FAQ ABOUT MEDITATION AND RETREATS
About Attending Events
Do I need to preregister or sign-up for classes?
Yes. All classes are required sign-up.
How much do the classes cost?
Our aim is to inspire a culture of generosity in the way we share Buddhist Teachings. Therefore all our meditation and Buddhism classes are offered on a dana (donation) basis. What you pay is left to your generosity.
Your generosity, given from the heart, is a gift that supports Dharma study, meditation and practice to bring immediate and long-term happiness to our lives.
Since dana is not payment for goods or services rendered, your donations are tax deductible, as the Thousand Buddha Temple is a registered 501(c)(3) corporation.
What language is used in the class?
The classes are currently available only in English.
Who runs the class?
Mr. S. N. Pham is the Principal Teacher of the Thousand Buddha Temple and its Happy Land of One Thousand Buddhas Meditation Center. A lifelong Buddhist, Mr. Pham has comprehensive knowledge and experience of both Theravada and Mahayana teachings and meditation practices as applied to contemporary needs. He has studied with many Asian and Tibetan masters. In addition to Buddhist teachings for everyday life, Mr. Pham also provides private consultations for professionals on applying Buddhist principles to effectively handle business challenges and meditation techniques to manage stress and other problems.
Mr. Pham was an Air Force pilot during the Vietnam War and escaped to the United States after the war’s end in 1975. He attended the University of Florida, earning a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering in 1980, and then took a job with IBM Corporation. Over the course of his 33-year career, Mr. Pham’s focus, dedication and strong people skills enabled him to assume various managerial and consultant positions, helping IBM customers worldwide to improve their IT business process and people management.
After retiring from IBM in 2013, Mr. Pham and his wife helped to establish the Thousand Buddha Temple and its Meditation Center in Greensboro, North Carolina, to spread the Buddha’s teachings and meditation practices to people of all religions, sects and socio-cultural backgrounds, enabling them to deal with stress and suffering, and helping them integrate ethical principles and spiritual values into their daily lives. This is an expression of gratitude towards the Buddha and his teachings for the good and benefit of many, out of compassion for all beings.
Are there pre-requisites for attending the Weekly Meditation Practice on Sundays?
Attendance at the Weekly Meditation Practice requires experience with Vipassana or completion of the Introduction to Insight Meditation class. In general, one must understand the principles of practice and the correct way to practice, and must realize when your practice is right or wrong. If you do not have prior experience with Vipassana practice, you can request an exemption describing your intention and attend a briefing to prepare you for the Weekly Meditation Practice.
What is the schedule of the Weekly Meditation Practice on every Sunday?
09:00am – 09:30am: Sitting Meditation
09:30am – 10:00am: Dharma talk and Discussions
10:00am – 10:30am: Indoor/Outdoor Sitting or Walking Meditation
10:30am – 10:45am: Questions & Answers
What is the schedule of the Quarterly All-Day Meditation Retreat?
EARLY MEDITATION (Optional Upon Request)
06:00 am – 07:00 am: Observation of Shurangama Mantra Chanting
08:00 am – 09:00 am: Breakfast
1st HALF of DAY
09:00 am – 10:45 am: Guided Insight Meditation
10:45 am – 11:00 am: Break
11:00 am – 12:00 pm: Metta Meditation – Observation of Avalokiteshvara Mantra chanting
2nd HALF of DAY
12:00 pm – 01:00 pm: Lunch
01:00 pm – 02:00 pm: Individual Meditation
02:00 pm – 03:00 pm: Dharma Talks
03:00 pm – 04:00 pm: Sitting or Walking Meditation
04:00 pm – 05:00 pm: Closing Gratitude and Questions & Answers
Do I need to bring my own cushion? Are there chairs?
Cushions are provided, as well as chairs if you prefer.
What should I wear?
There is no dress code. However, to minimize distraction and respect the meditative efforts of others, please consider dressing modestly (e.g., refrain from skimpy or revealing attire).
Can I come to the Meditation Center to meditate outside the class hours?
The meditation hall is open for you to come and meditate from 9 am to 5 pm on Sundays and Mondays and between scheduled classes. Please call 919-349-6892 or email [email protected] to ensure no program is scheduled during the time you wish to meditate. The meditation hall, however, is not open for self-meditation on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturdays
Does Meditation Center offer individual consultations outside the weekly teaching classes?
We also offer private consultations in-person and over the phone. Private Consultation provides great support and guidance for the students who have attended at least one class at the center. Please call 919-349-6892 or email [email protected] to schedule a private session of 30 to 60 minutes.
About Vipassana (Insight Meditation)
What is Vipassana?
Vipassana is an ancient and beneficial meditation comes from the tradition of Theravada Buddhism. There are two major schools of Buddhism – Mahayana and Theravada. Mahayana tradition developed as Buddhism spread to the Northern Asian countries of Tibet, China, Japan, Vietnam, etc. Theravada tradition stayed in Southern Asian and spread to Sri Lanka, Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.
Vipassana is an objective observation of the functioning of the mind-body phenomenon from moment to moment at the experiential level. With proper guidance, the student can experience the universal truths of “impermanence,” “suffering” and the “absence of ego.” Through observing the body and mind as constantly changing things, the student develops clear comprehension (sampajanna) and mindfulness (sati), which lead to the gradual eradication of mental defilements and the attainment of liberation from suffering. Practice of Vipassana cleanses mental impurities and leads to the formation of a balanced mind that is full of love and compassion.
It is believed to be the form of meditation practice taught by the Buddha himself, and although the specific form of the practice may vary, it is the basis of all traditions of Buddhist meditation.
What are the benefits of Vipassana?
Vipassana helps to develop wholesomeness that benefits mental health as well as physical health. It helps you grow in a broader sense by cultivating an impressive mind and body. Benefits include:
- Mastering your mind and better control of your actions moment-by-moment during your lifetime.
- Better awareness of how your actions are influenced and controlled by your subconscious.
- Avoid bad actions such as lying, stealing or killing that bring about unhappiness in the long run and create negative potential (bad karma).
- Cultivate good actions such as generosity, righteousness, and meditation that bring about happiness in the long run and create positive potential (good karmas).
- Purify your mind giving you power to reduce suffering by becoming less attached to material things and reducing your uncontrolled cravings for those things.
Mastering your mind results in living a happier life and observable benefits like:
- More success in your endeavors.
- Better decision making and creative problem solving.
- Better control of emotions like anger, sadness, and fear.
- Combating stress more effectively.
- Feeling positive and confident.
- Feeling gratitude towards nature.
- Improving peace of mind.
Overall healthy lifestyle.
Can someone who suffers from drug or alcohol addictions benefit from practicing Vipassana?
All addictions like drug or alcohol result from impurities of your mind. When an urge arises in your mind, just accept the fact that an urge to smoke (or drink alcohol) has arisen in the mind. When this urge arises, along with it there is a sensation in the body. Do not take any action to satisfy or suppress it, but instead objectively observe any sensation as constantly changing things or impermanence (arises, passes, arises, passes …). This observation is with equanimity and with no reaction. The urge to smoke (or drink alcohol) soon weakens and passes away. Through continued practicing of Vipassana, the habit pattern of the mind to react with the urge to smoke (or drink alcohol) is changed. Making use of this technique in daily practice will start to change the behavior pattern. Different kinds of impurities take different amounts of time to come out of.
This is a simple explanation of how Vipassana practice for objective observation with clear comprehension (sampajanna) and mindfulness (sati) to penetrate these sensations leads to the development of insight wisdom (panna). Practicing Vipassana, with proper guidance, will eradicate the causes of the sensations (mental defilements) to finally come out of the addictions.
Can Vipassana help me to deal with anger?
Like drug or alcohol addictions, anger or fear are impurities of your mind. Practicing Vipassana daily, with proper guidance, will eradicate the causes of the anger sensations (mental defilements) so that you escape the anger arising in your mind. The world of suffering and freedom has a lot to do with how we choose to respond to what is given to us, to the present moment itself. A basic principle of mindfulness is that we cannot experience freedom and spaciousness unless we recognize what is happening.
Practicing Vipassana by observing the respiration helps us to come to a place where we don’t react habitually to our inner urges and emotions. That place is a good foundation from which to look carefully at situations and make wise decisions. The more we practice, the stronger and wiser our concentration gets and awareness improves. If anger arises in the mind, we will instantly be aware of it. If we continue to observe the anger and the breath, the impurity of anger will be removed.
Can Vipassana help me handle my emotions?
Emotions are part of us. Most of the time emotions are a reaction to something. We usually want to suppress unpleasant emotions, and cling to pleasant emotions and indulge them. With Vipassana meditation, you learn to mindfully accept emotions without judgment and allow them to arise and pass away rather than indulging or suppressing them because both indulging and suppressing emotions are forms of craving that actually feed the emotion. Though mindfulness, gradually you will start to notice how your habitual reactions are tied to your emotions. As with other mental defilements, accepting emotions, rather than indulging or suppressing them, allows them to arise and pass away. With this practice, you can break away from your old habitual reaction patterns and respond to circumstances more freely.
In Mahayana tradition, sometimes an emotion is described as an impediment to enlightenment by upaya which is translated “skillful means” or “expedient means.” Upaya-kaushalya is a concept emphasizing that practitioners may use their own specific methods or techniques that fit the situation in order to gain enlightenment. The most important point is that emotion is applied with wisdom and compassion and that it is appropriate in its time and place. When emotion is used consciously by a skilled bodhisattva, upaya can help the stuck become unstuck and the perplexed to gain insight. To understand this concept, we need to know that Mahayana Buddhists see the historical Buddha’s teachings as provisional, preparing for the later Mahayana teachings.
There are difficult emotions, such as deep grief and depression, that can stay with you for a long time. You need to have the courage to accept these difficult emotions and you may want to ask others for help.
How can we deal with everyday stress?
Even if you are under a lot of stress, make an effort to meditate and it will help you combat stress more effectively and better control emotions like anger, sadness, and fear. Not only can meditation make you feel less stressed, it will also make your mind sharper and help you succeed more in life. The more you meditate and apply the experience, the more you will feel clarity and confidence in what to do with your life, resulting in less stress.
Can I avoid bad karma by practicing Vipassana?
The law of karma refers to the universal Law of Cause and Effect that every volitional act brings about a certain result. If we act motivated by greed, hatred, or delusion, we are planting the seed of suffering; when our acts are motivated by generosity, love, or wisdom, then we are creating the karmic conditions for happiness.
The law of karma can be understood on two levels. On one level, karma refers to the experience of cause and effect over a period of time. We perform an action, and sometime later we begin to experience its results. The other level of understanding karma has to do with the quality of mind in the very moment of action. When we experience a mind state of love, there comes naturally, along with it, a feeling of openness and love that is its immediate fruit; similarly, when there are moments of greed or hatred, in addition to whatever future results will come, we also experience the painful energies that arise with those states.
The best course of action to avoid bad karma is to generate good actions, behaviors and thoughts which will create good fruit to counteract the result of any bad karma, and sow further good seeds for the future.
Since Vipassana is based on a strong foundation of morality and ethical conduct, practicing Vipassana will create a lot merit or positive potential to generate good actions, behaviors and thoughts. Also through mindfulness, you become aware of the nature of your actions. Your direct awareness of how the karmic law is working in each moment is a strong motivation to develop skillful states of mind that create happiness for you in the moment, as well as produce the fruit of well-being in the future. With a purified mind, through wisdom, you can see the true nature of existence and liberation from attachments to the material world. This will help you overcome any suffering caused by your past karma. No matter how unfavorable the situation, you are your own masters: the masters of your mind, the masters of your future. You can create a good future for yourself.
How can practicing Vipassana help in dealing with problems of the outside world?
Practicing Vipassana to experience the reality inside will result in confidence, strength and increased ability to handle and resolve issues in the outside world.
I am happy and I have almost everything I wanted to have. What can Vipassana help me with?
Vipassana meditation is for the cure of diseases of the mind in the form of mental defilements like greed, hatred, delusion, etc. We all have these mental diseases almost all of the time. In order to at least control them we need Vipassana meditation. You are happy now partially because of what you have, but this is only a delusion. As a result you are dependent on what you have. There is no guarantee that you will have the same fortunate situation in the future. Actually you are not truly happy now because mentally you probably have to think about how to keep what you have and worry that something bad may happen anytime. These are also a form of mental defilements. If some unfortunate things do happen, like losing your job or you are experiencing a financial hardship for any reason, you will suffer. This is the “Suffering of Change” defined in the Four Noble Truths.
Practicing Insight Meditation, through wisdom, you can see the true nature of existence and achieve the highest happiness of full liberation from attachments to the material world. This practice will help you to truly be happy with what you have now, and overcome sufferings in any future situations.
About How to Meditate
Is Vipassana meditation difficult to practice?
Yes and no. We practice Vipassana mainly to cleanse mental impurities and this has to do with understanding and controlling our mind, and the mind is most unruly. So it is not easy to practice Vipassana because it is not easy to understand and control the mind. On the other hand, practicing Vipassana is easy because all you have to do is to observe yourself (your body and mind) and nothing else.
To effectively practice Vipassana, you need a genuine desire to practice and follow the instructions. You also need to have confidence in the practice and the teacher and an open mind to try it and see what it can do for you. Practicing Vipassana requires a lot of patience in dealing with sensations in your body and distractions of your mind. Also, for this practice purity of morals is very important because without pure moral and ethical conducts, you cannot develop good concentration or peace of mind.
Do I have to become a Buddhist to practice Vipassana?
Vipassana is universal. It is an art of living and a way of life to purify your mind. There is nothing which can be called particularly Buddhist in Vipassana meditation. There is no element of religion. It is a scientific investigation and examination of your body and mind, and the connection between body and mind. While the context of Vipassana is the essence of what the Buddha taught, the practices we teach at the Meditation Center are universal. They can be used by people of different religions or by people following no religion. Everyone can practice Vipassana freely at any time and place without conflicts arising from race, culture or the religion to which they belong.
Do I need a teacher to practice Vipassana?
Vipassana meditation is about mastering your mind and better controlling your actions moment-by-moment during your lifetime. The techniques include sati (mindfulness) and samatha (calm), developed through practices such as anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing), and combined with the contemplation of impermanence as observed in the bodily and mental changes, to gain insight into the true nature of this reality. The stages of meditation for mastering your mind and better controlling of your actions are best to learn from a proper teacher rather than from books.
With the advice of a teacher, you learn quicker and are less likely to do wrong. You need a teacher who is competent to give instructions, correct your mistakes, and give guidance when you have trouble in the course of meditation. In addition, based on his or her own experiences, your teacher can let you know of how much progress you are making. There are some meditators who think they are making progress while in reality, they are not making progress at all. And many times people do not know if they are making progress or not. If you cannot find a teacher, you may rely on books, although no book can entirely take the place of a teacher.
What can I expect to experience with Vipassana?
The ultimate purpose of Vipassana is to eradicate mental impurities from your mind altogether. Before this stage, there are benefits of peace of mind (tranquility), and the ability to accept things as they come. Vipassana helps you to see things as they truly are, not as they appear to be. Things appear to be permanent, desirable and substantial, but actually they are not. When you practice Vipassana meditation, you will see for yourself the arising and disappearing of mental and physical phenomena. As a result, you will have a clearer comprehension of what is going on in your mind and body. You will be able to accept things as they come to you with less agitation and deal with situations in a more positive way. The benefit of Vipassana is cessation of one’s accumulations of defilements or mental impurities and leads to the formation of a balanced mind that is full of love and compassion. Progress can be verified through your own experience.
Why do we observe the breath instead of other parts of body during meditation?
Because it is clearly stated in the Satipatthana Sutta: “Nisidati pallankam abhujitva ujum kayam panidhaya parimukham satim upatthapetva so satova assasati sato passasati = Sits down, bends in his legs crosswise on his lap, keeps his body erect, and arouses mindfulness in the object of meditation, namely, the breath which is in front of him. Mindful he breathes in, and mindful he breathes out.” Also, one of the oldest forms of Buddhist meditation is breath meditation, which was called anapanasati or “mindfulness of breathing.” The Buddha’s description makes it clear that this one form of meditation leads to advanced practice that culminates in liberation itself.
Breath is the foundation of many forms of Buddhist meditation practice. We use the breath to help anchor us to the present. By repeatedly coming back to rest in the breath, we are countering the strong forces of distraction. Since our breath is not independent from our mental and emotional life, often our emotions, attitudes, and concerns are expressed in the way we breathe.
Practically speaking, we observe the breath as the primary object of contemplating the body in the body (kayanupassana) within The Four Foundations of Mindfulness for several reasons. One is that it is very sensitive and tied in with the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems and the conscious and unconscious aspects of mind. Two, since we can breathe automatically or intentionally, it is easy for us to observe the dynamic and impermanent states of our body compared to other objects of our body, our mind or mind objects (thoughts). Therefore, when practicing Vipassana technique by observing our breathing in and out, we can mindfully penetrate more deeply into the unconscious levels of the subconscious mind to root out unwholesome states of mind that are only temporarily suppressed by concentration.
Can Vipassana be practiced outdoors?
In general, meditating outdoors is a great way to invigorate your practice and keep it going strong. This is why many meditation retreats and monasteries of all spiritual traditions are often found in the mountains or deep in the forest.
However, a beginner meditator is usually not mature enough to sit outdoors. Inexperienced meditators are likely to be distracted by or be confused by sensations on the body as caused by external conditions. Also, meditators may get caught up in sensory outdoor delights and paying attention or imagine and becoming attached to certain aesthetically pleasing experiences.
Advanced Vipassana courses should therefore include outdoor sittings and more experienced students (capable of maintaining self-awareness without distraction) encouraged to intermittently meditate beneath a tree. Doing so acknowledges not only that we participate with reality in its entirety but that nature is a key role player in our own evolving prospects for self-realization.
What is the importance of generosity, ethics and maintaining the Five Precepts to Vipassana practice?
There is a gradual training, an expansion of the three categories of the Noble Eightfold Path, to cultivate spiritual development. This training progressively moves from the cultivation of generosity, to morality, to ethics, to mindfulness practices, to concentration, to insight, and finally to liberation. If you skip some of the early stages in the progression and only focus on awareness practices, particularly mindfulness, you may be bypassing the cultivation of healthy psychological qualities of mind and heart that support its foundation.
As generosity develops, it becomes strength of inner openness that supports the more challenging practices of mindfulness. From here, the gradual training expands morality (sila) to include ethics. For a layperson, ethical training means learning to live by the five precepts: 1) To refrain from killing any living being, 2) To refrain from stealing or taking what is not given, 3) To refrain from sensual (including sexual) misconduct, 4) To refrain from speaking what is not true, and 5) To refrain from intoxicants that cause us to be careless or heedless. The precepts are not meant as moralistic commandments, but rather as guidelines for cultivation. They are taught because they strengthen qualities of restraint, contentment, honesty, clarity and respect for life.
Once the foundations of generosity and ethics are established, the gradual training continues with the cultivation of meditation practices.
How does Vipassana differ from Tranquility Meditation?
The purpose of Tranquility (Samatha) Meditation or Concentration (Samadhi) Meditation, is subduing the defilements known as the five hindrances (Panca Nivarana Dhamma) so that wisdom and insight can arise. The five hindrances are sensory desire (kāmacchanda), Ill-will (vyāpāda), Sloth-and-torpor (thīna-middha), Restlessness-and-worry (uddhacca-kukkucca), and Doubt (vicikicchā). The practice of Tranquility Meditation results in the realization of the mental absorptions (Jhanas). There are the four form jhanas, and four formless jhanas. However, these Jhanas are temporary states of mind.
The Buddha taught forty objects that can be used for Tranquility Meditation based on the nature of the person. Breathing Awareness Meditation (Anapana Sati Bhavana) is the most popular and is what the Buddha himself used to attain Enlightenment.
When practicing Breathing Awareness Meditation you may find that the defilements are very strong and may distract you completely from the Breathing Awareness Meditation. There are four protective meditations to assist with the subduing of the hindrances. They are Loving Kindness Meditation (Metta Bhavana) for anger, Impurities of the Body (Asuba Bhavana) for desire, Meditation on Death (Maranaussathi Bhavana) for sloth and torpor, and Virtues of the Buddha (Buddhanussathi Bhavana) for doubt. To eradicate the five hindrances permanently and to eliminate the remaining defilements known as the Latent Tendencies (Anusaya), one also needs to practice Insight Meditation (Vipassana Bhavana).
The purpose of Vipassana meditation is the practice of mindfulness, the cultivation of clear, stable and nonjudgmental awareness. While mindfulness practice can be highly effective in helping to bring calmness and clarity to the pressures of daily life, it is also a spiritual path that gradually dissolves the barriers to the full development of our wisdom, compassion and freedom.
Often meditators question as to when they should move from Tranquility Meditation to Insight Meditation. Usually people move from Tranquility Meditation to Insight Meditation during the first jhana, but when you should move depends on your preference and your nature. It is recommended that you speak with your teacher and seek instruction and guidance on this subject.
What is Loving-Kindness Meditation?
Metta Bhavana, or Loving-Kindness Meditation, is a method of developing compassion. It comes from the Buddhist tradition, but it can be adapted and practiced by anyone, regardless of religious affiliation; Loving-Kindness Meditation is essentially about cultivating love. All schools of Buddhism engage in some form of metta, either as an aspiration or as a formal meditation, and it has become an especially popular practice in the West. The word metta comes from the ancient Pali language (the Sanskrit word is maitri); it may be translated as “goodwill,” “loving kindness,” or “benevolence.”
Loving-kindness is an unconditional, inclusive love, a love with wisdom. It has no conditions; it does not depend on whether one “deserves” it or not; it is not restricted to friends and family; it extends out from personal categories to include all living beings. Ultimately, all beings are included. If the heart and mind are filled with benevolence, there is no space left for negative emotions to arise and thrive.
Metta meditation may be practiced in silence, as visualization, or by repeating verses such as “May everyone be happy, may everyone be well, may everyone be safe, may everyone be at peace, may everyone be filled with loving kindness.
The following are quotes about compassion from The Dalai Lama:
- “The root of the path of Mahayana is love and, most particularly, bodhicitta based on compassion.”
- “Real compassion is based on reason. Ordinary compassion or love is limited by desire or attachment.”
“Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.”
Can I practice Loving-Kindness with Vipassana?
Yes. Actually the meditation of loving-kindness (Metta Bhavana) is a very good fit to accompany your Vipassana meditation.
In metta meditation, we direct loving-kindness toward ourselves and then towards somebody we love, somebody we have difficulty with, and ultimately toward all beings without distinction. This is a good concept, but it is very difficult in practice to develop this attitude. Since practicing Vipassana cleanses mental impurities and leads to the formation of a balanced mind that is full of love and compassion, this is a perfect pre-requirement for metta meditation. Therefore to be really effective, loving-kindness meditation should be practiced along with Vipassana meditation.
You can have a separate metta meditation session or incorporate metta meditation in the intention and dedication of your Vipassana practice. In the same way that making a dedication enhances and empowers your spiritual practice, loving-kindness can empower all your actions in daily life. The merit accrued from any action—even if it is just washing the dishes or commuting to work—can be dedicated to the benefit of all beings. That means you can make a loving-kindness (metta) dedication at the conclusion of a spiritual practice, or at the end of your day, after a meal, or at the conclusion of any activity.
What are the benefits of Sutras and Mantras in Meditation?
By reciting sutras or mantras daily, you can reduce stress, calm your mind and increase inner peace. This also helps you to focus on the teachings, and plant the seeds of Enlightenment in your subconscious.
There are several different types of texts that are chanted as part of Buddhist liturgies. The chant may be all or part of a sutra (also called a sutta). A sutra is a sermon of the Buddha or one of the Buddha’s disciples. The chant can be a mantra—a short sequence of words or syllables, often chanted repetitively, thought to have transformative power. A dharani is something like a mantra, although usually longer. Dharanis are said to contain the essence of a teaching, and repetitive chanting of a dharani may evoke some beneficial power, such as protection or healing.
Can I practice Tantric with Vipassana?
If you are truly practicing tantric, you should already have a guru or spiritual teacher. In Tibetan Buddhism, a guru is essential to provide guidance during tantric practice. In this case, you should refer this question to your spiritual teacher. On the other hand, there are many people who are practicing different Mahayana traditions, but turn to Tibetan Buddhism to receive blessing from a spiritual teacher or ritual.
In general, the calm abiding aspects of Vipassana is the foundation to all of the meditation practices found in the subsequent paths of the Mahayana and Vajrayana. Vipassana helps build a foundation for compassion, awareness, and creativity in all aspects of life. This will help the beginners to truly taste the benefits of meditation before getting to complex practices.
Can I practice Pure Land with Vipassana?
The Pure Land practice is a practice of mindful reciting the name of Amitabha Buddha which allows the Buddha merits and blessing to secure a good rebirth in Pure Land for oneself. In general, the Pure Land method is relatively easier to practice for the average person. Vipassana can be practiced to complement the practice of Pure Land. The effects of concentration and mindfulness of Vipassana meditation can also be realized when practicing Pure Land.
Can I apply Vipassana to my daily life?
Yes. Vipassana should not be restricted to meditation. Whether you are reading, driving, eating or cooking, do it mindfully. When you are reading you should be reading, when eating it should be eating, when driving it should be only driving. Vipassana helps you to have a more constructive life by being mindful of your self-reflection and intentional choices you make in the present. The present moment is partly the result of our choices in the past and partly the result of our choices unfolding in the present.
Our Weekly Meditation Practice is designed to assist you with how to integrate Vipassana into your daily life. When you regularly participate on our Weekly Meditation Practice, based on your intention, spiritual skills, circumstances, meditation progress, and particularly your self-reflection and introspection, the teacher provides you with recommendations on the most effective ways you can apply the practice in your daily life.
If you think Vipassana is miraculous and it can instantly change your life completely, you will be disappointed. Practically speaking, Vipassana gives you power to detach from material things and reduce your uncontrolled cravings for material things. This will reduce suffering and help to achieve the highest happiness of full liberation from attachments to the material world, but it will take time and require patient and consistent effort. This practice will help you to truly be happy with what you have now, and overcome sufferings in any future situations.
How long must I practice at a time and when is the best time for meditation?
It depends on how much time you can spend for meditation. The most effective way is to practice every day since we almost always have mental defilements with us. Meditation in the morning hours is recommended because your body and mind are rested and you are away from the worries of the previous day. It is also recommended to meditate in the evening before you go to bed. But you may practice any time. There is no fixed rule about the duration of the session. In general, it is good if you can sit for one hour. For a beginner, 15 to 30 minutes are acceptable. You can sit for two or three hours if you like.