I would like to postulate three models in the progress of insight meditation, ie, the progress of penetration into the three universal characteristics. The first model is the model of the microscope. The progress of insight would be like a microscope that is consistently increasing its power of magnification. When the microscope increases its magnification, you can see more detail into the nature of your slide. It is the same thing when you watch the nature of the three universal characteristics. As insight knowledge grows, reality becomes clearer and clearer. Of course, this does not happen all at once, it slowly increases. This model gives the idea that it does not come from thinking, but from pure, clear and concentrated awareness. There must be intention to see and to experience deeper. If one is just contented to experience what there is, then one may not go further. One has to push on.
The second model is that of a growing tree, something conical in nature, like a cypress or a spruce. What happens is that this tree, when it grows, must first gain firm and strong roots. If the root system is not strong, then it cannot support the growth of a tall tree. The roots represent the entire good kamma and morality, etc. Once the tree grows, it does so according to certain levels. The first branches grow, then as it puts out the next higher level; the lower level must expand, and the roots must expand further. When these two levels are more established, then a third level grows. When the third levels grows, the lower two levels must grow further. This means that a proper base of the lower experiences must be developed further before the higher levels can grow. For example, your concentration must last longer and deeper, before you are able to watch more phenomena. Therefore, when you watch a certain new experience, you have to watch it longer and clearer before you can watch the deeper ones. For the third level to become stronger, the first and second level must become stronger too. You do not forget the lower levels. This means that there will be a constant repetition of the earlier experiences for some time, before a new experience comes. The lesson to be learned is that you must have patience.
The third model is the model of the elixir of immortality. Maybe you cannot find it here, but the Chinese usually make use of ginseng. The legend of ginseng is that when it becomes the elixir of immortality, the root will grow into the form of a human being. This becomes a sentient being and runs about. The idea is to catch it. When you catch it, it becomes ginseng root again, and when you eat it, it becomes a cure-all. You put the root in the water and you boil it to extract the essence from it. You must boil it slowly for a long time to extract the essence from it. Similarly, to get insight knowledges, you must start sitting on the boil, ie, start "boiling" yourself. You watch the pain, you watch the "rising" and "falling," the "sitting" and "touching," the thinking, the same things again and again. Slowly, understanding emerges and this brings detachment from all that arises and disappears.
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammasambuddhasa
Thus have I heard. At one time the Blessed One was living among the Kurus, at Kammasadamma, a market-town of the Kuru people. There the Blessed One addressed the monks thus: "Monks," and they replied to him, "Venerable Sir." And the Blessed One spoke as follows: This is the sole way, monks, for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, for the destroying of pain and grief, for reaching the right path, for the realisation of Nibbana, namely the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. What are the four? Herein (in this teaching) a monk dwells practising body-contemplation on the body, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, having overcome covetousness and grief concerning the world; he dwells practising feeling-contemplation on feelings, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, having overcome covetousness and grief concerning the world; he dwells practising mind-contemplation on the mind, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, having ovrecome covetousness and grief concerning the world; he dwells practising mind-object-contemplation on mind-objects, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, having overcome covetousness and grief concerning the world.
A Word on Layout
Photographs of trees, plants and "nature" occurring randomly within the context of each chapter serve as a visual and mental rest for the reader. The "nature" pictures convey a feeling of "freedom". The ultimate aim of insight meditation is to "free" one from the unsatisfactoriness of cyclic existence.
Readers may also find numerous quotations of the Buddha's teaching on mindfulness, detachment and liberation throughout the entire book. Those verses act as a source of inspiration and purpose to put vipassana into practice—a practice that brings about insight into the three universal characteristics of unsatisfactoriness, impermanence and non-self which leads one into detachment and ultimate liberation.
In accordance with Buddhist tradition, all publications with regards to the cultivation and practice of Buddhist meditation and way of life are distributed free and are available to the buddhist community at Buddhist centres. Costs of production are defrayed via donations.
However, with the intention of allowing those outside the Buddhist community to benefit from this work, a separate version of Essentials of Insight Meditation Practice have been placed for sale at cost, at commercial bookshops.
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