens, the mind will also be conducive to stilling. In that sense, it becomes a self-enhancing method because it leads the mind to become sharper and stiller, thus enabling clearer insights.
It really depends on the karma of the practitioners.
In the Vipassana method that is taught by Phra Rajsuddhinanamongkol, we can practice Vipassana in our daily life. This is done by being mindful and aware of our body and mind. Furthermore, when we are seeing with our eyes, we should direct our mindfulness to the area that is between our eyebrows. Then be aware of our sensory perception of seeing and develop insights accordingly. For Samatha Meditation practitioners, this area may also be activated during our meditation and can persist outside the meditation. (We feel a slight pressure on that spot) In Buddhist practices, we mustn’t crave for additional sights when that happen. We shouldn’t tell ourselves to develop extrasensory capability; such as the ability to see intra-dimension (ghost and angels), x-ray visions etc. This is because, one may mistakenly develop hallucination instead.
For our Buddhist purpose, bringing awareness to the 3rd eye region, is to develop wisdom. We strive to realize how our “seeing” is causing ignorance (aka a delusional “I”) and according to Phra Rajsuddhinanamongkol , it also enhances our insight. Thus, we begin to see things as it is. In addition to that, one may also enhance one’s sixth sense of premonitions etc. (again not to crave for such powess)
When we think or feel, we direct our mind to the solar plexus area. Once again, it is for an objective examination of how thoughts and feelings are being generated and how they cause our delusion of an illusional “I”.
Hope you like this simple introduction to Vipassana meditation. The link in Phra Rajsuddhinanamongkol will take you to his e-book
May all be well and happy.