Dan Ingram on the Progress of Insight

Daniel Ingram discusses how the expectations were set high at the beginning of his meditation practice. People were expected to make progress. Part 1 of a 3-part video. One of his conclusions? Hardcore commmitment does not sell.

I was lucky enough to be taught by some people who were very into hardcore real practice… Real states, real stages, real attainments… it was a small subset of people in which progress was expected rather than considered unusual or strange. Where meditation was discussed… [like anything else you would do]

It was interesting to see. Where I came from everybody was talking about it and they were doing it and they knew how to do it and they were telling each other how to do it… in comparison to what I found when I went out into the bigger wider dharma world and started noticing this thing. There was this massive dichotomy between people that were just doing it and talking about it and it was normalized and straightforward and relevant and essentially making progress of some kind — and this other world were doing something really different and they weren’t really getting anywhere from my point of view. Maybe they were doing something that felt useful for them…

Mahasi Sayadaw (1904-1982)


  • Influential Burmese Theravada monk in vipassana style.
  • Notable Western students: Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg, Joseph Goldstein.
  • Some publications:
    • Practical Vipasana Exercises: mahasi (pdf)
    • Satipatthana Vipassana Meditation: Satipatthana_Vipassana (pdf)
    • The Progress of Insight can be found here. It outlines experiences meditators could be expected to have along the way — something the first wave of vipassana practitioners (read: notable Western students above) chose to leave out of their version of vipassana to the West, out of concern people would become fixated on their levels of progress, and engage in endless comparison.
  • Piece at Buddhist Geeks: The Practical Dharma of Mahasi Sayadaw. which highlights one of the gulfs between Western and Eastern Vipassana practice, approach, outlook.