Saturday, March 18, 2006

Vipassana :: as they really are


Insight Meditation

The technique rediscovered by Gotama Buddha more than 2500 years ago and has been taught by him as a universal remedy for universal ills.

"Vipassana is an invitation to watch yourself ~ your mind, your emotions, your body, your environment ~ without reacting to what you observe. It is an invitation to get to know yourself honestly and sincerely, to make friends with yourself, and to realize that the witnessing self is not identified with what is being seen. Success and failure are not part of this, and nothing special is supposed to happen. There is nothing to expect."

I love doing Vipassana retreats.

At first, the thought of 10 days of Noble Silence, 'observation' with about 16/18 hours of meditation each day, was a bit daunting. That's the basic just to learn and absorb the initial technique. However, once familiar with method and body process, it's healing effects can be remarkable. And heh, what's 10 days when he sat under a tree for 40 days?

I'm not a very good student though because I don't adhere to all the rules at Dhamma Dipa. One of the key principles is not to mix Vipassana with other treatments or therapies (fine), and not to fast whilst on retreat. The 'problem' I have is that I spontaneously don't eat, I just continue to meditate and observe. At a deep level, I understand that food we eat is a secondary source of nourishment and nutrition, our primary source being prana. Therefore to me, eating is a a distraction from observation, of 'seeing things as they really are'. Also, certainly when doing internal scanning it's far easier having digestion, the seemingly perpetual process the metabolising of food at rest. I find when the body is in ketosis, it's easier.

When I'm on Vipassana and everyone is eating I'm usually meditating in the field and sometimes Sungazing. I see going to the loo, defecation and eating lots of food as a distraction from purpose and I simply cannot do it. For me, the only distraction I make a personal 'allowance' for in the 10 days is to take a daily shower, and that's so that I don't smell to other people and therefore cause distraction!

The only other distraction is the sound of the gong for each session, and the nature environment, the wildlife all around and the rotation of the planet.

Interestingly, at the completion of a retreat I am not eager to start eating again nor run around or talk again. I prefer to hang-on to the still. It often takes a good few days to re-aclimitise.

S.N Goenke has taught tens of thousands of people in more than 300 courses in India and in other countries. He is an amazing man and his life's work is phenomenal. We saw him whilst en-route to the States for a peace conference. He is adamant that what he teaches represents a tradition traced back to Buddha. "The Buddha never taught a sectarian religion; he taught Dhamma - the way to liberation - which is universal."

Goenke has produced astonishing results teaching Vipassana in prisons. The results are statistically recorded and evidenced. Consequently, when I was working in high-security prison in this country I tried to get Vipassana trialed here. Sadly, it's a bit too far out for our 'powers that be' who evidently are prepared to stick with angry, disruptive behaviour and recidivism in preference to peace, calmness and reparation.

Naturally everyone experiences things differently (and yet they're all part of the same), however I do recommend Dhamma Dipa at least once. Thesedays, I see they have a fabulous new meditation hall. Luxury!!

As Goenke says "May all beings be happy"

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