How do you do it?

Yesterday I got inquiries about Vipassana from an unexpected quarter.

My eye doctor’s receptionist/assistant was using a machine to measure various aspects of my eyes. The process requires that I stare at a lighted green cross that moves around in the viewer, while holding my head very still, and this goes on with each eye for several minutes. As we were nearing the end of the somewhat trying process, the assistant said something like, “Wow, you’re really good at this, you’re a professional… most people have trouble staying still and focused!”

“Years of meditation!” I quipped. We laughed, and the exam went on. The assistant and I have a close relationship – we meet like this once a year, as well as speaking on the phone twice for each yearly appointment! Seriously, she is a very nice, friendly person, she knew my mother for years as a patient, and we’ve had a number of friendly conversations in the office, so I feel free to joke around with her.

As I was leaving following the visit with the doctor, the receptionist began asking me about meditation, saying something about needing to learn to meditate to cope with stress, which is usually what gets folks interested in meditation. I made a few comments, and then she asked me what kind of meditation I do, so I said Vipassana.

“What is that?” she asked.

My doctor, who is Indian, was nearby and said she knew of it. I paused a moment to see if she would continue, and then tried to explain simply by saying it means ‘insight’ or ‘seeing into the reality of things.’

“Oh, how do you do it?” the receptionist asked. I laughed, and the doctor laughed… and the the doctor said, “Ah, Americans! In one sentence, they want to know how to meditate!” We all laughed over the comment and things were very relaxed, but the receptionist persisted, so I thought for a moment.

How do you explain Vipassana in one sentence?

14 thoughts on “How do you do it?

  1. Lisa Griffiths

    Haha, yes it’s easier to explain the result than the practice.
    I usually tell them the only way to understand what the technique is truly capable of is to do it for 10 hours a day for 10 days, then experiences that occur can u a reason to walk on the path.

  2. Anonymous

    Anicca. Observe the change as it happens.
    Dukkha. Notice the dissatisfaction in/After every experience.
    Anatta. See impersonal as it is with out identifying as me, mine, my soul.

  3. Anonymous

    Every one sees an apple falling. Newton saw gravity in apple falling.

    Every one sees/experiences. A vipassi sees the changing nature of experience. Every one knows/feels natural breath. The Buddha felt it continuously until it stopped.

    Can you see it as it is and not as it appears?

  4. Yes, that’s in essence what I came to! I think I told her the best way to start is sit and breathe… then I told her about the course and the Center in Wayne County. She said she would look it up… ?

  5. Yes, I went on to tell her about the course after giving her a brief answer… there really is no one sentence answer to the “how to” question!

  6. Anonymous

    one sentence: Vipassana means observing reality in a special way, by going beyond apparent truth.

    It is very difficult to explain in one sentence and understand it. I generally ask the person to check out website. See, the most ripened student of the Buddha needed the following:

    Diṭṭe diṭṭhamattaṃ bhavissati,
    sute sutamattaṃ bhavissati,
    mute mutamattaṃ bhavissati,
    viññate viññātamattaṃ bhavissati.
    —Mālukyaputta-sutta, Saṃyutta-nikāya,
    Saḷāyatana-vagga 2, 77

    In the seen there will be merely the seen;
    in the heard, merely the heard;
    in the smelled, the tasted and touched, merely the smelled, tasted, touched;
    in the cognized, there will be merely the cognized.

    One sentence won’t help so the best thing you can do is point some one to That is the precise definition of Vipassana practise as explained by Goenkaji.

    Vipassana explained by another saintly person with out using the word:

  7. Thanks to all for such a variety of helpful answers! In summary, it seems there’s really not an answer per se that will fit in one sentence and be understandable… the best idea then is to try to say something that helps the person along the way to finding enough peace to be able to listen to a longer, more complex answer. Which helps me a lot in thinking about how to answer such unexpected inquiries!

  8. Anonymous

    One more anonymous post from sudhakar reddy: 🙂

    John Coleman.: How would you answer a person who sought your advice on developing spiritually?
    J. Krishnamurthi: Simply by silently watching yourself all the time, all your actions, your thoughts, your environment. Be silently aware of things as they occur, with out interpretation.

    This conversation between JC and JK took place on a plane ride. They don’t know each other. John was no body but JK was world famous personality at that time. John did not know this fact at all. See the conversation in chapter 7 of Quiet Mind. The free e-book is available at the following link.–PDF-eBook_p_2578.html

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s