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?