Calm and Clear: The Buddhist Meditation Practices of Shamatha (Mental Quiescence) and Vipassana (Insight)
Of all the aspects of our life, what goes on within – our thoughts, feelings and emotions, and our very sense of being – are at the same time the most intimate and yet the most mysterious we will ever experience. Discovering this inner world, achieving mental calm and freedom from turbulent emotionality and gaining clear insight into the profound depths of one’s being and true nature has been the goal of Buddhist meditators for over 2,500 years.
Modern science can explore the vastness of the universe and the infinitesimal particles that compose it, and yet we still find ourselves bewildered and overcome by negative emotions. Our lives are driven by the need to escape feelings of dissatisfaction, disappointment and unhappiness, only to find that everything we experience is impermanent, including our own happiness . Clearly seeing the plight of all beings, the Buddha created a means of calming the mind and gaining insight into its real nature, providing a practical method to free ourselves from the delusion, suffering and emotional turmoil called samsara.
Using the profound yet simple technique of mindfulness of the breath, we gradually learn to calm our turbulent thoughts, memories, plans and emotions. Within this clear, radiant space we are able to gain insight into our mental processes and recognize our inherent Buddha Nature – the vast, free and completely enlightened reality at the heart of all beings. This can be practiced by anyone, of any or no religious affiliation whatsoever, the only requirement being a commitment to practice meditation on a daily basis.