As touched upon in “Training, trusting your buddha-nature,” Buddhism clearly states that ‘concentration’ is useful to train in, but that ‘insight’ is the key to “seeing things as they are.”
Japanese snow monkey in hot springs at Jigokudani monkey park in Nagano, © Ben Torode
The reason why concentration meditation is seen as useful training to develop insight meditation is the training into “coming back to the present.”
In concentration meditation, the ‘present’ is voluntarily limited to a particular phenomena —e.g. breathing— in order to facilitate the detection when the mind errs: any other object of thought may be labelled as erring, and a signal to come back to the present.
By contrast, insight meditation takes an ‘inclusive’ perspective on what the present is, but one still needs not to err in the past or the future or in mental models and proliferations full of narratives and speculations about what's not directly perceived.
As such, training in concentration might prove useful to develop the ‘vigilance’ (the ability to detect when the mind errs), and vigilance is useful for discriminating insights (an appropriate unbiased response to here&now) from mere narratives (at best, an extension of here&now into a narrative with past and future… at worst, utter confusion about what reality is).
Below is a series of posts on meditation:
- Suggested “new year resolution” (2013): learn to properly meditate!
- Classic instructions and (important) pieces of advice
- Stilling the mind?
- Never conceive meditation as ‘thinking nothing’
- Experiencing a ‘hard time’ during meditation?
- mettā — loving-kindness
- Working with pain, and related 3 questions
- Falling alseep during meditation?
- Feminine meditation, a (long) post for women
- Pāḷi texts about mindfulness, edited and translated by Ānandajoti Bhikkhu
- Biased awareness while meditating…
- Zooming in… or out
- Suggested 2014 resolution: be present!
- When to meditate, and when not…
- Quiet Mind
- meditation in Pure Land Buddhism
- Right meditation (59’19” video, advanced teaching)
- ‘Maddening’ meditation?
- Meditation is not even ‘meant’ to be relaxing
- Pests and monkeys
- Precepts and meditation
- Right effort in cultivation: meditating beyond the first instructions
- Which meditation instructions not to follow?
To start or to further your practice, it is now possible to find support at dharma.house. Moreover, in the midst of saṃsāra, I'm ready to support you online too, via video calls, emails, etc. Several students found such a support useful in the context of koan.無, and the effort was therefore extended in the context of dharma.house.