Vipassana Meditation : Suffering in Silence

Dehradun Travel Blog

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'BLOW HORN!" - no pleeeeeease f**king don't!
'Strive ardently, oh man, and burn!  Purity comes from burning away the dross.  gold must pass through a crucible in order to be refined.'  - ( Message to Vipassana students, pinned to dining hall wall on Day 6 )

The Sound and the Fury

Attempting to sum up any place in a single adjective, but especially India is of course as absurd as it is impossible.  Which would you choose?  Delightful, dirty, tasty, pitiful, poor, big, ugly, beautiful, bureaucratic, moronic, slow, fast, fascinating, chaotic, crowded, corrupt or colourful?  It is all of these and so many more.  But spend enough time around the towns and cities and my guess, the one that will stick in your memory the longest is 'NOISY!'

India is a very loud country.
No I don't smoke, a joke act of solidarity to halp Jantine in her attempt to use Vipassana to help her quit amongst other worthy motivations :)
  A country where life is lived, and lived out loud in the open.  Here people love, laugh, wash, work, trade, care, despair, play, pray, dance, meet, greet and eat, argue, fight and delight in life all upon the streets.  Lives lived at full volume.  Not like England where we're a little more mute.  The sounds of our passions and pains, happiness and strains mostly muffled behind closed, locked doors and double glazing.  A little deeper maybe in our closed, locked hearts.  

Noise breeds noise like violence breeds violence.  And I often now think of India's cities as unwittingly fostering a culture of audio violence.  Try to imagine a single note distilled from the sound of a thousand cats trapped in a bag with a thousand dogs; all of them wielding chainsaws and claxons and claws and that note being drawn out in one long crescendo from dawn until dusk and beyond - and you may get some conception of the cacophony.
Jantine enjoys (theoretically) her last ever cigarette. There might have been one and ahalf more later... and then there was that other... oh, ya get the picture :)


The worst offenders are the screeching squall of India's mechanised ( mostly male) menagerie of drivers.  Be it rickshaws, cycles, mopeds or motorbikes, bus or lorry drivers.  The only rule of the road is the law of the horn.  GET OUT OF MY WAY!!!  Indian drivers will bloody-mindedly batter away at their little Horns of Jericho, even if there's no need, until your ears bleed and the walls of your sanity come tumbling down at their sound.  

And I've had enough!  India is the land of Gandhisian ahimsa.  Non-violence.  I propose India now needs audio-ahimsa!  Either way, I need a change of scene.  Something more serene.  I need an escape to an oasis of quiet and calm.  So when in Simla my travel pal Yiftach first mentioned the enforced silence and solitude of the Vipassana Meditation program and then a week later in Dharamsala Jantine was signed up to do it too, I thought 'Why not! Let's give it a go.
'QUIT TALKING!' - 10 days of absolute silence and non-communication ahoy!
'  Surrendering to the unexpected and unusual is necessary from time to time in India and generally when travelling.  So it's off to the outskirts of Dehradun and meditation and silence and a hope for audio-ahimsa.

Sound and Vision   

So what's it all about?  Well, here follows a hopelessly narrow and incoherent overview of the philosophy of Vipassana Meditation.  Let's see how it goes shall we? :  

One of many schools of meditation, the Vipassana technique is the one that claims most direct lineage from the teachings of Siddhattha Gotama, the prince who would eventually attain enlightenment under the Bodi tree and become the first Buddha two and a half millennia ago.
'silencio!'


This path to enlightenment ( the path of dhamma or magga ) is achieved by breaking down through your mind's considerations of 'superficial, apparent reality', to the deeper subconscious (which are also conscious) levels of the mind-body framework and into the realm of sensations.  Be they physical sensations (pain, heat, itching) or psychological (desire, joy, anger) the goal is to recognise all such sensations as equal in both the scale of their import, which is nil and therein their irrelevance, isolate them and accept them all as ultimately ephemeral.  Things that will pass away as surely as they have arisen.  Manifestations of miseries surfacing and dissipating.  This process known as anicca.  

A new 'mind-habit pattern' must be cultivated that enables you to become equanimous to all sensations.
  Basically to become objective, indifferent and non-reactive to them.  This new understanding is to be applied to all events or sensations in one's life from those as tiny as the itch of a gnat's bite to the searing emotional wounds of the loss of a loved one.  Everything in life passes, including grief and life itself and the Vipassana technique encourages the acceptance of our innate ephemerality.  This process of mastering one's mind is called samadhiSamadhi is founded on sila - morality and performing 'right actions'.  Through the observance of the various stations of samadhi ( the isolation of sensations and a movement away from wishing to give in to these sankharas or desires to react) leads one to forms of panna or wisdom that eventually, if followed through to a successful state of pure equanimity with oneself and the world around you will lead to enlightenment or nibbana (Nirvana).
   

"Phewf!"  Did ya get all that?  Nah?  Oh well.

So what does this all mean in practical terms for my fellow Vipassanistas and I over the next 10 or 11 days?  No talking.  No eye contact.  No interactions of any kind.  Segregation of the sexes.  No reading.  No writing ( I will singularly fail on this point).  No physical exercise ( 'Yey!').  No intoxicants ( 'Boo!').  No sexual misconduct ( 'Double boo!' ).  No killing or harming of life (darn, you mean I really have to give up this habit of a lifetime too?!).  Up at 4.00am every day.  Only two meals and 10 - 11 hours of meditation a day.  Yep!  You read that right.
Stevie in confinement for the next 11 days :(
10 hours a day.  100 hours.  The equivalent of four and half days worth of meditation to come!  Sitting on your bum, twiddling one's psychological thumbs.

Piece of cake right?

Well, not exactly.  As a child of 'MTV Broadband-glee Modernity' the problem is concentration.  Trying to find that inner calm; to dam the flow of past memories, current thoughts and future hopes and dreams; mulling over possible travel itineraries; attempting, and failing, to cease mind meanderings; to stop frequenting the internal cinemas, libraries, art galleries, comic book stores, juke boxes, theatres (and porno sections) of my mind for the next 10 days will prove hard.  It in fact proved impossible for me for anything longer than a few minutes at a stretch.  No matter how hard I tried.  And no, I did not spend most of my time in the porno section!  Okay!

Even in the weeks ahead of the Meditation course, my brain having cottoned on to the torment I intended to imminently put it through, started to amass a psychological smorgasboard of the musical, colourful, comical, curious and the surreal with which to distract me like an annoying younger sibling determined not to let me focus on my book the entire time.
Happy windows make happy people. The view from my Vipassana room :)
  Most prominently, and inexplicably it's the ingenious comicality of King Louie's plea for evolution in Walt Disney's The Jungle Book that is set to permanent Repeat Mode.  You know the one : 'Now I am the king of the swingers, oooh, The jungle V.I.P.  I've reached the top and had to stop and that's what's bothering me.'  Whyyyy?!  And I just CAN'T get the darn song out of my head.  Not for the whole time before, during or after the course!  I swear!  ‘I wanna be a man, man-cub, And stroll right into town.
Welcome to Prisoner Cell Block M
..‘ 
You know what it's like when you get a tune or something chucklesome stuck in your head!

And those images too!  The madness of Mowgli and the monkeys and Baloo the bear swingin' his hula skirt hips and jiving with his coconut lips in drag.  It's almost impossible to concentrate... ‘And be just like the other men, I'm tired of monkeyin' around...' and in fact, sitting writing this now two months on, IT'S BACK! And I can't get the flippin' tune outta my brain and I'm not entirely sure I'll be able to concentrate on writing thi... ‘Ohh, oobie-do, (Bop-do-wee) I wanna be like you-hoo-hoo...’

Insanity lies in trying to calm and clear one's mind.
Inside the great oubliette of the Vipassana meditation pagoda.
  Trust me.  Try it!  Turn off all the lights in your room and close-up the computer.  Sit on your bed, shut your eyes and just try to focus on nothing, absolutely nothing but your breathing. Just even for two minutes.  Nothing at all.  Not even Baloo.  Don't listen to Jim 'Dumb & Dumber' Carrey when he asks you 'Do you wanna hear the most annoying noise in the world?' and stop listening to that great grey iPod between your ears.  Forget about this blog, those niggling odd-jobs or when you last or might next get laid.  And when you're straining for that moment of mental purity, that psychological clean sheet don't think of what I thunk - the dumb pug-like innocence of Dan Ackroyd's face, having failed to blank his brain and confessing at the end of Ghostbusters : 'I couldn't help it.
The dim interior of Cell 17
  It just popped in there [...] I tried to think of [...] something that would never ever possibly destroy us.  Mr.Stay-Puft.' 
It's not an image easily shifted once recalled.  It just pops in there, along with all the others.  'You see it's true ( Shoo-ba dee-do ) An ape like me ( Shoo-be do-bee do-bee) Can learn to be Human too'...

No Pain, No Gain?

'Now here's your part of the deal, cuz, lay the secret on me of man's red fire...'

So here's the drill soul slackers!  Up at about 4.00am to 4.15am, roused by a gong and then a series of bell jingles to start your first two hour meditation session at 4.
Welcome to solitary confinement - not advisable if you have a 'gas problem' apparently ")
30am.  Breakfast and break from 6.30am and then back to the hall for meditation between 8.00 and 11.30am.  Incredibly this is lunch, the main and final meal of the day.  Nothing now but a cup of warm chai and a tiny pot of puffed rice and salted peanuts (taken at 5.00pm) to see you through until breakfast tomorrow.  ( Banana smuggling at breakfast is rife).  Further sessions of meditation broken by only 5 minute leg-stretching pauses between 1.00 and 5.00pm and 5.30 until 8.00pm.  The latter period incorporating a merciful pause from meditation to go watch a torturous one hour DVD discourse by the current figurehead 'guru' of the Vipassana organisation, a Mr S.N.Goenka or Goenkaji to his friends and students.  'What I desire is man's red fire, To make my dream come true.
Be Happy
'


Okay, first and foremost, on this initial foray into the world of Vipassana and speaking for myself - Vipassana is a world of pain!  To be more specific, and literal, it is a pain in the arse!  I am not kidding you.  Forget the most uncomfortable bus, train, rickshaw you ever rode on or cinema seat you ever had to endure.  Excluding possibly a life sentence sharing a prison cell with a very large man who calls himself Angel and you 'Darling', Vipassana is the least favourable thing you can ever do to your bottom!

Sat in the cold and dark, cross-legged hour after agonising hour.  Legs screaming at you.  Butt muscles cramping up.  Trying not to pussy out and shift posture.  Your spine wilting to breaking point.
One of the two male accommodation compounds
  Then you straighten up again.  Back straight!  And then you wilt once more.  It's hilarious opening ones eyes during meditation (not allowed) and looking around at 5.00am to take in the miniature sea of heads bobbing up and down, up and down as the hall of meditatees recurrently succumb to and snap out of forms of sleep or spinal spongification time and again.  By the end of the first week my ass is flat-lining, I require replacement knees and am living in constant fear of DVT.

‘I wanna be like you (Hum dee oobee-do-ba) I wanna walk like you (Tee) Talk like you (Too) Too-hoo-hoo...’

Our proxy teacher, or guru, I name MC Spool as I don’t know his name, and his task does not extend much beyond pressing ‘play’ and ‘stop’ on the cassette player from which Goenkaji’s odd, rumbling, gelatinous voice is unleashed periodically to remind us to pursue our goal “paaaaatiently and persistantly, aaaaarduously and diligently” and to deliver most torturous and distracting ancient Buddhist chants.
One of the surprisingly good meals to be had in the male dining hall.
  MC Spool calls ’Group 4’ up to the front.  This being me and my meditation neighbour Brendan-whose-name-I-do-not-know-yet.  ‘So are you feeling any sensations?’ asks MC Spool in his hushed but amiable croak so as not to disturb the others.  ‘Yes, I feel a lot of pain!  Everywhere.  I have a large pain in my ass!’  ‘A what?’ he whispers smiling beatifically.  ‘He says he has a pain in his... err?...posterior’ Brendan-whose-name-I-do-not-know-yet clarifies for Spool.  ’Wonderful!  Be happy about your pain!  This is a good thing.
Alex, the Russian meditation assistant 'dongs' the gong that calls us to meditation and meals over our 11 day confiement.
  For this is the way’
he beams at me.  Hmmm?  My ass and I are not convinced.

The Sounds of Silence

So what are the sounds of silence?  The noises that define the 10 days of ’Noble Silence’ that so many signs around the compound implore us to respect.  

Forty odd people in a room barely or not at all introduced to one another.  First thing in the morning, in the cold, chattering teeth, bodies rubbing themselves for warmth.  Shawls being flung over shoulders and wrapped about.  The Coughers.  The Sniffers and Sneezers.  The Handkerchief Rustlers.  The Tummy Rumblers.  The Fumblers.  There’s the Indian lady somewhere near the front of the women’s side of the hall who often burps with wonderful abandon and disregard for western gender-based behavioural assumptions.
'Silence Zone' - people start to make friends when on the afternoon of the 10th day, limited interaction within gender groups becomes permitted.
  I’m guilty of a good number of stifled belches myself.  There’s the man that ‘tsks’ all the time.  The one who plays with a wrist band.  The annoying on-the-hour beeps of digital watches, modernity and its music, as always, having smuggled its way in. The occasional comedy snoring from someone who’s slipped into a temporarily lower, rather than a higher state of consciousness.  We are an anonymous collective defined only by our body language and noises.  Identifiable by foot fall and shoe wear alone.  ‘Doot zaba-doo-dee-day...Doo-bam doo-boo-bee-bay’

Of course the constant fear - I make a puerile assumption here - in many people’s minds is the danger of ‘letting one rip’ to use the common parlance.
Natural Abstract 1
  I can’t tell you the struggle for me!  The constant battle to contain laughter just at the thought of the possibility of a good old fashioned "FART!" tearing our silence asunder.  It’s strange really as, regrettably, I am not a man given too freely to open laughter, even when it’s well deserved, but a well placed guff is guaranteed to crack me up every time.  20 ladies and 20 gents sat with their eyes closed in the cold and shadows, our guts churning and twisting from discomfort and lack of food, and were one “PARP!” suddenly to perforate the silence ( “Was it the boys?  Was it the girls? Who dunnit?!” ) - well it’d be near irrepressible comedy for yours truly!  Many’s the time I often near crack my ribs trying to stifle childlike gales of giggles derived of this vision.
Natural Abstract 2
  To laugh out loud here would be a mortal sin.  A violation.  A rape of quietude!  But I wanna laugh so hard some times.  To set my laughter free into the void of silence like a beautiful songbird from a cage.  Just like Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) spinnin’ that vinyl record for freedom in The Shawshank Redemption and earning himself a spell in solitary for his troubles.  The silent treatment.

And on the seventh afternoon that’s precisely what we get.  Solitary confinement.  The silent treatment.  All of us ushered out of the communal meditation hall to take up occupation in private ‘cells’ inside the Vipassana compound’s pagoda building.  Stevie to be confined to Cell 17.  Unfortunately the ‘pagoda instructions’ we’re urged to read state that if you ‘are suffering from cold, cough or gas problems one should not enter the cell!’  This immediately sets me and Brendan-whose-name-I-do-not-know-yet chuckling violently.
Nature is beautiful and quiet about it.
  I’m in grave danger of letting that songbird right out of its cage at the thought of some poor fella meditating away alone and unwittingly farting his way to death via methane intoxification.

'With a reep-bon-naza! ( Eh ba-daba doy ) Well-a-la-ba zini ( War-la-bop, boor-la-bop)...

I dash to Cell 17!  But am unable to stifle my immature giggles.  'See-ble-bop, dooney ( Ooh, ooh, ooh!)’.  The thought of a contraband fart now we‘re totally cut off from one another is even more hilarious to my mind. ( A mind clearly regressing to childhood as a consequence of my meditative state?  ‘Freud, Jung, anyone, help?’ ).  A good old grunt in this echoing 360 degree echoing oubliette of a building would really bring the house down!  ( “Was it a boy?  Was it a girl?  The man next door or the chap round the corner in Cell 34?  Who dunnit?!” ).
Jantine in the 'Female Area'
  I try to settle down to pretend to meditate in my 6’ by 3’ hole whilst accepting that laughing on my own in the dark at fart potentiality probably means said hole should be lined with white rubber and come with a matching overcoat possessed of an abundance of room for one’s arms.

'With a huh, huh, huh, huh! ( 'Rrrawr, rrrawr' ) Get mad, baby! ( 'Hada-lada hada-lada' With a hada-lada hadoo-doo ( Oodle-loodle-oodle-loodle ) ...

The rest periods are odd affairs.   No interaction or physical exertion permitted.  We all drift from our dank, dark rooms to the bright outside and back again.  Killing time like so many listless phantoms haunting the pleasant grassy, tree-cluttered compound.  Happy to sit in the sun after the morning’s chill and quietly appreciate the soft subtleties of nature’s noises, these being only occasionally punctured by some far distant horn tooting, engine growling or music.
The gong of our destiny!
  We had travelled 10-15 kilometres out of Dehradun and crossed a shallow river barefoot to reach this oasis of calm.  ‘Ahhh!  Bliss.  Audio ahimsa!’  The fall of the autumn leaves from the trees.  Bird song.  Wind playing in grass.  The skitter of ants and beetles.  The buzzing of bees.  The flutter of butterfly wings.  Small sounds.  I toss a pebble, my ‘meditation stone’ (that I still carry with me now) into the air time and time and time again.  A satisfying ‘thup!’ every time I palm it.  Occasionally I spill and drop it.  The clatter of stone on ground seems deafening in this context.  There’s no doubt, in many ways, it’s a deeply relaxing week as much as it is an arduous one.  When ever in our crazy modern lives do we have the option to submit ourselves to doing nothing, saying absolutely nothing and hearing very little for such a period of time without any other obligation?

We all amble around.
  Reading the few signs that are put up around the segregated dining areas and the spartan accommodation blocks.  ’You are always welcome to this sacred land.  Be happy - management’.  Or ’Every moment aware.  Every moment equanimous.  Be happy!’  And I’m thinkin’ ’Is “equanimous” even a word?  I sure as heck have been hearing it a lot lately!'  Another quotes Buddha ’May the merits I have acquired be shared by one and all.  May this munificent dhamma benefit one and all’ and one ’Continuity of practice is the secret to success.
A sneaky shot on the very final morning in the main meditation hall (cameras, phones, iPods etc are banned in the course and confiscated at its commencement).
  Be happy.’
  And I’m thinking ’Boy, someone sure does want us to “be happy” around here!’  And then I’m washing up after lunch and notice the sign above the taps : ’Please, no spitting here.  Be happy.’ and I’m laughing inside again.  Be happy :)
 
...and then all of a sudden, after lord knows how many hours of meditation and pain, right at the very last hurdle and the beginning of one of our final sessions of meditation (my grin widening by the minute) the walls of silence so meticulously constructed by forty (semi) focussed minds over the last ten days are brought crashing down! Ripped apart - and not by a fart - but by the rushing in of sound and fury.

A middle aged Swiss-French lady called Christine storms in and to the front of the hall and launches a verbal tirade against MC Spool.
Barbara and Alain and the rest of the gang ford the river back away from the Vipassana centre following our survival and escape :)
  ’You know... you know I did not get any szleep last night!... yet sztill you do zis... you, you... I came to you ze ozer night and it iz after you are opening up my chakras zat I am not able to szleep!... and ze ozer nightsz I cannot szleep eizer because my chakras they ‘av been opened!... and I know you will szay zat zis iz “wonderful and marvelous” but it iz not!  And I am a victim and I wish you to know zis!!!’  And everyone’s thinkin’ ’Flippin’ heck!’ and I’m thinking that too and ’hang on luv, exactly what and where are your “chakras” to be found and how did he manage to open them the other night?!’  The girls would later report how she’d spent the previous night violently banging and crashing about in her room (though accusing the others of keeping her up by doing the same) and then coming to the door of Brendan-whose-name-I-now-know’s girlfriend’s door accusing her of keeping her up with the passionate sounds of her alleged nightly practice of Kundalini Yoga (tantric sex practices) with unknown quantities of unknown men in the pagoda.
The scenery in the area of the Dehradun vipassana meditation compound.
  And it’s all going a little bit crazy.  MC Spool remains admirably equanimous and softly retorts ’May I kindly request of you that we speak about this after the session?’  People in pain.  Suffering and misery.  And I’m ashamed to admit at this point my grin’s only been getting wider...

... and proving it’s never over - the fun, the fury and the farce - until the Fat Lady sings (and she’s not allowed to, so we’re all in trouble!) there's one more eruption in store.  As if a day of ill omens, later on it is only three hours after I eject a small, black, vicious looking scorpion from my bedroom into the night air that venom returns to my door, banging violently to rouse me at midnight from my final slumber in confinement.  Upon groggily opening my door, my Indian 'neighbour' and fellow Vipassanista paces back and forth screaming and shouting at me in a schizophrenic whirlwind of strange and marvellous accusations, threats and invitations to violence.
And at the end of it all Stevie says... ;D
  No reason.  No provocation.  Not one word; not one single gesture has ever passed between us.  The days events seem to be proving that with minds unlocked, and voices uncorked from within us after so many long days, various other djinns, too long bottled up have found their way out into the world... and it's all getting a might bit surreal... and a slight bit scary... and I think it's time to go...

‘I wanna walk like you, talk like you...’

So why do we do it?  These endless forays into what in my more cynical moods would be labelled the Realm of Mumbo Jumbo.  Pursuing multiform hopes for spiritual evolution the determination of our physical future long since having been ceded to plastic surgeons, geneticists and diet-induced ruination.  Have we now at the start of the 21st Century reached a collective realisation that we've become a species that's if not an evolutionary full stop, then a grammatical error perhaps?  The only thing left to do being to consume our products, our environment, our world and ultimately ourselves, throw bombs at one another and attend Vipassana meditation courses as the only means to alleviate the boredom and despair that such a realisation of evolutionary obsolescence potentially engenders.  Having long since understood and harnessed the mass-destructive capabilities of 'man's red fire' we've reached the top, and now we've stopped, and that's what's bothersome see. 

My personal response?  This may sound a little unusual but I am always a little wary of the pursuit of unalloyed happiness as the be all and end all of a life, though it's worthy and understandable enough and I've seen the worst of what unalleviated sadness can do.  I am warier still of those who claim to 'know' and to pedal 'the way', their way to said happiness.  Spiritual pathfinders.  Often religious proselytisers and (other) cranks.  It's all very well practicing emotional objectivity but happiness after all is entirely subjective and possessed of infinite forms and route maps.  A French traveller once quoted for me that 'A happy man is a man with no history' and I tend to agree with the sentiment this encompasses.  Who wants to be a blank slate?  Yes, we do all have little pieces of pain inside.  Small shards of psychological dark matter.  Some of which we might be better off without.  But these are deep and difficult treasures that I for one fear to throw away too lightly.  'Negative' emotions and memories are part of the palette; the rich deep colours that paint the picture of the person I am and will become.  They can stir positive creative responses.  Consideration of which may be necessary and therapeutic. 

So I am uncomfortable with the counter-creative, or anti-imagination stances that Vipassana and other forms of meditation often logically entail.  A life without a certain measure of sadness considered, a pinch or two of anger therein and a smattering of the fantastical is for me little of a life at all.  I am not convinced of how cultivating indifference to sensation and strong feeling is of lasting benefit to the individual.  I certainly don't see how such a philosophy, in practice, extrapolates to make the wider world a better place in practical, tangible ways that alleviate social inequity and collective suffering.  This has always been a stumbling block for Buddhism in my mind, a religion I otherwise have a lot of time for.  I see this as a path leading away from the art of living and of better understanding one another rather than towards it.  A minor lobotomy of the human spirit.  I like my Reality with a little more humanity.  It's a noisy one.  But it's all we've got and I guess it's time I got back to it. 

And what did I actually achieve with these 10 days of patience and pain, and suffering in silence?  Not a lot really.  A refill for my stock of cynicism and fuel for some lame jokes.  A silent comedy.  Much as I'd like to say I've attained a fuller, deeper knowledge and appreciation of Buddhist philosophy and an understanding of the universal law of nature as one of inconstancy... I haven't really.  This despite my new personal mantra 'My ass is impermanent.  My ass is impermanent.'   

I suppose I have honed the will power; the mental and physical stamina required to sit on my bum for hours on end, with an empty head and doing not much more than not a lot... but I'm pretty certain I did that very same thing every day at work for six and half years and was paid for the privilege. If I don't appear to be taking this awfully seriously, it's to be expected.  Despite innumerable archaeological expeditions down into the dirt-layered strata of my psyche over the years, I'm yet to excavate a single spiritual bone from my body.  But I'll keep on trying I guess.  It's messy work, but it's fun! 

Aside from family trauma and the stress of my university finals, in many ways the Vipassana Meditation course is the hardest thing I've ever had to endure and come through.  And adversity is often a positive once through with.  That old crucible effect.  Most Vipassanistas (as I dub members of our rump-toughened international tribe of soul survivors), myself included, forever after baffle people with such contradictory summaries as 'it's the best worst hardest most interesting boring painful stupid and maybe necessary thing I've ever done.  I think it was great!.. I just hated every minute of it at the time.'  Strangely and part contradictarily, I would recommed you try it if you get the chance.  It's an Experience with a capital 'E'.  There are not always many of these in life.  Even when globe-trotting.

I can't deny it's been an important 10 days for me in ways I don't yet fully comprehend; nor can I explain.  The process was not without reward for me.  Emotionally.  Creatively.  With so much calm time (to stop moving!) I was able to explore important thoughts, feelings and memories.  And to begin to write about them.  Many’s the time I sat cross-legged in pain and cried as much as laughed.  All of which acts are contrary to the successful practice of Vipassana Meditation.  But I don't care.  I kinda hoped and expected it would work out like that.  And I'm glad it did.  You see, I'd failed before I even arrived!

Yep, I tried but failed.  I may have survived but, I suspect only to come out near bottom of the class.  Expending far too much mental energy upon praying for somebody to ‘let off a Big One’ rather than on sila, samadhi, anicca, dhamma and nibbana.  Oh well, there's always next time.  Yes, there may be a next time.  But not for a long time.  Meditation undoubtedly has its physiological benefits.  Psychological ones too, though evidently with risks to the contrary.  But either way, for now, for me, it's 'for the birds'.   

'Zee-dee-dee bop-bop-botta doodle-dat un-dat un-dat un-dat un-dat un-dat... Maaaaaan, that iiiis a stone groove!'
Transitory says:
Poft! Parp!
Posted on: Jan 29, 2010
sylviandavid says:
I could NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER do the silence.... I would be nutso.... good for you and jantine... no wonder you had writers block...
Posted on: Jan 29, 2010
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BLOW HORN! - no pleeeeeease f**k…
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silencio!
'silencio!'
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Stevie in confinement for the nex…
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Happy windows make happy people. …
Welcome to Prisoner Cell Block M
Welcome to Prisoner Cell Block M
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Inside the great oubliette of the…
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The dim interior of Cell 17
Welcome to solitary confinement - …
Welcome to solitary confinement -…
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Alex, the Russian meditation assis…
Alex, the Russian meditation assi…
Silence Zone - people start to m…
'Silence Zone' - people start to …
Natural Abstract 1
Natural Abstract 1
Natural Abstract 2
Natural Abstract 2
Nature is beautiful and quiet abou…
Nature is beautiful and quiet abo…
Jantine in the Female Area
Jantine in the 'Female Area'
The gong of our destiny!
The gong of our destiny!
A sneaky shot on the very final mo…
A sneaky shot on the very final m…
Barbara and Alain and the rest of …
Barbara and Alain and the rest of…
The scenery in the area of the Deh…
The scenery in the area of the De…
And at the end of it all Stevie sa…
And at the end of it all Stevie s…
Dehradun
photo by: Stevie_Wes