|The Great Journey Within|
Mind and Matter
One who has the aspiration to study, does maybe a masters
degree, and then perhaps a post-graduate course in some further specialization.
Mostly such courses have some highly competitive entrance exams. People
finishing any course successfully may end up with the dream job of their
choice. Or sometimes they may face disappointment in seeing that their peers in
their earlier days, who had been working instead of studying, are much better
off, and are actually in a relatively senior position. Or sometimes find out
that by the time they've finished the course, their specialization is no longer
in much demand... some may go on to do further research, make amazing
discoveries and get awards, etc. ...anything is possible depending on the
interest and circumstances of the person. Whether to study further or not is a
never-ending debate and everyone has his or her own opinions.
What it is about
Man has explored the other side of the moon, and examined the tiniest of protons and neutrons, all using hi-tech equipment spending millions of dollars. But not many actually journey into themselves, to examine the truth of their own existence. And for this great journey, the only instrument needed is the mind. The course showed me the way to face the truth, the reality in which I live, at a deeper level than I was familiar with. If you've watched the movie Matrix, it's kind of like coming out of the Matrix (analogy not to be considered too seriously :-) ) The 10 days is only the beginning, the rest depends on whether the student follows it consistently or not.
There is no point in giving a detailed account of my actual experiences. Even the teachers don't tell you what you should be experiencing each day, as this could become some kind of suggestive psychology. At the end of the day, there is an explanation of what had happened during the day. There is a Code of Silence; students are not allowed to discuss what each other felt, since some may feel experiences later or earlier than others.
This particular technique of meditation, originating in India and rediscovered by the Buddha, does not involve focusing your mind on any imaginary object such as a light or a lotus or a deity, and does not involve any verbalizations. It involves focusing on nothing but the truth - bare scientific facts of nature .
Its not just something for intellectual entertainment, nothing like a fun break from the daily routine schedule, it is a serious matter. I needed to muster all my open-mindedness, determination, patience and perseverance to go through the full 10 days (after the first three days itself most people really enjoy it, though there were cases where a few people ran away because they couldn't think of controlling their mind). Some people had given up midway just because too much of concentration gave them a headache. They seemed to have missed the point, since this technique of meditation enables one to calm his mind by just being an observer. Concentration becomes a consequence. It involves only an 'effortless effort', and not a strenuous effort.
After the ten days, getting back to reality
The objective of the course is the discovery of truth. At the
end of the ten days, among other things, one begins to understand real peace
and happiness - irrespective of any circumstances. There will be innumerable
side-effects such as increased effectiveness at work, better memory, having a
calm mind, ability to cope with pain, etc. but of course these improvements
depend on the regularity with which what is taught is continued (like I said,
no overnight miracle is likely).
- October, 2001
As time progressed, I gained a deeper understanding of the technique, and the here I note some of the important insights I have gained.
We clean our houses and we wash our clothes and we take bath every day, we are all very hygenic people. But how many of us really clean our minds every day? That is what this meditation technique is essentially about... self - purification!
One can read a lot of excellent books and gain wisdom. This is all wisdom gained through our intellectual understanding of what somebody has said. But there is another type of wisdom that is much more deeper than this, and that is experiential wisdom. The standard example is sugar... one may read books on the chemical structure of sugar as well as the human nervous system and know all the bio-chemical reactions that take place when a person eats sugar. He may have understood theorotically what is "sweetness". But the understanding of sugar he gets when he experiences its taste is much more deeper than his theorotical and intellectual knowledge. That is what this meditation technique helps in, it enables us to directly experience the Truth within the framework of our own mind. The knowledge gained by our reading books, intellectualization, discussions, etc are all beautiful structures... but experience is the very foundation on which they rest.
What I found is that there is one Truth and every person who realises this adds layers and layers of interpretations over it. Meditation provides an opportunity for you to experience the truth first-hand, without having somebody give you their own interpretation of it to you.
There is this analogy...
This is a means for us to discover this true source, very much there in each of us whether we know it or not. The advantage of knowing about it is that we can live in harmony with it and live a more happy and peaceful life.
Meditation is a word. The thinking process operates by association, and all sorts of ideas are associated with the word 'meditation'. Some of them are probably accurate and others are aren't. Some of them pertain more properly to other systems of meditation and have nothing to do with Vipassana practice.
To search for the truth, it is essential to let go of your opinions.
Meditation is not easy. It takes time and it takes energy. It also takes grit,
determination and discipline. It requires a host of personal qualities which we
normally regard as unpleasant and which we like to avoid whenever possible. We
can sum it all up in the word 'guts'. Meditation takes 'guts'. It is certainly
a great deal easier just to kick back and watch television. So why bother? Why
waste all that time and energy when you could be out enjoying yourself? Why
bother? Simple. Because you are human. And just because of the simple fact that
you are human, you find yourself heir to an inherent unsatisfactoriness in life
which simple will not go away. You can suppress it from your awareness for a
time. You can distract yourself for hours on end, but it always comes
back--usually when you least expect it.
Some notes... (only recommended if you have already taken up the course)