When I entered Weepasa's room the next morning, he asked me to sit down and immediately began talking about insight, “Insight results from a concentrated mind that is aware of everything it comes in contact with, but it clings to nothing. Insight is not a focused concentration centered the breath in the nose or the breath in the solar plexus. Insight is an open awareness that is bright and expansive, where you will notice everything that enters your consciousness, but you will hold onto nothing. Insight is an intense, open concentration of the sense fields where you will wait in eager anticipation of anything that might appear.
When something does make contact, your awareness will be so refined that whatever emerges is immediately reflected back to where it arose, as if your mind is a clear looking glass retaining nothing. Nothing, absolutely nothing is held in the mind. Pay close attention to these instructions, because without insight, you will be as defenseless as a rabbit when you meet the dragon. "
"But why have I spent years concentrating on my nose and solar plexus, " I asked, confused. “Why didn't I just start with this open awareness you talk about in the beginning?"
"Because the breath is one of only a handful of special concentration objects that lead to the mastering of the Great Calms, " he replied. “Concentrating on a tree, a candle, or the moon will never develop the Calms, and if your goal is the key, these Calms must be mastered first before going on to investigation and insight practice. You could never maintain your mind as a clear mirror without them, and if the calms are not mastered, then the investigation and insight will be weak instead of profound, and total liberation will be impossible. "
I had to admit that exceptional changes had occurred within me that could have never taken place without the calms. The calms, as well as investigation, were incredibly powerful.
"Therefore, " he continued, “the training you will receive here is a refinement of the preliminary powers of concentration and investigation which had to be developed first. Now I will move you to insight where your object of concentration will be whatever freely comes into your consciousness. Here, you will open your mind and let everything and anything flow in, not choosing, rejecting or desiring anything. Can you see the difference between insight and concentration?"
"I am a bit confused, " I admitted.
"Yes, I know. " Weepasa responded, Allow me put it this way; Concentration involves focusing your mind on a narrow, single object. Insight involves an expansion of your mind. When practicing insight, your mind will remain a clear, bright mirror with no agenda, there is no choosing of what to narrowly consider; everything is welcomed. You will be aware of what you are thinking and know every thought, but beyond that, you will know the knower who is watching all the thoughts, emotions, and feelings. You will sense the slightest movement of mind - each and every thought, and the depth of every emotion, but you won't hold them.
"A delicate balance is involved here, for the mind must think, just as the heart must beat, but now you will see every moment of the mind. Likewise, all physical feelings of emotion - the pain, the joy, the contentment - these will be permitted to continue until they exhaust themselves as they always will, but they will be monitored as well. Watch them dispassionately, with no judgment against or desire for.
You are now free to allow the mind and emotions to drift where they may, but you will be aware of every little tug and pull. Make no analyses of the thoughts or emotions that appear, merely watch and wait, and if nothing is there, just abide in that silent place that occurs between all the activity; the place from which everything arises. Don't make the beginner's mistake of thinking; ‘What am I feeling right now?" Questioning yourself like this involves conscious thinking and is incorrect practice. Concentration and investigation practice involved ‘somebody’ doing something; somebody going to an object and staying concentrated on it, or somebody investigating something. In insight practice, that somebody disappears. There is no going or looking, there is only what arises. There is just ‘being. '
What was he saying? “That I shouldn't try to think nor try not to think? Just sit?" This seemed too simple, not much different from normal thinking, but was it really the same? No, as I thought about it, it wasn't. I could now see that it was far beyond that.
"What I am explaining is sustained, uninterrupted, and non-discriminatory mindfulness, " said the master. “If the mindfulness is broken, you will never attain insight. Only this sustained, unbroken awareness will bring about the penetrating, non-discriminating concentration required to reveal the ‘no self, ’ or the emptiness of the mental and physical processes. This is what we do here.
Unfortunately, the things of which I speak are unintelligible to those who have not experienced the inner work. How could they begin to understand the immensity of the Great Source within us?"
He was certainly correct. If someone would have stopped me in the streets of my kingdom before the wars and said, “You are not mindful!" I would have called them a fool and thrown them in the dungeons. I of course always thought that I was extremely mindful. But that kind of mindfulness was different, entirely a product of my intellect, and now I understood the difference. For some reason, it had taken me a long time to grasp all of this, for I could never comprehend spiritual things quickly and had to plod along. Fortunately, I was endowed with a certain amount of stubbornness that apparently is required in the beginning of this work for people like me, that saw me through, but I could already see that at some point, surrender was inevitable and the stubbornness had to go.
E. Raymond Rock of Fort Myers, Florida is cofounder and principal teacher at the Southwest Florida Insight Center, http://www.SouthwestFloridaInsightCenter.com His twenty-eight years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents, including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk. His book, A Year to Enlightenment (Career Press/New Page Books) is now available at major bookstores and online retailers. Visit http://www.AYearToEnlightenment.com