and it takes a month to revive this piece for probably the same reason..
So what is vipassana. Literal translation insight. Insight into one self. The previous post was all about the logistical way to get to a centre. It begins quite harmlessly. Many would love to dissect the everyday experience. But let it be a beautiful mystery to those who are enamored towards this journey.
You are just breathing. Two days you are told to breathe and not judge your thoughts. Try doing this for a few min. Our entire relevance to life is based in memory and the memory is used for judgment. How can we tame this? Isn’t it human nature? It is an acquired human nature.
This just breathing and letting your thoughts be or ignoring any discomfort of sitting in one place for a long time is only supposed to be observed. The trick is if you dont scratch that itch, it will go away on its own.
You do your sessions and retire to your room at 9 in the night. Just to be with yourself. First two days you are cool. By the third night though, going back to the room and being alone starts to bother you. For two nights the sleep does not come instantly – Why? Coz there is no new information coming to you – no phone, no newspaper, no tv, no talking to others lest even making eye contact. for two nights you have stayed awake and thought of everything superficial like whats happening at home? Are people living without you, which calls you may have missed so on and on.
The third night I was freaked. By the second day you are made into a group of women and men separate and each group is assigned a teacher – that is the only one you can talk to, ask anything or tell her what is bothering you?
The third night I opened my mouth to this teacher and said “I am afraid to go to my room alone”, she smiled and said ” We are all alone anyway. We come alone and we must go alone “then why can’t we live alone”.
I thought clearly no one is understanding what I am feeling. Then I said.. and read this carefully …
I said I am feeling very weird in my stomach, what do I do? They say.. do the breathing and tell your self this too shall pass and let it go. Easy for anybody to say.
I retire to my room very reluctantly. A question erupts in my head – What are you afraid of? .. No Answer.
I try to sleep. I keep the bathroom light on. As I look at the ceiling and wonder the way I am feeling in my gut I start to pacify myself.. Its just 7 more days. We can do this. There is no harm here. The area is secure. The main door is locked. I have seen that the main gate of the building is locked from the inside. I wonder why such a security. That night somehow passed with me sweating at times, wondering if I could do this. Why was I so crazy to agree to this madness? I cannot even call for help or tell anyone what I am going through. I don’t want to run but this is getting tough. Somehow I fell asleep lightly and wake up to another day feeling yay I made it through.
Day 4 -Something has shifted though. I feel vulnerable. I do my meditations and my body is much more stable to sit through the hours and I keep looking at the watch. I feel like I am in a race with time. The time passes and I can make it through. Yass!
That night I can’t take it anymore. I start counting everything to the moment I will have to enter my room alone that night. My last lunch, my last walk in the garden, the setting sun brings on a feeling in my diaphragm as if all my excuses and pacifying is setting with the sun. I go through the last sessions and leave the room at last. After all the members have checked into their room, I tread my way to the ground floor. There is no one. And I see that big lock on the door from the inside. My mind tries to wonder – Is it possible to … Somehow.. where they must have kept my phone? Can I access it? Everything is locked. My breathing and my fear is at an all time high as I realize I have no way out. I head to my room. Open it slowly. Same question What are you so afraid of? No Answer.
I lie on the bed, the bathroom light is on. Thoughts are now racing. Somehow a little later flashes of early life start. All the painful episodes, self loathe, failures start popping in. I wonder why am I thinking all this. It does not stop. It goes on. Childhood. A flash of an incident comes fresh in the memory. I was living away from my parents at a baby sitter’s. I am asking everyone where is mom and where is dad? They tell me dad has gone to office and mom is with the new baby. When can I see her.. Soon. I knew these were lies. I sleep alone wondering everyday Why I am the only one staying back here and when will my parents come to take me? Days go by. I have no answer. One day I am taken to the hospital. We are all sitting in the lobby, the baby sitter and her family of 4 or 5 people. We wait. I ask questions. No real answers. After some time, I see my mother. I am overjoyed and so happy. I look at her. She is not looking at me. She comes and just grabs my cheek and says “How are you?’ and looks at the baby sitters family talking to them. I am yelling and asking her, “why did you leave me? when are you coming home?” No Answer. No eye contact. The next minute she turns around. I am shocked. I am like “How can you leave” .. I scream. My hands are held on both sides. I scream louder. The huge waiting area of the hospital shuns in silence to look at this screaming child trying to break free. My mother disappears into the lift. I cry and fall to the floor. And everyone tells me Mummy had to go, her baby was waiting. She will come soon. By then I am sick of all the lies. That day everything changed for me.
I screamed and cried on the bed that instant as I relived that bewildered child and out came the words – So this is what fucked me up….. this was the beginning. And let me say this, I have never cried like that. Suddenly that scary room was a comfort, those walls told me I could yell and cry and be who I am and nobody would stop me. The very room I was afraid of became the best and the most safest place in the world. That night onwards every night going to my room became a luxurious awaiting. Its like a romance had started. The perfect romance. Nobody was going to abandon me. I was whole. I was happy. I did my meditations alone. I would sit in those small rooms in the pagoda and be with myself.
The 11th day came when I had to say Goodbye. And that was the second time I cried. I cried out of this gratitude for that room. I knew I was leaving this heaven behind and that I was going back to the same Dukha of human civilisation, the same madness, the questions and survival.
Vipassana changes you. At the cellular level. It brings out the mess and negativity that is rooted in you. It is the thing that we all humans require to be sane. That time I felt a yearly course should be great. Today I feel it is a necessity to do a course once in a while. It is like looking in a mirror and not shying away from what you see. The moment you accept, you are free. And the only thing to accept is – Nothing lasts forever.
Do you know what we are afraid of? Our self. Our true self. And we keep running away from it. We are afraid to be with ourselves as it is tough to see the masks falling away, the ego diminishing. We are in short afraid of our own light. And that is why everything is wrong with the so called system that we follow so blindly and so surely.
Sabka Mangal ho.