When I first embarked on the Insight Module of the MSc Studies in Mindfulness course, I had visions of prophetic whisperings dancing in my head. My senses would be heightened, I would begin to see the light.
Certainly, Ringu Tulku, an incarnation of one of the tulkus of Ringu monastery in Tibet, has explained that through Insight Meditation, the meditator moves beyond the surface mind that clings on to the dramas and stories that run through our thought processes on a moment to moment basis, to a place that he calls ‘ordinary mind’. In this ‘ordinary mind’, our mind finds peace in its natural state. He describes ‘ordinary mind’ as “joyful, compassionate and clear” (Tulku, 2012, p.150). Moreover, he states that “the mind is so clear that in its own state, it is omniscient. It has tremendous natural power and ability” (Ibid).
Omniscience? Tremendous power and ability? Bring it on!
It didn’t take long to realize, or as Rob Nairn says ‘recognize’ that the first lesson in insight is that there can be no striving to attain this ‘ordinary mind’. Instead, as students of insight, we were instructed to carry on with our mindfulness practice of noticing what is happening, when it is happening without preference. Slowly, we would start to ‘recognize’ the habitual mind patterns of our surface minds, recognize that they are impermanent and refrain from becoming involved with them.
Rob Nairn explains that “the reactivity of the mind is not the direction we are going to face. We don’t directly address any of the issues that are happening. So terms like mind control, changing the mind…we don’t do any of these things. Instead, we learn to change the conditions” (Nairn, 2014).
Like mindfulness and compassion training, changing the conditions in order for insight to arise is a life- long practice. During our module on Insight Training, we learned many practices to start us off in the right direction and after months of ‘Resting in the Midst’ of it all, slivers of light are starting to infiltrate my experience. While, there is still a long way to go and a lifetime to work with, those slivers of light have me hooked.
The great news is that even though my Insight Module has now finished, Rob Nairn has created further instruction through a 5 year Insight Training program. Therefore, I will still have the platform, teachings and support to carry on my journey with Insight.
Better yet, this training program is now open to the public. So, if you would like investigate your own propensity for insight, check out our website:
NAIRN, R., (2014). MSc Studies in Mindfulness Year 1 Retreat. Holy Isle, Scotland, 14-20 May 2014.
TULKU, R., (2012). Confusion Arises as Wisdom: Gampopa’s Heart Advice on the Path of Mahamudra. Boston: Shambhala Publications.