About the Vipassana Tradition

 Insight Meditation (Vipassana) is a simple and accessible vehicle for opening the heart, clearing the mind, and living in a peaceful and free way. It is based on 2500 years of Buddhist teachings in the Theravadan form. These teachings offer training in clear awareness of breath and body, heart and mind and the universal laws which govern our lives.

Insight meditation is a simple form of Buddhist meditation that calms and concentrates the mind. This practice originated with the Buddha over 2500 years ago. The practice begins with focusing attention on the breath. It allows one to see more of ones conditioning, and therefore to be more present in the moment. This is a non-sectarian practice that may be combined with any religion. Buddhist ethics and psychology are an important part of the teaching. For more detailed introductory information about Insight (also known as Vipassana) meditation, please see Spirit Rock Center’s introductory information.


The tradition of Insight Meditation is practiced in the spirit of “look and see for yourself.” The Buddha taught that there are

The Four Noble Truths:

  • As a human being living a life, we see it includes the truth of unsatisfactoriness, stress, and suffering.

  • The cause of this suffering is craving, or struggle.

  • There is a way out of this suffering. Peace is possible!

  • The Eightfold Path offers practical tools to ease and end suffering.

The Eightfold Path –   The Eightfold Path defines a way of living that is designed to decrease suffering:

  • Wise View

  • Wise Intention

  • Wise Speech

  • Wise Action

  • Wise Livelihood

  • Wise Effort

  • Wise Mindfulness

  • Wise Concentration

Medicine Wheel - Sacred Native American Site in the Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming

Medicine Wheel – Sacred Native American Site in the Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming



The Buddha is revered as an awakened being because he understood the universality of the human condition and the potential for all humans to become enlightened. He saw how this can come about through many ways and he advised practitioners to question things for themselves, to carefully examine all dogma and doctrine to see its effects on its followers.In this country, Insight meditation groups do not ask practitioners to ignore or abandon their previous religious tradition to become a Insight practitioner. At Teton Sangha, we welcome practitioners of all religious, cultural, ethnic, gender, orientation, ability, and class backgrounds.


Continuing from the time of the Buddha, the forest monasteries and meditation centers in Burma and Thailand have shared the Theravada teachings, practices and traditions of Buddhism. These have continued unbroken for 2550 years.

A few of the great contemporary teachers in this tradition in Asia include the Venerable Achaan(Ajahn) Chaa and Achaan (Ajahn) Buddhadasa in Thailand; the Venerable Sunlun Sayadaw and Mahasi Sayadaw in Burma.

In 1965, the World Buddhist Council designated Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw as chief questioner, in the “central role in clarifying and preserving the Buddhist teachings for generations to come.”

Many Western scholars and devotees have undertaken intensive Buddhist meditation and practice in south and Southeast Asia, including the ordination of monks and recently of nuns in the Theravada tradition. After training in the monastic orders thirty years ago, well known Americans, Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg and Jacqueline Schwatz were authorized by Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw to undertake the continuation of the Theravada tradition in the U.S.  They each received Dharma transmission, which is ordination, and three of them became the first resident guiding teachers at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA, a non-profit religious organization in 1976.

Dr. Kornfield moved to California in the early 1980s and helped found the Insight Meditation West, now the Spirit Rock Center, a non-profit religious organization. He is the senior Theravada elder authorized by Ven. Mahasai Sayadaw in California. He has trained Insight meditation teachers since 1986.

The guiding teachers at Spirit Rock Center and Insight Meditation Society are the senior American heirs to the Insight transmission. They were given transmission by the recognized hierarchy of Southeast Asian Insight meditation masters.

Adapted from John Travis / Mountain Stream Meditation Center