All interpretations of the Sanskrit vipashyana or Pali vipassana have two things in common: perception and true or truly. To see things as they are, to look correctly, perceive directly, pure perception, insight, or penetrating insight are a few common interpretations.
Each phrase illustrates or demonstrates an activity that results in purified or truer perception which provides insight, understanding, truth or clarity.
Vipashyana is a discipline and disciplines are gifts that we give ourselves. Discipline is not “should” but is honesty and kindness to one’s self. Only I can provide honesty to myself about myself, only I can act upon that honesty in kindness as a kindness to myself. The discipline of vipashyana stems from a fundamental acknowledgement: that self colors everything. The coloration manifests as preferences, desires, hopes and fears. The self shows up through projections onto others or situations or one’s relationship to time, money, habit, and life. To acknowledge this coloration is not a judgement but an honest observation. With that in place, now one can open one’s self to look more correctly, to perceive through one’s own filter systems and little by little penetrate self-made reality and arrive at insight.
Why do this? Because ignorance is actually not bliss. Ignorance has many costumes. They include complexity and confusion, denial, convenience, dismissal, self-centeredness and self-importance and the various forms of aggression that these two produce. Vipashyana is the ongoing invitation to clarity and joy which are like the brightness of sunshine as the costumes of habit and self are seen through.
Vipashyana can sound ominous, serious, even punitive. But, the opposite is so as one begins to live with penetrating perception more and more. Seriousness is another costume, like pride or worry or doubt. These are seen through. They are manifestations of the hollowness of the self that is afraid in its incompleteness. But, you and I and all beings are not merely this sense of self. We are profound extraordinary Presence-Awareness-Being (called any name you like). We are dimensional beings, intuitive beings, beings of compassion and joy and open-minded radiant awareness. What is there to be serious about? What is there to doubt?
Health and sickness are like the weather. They change. Human beings have devised methods to predict the weather, and umbrellas to shield from the weather, and windshield wipers so as to be undeterred by the weather, but the weather is bigger than all of us and we cannot control it. Health and sickness change. We shield ourselves from the fact of our mortality and fragility, we create bubbles or zones of temporary health and temporary sickness, and we have all manner of machines and chemicals to imbibe so as to be undeterred by the fragility and mortality of this human form. But, death conquers all. It is bigger than everything humanity has thrown at it since forever. However, pure Being is beyond death. Our body is not, ike the tree outside our window. That’s honest, that’s true. But inner essence, radiant Presence, universal Awareness-Compassion most certainly is. Suchness is deathless; birthless, too, for that matter.
To penetrate into any emotion, arising of thought or craving or judgement or concern is to undo the habit of same old/same old ignorance and instead frolic with luminous perception. Let’s meditate.