Unlike Buddha, I survived to Vipassana
An insight week by Ola Jas
It was maybe clear for you who know something about me, that “I am not the Buddha”. Nonetheless every time the bell would ring at the Vipassana, I directed myself with the greatest dedication to the Meditation hall, entirely disposed to follow the instructions and see what happens.
My head felt really connected to my Heart, but the overall sensation was a wavy infinite ocean of feelings (and overwhelming experiences) covering this sacred space of Eternity that the Buddhist refers to as the Void (emptiness).
Beforehand, I thought I would either die or get enlightened – a life changing experience, as those who already did it told me. There is not much I want to change to my current way of living. And regarding my way of being, I believe I can handle a lot and that I practice well, the art of balance between the power of Manifestation and Surrender. I live the Now with captivating projects and raising ever closer to my ideals, accepting always better my vulnerability and weaknesses, to heal with them and blossom beyond expectations, just as a natural flow of Life itself.
Nonetheless, the path is bright and there is always something to learn on the body-mind-spirit Equilibrium. I stepped the door.
EAGLE EYE OVERVIEW
Yet there is something about this experience that I was apprehensive about: if I have lots of occupations to fulfil myself in the world, how would it feel to stay still and without outer interactions for that long? Would I still have a purpose to be? Also, would it reveal some hidden darkness maybe?
And on the other way, could it empower my psychic powers, help me slow down and even avoid compulsive eating that happens to me sometimes? Could I become any happier and more centered after this?
Surprisingly, it wasn’t hard to cultivate silence over the 7 days. “Important things pass out of words”, already told me the little prince. But how uncomfortable it was to sit for half an hour, 8 times a day! Limit the movement is the greatest pain it took me on the journey of Mindfulness.
I never craved for any sensual pleasure, nor eating (ok, once I dreamt of cashew nuts, but not even a thought for chocolate!) nor erotic desires! Nothing to be proud about, but it is an extraordinary sensation, to realize afterwards that I could handle even more than I thought and that I am actually even stronger and more resilient than I could wish.
In there, the frame is set up to help this process, unlike in our over-stimulating society. Basic shelter, basic food, and a nutritive schedule are provided, so that there is absolutely nothing we have to worry about in the material world. All our focus can be dedicated to the insight.
More than 70 individuals enrolled for this experience. There must be some common quest in the wide range of humanity to guide so different folks to gather in a monastery.
Mindfulness is a “mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique”.
DHAMMA: An abundant literature exists on the topic. The rest and most of it is practice. In the Dhamma (or Dharma in Sanskrit, meaning the teaching of the Buddha) course I followed, the purpose is to sit, observe the inner world, become empty (of thoughts) and finally as a result (and not as an aim!) merge with the entire Universe, in Oneness.
ANAPANASATI: If enlightenment is a consecration of the practice, you don’t need to reach it to empower yourself out of the experience of vipassana. The first step is already something. It simply consists in paying attention to breathing.
Is there something more essential than BREATHING in our lives? This vital mechanism is at stake in all activities which calm down our minds, as it benefits our capacity to concentrate, to purify and to free ourselves from conditioning, to cope with our nature and be less submerged by external influences.
DUKKA & ILLUSION: Our purpose according to Buddhism is to live without disturbances, liberate oneself of the Dukkha (suffering) and experiencing the bliss out of the illusion.
This can happen when we see the true nature of things, as they are, not willing to give a meaning or a subjective qualification to any natural phenomenon, would it be a sunset, a flower or someone’s action. It engages a work on Acceptance and the assumption that each being is a tiny little lost particle, interrelated to all others, in front of Existence, Death, and the journey itself.
EGO & IDENTITY: We fall in the trap of identity, thinking “this is me”, as this belief takes the mind to escape boredom, in a constant seek of excitement and pleasure. We end up labelling and confining our range of motion to fit a case or another. Wake up: we are limitless! 🙂
The Ego is empowered by the mind which puts concepts and ideas on things that as a matter of Buddhism faith, just are, with no room for interpretation. The true nature has no meaning, like the sunset, or an animal eating to maintain his body, not in sake of taste, whereas humans attach emotional or aesthetic significations to the sun setting down or will choose to eat a deliciously-for-the-mind-taste pizza instead of a simple raw-veg-organism-nutritiously satisfying portion of food.
The tradition of Vipassana has been brought up to date in the 50s, and is sustained on a donation base since then. It gives credibility to those people sharing their beliefs and cultivating their faith, in name of a life dedication, with expectations of nothing else.
Perception and memory create our experience of reality, in a process of recognition. At the moment we recognize things with the senses, we messed it up, by letting room for interpretation… To remain empty would mean to avoid the disruption of the mind.
Meditation is a break-habits to the 5 identified states of mind that impeach consciousness to arise and see things clearly. Concentration is the remedy to overcome those resistances of the mind, (most of the time unconscious) patterns which influence our behaviors.
The perception, the feelings, the thoughts, the consciousness and our body takes us away of the real.
STATES OF MIND:
-wandering: too much ideas and thoughts coming on the blank screen of our pure mind. -Stay focused!
-dull and drowsy: one can be intelligent, but lack of clarity overall, and it is easy to find comfort and sustain ignorance. – Become Wiser!
-doubting: insecurity on more or less established beliefs that take you out of objectivity. – Remain certain of nothing!
-sensual: the sake of pleasure of the senses. – Be satisfied with nothing!
-negative: worrying associated with eternal complaints. – Positive vibrations, please!
ANAPANASATI: It means focus on Breathing. Every long and dedicated breath causes a change in the body. And when a clear channel of interconnectedness appears between the body and breath, the mind has finally a space to surrender.
The state of illumination, aka Nirvana, can happen in two phases, a sense-still one and a total withdraw of the senses. Enlightenment takes probably a life time, “piti” is a most accessible experience of a few seconds of deep concentration lifting you somewhere else.
DAY 1: Orientative mood, discovery of the rules, everything is new and curiosity is satisfied.
DAY 2: Concentration on the actual duty of meditation, super talkative mind, restless attempt and acknowledgment that the mind wanders. Cynical state of questioning, where am I of this journey?
DAY 3: Anger, frustration, the more I try, the less I get- until Surrender. Then the work happens finally. Release and Trust again.
DAY 4: Integration of the breathing into my routines, a little bit more of compassion towards myself, experimentation in a more personalized way, with slightly more freedom. I embodied the tool.
DAY 5: It is just what it is, and I am not what I believe I am, and I am also all what I am not. Voice to the Void. Flow of the things: process of release, both from the center and through the mediation: many doors to explore from no stimulus activation. All is already in the Present. But I get bored sometimes and also dream of freedom.
DAY 6: That’s it? How to make something out of the experience? Prospects of getting back to the illusion of “real life”. Transition times. Focus on savoring the moment.
DAY 7: Restless night, hard to contain excitement of getting back to business. Once down the jungle hill, I felt an explosion of serenity and a torrent of Gratitude unfolding over and within me.
And actually this scheme probably reveals a pattern of mine. I guess everyone got a pretty different process. In theory you can’t look at the eyes of anyone, so that everyone focuses on their own experience, but of course between the rule and the reality, magic happens, eyes cross and even light smiles appear. It was fascinating to finally hear the voice of those bodies that were moving the minimum movement during all the retreat and change perception about them or confirm images I projected on who they are.
Without totally wanting it, I created ideas on some people whose energy without a word would transmit me some information about themselves. Like one piece of art that is Humanity, we were different shapes conveying in the same space, revealing different features of characters.
Once done, I definitely feel more benefits than I could ever imagine while doing it. And where does it lead? It certainly depends on what continuation you give to this teaching in the “real illusion of life”.
When I got out, I thought I would be the first one to leave, but I was so enthusiastic about sharing thoughts about the experience, that I took the last car. My hands were slightly shaking out of gratefulness. I felt very entire. I had a wonderful conversation with the friend thanks to whom I entered there and with a random extremely inspiring filmmaker, at the Wilde Tribe café
, the perfect vegan place to keep on saying the prayer before eating…
Focusing my energy and creativity in the monastic life has been an intense time. I now understand how I can benefit to the monks by telling my experience and I have a confirmation on how monks work for our salvation. We can definitely benefit one another while maintaining our position to the world. Interdependence exists on all that exists.
I personally gained lot of this week. I confirmed my conversations with Nature: I read omens in the stars and see poetry all around, I love the textures of the world, I hear the beat of my Heart, I adore the smell of a frangipani, I venerate the delicious taste of pumpkin. I am an enthusiast freak.
– I kind of found a place in inner/ outer worlds and refine my way constantly. The results come in a natural way, if I am dedicated to the present moment, concentrated on a task at a time and allowing the time it needs, with no rush and patience.
– I embrace the contradictions of this world with compassion (holding a detached space for the suffering), rather than judgment and empathy (letting the suffering hold me because of it).
– I know everything is a constant flow of change and take nothing for granted so that I stimulate myself to be a better version of myself. I will keep on making the best of any given circumstance.
– I celebrate my inner child and cultivate my innocence and instinct. Imagination and creativity are the tools/ resources of my growth and expression.
– Less is more and slow-mo the most!
OPEN WINDOWS, ETERNAL QUESTIONS
A dear friend told me “the spiritual path initiates by the discovery of the questions we all wonder about within”. I am on the path, but I still wonder, is this voice in my head an ally or a disturbance? How to optimize my power of intuition through the “letting go” (surrender and letting things come instead of calling them to be)?
I can entertain myself at ease while alone, and in the first days I felt this connection to my bigger self, with so much colorful images, lifting my body in kind of an altered state of consciousness, a travel in the bright sight of imagination. Is that an escape, a diversion of my mind or the nature of things for me, that I need to assume and bring to the world? I embody all this: shapes of sacred geometry, sensations of flying out of space, out of time.
But I don’t feel the call for enlightment. I am at ease with my imperfections, and feelings. I love being in love, always remembering it can lead to cry. It is worth it and it is always for best. Are there other ways to get enlightened, than withdraw from the senses?
Sometimes, it happens to me that I feel at the right place, at the right time. Everything is tuned with the Universe to be. I call these moments: experience of Plentitude. I guess it is a state of full consciousness. And the more I experience these instants, the more I feel everything is alright, and I can access them easier the next time… How do you experience this feeling of being an integrative part of the wholeness?
I mostly feel free when I surrender to the Dance, to the movement, when I let my body speak for the soul. If we are channels for the illusion, let’s make the best out of this privileged posture. It actually means to me I can create the bubble within which I want to grow.
In the healthy living bubble, I can think of a few inspiring friends who meditate a lot. They fascinate me. How do you live your Mindfulness?
If you intend to do a Vipassana, here is a few things I can suggest to take into account.
– The location doesn’t really matter, wherever you get the call, go for it!
– Grab the minimal amount of things and especially clothing or beautification accessories, so that you don’t pass time adorning yourself.
– Take a stone, a necklace, something that is part of your ritual attention. I find for instance helpful to have a sandal wood to light from times to times in my everyday life and missed this grounding object. In a way, I believe building your altar helps to keep your beliefs and intentions up and can be useful to upgrade the spare time there.
– Beforehand take a day to answer all emails and messages on your mind, so that you are not disturbed by your “real” life and experiment the emptiness of this experience easier.
– Allow yourself to integrate the journey with no planning for a few days afterwards. It might be more or less easy to come back and letting space for time itself is a first lesson 😉
– Remember, the rules are the rules, and do the best of what you can do, but remind yourself in the most difficult times that you entered by choice and completing the stay is very satisfying afterwards. It is only 7 or 10 days of a lifetime and it is really worth to experiment the release and see how it feels. It always remains you choice, whether you enter, leave, complete, whatever you do there. Playing the game gives you the strength to overcome anything!
It has been a week time since I left the Vipassana temple and I kept my 15min meditation every day. I already did a lot, and felt very energized. Always digesting the experience. I consider this sacred silent as a milestone of my common journey.
Buddha died at his meditation under the tree of Lumbini and reincarnated with no ego, he gave birth to a renewed version of himself, pure and innocent, enlightened. That might actually be his meaning of “reincarnation”, as there is a controversy on the translation from Pali language, and what it implies.
In less than a month time, for my 30th birthday, I will have accounted about 262.800 hours of life, and that is a limited number, even if we are limitless beings and eternal souls. There is maybe twice this amount to live in me (or not!) and I am decided to commit with Life.
I am going to use all tools at my reach to make the path smooth and bright. Humor helps and I believe a sense of self derision is needed to handle situations. Also mostly by the yoga, for the earth and the people, through Mindfulness at the extent I can reach. I also reaffirm, Love is our True Nature.
Feeling blessed by the Gods & in Love with Life