What are the Limits of Insight Meditation – Vipassana? Views. Beliefs. Concerns. Questions. Reflections

What are the limits of Insight Meditation (Vipassana)? Twelve concerns, plus reminders for reflection, concerns, questions to explore.

The benefits make an immense contribution to ethics, a depth mindfulness/concentration and wisdom.

The insight meditation tradition provides a wealth of valuable practices to gain insight into dissolve hindrances to awakening and contribute to a sane way of living, so we face existence/non-existence directly without distraction.

Let us ensure that our insights into insight meditation (vipassana) also reveal our views on this practice.

Our exploration includes practice of meditation, reflections on meditation/practice, questions and much more.

Here are 12 Limits to Insight Meditation (Vipassana). Views, Beliefs and Concerns

  1. A view that morality/ethics are confined to the five precepts
  2. An exaggerated emphasis on striving and strong determination
  3. Belief that the path of insight meditation by itself leads to enlightenment
  4. Belief in meditation, meditation, and more meditation
  5. Belief practice is primarily a daily meditation, once or twice a day
  6. Dryness of the formal practice,
  7. Inability to cope with the wide variety of emotions
  8. Ongoing adherence to the same techniques with one medicine for all attitude
  9. Rigidity of views.
  10. Tendency to go over the same old ground in the mind
  11. Tendency to get stuck in the same method and technique
  12. Treating sexuality only in moral terms or versus celibacy.

Various teachers and yogis do feel concern about the issues raised above.

Insight meditation is a tradition of seeing clearly – a powerful and effective tool. No tradition is above criticism. Long-standing dedicated practitioners connected with the practice can get into a rut around meditation, techniques and forms.

The practices liberate us from grasping and from emotional and psychological imprisonment to expand the heart-mind. The same practice can imprison us into a fixed system of meditation through clinging.

Questions and Reflections for the Meditator

  • Am I liberated or am I stuck?
  • If I do not know an authentic liberation, then what holds me back from realization?
  • What conditioned tendency in habit or thought is getting in the way?
  • Have I tasted a depth of freedom, even briefly, after all this practice?
  • What am I prepared to explore to awake up fully?

Insight meditation is a shorthand way of saying “We meditate for insights. We meditate to see the conditions for dependent arising and respond to them.

Meditation (mindfulness/concentration) constitue two features in the Noble Path. Every aspect of our life, and the field of existence/non-existence, requires exploration if we wish to wake up.

To realise the emptiness of the ego through direct realisation frees up the whole being beyond the reach of birth, change and death.


  • Christopher,

    I once listed to a talk of yours from years ago, and you simply said the words “non duality”, and for a couple of hours I had what seemed like direct experience of this. I am not saying this to show off – I haven’t really had the same experience since, and I certainly did very little to “deserve” such a thing. I hadn’t been sitting, I hadn’t been behaving a particularly “good way”, it just came arose. Only to say that I have also sat for hours in meditation without this level of awareness or understanding / insight occurring again. It was remarkable, but I think shows that meditation isn’t the only thing or the best thing or whatever. Insight can come at any time, and who knows when, why or how! Maybe we have an idea about how we can create an environment that makes it more likely…

    love, Steve

  • Thank you, Christopher, I very much appreciate your blog.

    I’d like to add to your list above that Insight Meditation as practiced by the Ajahn Sumedo branch of the Forest Tradition is in my opinion, hypocritical to at least two aspects of the Buddhist teachings. First is the rigid adherence to a tradition that fosters identification with self, in their case, self as male, as only males are allowed to be ordained and teach. Secondly, this defensive and person/defining attitude perpetuates a transgression of the first precept. Sexism does cause social harm. Theirs is a tradition that lacks what it professes, which is insight, compassion, and mudita. Thanks, again.

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