What is the most successful insight practice?


Open ended posts inviting debate (most successful) are problematic. A request for enumeration would wreak less havoc. Perhaps we could individually adopt some mindful restraint for posts in general.
Personally, I do not mind reading the arguments because they reveal sorrows and anger to which we can all extend metta. In a FB group someone once told me I was a bumbling idiot. After some consideration I posted my whole-hearted agreement.


Perhaps the most “successful” insight practice is the one you can do consistently? :yum:


1). Pañña…To understand ‘vipassanā’ means to know what ‘kilesa/defilement’ is, to know what ‘kilesa’ is means to know what your likes and dislikes are, to see how they rellentlessly influence our ‘cottage saṇkharas’ and know how to get rid of them (see six pahatabba sabb’āsava M2), the day to day prevalence of kilesa infecting every facet of our life is a nightmare really- resist, fight (rāga-paṭigha that is)
2). Develop samādhi the āyatana/sense bases using ‘kayāgatasati’ and ‘indria saṃvara’ our body is always there, relatively easy to maintain awareness of especially when doing mundane activities, combined with ‘caṇkamana/walking meditation’ and ‘cittānupassana/knowing mind states’ can produce samādhi that is ‘ciraṭṭhitiko hoti’ long lasting (an 5 pancānga vagga 9) and help kill kilesa whenever they rear their ugly faces.
3). Dāna…Develop cāga/generosity as a general kusala’upaya (skillful means) attitude towards all (except the bodhisattvas) but specifically if possible giving alms to samaṇas as it helps create ‘sapurisa saṃseva/association with the wise.’ Can’t emphasise this enough…'ānanda spiritual companionship is the whole of the holy life(…). If not possible in person then use the net. Knowing someone with more ‘satipañña/mindfulness and wisdom’ than oneself is critical to one’s growth in the sāsana.

4). Sīla…Develop ‘aṭṭhamga sīla’ practice if not according to the traditional lunar calendar then sat/sun with a group of kalyana mittas ideally but if not then all alone.

5). Sutta…Keep reading -dhammasavana/sakkaca- to a minimal and paṭipadā/practice to a maximum.

6). Nirodha…the end


Feeding two birds with one scone,
message #5 here, I believe is the best set of the Buddha’s instructions for insight, jhana, and liberation:


Analayo’s books are some of the best EBT based works which touch on meditation practice.

I also really like Buddhadasa’s book on anapanasati.


I agree. Venerable Anālayo, in the conclusion to his most recent book on Satipaṭṭhāna, has this to say about various insight practices:

“I would also like to put on record my indebtedness to the guidance I received when formerly practising in several Theravāda meditation traditions, in particular those taught by Ajahn Buddhadāsa, Mahāsi Sayādaw, and S.N. Goenka, without which I would not have arrived at the approach presented here. Perhaps even more significant is my indebtedness to Godwin Samararatne for having taught me the appropriate meditative attitude.

In the past I had the good fortune to encounter other practitioners who had attained levels of awakening. These were found among followers of several mainstream vipassanā traditions, such as those taught by Mahāsi Sayādaw, S.N. Goenka, and Pa Auk Sayādaw. Still others did not follow any particular tradition. I do not have any doubt that each of these vipassanā traditions is capable of leading to the breakthrough to stream-entry, just as I do not have the slightest doubt that what I present here has the same potential. Thus what I have described here is not meant to supersede other meditation traditions, but rather intended as offering yet another option for progress on the path. In short, my motivation is to enrich, not to compete.”

Excerpt From
Satipaṭṭhāna Meditation: A Practice Guide



I read the questions in the OP to a friend who happened to be in the room and he replied, “ Leigh Brassington’s book Right Concentration is good for jhana practice”; I don’t know this book or how it relates to the EBTs, but perhaps others here do?

My thoughts are that seeing past lives is, perhaps, an attainment achieved through meditation rather than a meditation technique for achieving insight. I have often heard it said that the Buddha saw all of his past lives on the night of his enlightenment, but on reviewing his first sermon (SN 56.11) I don’t find strong support there. There are likely to be other sources that I’ve not found; again perhaps someone can help me?

Last week I was on retreat with Ven Anālayo. When asked about the practices of samattha and vipassana he replied that they cannot be separated, and referred us to the suttas on Imperturbability and on Emptiness:


That sounds right to me, particularly because samatha and vipassana are actually qualities rather than methods. Calm and clarity, two sides of the same coin.


Thank you for a very relevant discussion as I came here to ask questions specifically related to my practice. Unfortunately I am ‘stuck’ here in a small rather isolated farming community about thirty miles from Albuquerques’s only temple without a single human Buddhist connection. I recently did a poll on Facebook to find one other Buddhist practitioner in the county: No takers.

Did Karma place me in this weird position? I have many questions regarding regarding the proper approach and reasonable expectations for my own meditative practice. Not wanting to burden everyone with these questions, I think a Practice Corner would be very useful to me as relative beginner.

Your help is much appreciated, and I am grateful for your presence here.
I wish you love, peace, happiness!


Yes, it made a great difference to my practice when I understood them as qualities. It’s pretty obvious from reading the suttas. Unfortunately when I first encountered Buddhism it was in a lay Western setting where they were presented as competing techniques in a situation where the advice was not to mix and match methods. It’s a shame that words can be so easily misapplied. “Jhana practice” is another example around at the moment.


If they follow the Satipatthana how can any of them be succesful?


I agree, practice corner would be most welcomed.


These are deep and very useful. Thank you, with Metta


Dear honorable Sir, I am ignorant and in constant need of teaching. I would be most grateful if you could explain this sentence as reading seems very valuable to me for without reading I could not be a Buddhist.
Humbly…with Metta!


Yes, reading is helpful to get our practice going. Such instruction can be long or short. My own first instruction was “sit thus and count your breaths.” I meditated this way for decades before I read my first sutta. Zen is terse that way and I was impatient. You will find longer instruction as you need. But there is a danger in reading too much and not meditating much. That would be pursuing delusion by chasing ignorance and lead to suffering. Studying informs. Meditation clarifies. A little studying. More meditation.

The suttas illuminate the insights of meditation. Meditate deeply and you will have more to read about.


Thank you for this brief instruction. I live in an isolated part of New Mexico, and feel a deficit in my knowledge and instruction regarding the fundamentals . I have been meditating for 25 minutes a day…sometimes listening to nature but mostly focusing on my breath. I do occasionally count my breath but did not know if this was merely another distraction to my focus on emptiness. I am without a teacher, a sangha or any deeper instruction. Thoughts are persistent…insidious. From what source do these random thoughts of material reality arise, and how to regard them as they pass through my attempts at experiencing emptiness. I’m rambling. So…I should count my breaths during meditation? :face_with_raised_eyebrow: With Mucho Metta


Do you regard the mind thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self?"



Yes of course…yet still it persists!


If you whip the cream it fluffs. If you just look at it, it fades. May take days. Or years. But the cream disappears. Delight is the root of suffering. It’s creamy.

Yes. Random thoughts still pop into my head after decades. I just don’t whip them into a frenzy.

Oh. I forgot a small detail. If besieged by clouds of thought midges, you can try this. When counting, a trick is to make your counts as long as the breath. Onnnnnnnnnnnnnneeee-in. Oneeeeeeeeeeee-out. This tends to close the gap for those distractions. Your mind may just need something to fidget with as training wheels. Later, you can dispense with counting and just be aware. I used training wheels for decades. I’m slow.


Hi Rosie, yes geography can sometimes be an obstacle to Dhamma practice, there is a famous word for the Mangala sutra ‘paṭirupadesavāso’(to be born on a suitable locality is a blessing) so if that is lacking then using the Internet to have Dhamma discussions like you already do is a substitute, likewise for Kalyana mitra (spiritual friends) just drop a line and say hi if need be.

How long you sit what you observe isn’t really important, the critical thing is the four vayama (four right efforts) after that yoniso manisikara (sati paṭṭhāna) they are the link to samādhi, get them sorted the mind is already ekagga, no need to do anything, the mind is literally bursting with samādhi, samādhi is an emotional state of mind not an intellectual one (Frank!?), ‘the Dhamma is for one who deligthts ini non proliferation’. (Frank!)

If/when you have time, spend some time in a monastery it helps with the whole process of letting go, the externals and internals are mutually conditioned, the other option in the modern era is vipassana type courses but good quality teacher’s are difficult to find these days. It’s a bit tricky in a non Buddhist context all the more in large country like the US , so just go for just the seclusion part and forget the teacher thing, the buddha is our guide so we can study directly from him using suttas, as long as we have some seclusion the rest isn’t that important, i.e which tradition we are with and so on. I mean ok most of us live in different countries but we are connected in mind and we support each other via the net ultimately I guess, unless we have a D.D get together!..We could all go to Sasquatch and do a mass conversion like Dr.Ambedakar in India but instead of dalits, we could give convert all the Trump supports by chanting the DD version of the dhammcakka…all night long like in Sri Lanka, i mean as long as no one pulls out a gun (joke) she’ll be right!