Vipassana – The Journey Within

The term Vipassana, in its literal form, comes from confluence of two Sanskrit words Vishesh (noble) Pashyana (to see or to observe). While the practice of Vipassana dates many centuries back, in the modern era it has gained momentum due to invaluable contribution and dedication of S.N. Goenka. The practice of Vipassana, as it spread in the Indian mainland after its conception, got mixed and diluted with other contemporary practices and vanished with the flow of time. Thankful to the school in Burma that kept the practice virgin, for centuries and S.N Goenka who broadcasted this practice globally, we still have access to it.

 

The regime of Vipassana is mindful self exploration to better understand all the happenings within. Every passing quantum of time is testimony to our interaction with outside world, may be in person or in thoughts. This very interaction, demands a response. Further,this very response in turn generates an emotion. Thanks to human nature and conditional inheritance we tend to classify our feelings into various sets of emotions – good, bad etc. You will experience positive emotion (joy, excitement, peace etc), if the generated experience is in agreement with your expectation. On the contrary, if there is conflict between expectation and the response, you will experience so called negative emotion (anger, guilt, sadness etc). These emotions are either suppressed or expressed and get archived within. And as we further keep repeating the process, all of these emotions keep draping around us. This very emotional fabric keeps winding itself around one’s true self. And if one forgets to unwind, over period of time the patches would be dominant enough to shunt the light within, thereby, building an illusion that the very light ceases to exist. But has the light (our true nature) really vanished?

 

And, as these emotions continue to settle down in our body, they generate their signature in form of sensation within body. Daily, we continue to experience new set of emotions, and they keep settling and building a heap. Since, these emotions manifest in the physical body as sensation and as the heap grows, the intensity of sensations will magnify too resulting into pain or discomfort. Advancements and multiple researches in health industry have concluded that the root cause of any disease is one or the other form emotional turbulence.

 

The practice of Vipassana (noble observance) is one’s ticket to self healing and empowers us to be aware of such emotional winding that have manifested itself on the physical realm. The very process of mindful self observation, fortified with absolute awareness yet practised with complete detachment will loosen the grip of these emotions. Thus, these patches will start to unwind and evaporate away layer by layer raising prajna (knowledge and awareness). Slowly and steadily restoring the light to its glory (dharma). Do not confuse the term dharma with any religion or any sect. The literal meaning of Dharma is one’s inherent nature. Nature of ice is to be cold, thus it is dharma of ice to be cold. Similarly, it is dharma of fire to burn and give out light and heat.

 

On certain occasions, you may have a not so pleasant encounter. And, as a mechanism to overcome it, you may think of changing the very thought or even the environment. Assuming that the switch to a new positive thought, or listening to music, or taking a walk etc, helped you to enforce the required shift in your mood. Yet, if you do contemplate, have you sanitised yourself of that emotion? Sweeping the dust below the carpet may build illusion of a clean room, but doesn’t actually clean the room. The practice of Vipassana makes you aware, and understand the sensations throughout the body. And as you learn to observe and understand the sensation with a neutral and equanimous mind, knowledge rises and as the understanding rises the sensation evaporates liberating you from the emotional debris.

 

The practice though very simple, should be followed with the authored level of discipline. Practice of Vipassana demands one to observe The technique and Code of Discipline that comes with precepts and guidelines to build strong foundation. A  structure cannot survive the test of time, without a strong base (shila). The understanding, study and thus practice of these precepts build strong moral foundation – shila. The strong moral foundation triggers mind’s ability to purify itself and concentrate (samadhi). This state of strong and firm self awareness (samadhi) raises the panya (inner wisdom). You cannot see lake bed if the water is impure and turbulent. To see the bed, you will have to allow the suspended impurities to rise to the surface so that the impurities can be sweeped out. If the impurities settle down on the bed, our purpose to have crystal clear view of bed is still not achieved. Only once the water is pure and stable can you get clear view of the bed.
There are training centres or schools densely spread out across India, South East Asia and also globally, that facilitate teaching of the technique free of cost. The best way to learn Vipassana is to register with the centre and devote oneself to the rich practice. Knitting the practice of Vipassana into routine is an art that once mastered and practised will bless the individual in its unique divine way.

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Isn’t It Ironic!

The aroma in the air was captivating, alluring enough to lose oneself to it. The atmosphere was seasoned with sights of beauties that could victimize bravest of the brave men! While some where bathing, dipped in rose petals, with milk tingling over their soft delicate bodies, there were those raising the fantasies, hypnotizing anyone, even those stealing the looks! The sensuality in the looks were magnetic enough to raise the dead overflowing with seduction! And the one that stole my soul was the one laying in fountain of chocolate, pulling me towards itself through the string of her sight, hooking on my senses. And, I had already crossed all limits of raising carnal volcano. The looks in my eyes had resigned all the morality. The more looks I stole, the more I tried convincing myself of the incestuous step I was taking, the more I found myself drooling to it. Finally! rising from my seating, submitting myself to the rising heat, and floating to the pull of her fragrance, I was to dawn on her, ready to pounce every bit of her flesh. The chariot of lust, taxiing me, came to an abrupt break, as if the charioteer pulled the horses responding to bewilderment! The sight of my wife standing between me and my charmer, brought me back to the ether. The rage in her eyes was evident and my sight drooped down with shame and apology, for I knew I had again cheated on her and myself!

“Tell me for one final time, are you going to improve on your virtues?” rushed her words sizzling over my consciousness. “I am trying hard my dear! But I can’t help but submitting myself to the spell that enchants me”, was my only apology. Not catering to it anymore, my wife again started the lulling topic how I walking towards being obese and that I should learn to control that urge to hog on to deserts. Yes, I was cheating on myself, while I wanted to shade that extra layer of flesh, I left no single opportunity to feast.

I am sure there are plenty of habits that we plan to drop, and end up getting lured more into it! Yes its ironic that we gravitate towards something that we want to quit, since it has become part of us. But, what matters more is being a peaceful warrior who resigns to the pouring violence with peace and patience, walking towards something that may not bring bliss immediately but something that can dawn a resilient near future.

To Err is Human

Since ages the seers have been preaching – to err is human, but to forgive and forget is divine! And as you turn attention inwards, and ask yourself, “What really is mistake?” You can’t help but witness flurry of thoughts running haywire, hounding your consciousness and even snapping it through array of situations that you had labelled as mistakes. And then I arise, like the Sun dodging the dark clouds, lighting your awareness and pulling it back to its current state. So, as it may look, the dictionary declares the meaning of word “mistake” as follows:

Mistake : /mɪˈsteɪk/ noun : An act or judgement that is misguided or wron

Go back to that one nasty situation when you think you committed any mistake! See that you can see, hear all that you can hear and feel that you can feel! How does it feel to relieve such incident? Do you think that commitment of this mistake led to loss of your desire, like the moon waning? If you look closer, you had desire to achieve something. Now certain act of yours lead to you losing out that wonderful opportunity, to achieve your desire. As humans, we label that very act, resulting into loss of opportunity, as mistake and declare the event as failure. Had the same act resulted into achievement of desire, it would have labelled as success. Isn’t it?

If you are on hill top and you see a car making its way along the road, and at the same time you could see another car approaching in the opposite direction! Now owing to distance, both cars may not be able to spot each other. But you can! Owing to your watch from the distance and height. They say the closer we look the lesser we see, and the farther we look our capability to acknowledge and comprehend the matter expands! Sounds factual on the surface yet it has very deep meaning, could be deeper that the depths known to human mind!

So, right here and right now, lets make an attempt to look at the same situation from eagle’s eye, as a third person watching the entire episode, and all this without any iota of analysis and judgement. Run yourself through the scheme of events and actions, taking note of behavior that you think should not have been there, and  also, those that could be changed. These were the acts that manifested something that you didn’t anticipate, resulting into loss of opportunity. Contemplate on these acts and imagine what would it look like, to replace the same set of acts with other set of act that you think would have lead to you manifesting the desire. Ask yourself how would You perform better? Now keep playing the movie in your mind, replacing the behavior you want to trim with the behavior that you think could have earned you that opportunity! Keep repeating the movie till the point you are comfortable running episodes over and over again.

There are no mistakes, or successes. These are human induced terms conveying if we were able to manifest our desire or not. Losing an opportunity does not mean the loss is permanent. Even the scientists have come to conclusion that we live in the world of endless possibilities! And this conclusion profoundly stems from new researches in the field of quantum mechanics. The ultimate truth is that there is an act, and performance of that act has consequence. If the consequence is something that we desire we take pride in blowing trumpets and declaring success. And  like everything has its opposite, if the scheme of events don’t churn out into manifestation of that very desire  or scheme of expectation, based on our definition of it,  we call it failure and our set of actions get labelled as mistakes.

Now, if you actually skim out these artificial adjectives from human experience, you will realize that there only series of actions we take and those actions lead to certain consequences which we later labelled as success or failure!

The most important aspect of human experience is to forgive, not only others, but also oneself, for anything and everything!  Say it loud to yourself that you have learnt the lesson! Express that earnest gratitude to the universe for it revealed an opportunity for you to learn and evolve! Now as you express this gratitude, seeping in the profound lessons you learnt, you will realize how feather lite your mind has become.  Evolution is the game, the pace doesn’t matter. All that matters is you continue to play it!

Into The Wild

into-the-wild

Aryan’s vision was going darker, as if someone was sucking all the light from his universe. The tycoon of thoughts was swirling his conscious mind haywire. He was making an attempt to show iota of courage, to suppress this tycoon, but it was all in vain, like moon trying to rise and shine on a cloudy night, just to get wrapped again by the blanket of clouds. The smog of frustration was all over, making his breath shallow, choking him out. He was being swallowed by his own fears, slowly and steadily with heavy feelings. This was not the first time Aryan was experiencing fear, laced with confusion. And he did make multiple efforts to come out of it as well.

At some point in your life, you may have travelled in a flight. I am sure you would have even paid attention to the safety instructions. My favorite one is regarding air mask, for it helped my friend Aryan learn an important lesson!

We were to board flight, and while the instructions were being given out, I asked my friend Aryan, “Why do you think when the air pressure drops out, they expect us to first wear the oxygen mask and then help the co-passengers?” Aryan readily replied to that, ” If you have not put on your oxygen mask, there are chances of you fading due to change in air pressure. So if you become weak, how would you help your co-passenger? You cannot control the turbulent situation through something that has turned weak.”

“Then, why are you allowing your enraged mind to pacify itself? Do you think something that turbulent can appease itself”, came out my words like a sword slitting Aryan’s statement. Our emotions and feelings are like fuel gauge, when the gauge displays tank emptying, we don’t panic or hatch those nasty emotions, rather we drive the vehicle to nearest fuel station and fill the tank up. So, if the feelings are like fuel gauge don’t you think you need to fuel up your system?

By this time Aryan had initiated self introspection. The horizon marked with dark clouds was opening up to let the light seep in, letting Aryan to gain clarity. Emotions stem from inside and reflect our state of awareness. He was slowly learning that confidence is an emotion, the state of awareness that reflects stability. Learning is must and the outcome, its manifestation, is the game Aaryan will have to play in his pace.

This was not the end of conversation, but this time I could sense my ear drums tuning to Aaryan’s sermon, “I have begin to correlate now! One cannot transform by suppressing what lies inside! Rather one has to acknowledge the very existence of such feelings and then step inside the wild chaos doing due justice the state that is, while trying to insert the desired state of mind. One cannot clean the pigsty from outside without himself entering into the filth. That is obvious common sense, and at times we do get drifted in our own boat. But the game is to swirl back in action!”

As the flight was floating up above the clouds, I could see my friend unwinding, lightening and basking in the glory.

Making Difference

You may not be astonished if someone mentions to you that the world today is facing environmental challenges ranging from global warming to toxic pollution, and that the life of the planet is at stake and what not! While I am not going to dive into the mundane ocean of the challenges and possible solution, but I would like to invite you to embark with me on small journey!

Everyday we generate waste to an extent. Lets say vegetable waste, packaging material, left over food and the list could go endless. And while the list can keep expanding, our method of discarding the garbage is pretty simple. We may all bundle it together to be picked up garbage truck the next morning. This all looks very simple to us, and it is! No question asked!

Now lets see what the garbage truck does, the garbage truck picks up bundles of waste from every nook and corner of the community and then dump it to the dump yard. Daily tons of this waste gets dumped at the dump yard. Essentially what started with bag of garbage, grew enormously to be a hill.

Now lets dive further, to understand the ecosystem of this hill. Those small microscopic bacterias will start flocking building their colonies feasting on the waste food, or any other organic waste. Their colonies will expand into a massive arrays and we get blessed with diseases. Sweet deal! Also, if supply of oxygen is less due to anaerobic breakdown of organic material, methane gas will start effusing. Methane traps heat, thus adding to global warming. The road only gets more smoother from here, but I would rather stop driving this bus and request you to get down to check all feasibilities to put a check here.

Now you may recommend, all the organic waste can be segregated at the dump yard. All the metal scrap and plastic scrap can go to respective recycling units. While this can be done, here comes the challenge. Dump yard gets garbage in enormous volume, so the segregation itself will take lot of time and becomes tough to manage since it will need human attention and dedicated and well trained task force.

Now lets take a step back, what if all the segregation happens at the source? All you need to do is, maintain three different waste bags, one for organic the other for plastic and if required the third for metal scraps. Suddenly something that was hill has transformed into a small bag that can be segregated in no time. Now what you do with the organic waste is your choice, you can dump it out, or you can start composting. You can even make your own home and toilet cleaners using fruit waste. Garbage enzyme is picking up grounds these days!

I would like to perceive all the small changes we can make to carve out better place.

Baby Step or Giant Leap

You can’t agree more with me if I do say that evolution has been playing its game since time unknown. We have come long way transitioning from unicellular creature to the variety of life forms that we have now! And this is not the end of game and we still have long way to go!

What if that one cell had ceased to learn from its environment and stopped evolving? What if that one cell had decided to keep doing the things it does every moment? Then we would not have the privilege to live the life that it is now!

Modern day neurologists define learning to be the continuous process that facilitates your senses to receive inputs from the external environment, which further empowers neurons (brain cells) to store and process that information. The neural connection gets stronger and stronger, with the frequent fetching of this information from the neurons, which further facilitates quick decision making and retention capabilities. Thus, the more you repeat, rapid shall be the learning. Now, I am sure you must have realized why they asked us to repeat lessons back in school!

What do you think happens when you sow an apple seed? It grows into apple tree, isn’t it? If you sow plum, you will get plum. I may end up blowing your senses saying that someone sowed plum and it grew to be a pumpkin? That’s ridiculous, right? But if you now, in this moment, try to perceive the potential of human mind – you can’t help but be awestruck by the infinite potential it has earned as a result of millions of years of evolution. Have you ever sowed an idea – may be your new resolution, next day you end up nurturing something else and the ultimate manifestation culminates into a complete different episode in itself. Essentially, what has happened is you sowed plum and ended up growing pumpkin! Gosh! And, with all fairness, this all happened without even you realizing it!

So what has happened is, you consciously/unconsciously learnt something on a particular day, something else the next day. You, then, tried playing with a mixed scheme of information, and thus the end result was entirely different. We can learn to be plum tree today, pumpkin vine tomorrow and may be banana plant the day after and so on so forth. And all this because we have the mind with infinite potential, riding on endless possibilities, that needs to be backed and exercised by equally strong learning goals. So while learning is important,  it should be strongly backed by a goal/intention/objective that clearly defines, and is well conceived by your mind.

Since everyone has their own style and pace of learning, the process of learning itself should be tailored based on individual’s need. If you are good in a particular subject you will learn it faster compared to the subject you find harder, so here the pace will be rapid and you can take giant leaps. And if you are learning something that you detest, or something that you perceive to be hard then you can slow down the pace to take baby steps. Today we have plethora of tools that empower learning experience, choose one that suits your style and pace of learning.

Also, its more important to unlearn something that serves no purpose by replacing itself that is more profound in today’s era. In school they taught us : Sun rises in the east. The fact is, its not sun rising, its the earth spinning from west to east, creating the illusion of sun rising in the east. So as you progress, be ready to shade something that does not serve any purpose and open your arms to embrace the new knowledge!

Let the evolutionary mojo keep flowing through you endlessly, for the greatest literate of the modern era is one who can learn, unlearn and relearn. Let your mind expand endlessly!

Learning Spirit

You can’t agree more with me if I do say that evolution has been playing its game since time unknown. We have come long way transitioning from unicellular creature to the variety of life forms that we have now! And this is not the end of game and we still have long way to go!

What if that one cell had ceased to evolve? What if that one cell had decided to keep doing the things it does every moment? Then we won’t have the privilege to live the life that it is now!

Evolution is continuous process and the one that ceases to evolve, decomposes in the span of time. They say the humans evolved from the apes. So, the apes that we see today belong to the blood line that ceased to evolve. Alarming isn’t it? Coming to our daily routines, if we continue to do that we are doing and keep the cycle repeating then where is the evolution? And now you know what happens if evolution stops!

Evolution is greatly supported by resilience. Have resilient attitude towards life. Let the evolutionary mojo flow through you, for the greatest literate of the modern era is one who can learn, unlearn and relearn, irrespective of age and culture.