Mar 16-25, 2018
Satipatthana Sutta Vipassana: 10-day meditation course
Location: Dhamma Malaya Vipassana Meditation Centre (opposite University Malaysia Pahang), Gambang (district), Kuantan (city), Pahang (state), Malaysia
No. of Students: 39m/45f
Teacher: Yeo Sin Fatt
What is Satipatthana Sutta?
Satipatthana Sutta is a more advanced 10-day silent meditation course in Vipassana with increased focus on "awareness". The technique and meditation schedule is the same as the regular course, but the evening discourse by SN Goenka is different. Eligibility for the course requires at least three 10-day sits and a vigilant adherence to the tenets of Vipassana. To quality for the course practically meant living a semi-monk life.
Declined in Kathmandu
I was previously declined for my application at the Kathmandu center for not being able to do the entire 2-hour daily meditation, even though I meditated daily. I could have taken the regular course again, but I felt the need to move on to Satipatthana. Still, if I were declined again for Satipathana, I would apply for the regular course again...and again. I need my Vipassana every 6 months as a way to put me back in alignment. To date, it would be nearly 3 years since my last. I was just glad all over, and I'm more than willing to tie-up all the loose ends in the Philippines to make the move to Malaysia.
Dhamma Malaya is in a spacious land almost along the main highway in a quiet section of Gambang. It can house 108 students into individual rooms with ensuite. It has two halls and a building with 74 airconditioned meditation cells. To dissipate heat, it has high pyramid roofs and provide multi-language facilities. The center has ample shade from the surrounding trees.
You can tell how placid and serene the center is by the way wildlife is behaving inside the compound. Nearly daily, I would see a monitor lizard, one as long as 2.5 feet, walking so leisurely across a paved walkway while meditators on their after-lunch walk stopped to make way for it. Some would stop and engage in eye-contact! The small birds who resemble little pigeons would land as close as a meter from you and feed on the ground. The squirrels usually stay on top of trees and make loud noises.
Breaking the Mold
My sits were largely frustrating because the mind kept wandering away - sex, food, people, adventures, Cubbyhole thoughts, etc. Not making serious progress, I was beginning to feel guilty about the food and accommodation - was I just eating their food and occupying space? Luckily, I got a break and reached new ground. I've done a straight 2-hour sit with sharp focus and have gone to a depth I've never been to before, although I didn't dissolve into a mass of vibration yet - I was still solid but with large pockets of sensation. Out of a 10.5 hours of daily meditation, I would be lucky to have a one-hour sit where the mind completely cooperated - the rest would more resemble a tug-of-war between the wandering mind and the internal focus. Making best use of my time in the center, I went to the meditation hall even outside the group sit period, instead of doing it in my room where I know I would inevitably fall asleep.
Verbalizing to Keep Focus
The practice doesn't encourage verbalization, but sometimes, it is what allows me to stay focused. For every body part, I would verbalize in my mind's eye,
awareness "...I am aware of my shoulders. It is broad and round with 3 deltoids...the front and middle bigger than the rear. With a vigilant mind, I am alert to any arising sensation...pleasant or unpleasant."
sensation "...with this arising sensation, I observe it with an equanimous mind with no reaction whatsoever knowing fully well that this sensation arises, persists and eventually passes away in compliance to the natural law of impermanence."
Staying In-Character or being At-Ease
Nearly all the meditators remained "in character" after the group sit. They walked meditatively and ate meditatively. I would have wanted to do that as well like I've done in the past, but my mind badly needed a break. It's no easy job reigning-in the mind for 10.5 hours/day! Instead, I just felt "at ease" like it's a normal life. This gave my mind the break it needed.
Even though the participants came from all walks of life, it was fairly obvious who were the more established ones - seniors who have done well and prospered. What gets my attention is that even though they have reached a high level in the economic totem pole, and given their life experience, they still had the humility to admit they haven't figured out everything in life yet...thus their participation in the Vipassana course.
Vedaña (Sensation) - the missing Link
This is the crux of Buddha's contribution to humanity (in my humble understanding). The ramification of this discovery is profound, sweeping and renders the old understanding to be flawed. Until Buddha became enlightened, the common thinking was, worldly pleasures are the cause of craving and misery. Thus, the devotees have gone through extreme abstinence or penitence such as eating one grain of rice a day, reducing their bodies to skin and bones. Buddha discovered that between the worldly pleasures (or pain) and the resulting craving or aversion is a missing link - vedaña or sensation. This is what needs to be dealt with and not the external factor. With this, the Middle Way was born. It was now ok to eat as much as needed to satiate the needs of the body.
How was this possible? Let's use Steve Harvey as an example when he announced wrongly who won the Ms. Universe pageant. If you were that contestant who was declared Ms. Universe, you'd jump for joy feeling on top of the world. But when Steve later admitted fault and gave the crown to someone else, you were crushed into unfathomable misery. This can ruin your life! How do we apply Buddha's discovery here?
Let's dissect the process to understand. When you were announced Ms. Universe, before you jumped for joy, there is this micro-second gap where you felt the sensation of joy. You can then observe that "joy" sensation without being carried away. You are just aware that this "joy" sensation exists inside your body at the moment. As you observe with a balanced mind, you are very well aware that this "joy" is impermanent and will not last forever. So you don't feel attachment to it. So when Steve took back the crown, you simply understand that this temporary thing has already come to an end. You are not crushed, you don't become depressed and continue to keep the balance of your mind. Your next move is to look forward for another opportunity in life, coming away unscathed (while a weaker person may take refuge in drugs or in the bottle).
To me, the practice of Satipatthana is distilled into 3 lessons to be taken as one (think 3-in-1 coffee that you ingest as one drink). As this is something very relevant and applicable to everyday life, I've justapositioned it with an everyday life example:
- have the full understanding of impermanence - the sensation, pleasant or unpleasant, will persist but will eventually fade away - nothing is forever.
Back to our example, maybe you choose to give him the right of way for whatever emergency he might have. You even do this with your blessing that he doesn't hurt himself or anyone else as he drives recklessly. It doesn't matter if he was in an emergency or just an asshole driver. At the end of it, you didn't react, you kept the balance of the mind and you were able to make an intelligent decision about the situation.
I came away from the course having a greater understanding of this path to self-realization - both intellectually and as a practice. The greater challenge to me now is how to apply them in my day to day life at all times. I'm not particularly after enlightenment or liberation - I don't even know what that means. But being on the practice means being happy and having a peaceful life in harmony with others. And that's good enough for me.
(Mar 28, 2018) Atapi, sampajano, satima ❤
Next stop: Hanging-Out in Kuantan with the Guangzhou 5
Kuantan (city), Pahang (state), Malaysia
Satipatthana Sutta Course EligibilitySatipatthana Sutta Courses are open to serious old students who
- have sat (not including courses served) at least three 10-day courses
- have not been practising any other meditation techniques since last 10-day course
- have been practising this technique of Vipassana for at least one year
- who are trying to maintain their meditation practice and the five precepts in their daily lives
How to get to Dhamma Malaya from Kuala Lumpur*** ride share with other students
- UMP stop to Dhamma Malaya - from the UMP stop, you can either:
a. walk to the center (2.5KM away) or
b. wait at the security post at the entrance to Mangala Resort to hitch a ride with fellow students taking the course
Total One-Way Cost from Cebu, Philippines to Dhamma Malaya, MalaysiaTo Vipassana meditators in Cebu, Philippines who wish to do their practice in Dhamma Malaya (Malaysia), here is run down of my actual cost to give you an idea. This is as cheap as I could make it: ($1 = Php52.50, MYR1 = Php13.50)
- Php 4200 - Air Asia promo fare, Cebu to Kuala Lumpur (amount depends on seat promo you avail)
- Php 1620 - Phil travel tax
- Php 750 - Phil airport terminal fee
- Php 520 - ERL train from KLIA2 airport to Bandar Tasik Selatan ($10, MYR38.40)
- Php 324 - TBS to UMP ($6, MYR24) and walking to the center or hitching
- Php 7414 - total one way expense
- 10-Day Vipassana Silent Meditation Retreat Part 1 (sitter): The Beginning Apr 1-12, 2009
- 10-Day Vipassana Silent Meditation Retreat Part 2 (server): Enlightenment, Anyone? Oct 21 - Nov 1, 2009
- 10-Day Vipassana Silent Meditation Retreat Part 3 (sitter): Forgiveness Mar 24 - Apr 4, 2010
- 10-Day Vipassana Silent Meditation Retreat Part 4 (sitter): Getting Established in the Technique Apr 25 - May 6, 2012
- 10-Day Vipassana Silent Meditation Retreat Part 5 (sitter): Seeing the Bigger Picture Aug. 20-31, 2014
- 10-Day Vipassana Silent Meditation Retreat Part 6 (server): Serving at Battambang, Cambodia Sep 17-28, 2014
- 10-Day Vipassana Silent Meditation Retreat Part 7 (server): Vipassana as an Art of Living May 5-17, 2015
- 10-Day Vipassana Silent Meditation Retreat Part 8 (sitter): Satipatthana Sutta Vipassana Mar 16-25, 2018
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