Which is better: Zen meditation or Vipassana meditation?

I’m regularly asked this question because new students often have some friends who are into Zen meditation retreats and other friends suggesting they try Vipassana meditation retreats. Or they check the bookstore and discover that, in the Buddhism section, half the books there are on Zen meditation and half the books are on Vipassana meditation.

So, if you're looking into Buddhist meditation and you find yourself asking this question, I want to tell you a story that probably won't be any help, but will at least entertain you.

(By the way, I usually share this story just before I point out that there *are* other choices… such as the Instant Advanced Meditation techniques you’ll find in the I AM Course.)

A woman named Ruth Dennison was one of the first people to teach Vipassana meditation in the West. Ruth had been studying Zen meditation in Japan before she met her Vipassana teacher, U Ba Khin, in Burma. She went back to Japan after studying with U Ba Khin, and each day at a specific time, she practiced the Vipassana meditation technique she’d learned.

At some point, her Zen teacher asked about what she was doing. She explained the meditation technique that U Ba Khin had given her, describing how she was paying attention to the changing experience of the sensations she felt within her body.

Her instructor somewhat conspiratorially took her aside. “That practice is a very ancient one from Zen and only a few rare students in each generation get to learn it,” he told her.

In telling this story, I’m not trying to suggest that, if you are attempting to choose between Zen and Vipassana mediation, that one is superior to the other. My point is exactly the opposite; it may not matter at all which appears to be better. Just choose a meditation method that’s fun for you and go for it.

Author's Bio: 

Steven Sashen began meditation when he was eight years old, was one of the first biofeedback pioneers, and researched cognition and perception at Duke University. In addition to a successful career as an entrepreneur and entertainer, Steven has taught transformational techniques around the world and developed the Instant Advanced Meditation Course, which Dr. Gay Hendricks calls, "Perhaps the fastest and easiest way to relax, expand awareness, and find deep inner-peace."

Additional Resources covering Meditation can be found at:

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Steven Sashen, the Official Guide To Meditation