What Is Vipassana?

What is VipassanaBuddhist Vipassana is a meditation that was introduced by the Buddha over 2,500 years ago. The main purpose of Vipassana is to see things as they are.

The word “Vipassana” is made up of two parts — “Vi” which means “through” and “Passana” which means “seeing”. Vipassana therefore means seeing through.

The Buddha said that desire and ignorance were the root cause of all suffering. Vipassana, also known as Insight meditation, cuts through the lies and helps one perceive the mind and matter as they really are.

The basis of this meditation is to eliminate all attachment, and once that is done, you end up touching permanent happiness. That happiness stays with you forever, no matter what your circumstances.

It’s important to note that Vipassana is non-sectarian. It does not “belong” to a religion, a group of people of a country. It’s available for anyone and everyone to use and detach themselves fro suffering.

Practicing Vipassana does not mean you escape the conventional world and turn into a monk (although you can do that). In fact, Buddhist Vipassana really makes you aware of the self and thereby attain transformation.

In other words, it is self-transformation by the way of self-awareness.

Why Do Vipassana?

The benefits of Vipassana are many. But let’s start at first looking why practice Vipassana in the first place? What’s the point?

The Buddha found that once you reveal and see your true nature, you can break free from the shackles of pain and suffering. Without consulting to a god or spirit, you look within and know yourself. The more you know yourself, the closer you’re to the truth that there is nothing permanent and that your happiness does not depend on external factors, other people and the world.

The Two Types of Meditations

Each meditation technique is either Insight meditation or Tranquility meditation. Insight meditation, as the name suggests, means to see things as they are and become wise. Tranquility meditation is when you focus on a certain object or a body part, example a burning candle flame, and suppress thoughts as they arise during meditation. You develop this through the power of concentration which takes time.

Unlike in tranquility meditation, insight meditation relies on mindfulness which is more about being aware than concentrating on one thing. In insight meditation, therefore, you don’t focus on one thought or object but “see” every sensation and thought as they come. The meditator then lets them go after making a mental note of it.

Example: If you’re experiencing pain in your right leg while practicing Vipassana, you will not focus on it but make a note in your mind of the pain. You might say “pain” in your mind and move on.

Similarly, if you’re experiencing a thought that is distracting, you’ll make a mental note “thought” and move on. You are non-judgemental about any sensation, physical or mental movements, feelings etc. You are aware they exist in the present moment and pass away.

It is argued that concentration will lead to short-lived calmness where as mindfulness leads to permanent freedom from suffering in the meditator.


The basic principle of how Vipassana leads to permanent happiness is this: If you cling to the past or future, you end up in suffering. Attachment is the root cause of all suffering. Advanced Vipassana practitioners notice that mindfulness leads to being in the now — the present moment only. Because you’re not in future nor in the past, but in the present, you separate yourself from suffering.

Image: nevil zaveri

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