Is "Vipassana Meditation" A Correct Term?

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Is "Vipassana Meditation" A Correct Term?

Postby Jhana4 » Wed Feb 09, 2011 12:55 pm

First things first, it is my belief that once a term takes off, there is no getting it back. If you try, you just end up looking like a frustrated jerk. Terms, right or wrong have a life of their own. I think this is the case with the term "Vipassana Meditation" in the West.

Most Westerners are familiar with the term from going on retreats where they follow videos of S.N. Goenka. To them "Vipassana" refers to the technique Goenka calls "sweeping" ( what is the proper name? ).

Western meditation book authors and teachers also use the term "Vipassana Meditation", though they are slightly more on target as they use it to refer to Theravada Buddhist meditation techniques in general.

I know that "vipassana" is an ancient Pali word for "insight into the true nature of something" and that "meditation" in an English word that doesn't mean the same thing as "bhavana" which means "to draw out, to develop".

Do Theravada monks refer to Theravada Buddhist meditation techniques as "vipassana bhavana"? If not, what do they call it?
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Re: Is "Vipassana Meditation" A Correct Term?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Feb 09, 2011 5:10 pm

Jhana4 wrote:Do Theravada monks refer to Theravada Buddhist meditation techniques as "vipassana bhavana"?

Yes, they do. Ānāpāna: Samatha or Vipassanā?

We can also call it Satipaṭṭhāna meditation — mindfulness meditation. Insight may or may not arise when we practise meditation — it depends on how diligent we are. However, if the aim is to gain insight and not just to gain tranquillity or mystic powers, then we can rightly call it Vipassanā meditation.
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Re: Is "Vipassana Meditation" A Correct Term?

Postby Ben » Wed Feb 09, 2011 10:43 pm

Greetings Jhana4
Vipassana meditation relates to a number of Kamanthana exercises that help to cultivate that special wisdom known as vipassana. Ledi Sayadaw also refers to vipassana meditation as 'insight exercises'. You may wish to read my post here: viewtopic.php?f=35&t=7234#p114880
on vipassana and 'sweeping'.

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Re: Is "Vipassana Meditation" A Correct Term?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Feb 09, 2011 10:48 pm

Greetings,

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:We can also call it Satipaṭṭhāna meditation — mindfulness meditation. Insight may or may not arise when we practise meditation — it depends on how diligent we are. However, if the aim is to gain insight and not just to gain tranquillity or mystic powers, then we can rightly call it Vipassanā meditation.

My preference is to regard it as satipaṭṭhāna, but I agree with venerale Pesala's logic.

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Re: Is "Vipassana Meditation" A Correct Term?

Postby meindzai » Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:26 pm

All meditation involves cultivating both vipassana and samatha, so in that sense "vipassana meditation" is to me a little bit misleading, but I just take it as "using techniques that emphasize the development of vipassana."

And we have to accept that "meditation" has become a replacement for "bhavana" which is understandable but can unfortunately lead to a de-emphasis on the fact that in meditation we are supposed to be "cultivating" something, whether it be insight, samatha, metta, etc.

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Re: Is "Vipassana Meditation" A Correct Term?

Postby Ben » Thu Feb 10, 2011 1:22 pm

Hi M,
meindzai wrote:All meditation involves cultivating both vipassana and samatha, so in that sense "vipassana meditation" is to me a little bit misleading, but I just take it as "using techniques that emphasize the development of vipassana."

And we have to accept that "meditation" has become a replacement for "bhavana" which is understandable but can unfortunately lead to a de-emphasis on the fact that in meditation we are supposed to be "cultivating" something, whether it be insight, samatha, metta, etc.

-M

In my experience, the term is used as a form of shorthand, even if some of those students using the term aren't aware of it. Within the context of a ten-day course, over 1/3 of the time is devoted to developing samatha. One requires both samatha and vipassana, and even if one's primary focus is samatha or vipassana, one can't develop one without some development of the other.
kind regards

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loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

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Re: Is "Vipassana Meditation" A Correct Term?

Postby rowyourboat » Sat Feb 12, 2011 1:51 pm

In terms of insight, when can we say we are 'seeing deeply' (vi-passa)?

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Re: Is "Vipassana Meditation" A Correct Term?

Postby mlswe » Sat Feb 12, 2011 2:45 pm

i have heard that one of the reasons the dhamma will be fading and ultimately lost is because misuse of the pali, this seem intuitevly very reasonable. Can we therefore be true practitioners without ardently and skillfully and to the best of our ability correct terms where they are obviously missapplied? Keeping the dhamma alive for the welfare of ourselves, the welfare of others, the welfare of the whole world is the ultimate compassion, no?
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Re: Is "Vipassana Meditation" A Correct Term?

Postby rowyourboat » Sat Feb 12, 2011 3:28 pm

mlswe wrote:i have heard that one of the reasons the dhamma will be fading and ultimately lost is because misuse of the pali, this seem intuitevly very reasonable. Can we therefore be true practitioners without ardently and skillfully and to the best of our ability correct terms where they are obviously missapplied? Keeping the dhamma alive for the welfare of ourselves, the welfare of others, the welfare of the whole world is the ultimate compassion, no?


Hi miswe,

I wondered if you were commenting on my question?

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Re: Is "Vipassana Meditation" A Correct Term?

Postby mlswe » Sat Feb 12, 2011 3:59 pm

no, more something i had pondered and the vipassana meditation term was the term that started this pondering. It was thoughts i wanted to "get out there" among fellow practitioners and the thread seemed fitting at the time, perhaps in hindsight a better topic of its own, if hijacking and distracting let me know and ill remove and start a topic.
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Re: Is "Vipassana Meditation" A Correct Term?

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Mar 02, 2011 9:21 pm

IMO we can say we are 'vipassana-ing' when we are seeing one of the three characteristics predominantly and when this is the goal/main focus of our practice.

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Re: Is "Vipassana Meditation" A Correct Term?

Postby Peace » Thu Mar 03, 2011 2:17 am

I follow satipathana meditation. The description is pretty clear in the Pali canon: first breathing, then body in the body, feelings in the feelings, etc. I do not think this follows under the postings I've read for vipassana meditation. Please be mindful, we're each lamps unto ourselves. Search and investigate on your own--don't be too swayed by someone else's input. If it works for you--go for it! If not, continue strive and investigate.

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Re: Is "Vipassana Meditation" A Correct Term?

Postby Alex123 » Thu Mar 03, 2011 2:57 am

Jhana4 wrote:Do Theravada monks refer to Theravada Buddhist meditation techniques as "vipassana bhavana"? If not, what do they call it?



They may. But it is not really a technique. You can't practice insight. Insight is what occurs as development of deep understanding. Other words that can be used are: kammaṭṭhāna, paṭipadā, bhāvanā.

Sometimes the Buddha used this word Dhammānudhammapaṭipanna (practicing the Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma)
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Sometimes as Appropriate attention (yoniso manasikāro)
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Re: Is "Vipassana Meditation" A Correct Term?

Postby pilgrim » Thu Mar 03, 2011 8:44 am

I would say it's a conventional term in common usage today, but inaccurate as "vipassana" is used as an adjective giving the impression that it is a technique using an existing skill, when actually it is the objective of the practice.
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