One of the most obvious element of meditation that Buddhism brings to the table at the interfaith symposium is the practice of insight meditation (vipassana). At this interfaith symposium, each mystical tradition offered meditative practices, but most seemed to be within the category of practices that Buddhism would define as concentration training. When we use a fixed focus for a meditation—whether it is the repetition of a mantra, exclusive attention to the breath, repetition of a name, or dwelling on a concept such as divine unity, a quality such as love, an aspect of virtue, or the blessing of a diety—the concentration on that fixed object invariably brings states of bliss, unity, and purity, in all the religions.

Buddhist practices generally consider concentration to be only the foundation and entry point for meditation, not the cause for realization. After concentration is established so that the mind is freed from hindrances and it is imbued with stability, strength, and purity, the Buddhist meditator would emphasize insight practices in order to see the changing, unsatisfactory, and empty nature of conditioned phenomena. We literally look at worldly imperfections to free the mind from attachment to anything of mind and matter. This clear seeing of the imperfections of conditioned phenomena is the form of meditation that was not addressed by the practitioners of the other religions.

According to Buddhism, this clear seeing of phenomena is the cause for dispassion and nonattachment. The Abhidhamma considers it the necessary perception that precedes the realization of nibbana. Perhaps it is the unique contribution of the Buddha.