in Spiritual

Vipassana – My First Practical Attempt To Liberate Myself From All Sufferings

6 Months back I’ve got an email.

“Hi Rajesh,

Happened to read your blog on Domain Transfer from Google Apps to Godaddy.

Been struggling with this for a while now.…

Warm Regards,

Nidhi Kapoor”

I helped her with that and later we stumble upon mutually solving few more such similar issues and gradually trust built up and became friend then when we started sharing few of our personal activities that we like to do apart from work we found that we share one common interest and that was inclination towards spirituality and I told her about my experience of Art of Living Course and there she suggested me to go for 10 day Vipassana Meditation Retreat, I did heard this term before around 3 years back when I was in Mumbai and visited the largest Pagoda in making situated adjacent to Essel World in Mumbai but I visited that place purely as a Tourist I never knew what is the meaning of Vipassana and it is all about and I thought it is just another Buddhist Pagoda and an year later when I went Lumbini in Nepal again as tourist there also I saw similar Burmese architectural Pagoda of Vipassana (Although I didn’t knew it’s Burmese Architectural at that time) then also I thought it is just another some Buddhist pagoda uses for Buddhist spiritual rituals and rites such as praying Lord Buddha and chanting.

Then on recommendation of Nidhi I booked my 10 day slot from 23rd May to 2nd June from www.dhamma.org at Dhamma Ganga, Sodpur, Kolkata (I’m very thankful to her for this), I got excited when I read their code of conduct and time table as I found it pretty challenging like you cannot talk for 10 days with anyone except Guru Ji and management (Who hardly talk with you), every day you need to wake up at 4.00 AM and go bed at 9.30PM, there will 10 hours of daily meditation sessions and 1.30 hrs of discourse sessions and many others. I found they are pretty serious with strict discipline and timetable and if your falter they’ll send you back home, and I always believed that such seriousness should be there if you really want to achieve some level in meditation and so far in my experience of meditation that I went I have only seen it only help you to relax and enjoy and help you to feel really good about you but here it is very different and literally like going for some kind of difficult Tapasya like a Sanyasi (Later I found that it was even more stringent than I thought it as before, people with weak will power often back off in first few days in our time 1 male and 6 females has quit at the starting but trust me it is one of the life time experience that you really won’t like to let go just like that after you enter into it’s perimeter just because of you cannot follow it’s discipline, although I’m not sure why they quit)

What is Vipassana?

Till the time I enrolled I just had one idea in my mind that I’m going for concentrating my mind for better focus and clarity of thought and busting stress as we all think about meditation does. Till the end of Day 1 before the first discourse I was carrying the same idea that I’m here to increase concentration & focus of my mind and when Guru Ji Shri SN Goenka Ji started giving discourse on what is Vipassana I felt like Wow and thought how wrong I was all along.

To understand what is Vipassana? and what it does? we need to first understand what is Dharma or Dhamma (Pali word)?

What is Dharma ?

Dharma is law of nature that governs at atomic level to stellar level, it is universal, Dharma is a healthy, harmonious, wholesome way of life. It is a life of morality, of ethics. Dharma is an art of living: how to live peacefully and harmoniously within, and how to generate peace and harmony in the surrounding atmosphere, so that others can also live in peace and harmony. It is a way of life in which one does not perform any action, physical or vocal, to harm or hurt other beings.

Dharma is Universal

This is the law. This is the truth. This is Dharma. It is not Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Muslim, Christian, Parsi, or Sikh dharma. It is simply Dharma.

The moment you make it the exclusive property of a particular sect, Dharma is no longer Dharma. It has become sectarian and is harmful. You must understand that Dharma is universal. Dharma cannot be Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim or Christian. It is the law of nature.

For example, we say that the nature of fire is to burn. This is the dharma of fire. If it does not burn, it can’t be fire. If it is fire it must burn.

When fire burns, do you label the burning as Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist or Jain burning, or as Indian, European, American or Russian burning? Burning is burning. This is a law of nature.

In the same way, when one generates any negativity or defilement in the mind, one is bound to burn. The nature of defilement is to burn. No-one can save you from burning when you generate anger. You may keep on calling yourself a Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Jain or Sikh—it makes no difference; or a brahmin or a shudra—it makes no difference. This is the law; this is nature; this is Dharma.

We have forgotten Dharma. Someone belongs to a certain sect and performs its rites or rituals, or professes its beliefs; he feels that makes him very Dharmic. Someone else belongs to another sect and performs its rites, rituals and ceremonies, or believes in its philosophy. He too thinks that makes him a very Dharmic person. But both deceive themselves.

Dharma has nothing to do with such matters. They are sectarian, and Dharma is universal. Whether or not we perform this rite or that ritual, if we keep the mind free of negativities it is pure. And according to the law of nature, when the mind is free from defilements it naturally fills with metta (love), karuna (compassion), mudita (sympathetic joy), and upekkha (equanimity); and immediately one starts enjoying peace and harmony.

Rites and rituals, philosophies and dogmas have nothing to do with it. We have forgotten the truth of Dharma deep inside; this universal law of nature makes no discrimination. Anyone who places a hand in burning fire is bound to burn oneself.

It makes no difference what religion one belongs to, what rites or rituals one performs, or what philosophy one believes in.

By now if you are still reading this post (as I know it has become painfully very long to read but I want to share as much as I can) You must be thinking it is just another philosophy of life and religion (I would again like to clarify that Dharma has nothing to do with Religion or community it is simply a law of Nature about how nature works) (all these are not my words but of Shri SN Goenka Ji, I just copied it :) ) , yes it can be just another religious philosophy but to me it sounds very logical and simple to understand as Dharma should be; cause if it is not precise and concise and simple enough to understand by any laymen and it is not universal then there is no point that laymen would carry it or follow it  and  to understand it must be universal and simple enough to  understand by any common man. Dharma is not monopoly of Priest or learned one or some specific communal group or ethnic group or sect, it must be for everyone if it is Dharma.

Here is the gist of Dharma -

  1. You can not hurt anyone at any level of body, speech and thought (If you do so then bad things will follow you).
  2. You need to do good things that benefits others at the level of body, speech and thought (if you do so then good things will follow you).
  3. You need to constantly work to purify your mind (There comes role Vipassana).

That’s it Dharma is complete for you and for me and you do not need anything further to complete it, it is already wholesome and complete.

So finally What is Vipassana?

Vipassana is one of India’s most ancient meditation techniques. It was rediscovered 2500 years ago by Gautama the Buddha, and is the essence of what he practiced and taught during his forty-five year ministry. During the Buddha’s time, large numbers of people in northern India were freed from the bonds of suffering by practicing Vipassana, allowing them to attain high levels of achievement in all spheres of life. Over time, the technique spread to the neighboring countries of Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka, Thailand and others, where it had the same ennobling effect.

Five centuries after the Buddha, the noble heritage of Vipassana had disappeared from India. The purity of the teaching was lost elsewhere as well. In the country of Myanmar, however, it was preserved by a chain of devoted teachers. From generation to generation, over two thousand years, this dedicated lineage transmitted the technique in its pristine purity.

In our time, Vipassana has been reintroduced to India, as well as to citizens from more than eighty other countries, by S.N. Goenka. He was authorized to teach Vipassana by the renowned Burmese Vipassana teacher, Sayagyi U Ba Khin. Before he died in 1971, Sayagyi was able to see one of his most cherished dreams realized. He had the strong wish that Vipassana should return to India, the land of its origin, to help it come out of its manifold problems. From India, he felt sure it would then spread throughout the world for the benefit of all mankind.

Vipassana, which means to see things as they really are, is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. It was rediscovered by Gautama Buddha more than 2500 years ago and was taught by him as a universal remedy for universal ills, i.e., an Art Of Living.

It aims for the total eradication of mental impurities and the resultant highest happiness of full liberation. Healing, not merely the curing of diseases, but the essential healing of human suffering, is its purpose. In one word enlightenment is the ultimate goal.

When we hear word enlightenment we think of it as some kind of Super Human ability thing but it is simply a state of mind when your completely eradicate your mental impurities and no new impurities can affect it anymore and yes in bonus you’ll get Mukti (Liberation) from vicious life cycle (Reincarnations) I really still doubt about reincarnation part, I guess one day If I experience it then really believe it.

Vipassana is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body, and that continuously interconnect and condition the life of the mind. It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion.

The scientific laws (Dharma) that operate one’s thoughts, feelings, judgements and sensations become clear. Through direct experience, the nature of how one grows or regresses, how one produces suffering or frees oneself from suffering is understood. Life becomes characterized by increased awareness, non-delusion, self-control and peace.

The approach can be summarized in a few short lines:

  • To abstain from evil,
  • To do good,
  • To purify the mind.

Simple objectives but so difficult to practice.

 The 10 Day Course

The technique is taught at ten-day residential courses during which participants follow a prescribed Code of Discipline, learn the basics of the method, and practice sufficiently to experience its beneficial results.

The course requires hard, serious work. There are three steps to the training. The first step is, for the period of the course, to abstain from killing, stealing, sexual activity, speaking falsely, and intoxicants. This simple code of moral conduct serves to calm the mind, which otherwise would be too agitated to perform the task of self-observation.

The next step is to develop some mastery over the mind by learning to fix one’s attention on the natural reality of the ever changing flow of breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils.

By the fourth day the mind is calmer and more focused, better able to undertake the practice of Vipassana itself: observing sensations throughout the body, understanding their nature, and developing equanimity by learning not to react to them.

Finally, on the last full day participants learn the meditation of loving kindness or goodwill towards all, in which the purity developed during the course is shared with all beings.

The entire practice is actually a mental training. Just as we use physical exercises to improve our bodily health, Vipassana can be used to develop a healthy mind.

On last day when I called my elder bro in Nepal whom I recommended this and he too wants to do this course at Kathmandu, I told him that I was wrong; its main objective is not about attaining concentration of mind but enlightenment, it is the very same technique that Gautama Buddha used to get liberated then his second question was did you get Mukti (Liberation)? Of course not, as course is about to teach you how to do Vipassana and the results come gradually through continued practice. It is not fair to expect all problems to be solved in 10 days. However, the essentials of Vipassana can be learned so that it can be applied in daily life. The more the technique is practiced, the greater the freedom from misery, and the closer the approach to the ultimate goal of full liberation.

You would like to know did it really helped Me after 10 Days?

Well one of my problem is that when something hurts me anything like someone tries to deceive me or bluff me or lie me or anything which hurts me it get written in my mind with such a long lasting marker that it takes really long time to wipe it out and even if I wipe it out it keeps haunting me time to time when similar situations arises. Today when we were coming back I had to accompany one of my new friend from Chennai to Airport as it was on my way back home, he needed to catch flight in morning and for that we left Dhamma Ganga as early as possible and we decided to take Taxi as we can not afford take chances and when we went to Taxi stand, the Taxi drive said it’ll take 300/- the first and final go or leave it offer as he knew that we are in urgency and we can not deny him and also we couldn’t think of other best alternatives so we took it but it started to hit me in my mind although I came out for very 1st time from 10 day rigorous meditation which teaches how not to react and worry but my mind started to hitting and warming up, usually it would haunt me whole day that he took Rs. 300 for 20 Minutes ride but after some time I was able to pacify myself and it didn’t occur to me 2nd time till I wrote it down. So I can see it’s practical results already.

Conclusion

At the end I would like to say that Vipassana is the practical approach to enlightenment and is not monopoly of Gautama Buddha and it teaches us that enlightenment cannot attain via reading holy scriptures day and night or chanting or accepting Him as your savior or following certain rituals throughout your life or by discussing or knowing the process of Vipassana or even the lord Gautama Buddha himself just cannot liberate you infact in his whole life he liberated only one person and that was him but awesome thing what he did was he shared his knowledge with whole world unlike others before him (as millions of Buddha were attained before him and after him as stated by himself). Enlightenment can only be attain if you walk to this very simple straight road of Vipassana from point A to B,but if you just think of the road day and night or discuss about the road or accept road as your savior or whatever if won’t liberate you, you’ll be only liberated if you walk down to that road from Point A to Point B. “God gives the nuts, but he does not crack them.” If you want to eat it you gotta crack it by yourself no one but you can help you, others can only show you the door it is you who has to walk through it.

And about this course it is like life time experience such as Bungee Jump or Everest Summit or Sky Diving and once you understand it you may make it from life time experience to daily experience of your life and may change your whole life.

For Further References:

  • www.dhamma.org
  • www.vridhamma.org
  • Abhijit

    Wish to visit soon. Nice stuff to read Rajesh

  • http://blog.chapagain.com.np/ Mukesh

    Very nice write-up Rajesh. Keep it up!

  • Ricky

    Vipassana has been really well understood by you! Not to flatter your ego and in case it does watch out for the sensation!!!

  • somik

    After your this article, am here http://www.vipassanadhura.com/howto.htm#a

  • Simple Indian

    Yes, this was a pretty long writeup. Most of the essence of Vipassana as a meditation technique is available, with some a/vs, on the website http://www.dhamma.org, so you could have skipped the repetition. Thank you.@rajeshrana for sharing your experiences though. Anyway, like all training techniques for the mind, this one too demands high level of self-discipline and perseverance. Perhaps, because of its stringent guidelines for the participants, many opt out as they are unable to cope with the routine.

    I have some relatives and friends who have gone through the 10-day courses at Igatpuri near Nashik in Maharashtra, India. Yet, I find that the ‘effects’ of the course last only few a while, as they discontinue the disciplined schedule of pursuing the meditation technique consistently. So, merely attending the Vipassana course will not transform one’s thinking, but it will happen only through self-discipline and continuing with the procedures over a period of time.

    I had tried to enrol online on some of the centers close to Mumbai (including Igatpuri), but the courses for freshers seem to get full very fast. Will appreciate guidance from knowledgeable persons who can give information on how I can enrol for a 10-day course meant for freshers.

  • http://www.rajeshrana.com/ Rajesh Rana

    Thank you so much, I’m not in touch with centers close to Mumbai, you can try one in Kolkata.