At the apparent level, external objects seem to produce varying responses in us through our sense organs. We like, dislike or are indifferent to various experiences in the outside world. But in reality, the mind is actually in contact with various bodily sensations, the inner bio-chemical flow caused when we come in contact with sensory objects - pleasant or unpleasant vision to the eye, sound to the ear, touch to the body, taste to the tongue, smell to the nose, pleasant or unpleasant thought in the mind. This is the apparent reality.
But the deepest part of the mind has nothing to do with these external, worldly objects, says Principal Vipassana teacher Sayagyi U S.N.Goenka. He has often reminded that the root of the mind, where the actual conditioning takes place, is constantly in touch with the bodily sensations. In reality, one is reacting with craving and aversion to the bodily sensations, not to external objects.
Vipassana practice involves experiencing this deeper reality, and coming out of delusions.
The actual story of our life is the actual reality of bodily sensations, and how we respond to it.
This is not a philosophy but a truth to be experienced by pattivedhana: dividing, dissecting, disintegrating, dissolving you reach the stage of bhanga (or total dissolution, in which the Vipassana student experiences the physical structure of one's body as subtle sensations, very rapidly arising and passing away as wavelets, as a free flow). You witness the solidified, material structure, the body, as actually nothing but subatomic particles, kalāpas (sub-atomic, indivisible, building block of matter), arising and passing.
Similarly the mind and mental contents manifest as very solidified, intensified emotions—anger, fear, or passion—which overpower you. Vipassana, pattivedhana, helps you. With piercing, penetrating paññā you divide, dissect, disintegrate to the stage where this intense emotion is nothing but wavelets. The whole material and mental structures and the mental contents are nothing but wavelets, wavelets, anicca, anicca.
Then the reality about this "I" or "mine" or "myself" becomes clear. They are just conventional words. There is no "I" to possess this mind-matter structure, these material and mental phenomena. Mere mind and matter constantly interact, constantly influence each other, and become a cause for the arising of each other, resulting in currents, cross-currents, and under-currents going on in what you call "I." Anattā becomes clear at the experiential level.
Anicca, dukkha, anattā—that is, impermanence, misery, and egolessness—should not just be taken as a sectarian philosophy. They don’t apply just to those who call themselves 'Buddhists' (*). Everyone, man or woman, of any colour or religion, is merely a constant interaction of mind and matter. Out of ignorance, enormous attachment develops to this false ego, this "I," which brings nothing but misery.
The law of nature becomes so clear with pattivedhana, with piercing, penetrating paññā. Without this, mere awareness will not help because you will always remain with the apparent truth, and you won’t understand the real, ultimate truth. A circus girl on a tightrope is very aware of every step she takes. Her life and parts of her body are in danger. Still she is far from liberation, because she is only with apparent truth, not with paññā inside."
This penetrating wisdom of Vipassana practice, or pattivedhana, is the laser-beam like powerful inner light of wisdom that is our real refuge and safe harbour in the voyage through life - from day to day, moment to moment.
Nothing in the outside world can help us as much as the penetrating inner Dhamma light of being aware and equanimous to bodily sensations. The closer we live with this truth, with Dhamma, the more happy and beneficial our lives will be.
* The Buddha did not teach 'Buddhism' (Why the Grand Vipassana Pagoda)
* Special One-day course on October 4
* Global Pagoda development projects