Consciousness Dynamics, Vipassana Meditation Begins to Straighten Out Our Continuing Story

Dr. Charles Tart


Dr. Charles T. Tart, Mindfulness, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology,

Lecture 5, Part 3 of 18 parts. To start class from beginning, click here.

That takes us over to the upper right hand corner diagram of what can happen with Vipassana meditation, and two big things are happening in the way I draw that. Most of the squiggly things have been straightened out, and there’s a lot fewer of them. You can experience much more mental quiet; not necessarily an absolute, “I’m not having any experience,” but rather an awareness of being conscious. But it doesn’t have all those contents in it all the time, there’s more space between different aspects of experience, and things don’t automatically hook up. Things don’t automatically just trigger off more and more processes themselves. And I’ve also shown more input from those primary, simple perceptions by drawing a bigger arrow there.

[note drawing not reproducing just right, lower right says “Infuse with mindfulness and equanimity”]

How do you get there? In Vipassana, you basically infuse your perception of your ongoing experiences with mindfulness and equanimity. This is the big general picture now, rather than a specific technique. You basically infuse all of your experience with mindfulness. You’re looking. You’re listening. “What is it?” You’re curious. You’re open to it, and stay open to it with equanimity. You’re much more accepting of – you know, that hurts and I don’t need to freak out about it. It just hurts in a certain, particular kind of way, and things keep right on flowing. It’s that infusion of your experiential flow with mindfulness, curiosity, openness, equanimity that starts straightening out all those things so they don’t always jam up, that starts creating more space between things.

Judging from what some of you have said in class or written in your papers, I know some of you have had moments of a more spacious, clearer kind of flow of experience, even if it’s temporary.

I’ve crossed out all those defense mechanisms that were in the first panel of attraction, aversion, ignorance – defense mechanisms, conditioning, etc. They get reduced, ideally eventually eliminated.

If you jump to the lower left panel, I’ve also added, for the sake of completeness, that there are more ways to straighten out this flow than with just Vipassana meditation.

Vipassana meditation is a nice kind of technique. It’s very general. It’s been around for at least a couple of thousand years and whatnot, but we have learned some things since then. Things like psychotherapy can help straighten out those particular kinds of problems. Or learning particular kind of skills, or behavior modification techniques, or something like that – there’s a variety of growth methods now that essentially can straighten out many of the kinks in your own experience and let things flow better.

That doesn’t mean you end up in a state of no experiences at all; it simply means there’s less grasping, there’s less repulsion and attraction. Your experiences are experienced more cleanly. They don’t build up as an automatic reactive mass.

This has been where our work has been so far this quarter, to introduce you to controlled attention practices – CAPs – specifically concentrative meditation, Vipassana meditation, and self-remembering – that start to give you some training in exercising mindfulness and equanimity in a variety of ways to begin to “smooth out” experience.

Not that with the amount of training practice we can do in this course, that you’re going to come out of here “enlightened,” or something like that. But hopefully, you’re all going to come out of here with an ability to, at least at times, have a little more space between aspects of your experience, and do something about it.

(Student cell phone rings)

To be able to have your cell phone ring in an embarrassing manner in class and not have it be the end of the world, but perhaps to have it be just a minor annoyance! 😉

Of course you have to know who it is.

Student: Mom!


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