What is Vipassana?
Vipassana, also called Insight Meditation, is a technique that was taught by the Buddha and is practiced in different forms in many Buddhist traditions. The modern Vipassana movement grew out of the Theravada Buddhist tradition and is related to Mindfulness meditation. Vipassana begins with the focusing of attention on the breath, which concentrates and calms the mind. This concentration allows thoughts and feelings that arise in the mind to be clearly observed and understood. This understanding in turn creates a healthier, happier, and more sane relationship between the mind, its thoughts, and the world.
While many people practice the Vipassana technique by itself and derive great benefit from it, Vipassana in the Theravada Buddhist path is part of a larger spiritual journey. As we study Buddhist teachings and apply them to our meditation and to our lives, we gain insight into our own true nature. Click here for a brief set of meditation instructions from the Spirit Rock website if your'e unfamiliar with meditation and would like to try a quick meditation session on your own.
The Vipassana group meets Sunday nights at 7 p.m. The practice is simple and ritual free and includes silent sitting meditation and a Kalyana Mitta (Pali for Spiritual Friend) discussion group. The group is peer led, and each week you will find us discussing our current book, how to apply the ideas we are studying to our daily life, and timely Buddhist topics of all sorts. Visitors are welcome. If you'd like to visit or to request information about this practice, please contact Mindy Simonson, Doug Holmes, or Larry Dearmon.
Current Book (started November 2018): Food for the Heart by Ajahn Chah (publisher link)
Books We Like:
Here is a selection of books and resources that provide a solid foundation in Theravada Buddhist teachings and Buddhist psychology:
What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula (available online)
The Four Noble Truths by Ajahn Sumedho (available online)
The Noble Eightfold Path by Bhikkhu Bodhi (available online)
The Wise Heart by Jack Kornfield (description)
Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach (description)
Here are two books on meditation in the Theravada/Vipassana tradition:
AccessToInsight.org - Website of Theravada Texts and Commentary (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/)
Forest Sangha Website - Monastery, ebooks, and audio lectures - a central tradition for our group (https://forestsangha.org/)
DharmaSeed.org - Thousands of audio lectures including teachers such as Ajahn Sumedho and Ajahn Amaro (http://dharmaseed.org)
The Buddha's Teaching As It Is - Introductory lectures by Bhikkhu Bodhi (http://www.buddhanet.net/audio-lectures.htm)
Bhikkhu Bodhi Essays - (http://vipassana.com/resources/bodhi/index.php)
Buddhism Now - Articles and videos (https://buddhismnow.com/)
Resources on Samadhi practice:
If you're interested in this special meditation topic, here are some places to start:
Beyond Mindfulness in Plain English - by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana (publisher)
Focused And Fearless - Shaila Catherine (publisher)
Entering the Jhanas - online article in Lion's Roar by Leigh Brasington
Right Concentration by Leigh Brasington (publisher)
History of Vipassana
The Vipassana meditation movement came from the Theravada school of Buddhism predominant in Southeast Asia. Theravada Buddhism draws its inspiration and practices from the Pali Canon, which scholars generally accept as the oldest complete collection of teachings from the early schools of Buddhism. Modern Vipassana is an adaptation of traditional meditation techniques by Burmese monks in the early 20th century. This approach to meditation continues to enjoy widespread popularity among laypeople in the West because of its specific instruction and understandable concepts.
The Vipassana group organizes a weekend retreat each year with teachers from the Show Me Dharma center in Coumbia, Missouri, a Theravada meditation center established by Ginny Morgan. Recent retreats have been led by Terry Furstenau and joe McCormack and are usually held sometime in September/October.