Balancing Tranquility & Insight
January 12, 2009

For some people, the practice of meditation involves two very different kinds of activities. One is getting the mind to be still, and the other is giving rise to insight. And for them, these are very sharply divided. In order to get the mind still, you simply just force it to stay with one thing and don’t allow it to think at all. Then when it’s rested, then you allow it to do some thinking. Give it a specific topic to deal with, like the 32 parts of the body, the problem of pain, whatever happens to come up in the mind as a specific problem. You analyze it and deal with it. After a while, you find that your analysis starts getting fuzzy or blunt. It’s like using a sharp knife. You use it to cut things, and cut things, and cut things, and finally you find you can’t cut through things anymore. That’s when you’ve got to get the mind to stop, be still again. And the stilling is what sharpens the blade so that it’s ready to come out and do some more cutting.