Author Topic: Vimalaramsi and his peculiar view on vipassana?  (Read 233 times)


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Vimalaramsi and his peculiar view on vipassana?
« on: September 29, 2020, 07:09:38 PM »
Hi everybody,

I was reading the book 'The path to Nibbana' which is about the method devised by Vimalaramsi. I am always open to other viewpoints or interpretations but rather quickly i was quite startled by the claims he was making about 'traditional' vipassana methods. I have a hard time seeing how you could substantiate the claims being made.

To quote what is being written:

'The “Dry Insight” practice or the Mahāsi Vipassanā method seems to me to be another form of concentration, a one-pointed and focused meditation practice. What is attained is accomplished by pushing away the hindrances and grasping hard onto the meditation object instead of simply “knowing” the object as the suttas say to do. It is a powerful, focused bearing down on the object, without the Relax step. They say, “Go into your pain and get into the middle of it. See its nature of arising and passing away.” Keep looking at it and noting it until it passes away — but that is controlling your awareness, which creates tension'.

This looks to be a fairly significant mischaracterization of vipassana. As far as I understand it's not about grasping hard at all onto the meditation object but opening up to it in a gentle, ‘relaxed’ and open manner allowing it to be without trying to force it one way or the other. I also don’t agree with the phrasing’ controlling your awareness’. It’s much more akin to a natural progression/dynamic. There is a bit of irony here as in it seems to be that his ‘willed relaxation’ and resmiling is more of a controlling nature then the method of traditional vipassana.

It appears to me that he is simply describing the process that can occur when one is ‘too tightly’ focused on a certain phenomenon often in order to force it in a particular direction without being sufficiently aware that that is what one is doing. This is fundamentally different then being fully attentive in a balanced way to painful emotions to allow them to be felt and worked through. The alternative is likely going to be that you are cutting yourself off and entering a trance like state. Exactly the thing he is advising against as it relates to suppression and one pointed concentration.

I also fail to see the whole 'relax step’ as something unique or revolutionary and needlessly confusing. It seems to be a rather curious repackaging of vipassana.
If there is still ‘tension’(which is also a problematic term in and of itself as pointed out by a monk on dhammawheel in relation to vimalaramsi's views) then there is likely some sort of hindrance in the mind. I fail to see how he is not simply talking about a lack of awareness and precision when it comes to aversion in the mind. There also seems to be an artificial distinction of sorts between ‘letting go’ and ‘relaxing’ which again is just not helpful in the aforementioned context. One to a degree includes the other. Although letting go is more about ease than it is about ‘relaxing’. Further more it almost seems that he is implying that any method that does not include this ‘step’, which is probably every method besides his, ultimately leads to a state of delusion?

He then goes on and says: ‘ With the TWIM meditation, you observe a painful feeling, knowing it is there, you release your attention from it. You relax any tension and tightness that is bringing your awareness to the pain. Do not dwell on it; that is, don’t think about it, analyze it, or bring aversion into it.The more we pay attention to something the greater our attention is drawn and thoughts are created. ’.

Again needlessly confusing use of terminology. Attention is not the same as dwelling. It seems he is talking about unwise attention. Vipassana is not dwelling. Releasing your attention depending on what or in what way? How do you deal with trauma? You release your attention? Or do you fully attend and open up to it in order to integrate it, allowing wholeness of being after which ‘release’ will likely follow. I saw an individual on one of these forums interpreting his teaching as to ‘never stick with a distraction as opposed to vipassana where you stay with a predominant experience like pain’. Its a nonsensical viewpoint and possibly damaging to boot.

On top of all this he describes a certain practice as a mix between buddhist and hindu traditions that could be called choiceless awareness: ‘The practice focuses on observing whatever arises in the present moment and not trying to control or analyze. Some call this choiceless awareness. It certainly turns your practice to observing, rather than “trying” too hard to achieve a certain state or experience’

More irony being displayed here in that he seems to be describing vipassana more accurately in this context than when he was actually describing it.

After this I started to read up on him on certain forums including this one. It seems there are people that have benefitted from his way of practice but unfortunately there have also been plenty people that have pointed out some of the dubious claims and practices he espouses. Plus there is a willingness to dismiss other teachers in ways that I find rather unbecoming and is perhaps the reason he characterizes vipassana in the way that he does.

I am curious how you guys view any of this but especially his description of vipassana and why he would characterize it in this puzzling way?

As for me i’ll probably steer clear from this individual.

I will put some links here of the threads where he is being discussed:

« Last Edit: September 29, 2020, 07:55:13 PM by wolf »


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