Vipassana Meditation and Becoming Happy Part One
The Quantum Self and Insight Meditation: Where do we really begin and end?
Increasing Happiness - We all want it
Welcome to Vipassana Meditation (or Insight Meditation, as it is sometimes called) and Becoming Happy. This Hub weas originally the first half of Chapter 15 of my book, The Way - to Increasing Happiness. The Chapter was dropped and the book retitled, Who Stole Your Happiness? So we are concerned here with happiness - something we all want.
“To maximise access to the quantum self, to maximize creativity and free will, we must be committed to radical transformation of the psyche. It is a fantasy to expect otherwise. The mistake made by most prophets has been their lack of emphasis on the transformational motivation as fundamental.”
Amit Goswami, Ph.D. Author of The Self-Aware Universe
Can meditation really help?
Vipassana Meditation - ever heard of it? No? You ask what has meditation got to do with increasing our happiness? Can it really help? It can. Why? Because most people’s unhappiness is caused through their having very little control over their thinking processes. Their minds run riot. Ask someone to “Not think about a pink elephant,” and that’ll be the first thing that’ll pop into their heads. Meditation – that is serious meditation (not the “relax and visualize a pleasant scene”-type: a voice recorded to a background of Nature music) trains you to focus your thoughts. You focus on what you want, not what your ego-mind wants. You become the director. Vipassana Meditation disciplines, then directs, our ‘rogue elephant’ egoic-thinking, bringing it under increasingly greater control, until that wild-beast mind becomes a tamed, and domesticated animal willing do our bidding. Visualization and mantra-type techniques, as far as I know, will not do this.
Most meditation techniques relieve symptoms of stress: only a few actually eliminate the cause
Please do not think I’m disparaging Visualization or Mantras as techniques. Not at all. Visualization is a tremendously effective action tool in getting us what we want. And the Mantras of TM can certainly be powerful. However, they will not clear out the conditioning which we react to whenever someone “pushes our buttons” and upsets us. The hang-ups, traumas, insecurities, inferiority complexes surrounding all manner of things we have stored away within our personal subconscious, will continue to have their influences on us, pulling us this way and that, until we can rid ourselves of them. So the technique I’ll be talking about here is one that is specifically designed to rid us of our negative conditioning.
We live in a very beautiful world. The Quantum Philosophy says we're not just interelated but actually all part of this maginicent One
This is believed to be Siddartha Gautama, The Buddha's technique with which he reached Enlightenment
Vipassana was the technique purportedly used by Siddhartha Gautama, the famed Buddha of 2,500 years ago. Whether this is so or not is by the way. It seems a myriad teachers claim that their particular technique is the authentic one used by ‘The Enlightened One.’ Be that as it may, Vipassana Meditation, also known as “Insight Meditation,” (that’s its translation from the ancient Pali language, apparently) works. No, it does not provide an immediate miracle cure of all your mental ailments. Rather, it works subtly, gradually, providing perpetual improvement as you progress. I’ve been at it for over twenty-two years now. And yes, I still have traumas and hang-ups. I’m certainly not ‘purified.’ But I am far from being the short-tempered, egocentric person I was when I started just prior to my fiftieth birthday. So, even though there is no ‘quick fix,’ and yes, you will probably have to keep the technique up for life (or find another even better one) You will find that a twice-daily practice of Vipassana will engender increasing contentment, awareness of the only moment we ever have – Now- and make for becoming happy.
The revelation of the Quantum Self demands serious meditation; a sort of "Surgery of the Mind."
At the outset I must point out that if you do desire to give Vipassana a go, to see where it leads you, you must undertake its introduction at a bona fide Vipassana meditation centre. That’s essential. Vipassana is not something you can simply read about, go to a quiet room in your house, and then set to, expecting to be able to make progress. Certainly you can do this later on, when you’re well established in the technique. But in the initial stages you really do need to book yourself into a proper meditation centre, one where you can be taught the technique under supervision. For, as it has been said, when you start in on Vipassana, it is like going into a hospital for surgery. No, not surgery of the physical body, but surgery of the mind. The technique slices right into the very fabric of our mind-body, cutting it to the quick. Going into a Vipassana retreat is no picnic. It is discipline, discipline, DISCIPLINE.
Going to into a 'fair dinkum' meditation centre bears no resemblance to going into a holiday resort. It could be one of the hardest experiences of your life!
What sort of discipline? Self-discipline Up at 4-00a.m. Into the meditation hall (or solitary cell, if you’re an experienced student) for two hours of meditation before breakfast. A sixty- minute break, and by 8-00 am, you’re back in for another lot. Three hours of it. Oh, yes, you do get a five minute break every hour. Lunch is from 11-00am until 1-00pm. the longest free time you have. Oh, and you only get two meals a day – vegetarian food. You’re not allowed to eat after midday.
Then begins the long afternoon. Meditation from 1-00pm. until 5-00p.m. An hour’s break and your back into it: 6-00 pm until 7-00 p.m. Then a video in the evening until… You guessed it, a little more meditation before you go to bed. Eleven- twelve hours meditation every day for nine days straight. No talking. No making a noise. One moves quietly, not to disturb others. Noble silence reigns. No to even looking another person in the eye. This is serious stuff. All that imposed silence. With nothing to do but to meditate, eat and sleep…Maybe you can begin to realize why its referred to by one of its teachers. Mr. S. N. Goenka, as “a surgical operation of the mind.” And along with this there is a lot of physical pain.
A touch of colour in sunny Queensland
Our ego-mind tends to go into panic mode when real self-imposed mind-discipline is applied
The ego-mind goes into panic mode. It isn’t used to this. Yes, and people do slip quietly over the fence or wall in the dead of night. Most stay, though. And for those who do give into that ego-mind…Well, it only gets stronger, more irascible, and they continue to suffer the more for it, I expect.
So you can see why there’s no point in trying to learn this meditation technique by simply undertaking a few practice sessions at home. It wont work. What happens at the sort of meditation centre run by the Goenka School? -Oh, and all of this is free, by the way. You don’t have to fork out money. Be wary of those meditation centres that charge a fee. You are invited to donate for a future student or students on completion of the course, if you wish. But this is completely voluntary. You are not allowed to pay anything up front.
So what happens?
Insight Meditation - Initial requirement: quieten the mind
What happens is that one spends the first forty hours, that is, roughly three-and-a-half days, quieting the mind, bringing under sufficient control, before you are actually introduced to the Vipassana technique. This is done by focusing on one’s breathing; focusing on the natural sensation of the incoming and outgoing breath. The focus is on that small area below the nostrils and above the upper lip. For forty hours you focus on just that small area. It isn’t easy.
With this technique there is no use of imagination or mantra
You are discouraged from any visualization, and mantras. You are to stick by the reality, the reality of what is. No imagination. No self-analysis. No speculation. And I can assure you your ego-mind won’t like it. This is a discipline it has never been subject to. The wild elephant is in the stockade. It can’t break out. It trumpets and squeals. It tramples and stomps. The wild elephant ego will rebel. Does rebel. But you’re the boss, not your mind. And when that wild elephant has quieted enough for you, the real you, the mahout master, to climb up onto him, then you are ready to be introduced to…Vipassana.
The Quantum Self: Where are we when we're totally absorbed in the sublime?
Where are you- me?
Some years ago I wrote a whole volume on Vipassana. The name of that book is “Where are you- me?” The title does give something away. For when we examine ourselves through the systematic practice of Vipassana, we begin to realize that we have no solidity then… eventually…nothing but an awareness of something we can’t easily describe: our perpetual coming into being; arising and passing away at great rapidity. We realize that we have no centre. Yes, despite what the medicos and the neuro-surgeons and the brains specialists say, there is no point within us which we can point to and say, “Yes, here is where I live right in the centre of my…whatever.” There simply is no centre.
Very briefly on the technique. We have trained our mind via forty hours of intense meditation over a period of just three-and-a-half days. Our attention is now very sharp. That narrow focus on one area of our body, an area not much larger than a fifty-cent coin, has acted much like a magnifying glass focusing the sun’s rays. Only this time it isn’t the sun’s rays, but our own attention which is focused. It is razor sharp. And like a scalpel it can cut right into and through the surface of things.
"Stay with the Reality...the Actuality..."
But as I said earlier, visualization, imagination are discouraged. We are to stay with the truth of things as they are. They are as they are, not as we would like them to be. After dwelling some time on that area below our nostrils and above our upper lip, our attention is directed to an area of roughly the same size- but on the crown of our heads. We are there to search for any natural, real life, sensation. It could be an itch. It could be a slight pulsation. It could be a feeling of heat- or of cold. It could be a feeling of lightness, or pressure. Anything- so long as it is natural, not imagined. Not made up. This is reality meditation.
“Stick with the reality. Always stick with the reality.” We are implored over a loudspeaker system every so often.
The Quantum Philosphy says, we are part of it all
Our earlier sense of reality gives way to the unexpected
Strange thing is that our reality gives way to the unexpected. After systematically moving our attention from the top of our heads, carefully traversing every part of our anatomy at the surface, that is, the skin’s surface level, we find that after a day or so something very strange has begun to happen. We are now feeling sensations within, that is, beneath our skin layers. We are penetrating within. We are into fat and muscle tissue.
After even more days you begin to realize that with a focus of attention as sharp as this you are now able to examine the your skeleton, your bone structures. It’s almost like X-ray vision, except that you don’t so much see as feel the outlines of your bones.
With Insight Meditation it become plain that with pain, what you resist persists
Throughout all of this you are subjected to a great deal of physical pain- agony at times. Sitting cross-legged or kneeling hour after hour, the pain can at times become unbearable. As I said, Vipassana is not a picnic. But then you begin to realize another thing. Pain arises, and if you don’t resist it, it passes quickly away. If you do resist, it stays. The old saying, “What you resist persists” becomes a truism.
Another day or two and you’re not only able to penetrate any part of your body, you’re able to go right through it with you laser-like, pencil-thin (or almost pencil thin) attention. It almost as if a shaft is driven through. Gradually even the bones give way to nothingness. They disappear and you are now into something which is of subtler dimension. Maybe you are into the etheric body. Maybe into the Astral. Who knows what it is. You only know you are experiencing it and it is not your imagination. By now you’re able to experience the rising and passing away of the atoms – one assumes they are one’s atoms or subatomic particles – arising into consciousness and passing away. They arise like bubbles in a glass of champagne, coming out of seemingly nowhere, to almost immediately pass away. You are experiencing this. But you know you, the essential you, is not those bubbles.
The Quantum Self has no centre, no periphery
By now you are able to remain perfectly still. You breathing, on those rare occasions when you become aware of it, has slowed down and is so slight that you might only take the shallowest of breaths every minute or so. You are alert, attentive, upright yet relaxed, and obviously burning so little energy that your metabolism has slowed right down. All tension has gone now. You don’t even sense your body any more.
What do you learn from all this? You begin to know that you are not your body. You are not your thoughts (for they have stopped) You are nothing that you are observing. You are the Observer. You have location and yet are non-local at the same time. You are immortal. You are- and everything else is illusion. You’ve heard this before. But now you realize it. And in the realization comes something…you could call it peace, or happiness, or bliss. It does not matter what you call it. The joy of being mounts in you.
Take a look around. It's all so beautiful
I can now feel sensations in and around my body at will
As mentioned, I wrote a whole book based on my experiences at Dhamma Bhumi, the Vipassana Centre in the New South Blue Mountains. I’ve undertaken fourteen, ten-day Vipassana courses there, and several shorter ones. Moreover, I’m now into my twenty-third year of practice; twice daily, roughly an hour each time; have more than 20,000 hours behind me. Yes, and I still practice.
As the years have gone by layer upon countless layer of emotion-tainted conditioning has been shucked off. I can now feel the sensations in and around my body at will. I only have to stop thinking, pay attention, and they are there. Moreover, they appear to be not only of my physical body but in my immediate surroundings, as if my aura is wobbling, moving, a continuous companion to the denser parts of my physicality. How can one not believe in an auric field when one can feel it?
May you have a happier, healtier and more joyous life
Yes, it has changed me. Yes, I’m happier and have a more enjoyable and meaningful life today than I’ve ever had. And I can only hope that what I’ve said here will help you to a happier, healthier, and more joyous life. And yes, we will continue with the second part of this in another Hub.
I hope you enjoyed reading and have gained something useful from Vipassana Meditation and Becoming Happy.
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