Questions and Answers
Excerpts from “Introduction to Vipassana Meditation”
by Venerable U Silananda
Q: Where does the practice of Vipassana come from?
A: Vipassana meditation chiefly comes from the tradition of Theravada Buddhism. There are two major divisions of Buddhism in the world today – Mahayana and Theravada. Mahayana tradition developed as Buddhism spread to the Northern Asian countries of Tibet, China, Japan, etc. Theravada tradition stay in Southern Asia and spread to Sri Lanka, Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.
Q: What does Vipassana mean?
A: The word vipassana is composed of two parts — vi which means “in various ways” and passana which means “seeing”. So, Vipassana means seeing in various ways.
Q: What can Vipassana meditation do for me?
A: The ultimate purpose of Vipassana is to eradicate mental impurities from your mind altogether. Before that stage, there are the benefits of tranquililty, peace of mind and the ability to accept things as they come. Vipassana helps you to see things as they truly are, not as they appear to be. Things appear to be permanent, desirable and substantial, but actually they are not. When you practice Vipassana meditation, you will see for yourselt the arising and disappearing of mental and physical phenomena. And you will have clearer comprehension of what is going on in your mind and body. You will be able to accept things as they come to you with less agitation and deal with situations in a more positive way.
Q: Can Vipassana be applied to daily life?
A: You can have awareness of whatever you do whether you are working, walking, doing, etc. It will not be as intense as in a meditation or during a retreat, but a more general awareness. And when you apply mindfulness to problems in your life, you will be able to deal with them more effectively.
Q: Why should I go to a meditation retreat?
A: The intensive practice of a retreat is very beneficial for developing good concentration and quieting the mind. Since concentration is essential for penetrative wisdom to arise, a meditation retreat gives you the best possible opportunity to be able to experience for yourself the true nature of reality.
May all beings be well, happy and peaceful!