Search This Blog

Monday, September 05, 2005

The Vipassana Chronicles
Inside, outside. Outside, inside.

Yato yato sammasati
Khandhanam udayabbayam,
Labhati piti amojjam
Amatam tam vijanatam

Dhammapada, XX.15 (374)

Thats Dharmapada asking you to have an insight into the impermanence of
everything around you. Physical and mental.

A free translation of one of the verses of Day Six goes like this

Impermanent are the compounded things.
When one perceives this with insight
Then one becomes detached from suffering
This is the path to liberation

There I was, a born atheist, a learned rationalist, (never practiced any religion
in my life, never accepted anything that is not scientific) sitting in a pagoda,
dismissing my thoughts and observing my sensations.

By then, observing the sensations was spread through out the body.
You start with your head and end up at your toe. You do it in reverse after that.
You repeat that. This is more engaging than observing breath. By then,
whichever body part I was concentrating on, I was able to feel every single
sweat pore and hair of that part. That was the kind of detail it got into.

Experienced dudes can observe sensations even inside the body and through
the body. You can observe a sensation emerging on your stomach, getting
inside, passing through the gut and emerging out on the back and
disappearing. It never happened to me.

Around noon, I discovered a short cut. I was following a sensation from
my chest to my hand and by chance observed my chest, stomach and hand
all at the same time. I then realized that I can feel (unfortunately my
vocabulary is so limited) myself from inside out, all at once.

I call it the Matrix moment. My whole body suddenly became a sum
of vibrating, pulsating, appearing and disappearing sensations. Sweat pores
on the scalp, itching on the little finger, the tip of the penis, vibrations on
the back side of the right thigh. I could observe all these sensations at once
from inside out. It was a surreal moment. It lasted for a long time.

Ironically, the whole idea of Vipassana is not about discovering the sensations,
but to dismiss them. Some people develop a craving for those Matrix moments
and try hard for them. That is wrong. That sensation was an impermanent
moment too.

Day 8

Getting used to a life where you get up at four in the morning and start
meditating at four thirty is not easy at all. By then I was getting used to the
snoring roommates, the idea of surviving without alcohol and chicken, without
sexual thoughts, enjoying the little flowers on the sides of the path, listening
to the woods (they have so many sounds hidden in them), not having any issues
to deal with or any tasks to do and in general feeling good all the time. I was
even beginning to like the food and the taste of warm ginger water that is
served all the time.

Phutthassa loka dhammehi
Cittam yassa na kampati
Asokam, virajam, khemam,
Etam, mangalamuttamam

Maha mangala sutta, Sutta nipata

(When faced with the vicissitudes of life,
Ones mind remains unshaken,
Sorrowless, stainless, secure;
This is the greatest welfare).

Stephen Covey called it the Gap between the stimuli and the response.
That was his Matrix moment. He discovered that there is gap between an
event (stimulus) and our reaction (response) and with some training, we
can choose the reaction or response.

He discovered this simple idea on a remote island in Hawaii.

Using a complex methodology and with a Hindu accent Mahatma Gandhi
discovered it too and named it Satyagraha. A different kind of response to a
standard stimulus. He chose his reaction. When provoked, he smiled.
When slapped, he sympathized.

Understanding Satyagraha is not easy.
Understanding Buddha is not easy.
Understanding them with your mind is difficult.
Understanding them with your heart is easy.

They are beyond your thought. The spread of Buddhism in Buddhas own life
Alexanders victories. Buddhas thought spread from the remote caves
of Afghanistan (Gandhara, back then) to the wild tribes of Lanka to the mighty
kingdoms of China and most of the modern India.

Ironically, the idea of impermanence preached by Buddha remained intact

even after of 2500 years. The region of dominance and control of Alexander
perished right after his lifetime.

Now, Vipassana has nothing to do with Buddha. It was there before him.

Buddha chose Vipassana as the technique in his journey towards the truth.)

Many a great leaders found the same truth from different perspectives under
different Geo Socio Political situations and propagated the discovery to the
masses through different organizational structures using different languages.

On that day, with my heart filled with love and compassion, my face adorned
with a smile (and the gap between my teeth), I was present, sensing everything,
observing the response and dismissing it, at the moment.
And the moment after that.
And the moment after that.
And the moment after that.

Day 9

A Pali passage on Day nine during the discourse summed it all.

Pakarena janatiti panna

Wisdom is, knowing things in different ways.

I conclude this series.
I might take up the course in the future or I might not.
Vipassana and Buddhism made a definite impact on my thought
and actions.

May all beings be happy.


Leela said...

I was surprised that you remembered all that Pali. But then I figured you probably bought a couple of books after the course, and are now trying to show off :)

Great post, even though we had to wait a year to read it.

:-) said...

Pyaari Leela: Pali? What Pali? That Poetry stuff is Telugu. I created that stuff.

For a post like this, there is nothing wrong in waiting for a year.

Me, the smiling budha.

GratisGab said...

Hello you can FEEL your pores? Boy, wish I could...then maybe I could target the clogged ones and stop this pimple problem that hits every summer!

Sorry if I sound like I'm treating this with lesser seriousness than you did...but for agnostic me, it's all a little woozy. You called yourself an atheist, what got you here? Was it just curiosity? Or did you go looking for something specific? Did you find it?

:-) said...

Gratis: :-))) Yes, thats true. However extraordinary it might sound, it all happens. Everybody during those ten days, at one point of time or other, will experience that 'melting down' into sensations.

Neither Vipassana nor Budhism touch the topics of God, Creation, Heaven and Hell.

One of uncles turned into an atheist after he started practicing Vipassana. :-)))))

:-) said...

To cut a long story short these are the following incidents, books, experiences that lead me to Vipassana

1) 2002 World Cup Match between India and Pakistan. Sachin's master innings. -- (I just played one ball at a Time)

2)How to stop worrying and start living (Act, Now)

3) The power of now

4) Dec 31,2003, Goa

5) Introduction to Budhism and Vipassana during 2004, April. Thanks to Leela

6) Lengthy talks with my Uncle and my mom

7) My cousin Vinny

I didnt discover anything. I think I observed a lot of patterns. Which basically helped me in understanding myself and my reactions better.