Following up from this answer - What is 'dry insight' exactly and how does it work. Is it a practice that someone will activity engage in or is it something that just happens to someone - a flash of inspiration out of the blue? I'm confused about how one could practice insight independent of any samatha practice if that is the meaning of it.

  • People who practice just dry insight seem to often be very dry in the loving-kindness department. A lot of dry practitioners practice Metta as well and that helps give the practitioner an attitude that leads them to peace & happiness. A cat is toying with a mouse...one monk says "look at Samsara over there" and does nothing to help the mouse. Another monk comes along and immediately shoos away the kitty. Who do you think practiced Metta? Are both monks correct? Does one have a better attitude?
    – Lowbrow
    Commented Aug 26, 2018 at 17:55
  • @Lowbrow Why shoo the cat away? Who are you being compassionate toward? If it's a house cat, well-fed and taken care of, perhaps the answer seems simple. But, if it's a feral cat? Do you shoo the cat away and deprive it of its meal? It seems you've forgotten the Jakata story of the Bodhisatta feeding his own body to a starving tigress to save her cubs. It's definitely samsara, sure. But is it metta to disrupt the natural flow? Or is that just creating a different kind of suffering?
    – A.Ellett
    Commented Jul 19, 2022 at 13:29

3 Answers 3


Dry insight or bare insight (suddha-vipassana) is the 'direct' way (Pali: ekayano maggo) to insight (nibbana), without jhana meditation practice (i.e. without 'upacara samadhi' or 'appana samadhi').

This direct 'momentary concentration' is called in Pali parikamma samadhi. This is the tradition of Mahasi Sayadaw; U Ba Khin and S.N. Goenka and others. The practitioners are called 'bare insighters' or 'dry' insighters.

You can find more information in 'The Progress of Insight (Visuddhinana-katha)' by Mahasi Sayadaw (1994): 'This approach to the ultimate goal of Buddhist meditation is called ‘bare insight’ because insight into the three characteristics of existence is made use of exclusively here, dispensing with the prior development of full concentrative absorption (jhana).’


"Dry insight", is not practicing without concentration but it is practicing without cultivating much jhana.

  • I wonder what the word 'dry' is implying? When I first heard the term, I though it meant an intellectual realization, rather than one based on an inner experience. Another answer says this (it is based on direct awareness of the 3 characteristics of experience) but also says that it involves a flash of insight, if I understand correctly. In what sense is it 'dry' or what would be considered not dry?
    – user2341
    Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 13:26
  • 2
    @no comprende It just means that there is no one pointed meditation or samatha but instead momentary concentration is used. Momentary concentration is when you jump from one meditation object to another with an anchor in the breath. So usually, we start out watching the breath and whatever distracts us is what we turn our awareness to until it is no longer a distraction and then we go back to the breath.
    – Lowbrow
    Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 13:41
  • Wow. So many ways to peel the onion. I often feel after reading various descriptions that I have done many of them spontaneously at various times. I was instructed in a few ways, but encountered lots of experiences along the way that I was never told about. Big world.
    – user2341
    Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 13:59
  • Yes, there is. Like I don't know if Satori and Nibbana are even the same kind of enlightenment. Did you know that there is supposed to be a rough standard progression of spiritual progress that spans all religions? In the Mahasi tradition they use a 16 stage progression and they have this same progression in Christian Mysticism although it's hard to recognize as the same thing so it's debatable. First we get to know the difference between mind and body then we start to understand cause and effect between mind and body and so on up to 16 stages. It's can be challenging but rewarding.
    – Lowbrow
    Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 14:49
  • There might well be stages that apply to many people. Have you read about the research topic: Non-Symbolic Experience? Even with stages, people vary enough that what works for one does not always work for another. As I understand it, Satori refers to a sudden insight, or "awakening experience", but Nibbana would be a persistent condition of realization. Knowing is rewarding.
    – user2341
    Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 18:22

This is the practice aimed at developing insight before wisdom. Ideally you should aim a system of practice which both can develop but taking a natural course in which develops first as both are needed. E.g. practice of Anapana.

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