DhammaDoug wrote:Very excellent resources, thank you! I watched (rather, I am watching) the video from the second link and it is very clear. I am confident I am doing a fairly accurate job in my meditations. I have a loose intellectual understanding of what/why I'm doing this, but if somebody really pressed me on what will come of regular practice I'm not sure I deeply understand. How is it that making these observations I will 'advance'? I don't mean to trivialize, I am convinced it's the right thing to do and very much enjoy it--but I'm trying to understand more deeply if possible. Do you know of a resource that can really explain what is gained through regular practice, and perhaps regular stages of advancement?
In Buddhist thought, all existent things bear the three marks, which are impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and lack of essential self. We suffer because we cling to these impermanent, unsatisfactory, selfless things as though they were permanent, satisfying, and imbued with self. Our possessions, our ideas, our bodies, our very selves, we think "this is permanent and satisfactory and me" and because of this delusion, we suffer terribly when the truth asserts itself. Any time we cling to something or run from something, we suffer. If we cling to a new car we just bought, we suffer horribly when it inevitably breaks down. If we say "I need my health to be happy," then we suffer terribly when our health inevitably fails. In the same way, when we react with aversion to pain, we suffer terribly when it inevitably arrives. If we say, "I cannot be happy with a loss in my life," then we suffer terribly when that loss inevitably arises.
The root of all of this is delusion; we interact with the world on a conceptual level, seeing things are permanent and satisfying and imbued with self and we cling because we are not looking at their true nature. Vipassana is a tool to do that. It helps us to see clearly the impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and lack of essential self that manifests in literally every single thing we encounter, from the mountains and streams to our possessions to our very bodies and thoughts. As we mindfully observe our body, our sensations, our mind, and our mental objects, we can begin to realize that, because these things are not permanent or satisfying or "us," there is no need to cling. We can begin to purify our minds in this way. Soon, as our mindfulness develops, we can begin to not generate sankharas (the volitional mental actions of clinging or aversion that we generate through ignorance) when we interact with the world around us. This leads to detachment, peace, happiness, and eventually, the destruction of all greed, hatred, and aversion, which is nibbana.
So basically, the short-term goal of meditation is that it allows us to be more peaceful and to better understand the nature of the world around us. The long term goal is the elimination of our craving and aversion through the destruction of ignorance.
This is at least how I understand it. Feel free to correct me if there are any mistakes in there, I hope I'm not misleading anyone.
Remember, however, that it is far more important to sit in meditation than it is to examine these things intellectually past even the most basic point. Buddhism isn't about intellectual games; it's about direct experience.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.
Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.
His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti SuttaStuff I write about things.