This article is part of an article series on Buddhist Insight Meditation that started with Meditation – Method, Effects and Purpose within Buddhism.

What is the full effect of insight meditation in Buddhist terms? What does the mind learn as a result of its training? Firstly the development of participatory observation to the entirety of an individual’s perceptual universe will allow you to watch changes occurring in all physical experiences, in feelings and perceptions, as they occur. Your own mental activities and the fluctuations in the character of consciousness itself are studied in such detail that these changes are “discovered” to be perpetually present in every moment of experience.

Vipassana is a practice done with the specific intention of facing reality, to fully experience life just as it is and to cope with exactly what is found. It is inherently experiential rather then theoretical. Through its practice we can becomes sensitive to the actual experience of living rather then spending a life wishing roughly half of all our experiences away simply because they are labeled by our discriminatory perception as “bad”. While the other half of such a life is spent in pursuit of a frustratingly elusive “good”.

I say elusive because even though “good” may be momentarily grasped this “good” like thoughts within the mind and all observable phenomenons are part of a constant flow of arising, abiding, and dissolving. The good currently possessed or experienced is impermanent and subsequent grasping at it as it dissolves will lead to frustration and suffering.

This of course is “bad” which is then wished away. It is easy to see how samsara was considered suffering by the Buddha and how neither peace nor happiness can ever be ours in a life lived in ignorance of things as they really are. Insight meditation more than anything is learning to live.

That is not to say that insight meditation or any other form of meditation is without its characteristic weakness. It is possible that insight meditation may make some people humorless and depersonalized. That is why it is often balanced with a type of meditation called loving kindness meditation or metta.

The phrase “seeing things as they really are” means seeing things within the framework of your body/mind complex without the prejudices or biases that spring from your own greed, hatred or delusion. Ordinarily when the workings of our mind/body complex are observed we tend to hide or ignore the things that are unpleasant and hold onto the things that are pleasant.

This is because the human mind is generally influenced by desires, resentment and delusion. Your own ego, self or opinions get in your own way and color your judgment. These obscurations entail our immersion in samsara. Thus meditation not only closes the gap between the way things appear to be and the way they actually are but also leads to liberation from samsara.

Next we will look at The Role of Meditation within Buddhism, Part 1.

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