I am writing this piece for no other reason but simply out of a deep keenness to capture and share the essence of an extraordinary experience. Of course, all my writing is a pursuit without purpose, a product of my whimsical and fanciful mind but this one is special. It is of a time at my second Vipassana course.
Of a time when there was quiet outside and quiet inside. Like a hush enveloping me in a void. A void so complete like space beyond sky. When there was silence outside, I heard the bulbuls and treepies in conversations, the squirrels in squeals and the bugs and ants bustling in a rhythm. Fresh leaves unfolded with patience and dried ones floated down with gentle elan. I even saw the very first flight of a babbler chick and it elated me as if my own offspring took his first step. My world expanded in that confinement.
At the start of the course, every meditator takes a vow to follow five precepts for the duration of the course, of which the vow of noble silence is particularly important. In the practice of noble silence, foremost is complete silence of speech, then silence of eyes and gestures and eventually silence of the mind. The first two are simpler, in fact therapeutic almost enjoyable. But silence of the mind comes gradually and grudgingly. Silencing the mind does not imply that my mind went holistically blank or quiet. It was chattering incessantly throughout the 10 days over soliloquies and imaginative dialogues, traipsing on absolutely random un-sequenced thoughts till I pronounced myself a lunatic.
Yet, as days went by from first to fifth to ninth, my mind seemed more settled. The jumpy thoughts, conjured dialogues, memories, imagined future, all continued unrelentingly but they began to hold less intensity, lesser influence, more objectivity and much more detachment. I was beginning to be at peace with myself and others. I could see a visible shift in my internal reactions when incidents or ideologies that agitated me till the fourth or fifth day, came up now by the tenth day. They stopped upsetting me even when I was still in disagreement with them.
This was one of the bigger gains of my second Vipassana course. However, the biggest and at times even difficult gain was to see myself so much more clearly. The mirror was sharper, light unobstructive and glasses tintless. Now, there was no running away from what I saw and how I saw myself.
The day long practice and the evening discourses work in tandem to help you see the aspects of Dhamma (dharma) in your everyday life. I have consciously tried to keep my ego under check over the years. And yet, now I saw how subtly and surreptitiously it made way to the subconscious. As I analyzed situations from past that hurt me, aggrieved me for which I had placed the cause and blame on the other person, now half the blame began to come to me. Because each time it was my image of “myself” that was being chipped by others’ words or actions. The pride I took in being “myself” was bruised which cause the hurt, not so much their words.
The epochal attachments of the mind and body, the wantonly desires, the sensational cravings, the aversions, the anxieties; a whole personal kaleidoscope came in view in that quietude. Well, it does not end at the seeing. Most essential is seeing its impermanence, its transiency, its insubstantiality. And Vipassana achieves this by making you feel the physical aspect of your emotions at the atomic level of your own body. When you witness the ever rising and passing away of every sensation generated by sensory cognition, moment by moment, it opens the path of experiential wisdom. What I went through internally is difficult to articulate in words. But what happened as a result of it is not.
When I returned home to my beloved family and friends, I felt a different person was meeting them. It is another matter that they may not have felt the same way😊. But my entire being was euphoric. An unhindered flow of joy surpassing any conflict, bitterness, or disagreement. Metaphorically, I was tripping on life. I was light-headed and light-hearted. And I did not want this revelry to end…
However, three weeks on and I am already writing about it in the past. Yes, the ecstasy has subsided, the head space is getting muddled and ruffled from time to time. But it is not troubling me. I am harmoniously in acceptance of this change. This is what daily practice of Vipassana does, restores a state of equanimity which supersedes every emotion. I now know from experience that despite the cacophony outside, I may choose to hear the symphony inside.
My parting feeling is that I was very happy in my life, now I am happier! And being happier never hurts.
Photo by Timo A.: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-sitting-on-mountain-top-4426929/