I’ve been severly jetlagged this week, so in moments of broken sleep I thought I’d start to get an understanding of Vipassana. On Saturday I made a list from Amazon, took a train from Paddington to Charing Cross to find Foyles. It was a beautiful day to be lost for two hours without a map. I found Foyles but it was Borders across the road that had what I was looking for.
Over the past several years I myself have been spending time with Zen. So it was interesting to come across Gunaratana’s description of the difference between the two in his book Mindfulness in Plain English. He says that the one approach in Zen “is the direct plunge into awareness by sheer force of will [by sitting]”, the other is “that of tricking the mind out of conscious thought and into pure awareness [by koan].” In Vipassana on the other hand “One’s attention is carefully directed to an intense examination of certain aspects of one’s own existence.”
The effect of discovering this was to affirm the role of Zen in my life. But what I do do is have regular therapy sessions, during which I examine my life. And while noone can do it for you I certainly find it useful to have another point of view. I use psychosynthesis psychotherapy which has some strong similarites to Buddhist practice and that gives me enough for the time being to work on myself.