One of the most recognizable commercial products of modern theosophical Buddhism is, without a doubt, the so-called ” vipassanā meditation “.
To begin with, we must understand that meditation was not something recognizable in the real Buddhism of the mid-nineteenth century in the countries of South Asia. The only devotional practice were the songs of suttas in community, something that is still heard in the Theravadine monasteries.
The Theravada movement makes the legacy of Buddhaghosa its own and takes it for the flagship on the island of Ceylon in the Renaissance that we saw in the chapter dedicated to Sri Lanka. In short, Buddhaghosa makes a composition of texts and edition of them in Pāli, as well as commentaries and diverse literary production that was commissioned by the Sinhalese clergy. This job was achieved by testing his competence before the monks with the composition of his work the Visudhimagga. The work is divided into three parts, Sīla, Samadhi and Vipassana the classic postbuddhista scholastic division of the Noble Eightfold Path, based on the division of the spokes of the wheel, a proof of the incompetence in the understanding of its operation, and sutta of the forty factors where it clearly develops.Sometimes, the desire to analyze causes the parties not to reassemble again and nothing can work anymore, but to the scholastics the function is subject to mere theoretical study and dissection.
The Buddhaghosa himself, it can not be otherwise, at the end of his great work, declares that everything written does not serve for enlightenment since without a living Sammasambuddha that is not possible, and what he expects is to be reborn in a pleasant heaven in wait for the future coming of the next Buddha.
The Buddha made it clear that the way in which enlightenment is achieved is through meditation. And that is the jhānas. There is no other practice in the suttas more than the jhānas. Thus he achieved enlightenment and it is the practice that, over and over again, he entrusts to practice his monks.
The jhānas are a necessary condition for enlightenment in its three forms.This is achieved by the Buddhas (Sammasambuddhas and Paccekabuddhas) and the arahants disciples of a Sammasambuddha.
In addition to this, the jhānas cease practicing almost immediately after the parinibbāna of the Buddha. These two situations make the lighting impossible, something that Buddhaghosa was clear about.
In this way, meditative practice, without method or end, irremediably decayed by what just before the Theosophical revival was almost unknown.
After the Theosophical neobuddhist revival, there was a strong demand from the West for meditation methods and this demand resulted in incursions of spiritual tourists to places like Burma. These tourists sought the essence of Buddhist meditation in remote places, with the Western idea that the more hidden is better and purer will be what is found.
And every demand ends up producing an offer.
No one in Burma knew how to meditate, but that is no obstacle. If there is no product, it is manufactured. In addition, those who buy it do not know and those who know, the rest of the clergy, do not care what is sold to the “foreign barbarians.”
The history of “vipassanā” is born thus:
It is known that the most significant effect of total liberation is Wisdom, pañña , which is the vision and understanding of reality as it is. At one point in the history of the different Buddhist sects, it occurred to someone that pañña could be reached “directly” through intuition ( vipassanā ), and thus the myth of “instant enlightenment” very fashionable among mahāyanas of different types was born. and other sects.
This is an absurd ideation because intuition serves for nonverbal reasonings for which the question is held and the objects to assemble the answer are known to the thinker. It certainly does not require deduction or reasoning, but it can not deal with previously unknown elements and it can not solve problems whose question is unknown, both extremes that are of the pañña scope.
It is obvious that without knowing Wisdom, and little intuition, someone will be impressed by the ability and versatility of intuition to see clearly.
The development of intuition ( vipassanā ) is not included in the primitive texts. The normal way today is to develop it through the use and mental manipulation of abstract objects of a mathematical nature. Worse there is no mathematics in the suttas. There, who was intuitive, who was, who was not, no. If there was a regulated system for the development of vipassanā in the past, it is simply unknown and has not reached today. What they did know through experience with intuitive people is that intuition is always preceded by tranquility, because that is how intuition works.
Sequential verbal thinking must be calmed down to give way to nonverbal, spatial and intuitive thinking, which has been described as a function of the right hemisphere. If you do not do that, the intuition does not work.This is why Samatha tranquility always appears before Vipassanā in the texts.
Simple tranquility came to be associated with meditation, I must suppose by the similarity of the terms samatha and samadhi . Both with the stem saṃ which means “peace”, from which words are derived as holy , equal in pāli that in Spanish. But nothing more. Meditate and be calm and relaxed do not have much more to do with each other.
In short, in ancient times once lost the way to achieve jhānas, is raised to achieve enlightenment through the “direct” attainment of pañña on the basis of the development of intuition ( vipassana ) preceded by tranquility ( samatha ). An absurd goal in itself, supposedly attainable through an intuition that they do not even know how it develops.
A total nonsense.
But that meme floated through the air in early twentieth-century Burma