Insight arising

Picture taken by MSc Student Mike Pupius

Jack Kornfield and Paul Breiter tell a wonderful story about wisdom. In the book, ‘A Still Forest Pool’, they tell the story of how a renowned academic, who lectured on Buddhist psychology, approached Zen Master Achaan Chah in regards to the importance of abidharma or the Buddhist study of the processes of mind and body :

One day, a famous woman lecturer on Buddhist metaphysics came to see Achaan Chah. This woman gave periodic teachings in Bangkok on the abdidharma and complex Buddhist psychology. In talking to Achaan Chah, she detailed how important it was for people to understand Buddhist psychology and how much her students benifited from their study with her. She asked him whether he agreed with the importance of such understanding.

“Yes, very important”, he agreed.

Delighted, she further questioned whether he had his own students learn abidharma.

“Oh, yes, of course”.

And where, she asked, did he recommend they start, which books and studies were best?

“Only here,” he said, pointing to his heart, “only here”.

The reason I tell this story is that this past weekend the 2013 MSc cohorts, and myself, returned to class to study Insight and Wisdom. One of the key components of this module is psychology based and requires looking at the psychology of the human mind, our habitual tendencies, and subliminal reflexes.


Picture taken by MSc student Vivienne Robertson

However, the Insight and Wisdom module requires students to not only look at different levels of the mind, such as conscious mind, subliminal mind and unconscious mind; but it looks at how we can create the conditions to Insight or ‘recognising what is happening while it is happening without preference’ (MSc Insight Module p. 4). Like Mindfulness and Compassion, our capacity for Insight is already here inside each and every one of us. Or, as Achaan Chah pointed out to the Buddhist psychologist in the story, the first place to look for understanding is inside our hearts. We simply have to be still and let the mind settle; Insight will arise. Achaan Chah explains ” Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing…Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle” (Kornfield; Breiter p.5) Or as our own troop of tutors taught us, “rest like a fool in the midst of it all” and Insight will arise naturally.


Resting in the Midst and enjoying a cup of tea.

Photo taken by Vivienne Robertson


MSc students Vivienne Robertson and Tracy Connor


Tracy dancing the jig or Insight Arising 🙂

For more information on the MSc in Mindfulness:

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