Despite the intellectual disagreements I’ve shared with various aspects of the Goenka organization over the past 3 months, the aspect of Vipassana that I want the world to recognize and celebrate is its ability to purify one’s intentions. Our world is obsessed with “how” to accomplish goals. How do I make money? How do I make friends? How do I protect my family? How do we make our streets safe? How do we get people to vote? These are all questions for the intellect, but our answers often clash with others objectives causing our society to go in circles.
Vipassana helps us to understand “why” we want to accomplish goals. Why do I want to make money? To take care of myself and my family, and to serve others. Why do I want to make friends? I don’t actually want to make friends; I want to align my life with love and hope, and connect with others aligned with similar values. Why do I want to protect my family? I want my family to feel loved, but safety is the first step. Why do we want to make our streets safe? It’s the first step to creating a loving community. Why do we want people to vote? Well, not everyone does. Most people want the government to improve their personal lives, so they want people who agree with them to vote to get their preferred candidate in office. By explaining our “why” and understanding others, we can start to create bridges and find compromises. Meditation can help bring diverse people together.
The “why” is in our heart, and the “how” is in our head. The right decisions requires alignment between the heart and head, or the “why” and “how.” There isn’t a thick division between these two sides. Understanding the “why” makes figuring out the “how” much easier. When there is clarity in the heart, there is clarity in the mind. When my meditations are focussed, my thoughts are focussed. These pieces overlap, but I believe both tools need to be exercised. Vipassana clears the heart, but I’ve discovered that overemphasizing meditation seems to neglect the intellect. If we can strengthen our intellectual understanding of the practice, we will also strengthen our practice on the cushion. Seeking answers to questions and confusions is part of this journey. I hope we can all help one another to progress from our personal locations along the path both intellectually and with our practices.