In the world today, vices such as anger, envy, violence and misery seem to overshadow the virtues of patience, empathy and compassion. This makes it almost impossible to imagine the world as a peaceful, happy place. The greater the threat, the greater the insecurity. So what can an average Joe do to remedy this? Individuals and groups around the world are trying to make way for peace. And how! Out of the myriad philosophies at war with this unrest, a clear answer has emerged. The way to peace is to be at peace with yourself. Buddha said: “Peace comes from within. Do not see it without”. In my pursuit to find answers to these compelling questions, I stumbled upon Vipassana. Also called insightful meditation, it is gaining popularity among peace-seekers around the world. Vipassana teacher Jaya Sangoi, in an interview with Soulveda, explains the importance of peace and its connection with body, mind and matter.
Excerpts from the interview:
What is Vipassana?
Vipassana in the Pali language means special insight. Passana means ‘to see’ and Vi means ‘to see in a special way’. It is a clear awareness of what is happening ‘now’ in the moment. This experiential technique brings your mind to rest and does not allow it to wander. Two important aspects of this technique are breath and concentration.
Vipassana was rediscovered by Gautam Buddha 2,500 years ago. As he sat under a tree near Bodh Gaya to contemplate, his mind quietened and he started to feel his breath. As he observed, his mind became calmer, subtler and sharper. He started experiencing the subtler realities of mind and matter. He understood that mind and body share an intimate connection. If anything goes wrong in the mind, it gets reflected on the body and vice versa. He also found that when any of our sense organs comes in contact with an object, there is a sensation on the body and our mind reacts to the sensation. If this reactive nature in human beings is eliminated, one can take the path to enlightenment.
There are specific programmes designed under Vipassana. Can you talk about it a little?
Vipassana has 10 day programmes where participants work under the guidance of qualified teachers by observing silence. The course is divided into three stages–Sila, Anapana and Vipassana. Under Sila, a person abstains from harmful actions, promising to abide by five precepts–no killing, no sexual misconduct, no use of intoxicants and no lying and no stealing. Anapana is the foundation of Vipassana. Here, the focus is on natural breathing. Through three days of Anapana, one develops concentration to achieve mastery over the mind–Samadhi. On the fourth day, we enter into Vipassana, taking our attention all over the body in a focussed manner. No part is left unobserved. During this process, we realise that every pore of our body changes from moment to moment. As we experience this truth more and more, we understand nature, our nature, how we live, where we are wrong and how we can correct ourselves.