Light and dark are a continuum. Moistness and water are a union. The relationship of shamatha and vipashyana is both a continuum and a union.
Shamatha is the ground, the foundation, and the stability from which and upon which vipashyana can occur, develop, and mature. As vipashyana is cultivated, it automatically generates more shamatha. As shamatha encompasses more of our waking life, so does vipashyana. Together these establish one in open-awareness, in a dignified expression of living one’s life, and in the ability to perceive more and thus through events and circumstances to the truths that are presenting.
The first seven steps of The Practice cultivate and introduce some of the possible fullness of shamatha. Asana, Step Eight, puts the attention on how and why one’s experience is what it is. For example, sloppy posture will generate a sloppy meditation experience; respectable posture supports clarity and confidence in meditation. The Practice has actually done this from the start such as with Soften and Open and the awarenesses that that step brings. Step Eight introduces vipashyana without saying so and step Nine, Mind, engages the principles of vipashyana whole-heartedly.
Shamatha and vipashyana build upon each other. Vipashyana requires the stability, clarity, and composure that shamatha brings forward in the practitioner. Then, vipashyana can provide more illumination as to why one fluctuates in one’s stability, composure, and clarity through the demands of one’s day.
Vipashyana also furthers the surrendering of ego-control that shamatha began. Vipashyana – insight – is a question-response mechanism in any moment as to what is real, who is me, what is coming forward, what habit or pattern is being highlighted, what liberation is being pointed toward? In order to engage vipashyana’s deconstructing of moment, self, perceptions, and concepts of reality, shamatha – serenity, inner peace and confidence in truth of being – must be established. Otherwise, the process won’t work!