Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Vipassana first or Serenity meditation?

Ven. Ashin Ottamasara (12/31/15), Khema Cari, Aloka, Dhr. Seven (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
A Tibetan monk put this question to Sayadaw Ashin Ottamasara of the Thabarwa Center, Rangoon, Burma.

Q: "Some centers practice vipassana [insight-meditation] directly while others practice samatha [mind-purifying serenity meditation that temporarily suppresses the defilements with samadhi] first to have a strong base of concentration. What's the difference [in these two approaches]?"

There is no self, only the illusion of one.
A: "Most meditators are just temporary meditators. They have limited time, so it is suitable for them to practice vipassana meditation. Like this they can get more good deeds [accomplished] by practicing vipassana.

"But the weakness is that it is difficult to understand vipassana. A lot of people practice it, but it is difficult to practice it in the right way, in the Middle Way. This is the weakness of vipassana meditation.

I hate all this concentrating!
"Samatha [serenity] is practiced by most meditators, but the weakness is that in samatha meditation we [unquestioningly] assume the idea of there being ‘something’ or ‘someone.’

"We assume the idea of ‘I,’ ‘you,’ ‘mine,’ ‘yours.’ This is why, although someone practices samatha meditation for a long time, there is still attachment in the mind [clinging in the heart].

"By [assuming] the idea of there [actually] being something or someone, one cannot detach [and see the situation as it truly is].

"In vipassana we don’t assume the idea of something or someone. We use [the conventional speech of] something or someone but do so free of grasping and without clinging [to illusory entities]."

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