Mindfulness: the Vipassana Meditation is a great methodology to reduce suffering, avoid attachments and gain pure happiness. But in present education, competition, living needs, relationships, responsibilities, duties etc too much are mandatorily attached to a single person. So is it really practical to practice this except bhikkhus?
Thirty years ago when I was at your age I practiced Transcendental Meditation by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It is a mantra meditation. In it you are given a ‘bija’ – a seed mantra - a kind of Kasina that helps to settle the mind of the meditation practitioner within a very short time. One can create an oasis of calm amidst the hustle and bustle of the outside world in this Transcendental Meditation. It is over 25 years since I stopped doing TM. Any ordinary "run-of-the-mill" lay person can do TM, but it is not so with Buddhist Vipassana Meditation. It calls for a whole lot more from you and will take a much longer time. It requires a whole lot of commitment and preparatory work, much like that of the Noble Eightfold Path. The first seven contributory factors (Samma-ditthi, Samma-samkappo etc.) lead to the establishment of Samma-Samadhi. They are referred to as satta samadhi-parikkhara. In TM what you get is ‘Micca Samadhi’, but following the Saddhamma you get to Samma-Samadhi.
To come to Samma-Samadhi, one must first and foremost become a true disciple of the Supreme Buddha. It is to have Saddha - the confidence towards the understanding of Supreme Buddha (Saddhahati Tathagatassa Bodhin). One cannot go the distance in this Dhamma Path without Saddha. One who has come to Saddha is one of Samma Ditthi (right understanding of the four noble truths). A worthy person. This is not an easy thing. Only a fortunate few would arrive at this. If we gradually but firmly establish Saddha in us and develop it, our Sakkaya Ditthi (the idea of self) leaves us. This will not happen if we are the type that questions the first five Nikayas. These Sutta & Vinaya are our teacher, and we do not question our ‘Asama-Sama’ Teacher. There are many avenues that can lead us astray. But for Nibbana there is only one road. Only one guide - That single road is thinking that “Supreme Buddha knows. I do not know” (Keetagiri Sutta). The only safeguard for us, in keeping us safe from harm is our association with a Kalyana-Mitta (Noble Friend in Dhamma). That is why I gave you the names of Ven Kochchikade Seewali Thero and Ven. Ambanpola Gnanawijaya Thero.
If you want to be in command – to be alone - amidst the hustle and bustle of the outside world, first work towards this afore mentioned goal – to be a Sotapanna, a Stream Entrant. Then you do not even have to become a Bhikku, or do Vipassana, and within only seven lifetimes at the most, you will achieve the sublime Nibbhana. You will inevitably get to be born in one of the seven havens of sensual pleasure.
I am not asking you not to do Vipassana, as then you can go to even higher planes of existence. There are various planes of existence of beings that are present even though we cannot see most of them. The Supreme Buddha taught that there are nine such different planes of existence. These are known as ‘Sattāvāsa’. Those who do Vipassana and come to at least the first stage of dyana will get to be reborn in these higher planes. Some of these worlds belong to the type called ‘Ēkatta Kāyā’ ‘Ēkatta Sagnyā’, ‘Ēkatta Kāyā’‘Nānātta Sagnyā’ etc. etc.. The ‘Ēkatta’ denotes a meaning of ‘single’. This means, all the beings in this type of worlds are like each other with respect to their bodies / minds. On the other hand, the human world and the seven heavens of sensual pleasure are different. They belong to the type known as ‘Nānātta Kāyā’ ‘Nānātta Sagnyā’, which means different bodies and minds.
Getting into the subject of Vipassana, to do this properly you must first work towards purifying your sila (Sila Visuddhi), you must work towards safeguarding your six sense faculties (citta-visuddhi) and you must practise the Buddhist way of consumption of food – be it vegetarian or non-vegetarian food.
Mind is the sixth sense that which encompasses the five senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. A quiet mind is possible if you could restrain these sense faculties by reining in kama-cchanda. The Pali word kama means anything pertaining to the five senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Chanda means to delight in or agree with. Together the compound kama-cchanda means “delight, interest, involvement with the world of the five senses.” The wise who practice Dhamma in daily life very silently, are aware of their thoughts and spend a very simple but noble life in the world of hustle and bustle, amidst all outside distractions.
Only those who are wise enough to see things realistically in society would strive to lead a righteous life within our short duration of time. Even fewer are those with the ability to separate true Dhamma from contaminations through history and have the courage and wit to swim upstream. To do Vipassana, first one has to have a good understanding of the true dhamma – the Saddhamma – and be one who strives to practice the truth.
I don't think it is all that different than in past times. The distractions and duties might have been different, but there were surely many obstacles on the way.
The texts always mention householders and lay people for a reason.
The degree to which you practice or are able to practice may vary on your circumstances; many of those might not be that fixed as one may think, though. Too many possessions to look after? Too many duties that need your attention? If you need more time to practice, change the elements of your life. Downsize.
Most things that we think are necessary or "needs" are really useless if you think about them. With every excess you remove, life get's a whole lot easier.
Also, mindfulness can be practiced in many contexts. You could say: the harder the environment, the better the training.
Do you want to understand yourself where you are or not?
The truth is the truth but I am not so sure about what your saying. Is it that today's society makes it impossible for meditators to see the truth? No, it is always us as individuals who stop ourselves from seeing the truth, not them, not modern complexity.
Each one of us is a living, breathing monestary. A bad modern society can teach us a lot, it can lead us to act with courage we didn't know we had.
We don't need monasteries. We need teachers.
"The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven." Milton
Yes, the environment you face can affect how easy your path to enlightenment is.. After all, otherwise the Buddhists hells and heavens would not, at all, be differentiated from the human realm.
But whether you skip the buddhist world views or not, the path remains individual - whatever external (or internal) obstacles you choose to define for your paths, those are your external and internal obstacles. If you wish not to face them, recognise them as such and overcome them!
Yes, it is eminently practical. There are simply too many accounts of modern, everyday, busy people becoming (allegedly) highly attained on the Vipassana path (and others) to make the idea that it is practical only for bhikkhus credible.
A few examples, just off the top of my head, include: Daniel Ingram, Kenneth Folk, Shinzen Young, and a reasonable subset of the people interviewed at BatGap (if you're willing to broaden out beyond pure Vipassana and Buddhism and into Advaita Vedanta, for example, then look on BatGap specifically for Gary Weber). I think Young spent some quasi-monastic time, but I don't think he was ever a full-blown monk.
And of course for the par excellence example of a very busy householder of Olympic-grade Vipassana capability, you can't do much better than Dipa Ma
The Dhamma is both timeless and of great benefit for all beings, no matter what position they are in or what life they lead.
The Dhamma teaches purification of Mind and permanent freedom from suffering.
In this life one might have many obligations. If one inclines greatly towards the Dhamma in this life, the next life might be different, i.e. more suitable for practicing the Dhamma.
I think its important to view your question (and answer) in the light of not a single life but many lives.
When that is said, there is always something one can do in this very life. Practicing even 5 minutes of meditation with correct technique is extremely valuable. When sharing the merits one just gained with all beings one is also practicing the 1st parami of generosity (dana). Having these intentions of good-will also conforms with the Right Intention (Samma Sankappa) from the wisdom group of the Noble Eightfold Path.
Do you have a pet? Did you feed it today? Did you lend an ear to a family member, sibling or friend? Giving your time and attention to somebody else, while having the right intention(s), is also to practice the Dhamma.
Following the 5 precepts, working on balancing the 5 spiritual faculties, studying the Dhamma or explaining the Dhamma to other people are also great ways to get closer and more familiar with the Buddhas teaching, eventually culminating in one reaching the other shore.
In Buddhism intention is important. The Buddha said that intention is what he calls Kamma. The first verse in the Dhammapada states mind comes first, intention comes first. If one has wholesome intentions, i.e. intentions of good-will, harmless and renunciation, happiness will follow and suffering will decrease.
Trying to follow the path by cultivating these 3 wholesome intentions which will completely change our outlook on the external conventional reality is something that can be practiced in this very life.
It can be practiced right now.
The main objective of Vipassana Meditation is to acquire.. Universal Consciousness ,Transcending Body Consciousness.
Too much Psychological Stress or Physical suffering ,create STRONG BODY CONSCIOUSNESS . Too much pleasure creates ATTACHMENT TO THE BODY . The Buddha , therefore suggested the MIDDLE PATH ,for OPTIMAL PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT.
However , in modern day situation ,working under HIGH STRESS and PHYSICAL PAIN , is quite COMMON.
I believe , the spread of Christian Philosophy , is partly responsible for this. Christianity was taught to people living in Extreme Poverty .Live One Day at a time and leave the Future in the Hands of God , is the central teaching of Christianity .
Buddhism , on the other hand , was taught mainly to The Rich and Princely classes (NOBILITY), who did not have to worry about their day to day Existence. Buddhist teaching , therefore, is centered around Future Planning. ..Christianity rejects or ignores Future Planning.
Christianity believes in a Human, Father like God , who takes care of your Future.... Buddhism , on the other hand believes in a set of Universal and Eternal Laws , that governs the Material and Psychological Universe --on the basis of which , you can make future planning.
Modern day Scientists , have succeeded in combining , these two concepts and succeeded in Cosmological Studies.
A simple way to start with , will be , to study popular books on Cosmology.... This will help you ,to acquire Universal Consciousness, in-spite-of the stresses and pains , you are living with.
It's not manditory but if we plan on living in a world with mandatory attatchments we certainly need to know how to practice in the world so we can learn how to let go of those mandatory attatchments. Attatchment certainly isn't mandatory but maybe I'm not getting what you mean.
Silence isn't needed with vipassana(ok, ok, I mean with the kind of vipassana I practice). Silence is only very necessary for concentration practices. In The Mahasi Vipassana Method I was taught, we are not trying to get to any special state of mind but only whatever comes up in awareness. It's so simple I thought there had to be more to it but there wasn't and I wasted a lot of time trying to complicate the teaching.
So, I had a problem, did I need to go to a monestary? No. I had to find a good teacher.
If we plan on living in a monestary we certainly need to know how to practice in a monestary. Monestaries are great because everyone is on the same page and there are usually good teachers but the same could be said about a meditation center down in the middle of the city, were there are probably some good lay teachers and good monastic teachers.
Yes. It is important to humble yourself with why you would even try. If there is no birth, decay and death there would be no Buddha. Reflection upon these three and your imminent fate should give you proper focus. If you lack this, try to obtain it by looking at the suffering around you and within you.
Once you have a clear fear of your imminent fate, you will then get intrinsic motivation to practice the solution.
Even experienced monks therefore practice marananussathi (contemplating imminent death) to avoid being late at meditation.