The short half hour meditation ended at 9.00 pm drawing a close to a very different day. By 9.15 pm looking forward to another day, I drifted towards sleep. Sometime in the night I woke up and realized that there was no power supply. It was 3.00 am. The tiled roof of the room was as quick to cool down as it was to get heated by noon time. Therefore, once again slumber enveloped me only to be startled by the loud gong of the bell. It’s 4.00 am. It’s still dark – and the power supply hadn’t been restored. That didn’t dampen my spirits and I marched into the washroom to have a bath, armed with my torch.
Day 2 (17/04/2015)
Another gong and I moved in the direction of the meditation hall. The volunteers had kept a few lamps on the path and slowly everybody trickled in. The session began sharp at 4.30. Watch the breath. And when I do that what happens? The mind is focussed on the act of breathing for a few seconds and there it goes on a wild horse ride. To the past, to the future and many a time I realized that there is no order to the kind of thoughts that overwhelm me. By noon with practice I gathered momentum in noticing the drift of the mind and then bring it back to focus on the respiration.
As the morning session ended at 6.30, we moved into the dining hall. We had separate halls for males and females. Breakfast over, I moved to the walking area under the canopy of tall trees – teak, mango, jackfruit, coconut and a huge silk cotton tree. The morning air was cool and fresh. The entire area was full of bird calls and the eastern sky was glowing as the sun rose. I strolled taking in the vibrancy of the place. As speaking was taboo, it was the right opportunity for me to commune with Nature.
The schedule for each day is the same and so am not replicating it. Day 1’s long sessions have already started having an effect on me. There’s an ache in the knees for I have been sitting cross-legged. Nevertheless, I am game for Day 2. By noon time we heard some helpers speaking about two in the camp who dropped out in the morning. I wondered how many of us will be around on the last day.
On Day 2 the focus is again on respiration. But this time we were asked to sense the cool air of inhalation and the warm air of exhalation. Vipassana stresses on meditators focussing on normal breath – not hard or contrived breath. Hard breath may be taken only briefly if you just cannot experience breathing at all. Then you are asked to move into natural, flowing breath. Since natural breath is such an inconspicuous and involuntary affair, it is with a lot of struggle that I managed to start experiencing it. For the first few hours I just could not sense either the warmth or the coolness but as the day progressed, I could faintly distinguish both. And then when one feels excited at the success, you are gently reminded, do not be elated at success and do not be frustrated at failure. Be equanimous. Truly a tall order!
The day’s discourse was on the habit pattern of the mind. If one observes it, it is clear that it swings like a pendulum from the past to the present, generating either craving or aversion. One cannot perform an action that harms others without defiling one’s own mind first. The result is anger, ill will, hatred, animosity and the like. And with these negatives in the mind one is surely bound to be miserable. On the other hand when one performs an action that helps others, it naturally generates positive aspects like love, goodwill, forgiveness and compassion. By practicing right awareness one starts breaking that habit. Once you learn to fix your mind on the present reality you enter the realm of Panna, the development of wisdom, of insight, that totally purifies the mind. Thus Vipassana is actually a deep surgical operation of the mind, bringing out the negativity and purifying the mind.
I still cannot figure out how people like me, householders with duties and responsibilities, can live a life of balance, without liking and without hating. We are not monks or nuns to develop complete detachment. I will need more clarifications in this matter. These were my thoughts as I hit the bed at night.
(To be continued)