Vipassana part 2

Just back from my 2nd Vipassana course and few things have become very clear

– Without regular practice, Retreats done annually do not help – so friends keep pushing me to be at it

-Have you ever seen an old movie or re-read a book and felt that its a whole new message? Its possibly due to the changed “I”- the person who was reading the book has changed between the two sessions. Well, the reality is that the person is changing with each chapter, each page, each paragraph, each word & maybe each letter. Am not sure I have grasped this fully, but yes – its something which is becoming clearer…. one step at a time.

– The old phrase “Shraddha vanam labhte gyanam” – meaning only the devoted ones get the knowledge – is so much true when it comes to the journey within. Came across this guy from Latvia who was the most humble & devoted being I have ever seen in my life. His progress on this path was visible from the comforting & strong presence his being had over the whole campus.

Prayer Wheels

– Its not just you, but most others have an interesting chain of coincidences that lead them to this path. Like this French doctor, who almost died while trekking in the Alps. Decided this is his 2nd life and he will not puruse money or fame but devote it to helping others. When he recovered from the broken bones, he decided to travel & someone recommended India. He said- why not. Reached Delhi & didnt like it much, someone recommended Dharamsala up in the mountains, he said – why not? On the bus ride up here he met someone who told him about Vipassana and the center at Dharamkot- so he came up without applying to check at the center. Was on the waitinglist but unlike others, just waited through the whole registration process of confirmed students got over. One didnt turn up & guess who got the chance?

– The mind is the perfect bargainer- just like kids are. It will plead & beg and if you give in once, it will definitely come back with a bigger demand. Learn when to say no & mean it.

– Good advice is all around us. Its upto us to figure out what we do with it. My 1st course someone had recommended that I listen to the discourses in Hindi. I wasnt sure my Hindi was good enough & went through with the English ones. This time also one old gentleman, suggested the same thing  & fortunately I acted upon it. Trust me, for us Indians who carry a lot of baggage of religious beliefs, rituals, faiths etc the Hindi discourses, talk to us at a whole different level. If you plan to sit for a Vipassana course & understand Hindi- do the same.

– The world is learning Yoga, Meditation, Spiritualism etc from India. While some of them might be just getting a kick out of these experiences, its hard to ignore the vast number of foreign nationals who go through all kinds of trouble(coming and staying in India) to gain the knowledge that India has been carrying/preserving/growing for so many years. Only if we could see how close we were to some true gems of human civilization.

– We are not our bank balance, we are not our degrees, we are not the brands we live in or with. We are not even what we created or what we destroyed or even what we protected……

My first Vipasanna course- part 1

Life is best lived if one learns to read the signs (so says the Alchemist) and most of us have at some point or another read those signs and followed em.
Vipasanna was one such sign that had been staring me in the face for almost 3 years. The first I heard about this seemingly tough course was when I was back in Chennai and had met AYs mom for the first time. Not sure what prompted her to say this, but she asked me to attend a Vipasanna course at the earliest possible. I used to think that maybe its coz am a “loud” person or seem ever so excited- that she thinks a meditation course would calm me down.

And so it went on for almost 2.5 years, with aunty & AY telling me that I should do the course soon & I making promises that I kept on breaking inspite of best intentions. Then one fine day, I got up and was having a chat with my mom while reading the newspaper and she mentioned about a relative who had just gone for a Vipasanna course. I went back to my room and saw a text from AY saying- “Dude, i hope you sit for Vipasanna this year”….and this was like 7.00 a.m. I was spooked by the coincidence and decided it was time to act- so went online & booked myself for the course at Dharamkot (Dharamsala)… I told myself if I have to sit & meditate why not do it at an exotic location (they do have courses in Delhi & few other places in N India).

Registered myself for the course that started on 1st Aug 09. So I took an overnight bus and landed at Dharamsala early in the morning. Luckily found another bus that said “Dharamkot” so without much asking around, I found myself infront of this colorful gate saying- Dharamshikara Vipasanna meditation center.

Since it was not yet 9.00 a.m. I decided to kill time at the “Himalaya Tea shop” the last taste of civilization (as we know it) before the course and the first glimpse of the real world- once you are out in the open… Trust me its everybit as dramatic 🙂

While walking around & stretching my legs I glanced upon the time table for the course that was listed there- and it would be an understatement to say that i was scared.
It read something like this:
4.00 am – wake up bell
4.00-4.30 am – get ready
4.30-6.30 am- Meditation
6.30-8.00 am- breakfast
8.00-9.00 am- GROUP MEDITATION
9.00-11.00 am- Meditation
11.00-1.00pm- Lunch
1.00-2.30 pm- meidtation
2.30-3.30 pm- GROUP MEDITATION
3.30-5.00 pm- Meditation
5.00-6.00 pm- Tea
6.00-7.00 pm- GROUP MEDITATION
7.00-8.15 pm- EVENING DISCOURSES
8.30-9.00 pm- Meditation
9.30 pm- Lights Out

For those who missed the critical items- NO DINNER, 11 hours of meditation !
Add to this complete silence for the complete duration of 12 days (this was the only bit I had known & prepared myself for…)