Saturday, January 28, 2017

Is Vipassana meditation a fast track to liberation?* Part II

Side effects
As anything in this non perfect world, there can be negative side effects of the Vipassana meditation technique too.
During the meditation, a Vipassana student receives fine (pleasant) or rough (disgust) sensations of the body. His/her main task is to stay indifferent to them. Just as a person sitting on the riverbank observes the river’s flow, this is the same way the practitioner of Vipassana should observe the flow of sensations of his body without any reaction to them, whatever they bring with
pleasure or disgust.
To stay indifferent to the body’s sensations is the biggest challenge for students, and, unfortunately, some people are becoming addicted to the sensations. If the sensation of the body is pleasant, they enjoy it. If the sensation is rough, they hate it. Coming back to the Vipassana courses to enjoy those sensations, the students receive extra negative karma, which course a delay of liberation.

Organization of the training
While there may be a lack of organizing and planning skills generally in India, the Vipassana course is organized very well.

There are ten full days in the training. You will come on the first day or “zero day” for registration, introduction lecture, and other practical things. One of those practical things is delivering your valuables and all communication means to storage.

There is a wake-up ring at 4 a.m. with a following ring of a servant at 04:25 a.m. The training starts at 4:30 a.m. sharp in the main meditation hall.

This is the most intensive course that I have ever attended. A training session lasts 12 hours per day. Ten hours is dedicated to meditation and two hours for a lecture. You will have a chance to ask questions from a teacher or an assistant teacher during lunch and before sleep. You will have time for a nap after a breakfast and a lunch break. There are also additional five-minute breaks available after each one-hour meditation. The ring for a sleep is at 9:30 p.m., and lights must be switched off.

Food is provided three times per day. It’s purely vegetarian, and legumes are served at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Animal protein is available only in yogurt and hot milk with butter.

You can get drinking water from the big water tanks installed to the roof, however, the taste of that water is not the same as we are used to. Bottled water is available at your request, and you can pay for that at the end of the course.

The Vipassana retreat territory is separated in two main areas one part with housing for women, and another part for men. The canteen has the same principle men and women have meals in separate rooms.

You will be given a private room or a room with a roommate. The room is humble with a little window, two simple beds, and bathroom with toilet and a limited shower. There is no air conditioning, but a mechanical fan provides an air circulation. You have to have your own lock for the door of your room.

The course is available in English and Hindu. However, even if you know English very well, some words of the English vocabulary that are used in the Vipassana session might be unknown to you, and a misunderstanding of a word might lead to the collapse of understanding the concept of the whole lecture.
Many meditation centers offer language translation devices that are easy to use. Ask an administrator of the meditation center where you are planning to attend if they have an audio device in your native language.
*Note:  This article is based on my personal experience and thoughts after my first 10-day meditation course of Vipassana, and is not presented to be an absolute truth. – Jacklyn A. Lo, author of Redemption novel.

Next article will tell about terms and conditions on the Vipassana retreat, costs of the training, some constrains and preparation for the meditation.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Is Vipassana meditation a fast track to liberation?*

Twenty-six centuries ago Gautama Buddha designed a meditation technique that has been helping people to not only train their minds to stay in a balance, but also to liberate them from Samsara (reincarnation chain).

Gautama used to say that there were Buddhas (enlightened people), there are Buddhas, and there will be Buddhas after him, but his role is to provide an efficient meditation technique that could help people reach liberation (moksha or nirvana) in the present life that will allow one never to come back to the materialistic reality and to experience suffering again.

Before the invention of his own meditation technique, Gautama had tried different meditation methods designed by others, but he never was satisfied by the quality and deepness of them, so he invented his own, which is known as Vipassana meditation technique.

What the Vipassana technique is about
In short, the Vipassana meditation technique is about getting rid of addictions that we have accumulated during innumerable materialistic existences. These addictions (filth and/or imperfections) are hidden in the deeper mind — our subconscious.
In the beginning of the Vipassana meditation course, a student’s goal is calming down his or her mind by focusing on breathing and cleaning the mind from thoughts.
Then, the students do meditation exercises for activating the subconscious. The access to the subconscious is going to provide an option for self-healing, first of all a physical body, and later on a soul.
The subconscious is like a dark room, and concentrating on breathing shall light it, making the previously hidden sins (addictions) visible.
We experience those addictions through the sensations of our body.
The goal of these exercises is to keep us indifferent to those sensations.

Why Vipassana
Imagine yourself as a traveler who came to this world with a heavy luggage of karma and a desire to make it lighter.
The project named Your Life is already designed for you, and everything that you need can be found by following Your Destiny script. Your Life project is interactive, and your task is to correct your sins (imperfections) that you have done during your previous existences and to make your luggage lighter.
You could succeed with this job and return back to Your Home with a smaller bag, or you could fail, generating an extra negative karma and return home with a larger bag than before. The smallest group of the travelers will come home with no luggage at all. This group of people are the luckiest ones burning away all sins (negative karma), they generate no reason to return back to Samsara.
One of the techniques that helps people grab this good fortune is Vipassana

Benefits of Vipassana
The students who are following the Code of Discipline and precisely heeding the teacher’s instructions are getting a chance to get great benefits from the Vipassana meditation.

These benefits are:
·      To train a mind to stay in a balance in everyday life.
·      To increase the energy level of the physical body.
·      To study the philosophy Gautama Buddha in the interpretation of his loyal follower, S.N. Goenka, the influential Vipassana meditation teacher.
·      To get in touch with your own subconscious.
·      To get healed.
·      To obtain a release of the old hurt.
·      To get ability to transform negativity into positivity.
·      To receive a supernatural experience.
·      To network with like people.
·      To reach the ultimate goal of a human being - get a redemption from Samsara - an endless cycle of births and deaths.

*Note:  This article is based on my personal experience and thoughts after my first 10-day meditation course of Vipassana, and is not presented to be an absolute truth. – Jacklyn A. Lo.

Next article will tell about possible side effects of the Vipassana, organization of the training, and accommodations in the retreat territory.