Vipassana is the second most important thing to know in the world. Vipassana is the art of focusing on the process of living properly. Vipassana, as a concept and practice, dates back to the earliest concepts and practices of Buddhism. The goal is to gain power over all things by gaining power over the mind. By controlling the thoughts that enter our minds, we can have more control over how those thoughts manifest in our behavior and our attitude. By being conscious of our thoughts, we can be aware of which thoughts are being pushed on us by outside forces – such as wants for status and wealth, versus those that we naturally come up with.
Vipassana is most often practiced by individuals that attend 10-day meditation retreats. During the 10-day retreat, the practitioner meditates for hours each day, does not indulge in any vice, conversation, or distraction of any kind, eats minimally and only for sustenance, and is to pay attention to each behavior that the individual engages in – whether that behavior is normally conscious or unconscious.
By bringing attention to not just the conscious behaviors but also the unconscious, we learn to focus on what we are doing at all times. By focusing on what we are doing at all times, we train our minds not to wander. When our minds don’t wander, they stay present on the activity we are doing. When we are fully engaged and focused on the activity we are doing, we receive the pleasure of not worrying about the past or future. Vipassana can be considered practical because we are more likely to excel at the task at hand if we are giving it our full attention. It can also be considered practical if we eliminate activities that do not benefit us through realization of what really matters.
Vipassana is so important because it is one of the few activities required for being happy. Worry, desire, and fear are three things that prevent us from being happy. These all necessarily require us to be thinking about the future. Worries and fears will only manifest in the future. Desires are things we want to obtain in the future. By living in the moment, we necessarily eliminate worry, desire, and fear. Regrets from the past cannot be undone. Vipassana eliminates regret.
When we eliminate worry, desire, and fear, we are happy. This requires rejection of external stimuli, a mind that is kept from distraction, and focusing on the present moment and any activity that is being done right now. When our mind wanders, we begin to think about future obligations. Those obligations are always means to satisfy our desires and eliminate worry. But fulfilling those obligations only makes us better at fulfilling obligations. It doesn’t make us better at ceasing to worry. Ceasing to worry happens by living intentionally in the moment, not in fulfilling obligations.
The only thing in life more important than Vipassana is the Buddhist concept of Samatha. Samatha is the calming of the mind. This is practiced by meditating, and can be practiced anytime. The concept of Samatha is to clear the mind of all thoughts, or at least get to a point where we don’t have uncontrolled thoughts.
It is only when the mind is calm that we can engage in Vipassana. We cannot concentrate on the present activity if we have an active mind that is full of constant thought. By practicing Samatha, we can calm the mind by training it to have fewer thoughts. This isn’t suppressing thoughts, it is an exercise we can do to have fewer thoughts that act as distractions from our lives. Instead of having numerous thoughts, we can control our thoughts by practicing Samatha.
In summary, Vipassana is important because it is necessarily required to live in the moment. Living in the moment is important because:
- Focusing on each moment is important for peace of mind and understanding the right thing to do.
- Happiness is found in the moment, where there are no worries, fears, wants, or regrets.
Vipassana is less important than Samatha, which is the most important thing to know in the world. Samatha is the calming of the mind. Only with a calm mind can one focus on each moment and, doing so, practice Vipassana. Because it is prerequisite for Vipassana, Samatha is more important.