Recently, I participated 10 days Vipassana Meditation course in Jaipur, Rajasthan. These were best spent 10 days of my life so far…
Initially, I thought to write day by day experiences guide but in the end I realized it wouldn’t be a best way to describe 10 days experience. Also, many such posts are available who primarily describe the day to day schedule. Let me try and give little insight into Vipassana ideology and facts.
Little Introduction – Vipassana is an ancient Indian meditation technique to understand and change mind-body relation. It was lost long back and rediscovered by Siddhartha Gautama (The Buddha) 2500 years back. It was again forgotten by most after few centuries but one country, ‘Burma’ preserved it in its original form through teacher-student chain. S.N. Goenka, an Indian origin Industrialist back then, was taught this technique by his guru Sayagyi U Ba Khin. Mr. Goenka brought this technique back to India eventually.
Here are some thoughts, facts and answers to few of doubts I had before and during 10 days course –
- This is NOT related to any sect or community, like – Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Buddhism, Christianity etc… No one will try to convert or influence you into Buddhism because Buddha rediscovered this technique or Hinduism because S.N. Goenka was born in Hindu family or in any other sect. On the contrary, After learning vipassana, you start understanding, respecting and appreciating your faith in better ways. This was my one of the main worries before attending the course because if something is not for everybody, it can’t be the right thing.
- These 10 days, I tried real hard to find foul motives of this group led by SN Goenka. It has become very difficult to digest the idea that someone can simply work for other’s well being, without expecting anything in return. I kept looking for any intention related to Monetary gain, Fame, promoting some kind of propaganda… but could not find a single strand of evil and came out even more respectful to the technique, to the teacher.
- This is for everyone however, everyone may not be able to understand the depth of this technique and concept. Plus it’s very difficult to simple sit quietly and observe your breath objectively without letting your mind wander away. We are asked not to mix any other religious practice or yoga or any chanting with Vipassana for these 10 days only, just to give fair trial to the technique, not because this is against your religious practices. People find it difficult, people find it difficult to follow the instructions as they are given and mix something into it. Just to complain later that it doesn’t give result or in worst case adverse results.
- A word of caution… it’s not a 10 days vacation. You’ll find these may be most difficult days of your life. It takes strong determination, patience and positive attitude to survive this course. From outside it appears that 10 days silence, isolation and tough life are most difficult part but believe me you’ll not get time to worry about those. These all are easier part. Tough thing is to meditate long hours each day and understand the technique. Technique is very simple yet we find it difficult because we have lost our ability to understand easy in easy way. You will find yourself desiring to quit many times but each time push yourself with strong determination and you’ll see all this sacrifice and hard work is not wasted.
- The beauty of this course is it’s practical aspect. You’ll not be asked to assume a single thing, just because Buddha said it or teacher says it. Everything we do there, has a practical logical explanation, not just theory. You get to know how to use the technique in day-to-day problems. You start loving the simplicity and logic of this technique. First few days you might not understand some things and may look like some rituals but by the end of course, everything is explained and understood on practical level.
- Even if you don’t learn the technique well… which is not advisable, you get an ocean of knowledge. If you have a curious mind, you will get lots of answers here.
- A baseless belief that meditation is either for old people or troubled youth. Nothing can be more wrong. People of every age, race, localities and status are greatly benefited from meditation (not just Vipassana) in every possible way.
I recently came across many discussions on internet, regarding Mr. Goenka’s way of teaching Vipassana is a cult or not.
First of all, most of the people discussing either never attended the course or worse (Left the course in between). As I mentioned earlier, you do some things which may seem rituals but eventually you get to understand their practicality but a person who left the course in between would never come to know. In addition, one perform very deep analysis of sub-conscious mind during the course and quitting in between will have adverse results.
Second type of people were who mixed the technique with other things and didn’t learn it in it’s pure form, now wondering if it’s a cult.
Third type of people were benefited greatly but trying to fit the teaching method into definition of cult and compare with other such institutions.
I say, cult or not… if something is benefiting you in every possible way of life, making you, a better you, doesn’t convert you into something you are not…. What’s the harm?? Anyways, What good we have been doing by following established beliefs without understanding them properly? There will always be people talking nonsense, with or without purpose. You say it’s a cult, I am okay with that… you say it’s not a cult, I am okay again… Just try to see if it’s for you.