Second Vipassana appraisal


If everyone on this planet seriously and conscientiously practiced Vipassana, then all our woes would disappear. There would be no more war, cruelty, exploitation, greed, envy, hate. We would stop destroying the wonderful web of life on our little planet.

Naturally, the effects of our past and current actions would still be there, but we would deal with them with compassion, decency, sharing.

I can thoroughly recommend Vipassana to anyone.

At the same time, despite what Goenka says in his discourses, it is not the only way to achieve these noble ends, but one of many. I have previously mentioned the Shintoist saying, “There are many mountains to God, and many paths up each mountain.” One mountain is meditation, and Vipassana is an excellent path upon it.

I have explored this path, learned enormously from it, but I don’t feel I personally need to continue. While aspects of the technique will be a permanent part of my daily meditation, I will not limit myself to it, but have also returned to some of the activities I’ve been practicing for 20 years and more.

Since I wrote my first appraisal, I’ve returned for two 3-day periods. The first time, I was asked to serve in the kitchen for the last 3 days of a 10-day course. The second was a 3-day course for “old students,” which I’d enrolled in, hoping to advance further into the technique.

Serving is wonderful. You are part of a friendly, caring team. When mistakes are made, there is no unpleasantness or conflict, but everything is handled with love. At least at Aloka Dhamma, in Woori Yallock, Victoria, Australia, everything is organised through long practice and intelligent planning, so that a scratch team of strangers can feed 50 people. There is an excellent manual, but usually one or more experienced servers are there to run the show.

Three hours of daily meditation are part of serving.

The second, three day course was also pleasant, though a bit of a disappointment. Instead of more advanced work, it is designed as a quick refresher for people who had done a ten day course some time ago, and have slipped in practice. I didn’t learn anything new.

I simply can’t see the point of doing the same thing over and over again, and consider that I have “graduated:” got as much out of this technique as I can. This is a lot.

The aim of Vipassana meditation is to progress toward enlightenment. This is done by processing sankharas (this word has no English equivalent. It literally means “construction,” “what has been constructed,” and also “constructing” or “assembling something.” It applies to the source of human suffering: being attached to continuing something pleasant and to avoiding something unpleasant. Perhaps the best is “unconscious, conditioned reaction of attachment and aversion”). You learn to simply observe whatever happens, and to accept it with equanimity.

I can do this, not only when meditating, but in my everyday life. I’ve been doing it for years. All the same, during my ten day course, in the months since, and my six extra days, I have processed a huge amount of past trauma, and have become a better person for it.

This process will continue for me, though not in the exact way Goenka has prescribed.

About Dr Bob Rich

I am a professional grandfather. My main motivation is to transform society to create a sustainable world in which my grandchildren and their grandchildren in perpetuity can have a life, and a life worth living. This means reversing environmental idiocy that's now threatening us with extinction, and replacing culture of greed and conflict with one of compassion and cooperation.
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