Samatha vs Vipassanā Meditation
The article of reference examines the distinction between Samatha and Vipassanā meditation in the Buddhist tradition. While Vipassanā, or “insight meditation,” is often seen as the primary or most effective way to gain spiritual understanding, it is actually based on the “New Burmese Method” developed by Mahasi Sayadaw, a renowned teacher from the 20th century.
Mahasi Sayadaw saw the value of Samatha meditation (concentration) and presented Vipassanā as an accessible starting point for those who found it difficult to focus only on concentration from the start.
He used Vipassanā as a way to create a path that would eventually lead to the development of concentration. This combination of concentration and insight meditation is consistent with traditional Buddhist teachings.
Without concentration, the mind is compared to a “dirty body” on which one tries to hang the “jewels” of insight through Vipassanā. Only with a clean, concentrated mind can insight truly blossom. This underscores the gradual path of morality, concentration, and wisdom, in line with the Noble Eightfold Path as taught by the Buddha.
It is evident that vipassana cannot be effectively practiced without concentration, as it is necessary to control cravings, which are seen as the source of suffering.
This suggests that there is no “shortcut” to spiritual development, and that it requires patience, commitment, and following the full path of morality, concentration, and wisdom.