Vipassana is not an intellectual path, so why do I spend so much time trying to understand it? I grew up in and live in an intellectual world. Most people I know build their lives around intellectual understanding rather than faith. In order to build a new belief system, it must be acceptable to the old belief system. Being able to articulate to myself and others the value of this meditation technique makes it easier to accept the practice as a whole, to integrate it into my life surrounded my non-meditators, and to explain my dedication to this practice to potential new meditators.
I live a full and successful life before Vipassana entered my world. I experienced many truths through my daily interactions with the world. My intellectual inquisitiveness has helped me develop into a strong person. Its been important for me to integrate the wisdom I’ve gained from Vipassana into this preexisting framework. If I couldn’t make sense of practice, I would be forced to choose between Vipassana as truth or science as truth. The reality is that there is only one truth, so it’s helpful to push myself to think through what meditation is teaching me.
One caveat is that I can’t explain everything about this practice scientifically. There are parts of it that just don’t make sense to me even though I’m convinced they’re true based on how I’ve experienced them. But the same way that I’ve discovered that science can’t answer all of my questions, I need to accept that I won’t be able to explain all of the components of meditation at this time. The nice thing is that Vipassana is very rational and that many components of this practice are easy to explain.
It’s the rational nature of this practice that makes it easy to explain to people unfamiliar with meditation. Unlike the “leap of faith” Christianity asks of me, meditation clearly shows me each step along the path. Unfortunately, sustaining a daily meditation practice is a lot of work, and many students who have learned this technique in a 10 day course have found it difficult to find the time and energy to keep at it. Most people with experience meditating in this tradition will agree that it’s simple, it makes sense, and it’s very beneficial. Hopefully as I progress on the path I’ll find better words to rationalize what Vipassana is all about. Until then, I’ll just keep on meditating.