Aug. 20-31, 2014
Vipassana 5: Seeing the Bigger Picture
GPS waypoint: 14°18'02.1"N 120°56'25.4"E
Location: Dhamma Phala, Sico Farms, Municipality of Dasmarinas, Province of Cavite
As a matter of grounding, not just in spirituality, but also to seek higher evolution, I make it a point to participate in a 10-day Vipassana Silent Meditation Course once a year. This has proven to be very instrumental in my growth and clearer understanding of my role here on the planet - I would not like to think I'm simply occupying space. When I went to Manila for my Dad's birthday, it so happens that there was a schedule for a Vipassana course - like someone whose seed of Dhamma (truth) has already been planted within, I couldn't resist it.
The Need to be Right
Vipassana tells you a lot about yourself - particularly your blind spots. You become more aware of the habit pattern of the mind. When I catch myself drifting into other thoughts, I notice these thoughts carry the same pattern. I always end up telling others they are wrong...and I am right. Hmmm...apparently, I have this irrepressible need to be right...to feel right. It doesn't matter if what I'm saying is for a greater good or simply trying to be a smart ass. The point being, I have this need to be right. Now I begin to know myself more...and more importantly, what to do about this arrogance.
I noticed I'm not as angry anymore. Whereas before, I would feel completely helpless when I was consumed by anger against those who wronged me. I would catch myself thinking of creative ways I could inflict pain on them. The negative thoughts still persist, but they have become immeasurably weaker. I could readily brush them off with one broad stroke. I didn't feel helpless anymore against my self created anger. This alone is already a tremendous milestone. However, when Goenka says, "I pardon those who have wronged me", as part of our metta panna meditation, I could not find strength within me to say it. It's hard to pardon those who show no remorse. Maybe that's for the future Vipassana course.
The monkey mind has been my biggest challenge. Even though the mental defilements have weakened, the monkey mind persists with other thoughts - even thoughts about the practice itself. Good if I catch myself early enough to bring my mind back into focus, but sometimes, a great deal of time has already passed with me flowing into my thoughts before I realise it.
But I vividly remember one of those compelling thought streams - I was having a conversation with Kris Aquino - yes, the sister of the president and the daughter of this country's 2 heroes, Ninoy and Cory. But I was doing all the talking...and it went like this,
||Kris, the likes of you don't happen everyday. Think about it. You're one of the richest women in the country - you paid the biggest tax last year. You can influence public opinion. If you tell your audience that Globe Telecom unfairly treated you, Globe's stock will take an immediate nose dive. They believe in you. You are probably the most popular celebrity in the country. Your face is plastered on every billboard, every magazine, every tv commercial. Of the 100 million Filipinos out there, only 2 people in this country are trusted by the people not to plunder the treasury - that's you and your brother P-Noy. As a daughter of 2 heroes, Ninoy and Cory, people look up to you as a beacon who will do the greater good for the well-being of the country. There is simply so much riding on you. At the end of the day, what a tragic waste if all that blessing stopped at simply being a celebrity.
Cinta Maya Pañña
Another epiphany for me in this course is the Cinta Maya Pañña. I hardly remember encountering this word in the first 4 sits. But now it fell on me like a ton of bricks. Not because I don't know what it is, but because I needed validation to continue doing it. Cinta Maya Pañña is the 2nd part of wisdom - the critical thinking or the intellectual validation. This is what I find extremely lacking in today's society - questioning the validity of something that is already established, no matter how illogical. I've lost many friends because I question what they feel is unquestionable and should therefore be held inviolate - surprisingly, these are people who already pride themselves in being 'open'. Let me cite an example (and I'm not attacking any established religion here....just take the statements and the logic backing it up). Supposed to be, we came from Adam and Eve. Already, there is an overwhelming genetic and fossil evidence supporting evolution - which means we and the apes have a common ancestor...and it's definitely NOT Adam. Gets?
I've already understood the modular components of Vipassana. However, after this sit, I began to see a bigger picture...how the 3 components of the practice, morality (Sila), concentration of the mind (Samadhi) and wisdom (Pañña) are like 3 legs of the tripod - one requiring the presence of the other to make the whole structure works - and this is exactly what we had been developing the last 10 days. This gave me a clearer understanding of how the technique works.
Starting All Over Again
I thought things would be easier and too familiar already- afterall, this is my 5th participation. I was wrong on both accounts - it feels like the first time all over again. A lot of things have changed since my last Vipassana of 2 years back. Now, I have different life issues to deal with. What's uncanny about Vipassana is that whatever is taught in the discourse (the 10-day course is exactly the same in every center, in any country, viewed from the same video files), a different teaching hits you every time, depending on what you're dealing with in life. There is always...always, a truth there, unnoticed before, that just hits you right between the eyes now. They answer the questions you're struggling with.
Not only do I come away with a clearer understanding of the technique (Vipassana is NOTHING MORE than a meditation technique - no talk of God, religion, rites or rituals) but I also got answers that help me move further on.
I met a lot of new people who now become part of my increasing Vipassana family. I'm actually excited to see what unfolds after this. I see us as part of the swelling tide who seek the truth for what it really is,
- not the way it was selectively manipulated and forced down upon us by the established institutions (are wars borne out of ideological differences, or are they strategically planned by the international bankers together with people in the military and industrial complex hiding behind closed doors?)
- not what it appears to be (do I really need 5 credit cards, 3 houses and a Lamborghini?)
- not what we want it to be (I am right. I am important. I am special.)
While others may already be into total dissolution (Bangga), I'm still into taming the monkey mind - not even first base. I definitely have a very long way to go if I should reach the final goal (which at this point, isn't too important to me). However, notwithstanding, my life has already improved by leaps and bounds - I'm not as angry, I begin to see myself as part of this whole collective (vs just being me and to hell with everyone else), I take ownership of my fate, and I'm not reliant on others for my needs. I can just imagine how exponential the growth is, when I firmly get established in the practice.
I am truly, truly grateful for Buddha (Vipassana is NOT part of the Buddhism sect - even Buddha never wanted a religion founded in his name) for sharing this technique and to all the teachers who came after him to pass on and preserve the technique in its purest form. What a loss to humanity if Vipassana was somehow lost forever in the turbulent history of the past! What a gem that it has been delicately handed down through the generations across several continents...from teacher to student...until it reached our shores to give us a way to come out of our misery.
Lastly, I thank the teacher, Sudha Dalal, the course orgainizers and the servers (whose names were not even announced in keeping faith about the dissolution of ego). To me, these are the unsung heroes who practically work in the background ensuring that we get established in Dhamma. THANK YOU ALL !!!
- bring ear plugs in case someone snores
- bring a separate pair of washroom flipflops - this will be provided but better to bring your own
- transport is arranged upon registration where participants usually meet up at Star Mall
- if you want to go there by yourself, from Edsa, take the MRT all the way to the Taft Station. Then take a bus going to Dasmarinas, Cavite (~P40, ~2 hours). Get off at "Bayan" by the church in Dasmarinas. Then take a tricycle to Sico Farms (~P50, 10 mins.)
Aug. 20-31, 2014
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