If we want to be happy, we need to find a way to spend as much time as possible working on our long-term interests. This can be achieved by breaking up a long-term task into smaller increments which can each be assessed for completeness. Just like any endeavour, successful meditation practice will not materialize for us overnight. We therefore need a way to measure or assess the quality of our meditation practice to ensure that we’re moving towards our long-term goal of unconditional happiness.

Knowing that progress with insight meditation might not be easily discernible for the beginning student, the Buddha described 16 stages of insight knowledge which can be identified by a well trained teacher. These 16 stages of knowledge will appear to the student if and only if she is applying mindfulness and practicing insight meditation correctly. Therefore, they are a perfect way for teachers to assess the progress of their students.

When you come to our centre to begin or continue your practice, we will observe your practice and ask you questions to help us determine how your practice is progressing. If your experience is inline with the experience the Buddha described, then we will know that you are progressing towards enlightenment. If however, your practice diverges from this well worn path, we will ask you to adjust your technique accordingly. In this way, we ensure that, when you come to practice with us, you won’t be wasting your time and that, if you continue to put effort into insight meditation, your introduction to real happiness will be assured.

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(6) Progress Slowly, A. Success and Stress-Free Living