Vipassana (Pali) or vipasyana (विपश्यना, Sanskrit) in the Buddhist tradition means insight into the nature of reality. A regular practitioner of Vipassana is known as a Vipassi (vipasya).
In the Theravadin context, this entails insight into the three marks of existence. In Mahayana contexts, it entails insight into what is variously described as sunyata, dharmata, the inseparability of appearance and emptiness, clarity and emptiness, or bliss and emptiness. Vipassana is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation, attributed to Gautama Buddha. It is a way of self-transformation through self-observation and introspection. In English, vipassana meditation is often referred to simply as “insight meditation”.
In a broader sense, vipassana has been used as one of two poles for the categorization of types of Buddhist meditation, the other being samatha (Pali) or samatha (Sanskrit). Samatha is a focusing, pacifying and calming meditation, common to many traditions in the world, notably yoga. It is used as a preparation for vipassana, pacifying the mind and strengthening the concentration in order to allow the work of insight. This dichotomy is also sometimes discussed as “stopping and seeing.” In Buddhist practice it is said that, while samatha can calm the mind, only insight can reveal how the mind was disturbed to start with, which leads to prajña (Pali: pañña, wisdom) and jñana (Pali: ña?a, knowledge) and thus understanding, preventing it from being disturbed again.
The term is also used to refer to the Buddhist vipassana movement (modeled after Theravada Buddhism meditation practices), which employs vipassana and anapana meditation as its primary techniques and places emphasis on the teachings of the Satipa??hana Sutta. The primary initial subject of investigation in that style of meditation is sensation and feeling (Skt: Vedana).