VIPASSANA: A CHAN-DAO PERSPECTIVE



Attainment of an Absolute Purity (Parama Visuddhi)


                                                    Unaided by Intellect 



It may come as a very great surprise to find VIPASSANA teachings within a page that is really dedicated to Chan and Dao studies. So I will try to explain here why VIPASSANA, in its complete JIVITINDRIYA form, is highly recommended and must be understood by any Dharma traveller.

The task of Vipassana is not to lead one to a great Awakening, but to lead one to an important Liberation from all the impediments and symptoms of Identity domination. In Freudian terms, we can say that it cleans up the debilitating behavior of Id, Ego and Super Ego. In Dharma terms, it removes all obstacles and limits the activity of debilitating Identity.

Vipassana cannot really be considered as a practice or even a meditation in the normal way it is used. It is a "progressive training" that moves unaided by intellect towards the attainment of an Absolute Purity (Parama Visuddhi). That is a return to Natural Virtue.

Now that word "virtue" is tainted by erroneous religious usage which considers the state of purity as being free from sin or moral wrong and lacking in a knowledge of evil.

In Chan Buddha Dharma there is no concept of sin or corresponding culpability, confession and penitence. Purity is considered as being free from five principal impediments that prevent the evolution of an approach to the restoration of balance and harmony with the natural Life Force.


Vipassana is said by many to be based upon the following principles:


 1. Purity of Virtue

2. Purity of Mind (citta) the practice of Samatha (concentration)

3. Purity of Views (ditthi)

4. Purity in the Overcoming of Perplexity or Doubts (kankhavitarana)

5. Purity of Knowledge and insight into the correct and incorrect paths (magga-magga-nanadassana)

6. Purity of knowledge and vision of the Path (patipada nanadassana)

7. Purity of knowledge and profound Vision into the Noble path (nanadassana)

 

But before one falls into the intellectual trap of learning this list and deciding to work upon these principles, look at the following discourse presented in the Ratha-vinita Sutra (Majjhima Nikaya 24). It is a conversation between the Elder Punna and the great Sariputta:


Sariputta said to Ven. Punna:

                "My friend, is the holy life lived under the Blessed One?" 
                                 "Yes, my friend," replied Punna

    "And is the holy life lived under the Blessed One for the sake of purity in terms of virtue?"
                                           "No, my friend."

     "Then is the holy life lived under the Blessed One for the sake of purity in terms of mind?"
                                           "No, my friend."

     "Then is the holy life lived under the Blessed One for the sake of purity in terms of view?"
                                           "No, my friend."

     "Then is the holy life lived under the Blessed One for the sake of purity in terms of the overcoming of perplexity?"
                                            "No, my friend."

              "Then is the holy life lived under the Blessed One for the sake of purity in terms of knowledge & vision of what is & is not the path?"
                                            "No, my friend."

               "Then is the holy life lived under the Blessed One for the sake of purity in terms of knowledge & vision of the way?"
                                            "No, my friend."

                "Then is the holy life lived under the Blessed One for the sake of purity in terms of knowledge & vision?"
                                             "No, my friend."


            So we learn what it is not, but the question is then "why?" The answer is given:

"The holy life is lived under the Blessed One, my friend, for the sake of total Unbinding through lack of clinging."


So here we have an important question for you: do you wish to eliminate your clinging, and of course the craving which sets this clinging in place? Reflect seriously upon that.

Sariputta then asked in turn if purity of virtue, purity in terms of mind... purity of view... the overcoming of perplexity... knowledge & vision of what is & is not the path... knowledge & vision of the way and the knowledge and vision total is Unbinding through lack of clinging.

                                               The reply was, "No."

Then Sariputta asked if it is an "Unbinding through lack of clinging to something else."

                                       The paradoxical reply was "No."


Sariputta found that rather strange until Punna explained in this way.

                                              THE CHARIOT

"So, my friend, I will give you an analogy, for there are cases where it's through analogies that knowledgeable people can understand the meaning of what is being said.

Suppose that while King Pasenadi Kosala was staying at Savatthi, some urgent business were to arise at Saketa; and that between Savatthi and Saketa seven relay chariots were made ready for him. Coming out the door of the inner palace in Savatthi, he would get in the first relay chariot.

By means of the first relay chariot he would reach the second relay chariot.

Getting out of the first relay chariot he would get in the second relay chariot.

By means of the second relay chariot he would reach the third... 

by means of the third he would reach the fourth...

by means of the fourth, the fifth... by means of the fifth, the sixth...

by means of the sixth he would reach the seventh relay chariot.

Getting out of the sixth relay chariot he would get in the seventh relay chariot.

By means of the seventh relay chariot he would finally arrive at the door of the inner palace at Saketa."

In other words, you can't in the Buddha Dharma shop buy any slice of the pie you wish. It has to be the whole pie. But even more subtle than that, the first carriage is the path to the second and so forth.

So we find that the base is a complex path in itself, and that the exercises of Vipassana require that base.

Yet even knowing that people rush and line up for Vipassana meditation when they are not in the least prepared. They have the impression that it is easy and that the fruit is close. That is a lie. Attaining the fruit requires the same dedication and time that Chan itself demands.

It is important to remember that the Mindfulness of Breathing is a basic platform for all meditations and in and of itself is not VIPASSANA.

Now if we look at Vipassana we find that there is not just one method, but many. All form a valid part of the family of Vipassana meditation and all of them are directly related to the last three of the seven stages and require the first two attributes as prerequisites, namely:

1. The Purification of Virtue

2. The Purification of the Mind through Concentration

 (Samatha, the Skandhas or Reflection)

We see here that Virtue and Samatha are mentioned. This Samatha Meditation is a Cognitive discipline that is acts upon the surface level of consciousness, namely the Cognitive Experiences, but cannot in and of itself deal with the residual contents of memory and mind. 

It cannot then dispel the symptoms of deep Ignorance of Identity, Duality, Sexual Desire which are the causes of apparent suffering. That becomes the task for Vipassana.


But it is the practice of these two that for many lead to:   

3. Purity of Views (ditthi)

4. Purity in the Overcoming of Perplexity or Doubts (kankhavitarana)


It is these then which complete the first four conditions and allow a full and complete open and flexible mind for Vipassana training.

Now everyone and his donkey is doing Vipassana courses... everyone wants to meditate, but what good is that if there is no understanding and a commitment at least to develop Virtue, Concentration, a Clear and correct View of Dharma and the overcoming of Perplexity and Doubts?

It is true that some temperments can work immediately upon the Purity of Views and Overcoming the Perplexity of doubts, but then they must return to the Purificaton of Virtue and the Concentration of Samatha.

Wow. 

There is even more unpleasant news for those who rush in where the angels fear to tread.

The follower upon the path with Vipassana meditation is required, even before beginning, to have an understanding that is beyong mere intellectual grasping of what are called the Three Characteristic Marks. Sure, everyone has heard of them, but are they really understood?

In the Theravada way they are called:

                                   ANICCA, ANATTA, and DUKKHA

We consider then: 

The Three Charactaristics

Purity of Views 

Purity in the Overcoming of Perplexity or Doubts 


                    

                                  

               



VIPASSANA MEDITATION  


  Is the development of Full Knowledge, Panna-bhavana.

  It is the Insight-Knowledge associated with Pure Thought.

  Full knowledge knows then the intrinsic nature of every
phenomenon and is direct, immediate and non-relative.



Now there are several forms of Vipassana Meditation, but do not be deceived into believing that Mindfulness of Breath is one of them. This Mindfulness of Breath and the knowledge which follows is but a preliminary to the actual Vipassana Contemplations, which we term Absorptions.

There are twenty-five of these Contemplations which are DEVICES for Vipassana meditation and if we multiply these by the DISCERNMENTS of the three CHARACTERISTICS, which can be generated within the meditation, there are seventy-five.

So you see the discernments are developed on the base of the discernment of Impermanence, Suffering or the State of Non-Existence (no-self). It matters not which, for when one of the three has been attained and is sharp, vivid and clear, then the others make themselves evident.

Furthermore, within Vipassana it is possible to select Devices for meditation on either the base of Material States or Immaterial States.

For our seminary students who are not prepared for Chan we use and introduce Vipassana training with the following Immaterial State devices of the twenty-five:

The sense Cognitions
The sense Contact, known as Sensations
The Sense Discrimination
The sense Perception of Name and Form
The sense thoughts as intention
The sense desires of Identity
The sense reasoning
The sense Investigation

We examine each through the advanced discerments as "a rising from mind, a sustainment by mind and a falling away into mind", without real and separate existence.

Now let us make clear that even with these accomplished all that is attained is "Taruna Vipassana", which is "Budding Insight".

After this Budding Insight then there is further meditation leading to the Discernments of Fifteen other aspects:

                                        The Full Eighteen Discernments

I have re-ordered these for ease of recognition:

The Discernment of No-self
The Discernment of Impermanence
The Discernment of Suffering (we in Chan prefer Non-Suffering)

With regard to acquisitiveness:

The Discernment of the Uncraved: there is rejection of Craving (panidhi) 
The Discernment of Decay: there is a rejection of acquisitiveness (ayuhana)
The Discernment of Erroneous Beliefs leading to attachment (alaya bhinivesa)
The Discernment of Natural Relinquishment: there is a rejection of Clinging (adana) 
 
The Discernment of Natural Disgust: there is rejection of Delight (nandi)

With regard to Aversion:

The Discernment of Dispassion: there is rejection of the Passion of Aversion (raga)
The Discernment of Cessation: there is a rejection of Origination (samudaya)
The Discernment of Extinction: there is a rejection of real Perception (ghana-sanna)

With regard to Confusion:

The Discernment of Change: there is a rejection of stability (dhuvas-sanna)
The Discernment of the Formless: there is a rejection of Form (the sign nimitta)  
The Discernment of Reflection and rejection of the thoughtlessness of Impermanence. 


The Discernment of  the true Nature of Phenomena (rejecting all form)
The Discernment of Insight into Higher knowledge (rejecting Clinging to Essence)
The Discernment of Separation from the round of Identity Rebirth
The Discernment of the Void, Sunyata.




There are other aspects to Vipassana which we will not enter into here.

They are Immediate Triple Discernment of the Characteristics of the Five Aggregates; Meditation Combined with Time; the Body as past, present and future; and finally the Forty aspects of the Body (understanding that the body is not only an apparent physical phenomenon but also apparently mental).

But, in this modern world of suspicion and little confidence, it is necesssary, unless there is great blind faith in this unknown process, to understand how and why the meditation works. This I trust will add required confidence, patience and diligence.


                                 


         

                                                            
                                                  


Now on to the actual METHOD:

                


                                 


                                 



We consider now:

Knowledge and insight into the correct and incorrect paths 

Knowledge and vision of the Path 

Knowledge and profound Vision into the Noble path