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No Place to Stand

Shinzen talks about why it is important to let go of the idea of “witnessing” in Vipassana. Oftentimes meditators find comfort and stability in dissociating themselves from experience. That is, in getting an internal sense of distance from their own experience. Sort of sitting back, outside the experience, and watching or observing it go by (which is why it’s called witnessing).

While this can be very good at first, in the long term, this sort of witnessing actually becomes a rut in meditation. Eventually, you have to deconstruct the person that is doing the witnessing. You have to let go of the sense that there is an observing self, positioned on a stable platform outside of experience, watching what is going on.This is what Shinzen means by having no place to stand.

The sense of being a stable observer is probably the biggest long-term cul-de-sac that people can sometimes get caught in. Deconstructing the witnessing self collapses that sense of stability and crashes the meditator into something much much deeper.

Read more about this “witnessing” challenge here.

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