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Kamalashila whose Stages of Meditation describe vipashyana practice

Vipashyana (Skt. vipaśyanā; Tib. ལྷག་མཐོང་, lhaktong, Wyl. lhag mthong) — 'clear seeing' or 'insight' meditation. It is one of the two main aspects of the practice of meditation on the Buddhist path, the other being shamatha, or 'calm abiding' meditation.


  • Vi is short for vishesa (Skt. viśeṣa), which means ‘special’, ‘superior’, or ‘particular’
  • Pashyana (Skt. paśyanā) means ‘to see’ or ‘to look’
  • Lhak (Wyl. lhag) is ‘unique’ and
  • tong (Wyl. mthong) is ‘seeing’.

So, it means ‘to look at things in a very direct and especially clear way’.

Prerequisites for Vipashyana

Kamalashila’s second Stages of Meditation (Skt. Bhāvanākrama) mentions three prerequisites for developing vipashyana:

  1. Reliance upon a spiritual teacher
  2. Genuinely engaging in extensive study
  3. Appropriate reflection

Alternative Translations

  • superior seeing
  • unique seeing
  • intense insight (Dharma Publishing)
  • superior insight
  • penetrative insight
  • transcendent insight
  • wider vision

Teachings Given to the Rigpa Sangha

Edited Teachings of Sogyal Rinpoche

  • Vipashyana—Preliminary Practices, Dzogchenlink January 2004

Further Reading

  • Philippe Cornu, Dictionnaire Encyclopédique du Bouddhisme, vipaśyanā
  • Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, 'Shamatha and Vipashyana', in View: The Rigpa Journal, July 2010, pages 18-22.
  • Andy Karr, Contemplating Reality (Boston: Shambala Publications, 2007), chapter 17
  • Sogyal Rinpoche, A Treasury of Dharma (Lodeve: Rigpa, 2005), Part IV 'Meditation'.
  • Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, The Practice of Tranquility and Insight—A Guide to Tibetan Buddhist Meditation (Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications, 1993).
  • Khenpo Tsültrim Gyamtso, Mahamudra Vipashyana, trans. Jules B. Levinson, Michele Martin, and Jim Scott (Halifax, N.S.: Vajravairochana Translation Committee, 1993)