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The teachings given here on basic meditation—shamatha and vipashyana, mindfulness and awareness—provide the foundation that every practitioner needs to awaken as the Buddha did. According to the Buddha, no one can attain basic sanity or enlightenment without practicing meditation. It is the only way to begin the spiritual path. In fact, the goal is the path and the path is the goal.
Shamatha is mindfulness of the coming and going of the breath in sitting meditation (or of walking in walking meditation). Literally, shamatha means the development of peace, which signifies not the absence of pain but the experience of seeing ourselves completely, just as we are, with all our confusion, chaos, aggression, and passion.
From the basic training of shamatha, the meditator begins to expand the meaning of mindfulness so that it becomes awareness or vipashyana (literally, insight): a total sensing in which all happenings are seen at once. The awareness that develops through vipashyana brings the knowledge of egolessness and an all-pervasive experience of clarity.