Vipassana : As I Experienced It (Part-II)
– By Ranjeet Chowdhury
Though I may not term the experience at Igatpuri enriching, the same has left me with a lot to ponder about to enable me to acquire further clarity which was going to help me a great deal in my spiritual pursuit.
The first thing I became aware of was that ‘you are not your mind’. I don’t know how to put my experience in writing, but after four days of observing silence, I could see my mind weaving stories without my ever intending to do so. I would mention a rather insignificant incident that took place on the fifth day which made me realize this. I was taking a stroll outside the meditation hall during the afternoon break along with few others. Some of us were taking rounds of a flower bed stretched along the main lane leading to residential units mostly keeping our gaze down. Just then a fellow disciple coming from the opposite direction almost bumped into me. We didn’t, however, collide and continued walking our ways as before.
Here, my mind came into play and it presented me with an imaginary situation where the two of us in fact bumped into each other and the other person reacted and mumbled something at me, which in turn infuriated me resulting in my retorting back in an even sharper tongue. My mind got agitated and the impact I felt in my body brought me back to my senses and I wondered what the hell was happening. Why on earth would I be thinking in such a resentful manner about a stranger when in fact nothing of any sort had happened in the first place? It couldn’t have been me; it was an entity distinct from me – my mind.
As regards my inability to sit still for a desirable length of time, I realized that it was all in the mind and has very little to do with any physical constraint. Despite all my efforts to prepare myself for more than one month prior to our visit to Igatpuri, the situation remained more or less the same till the first six days of the course. On the seventh day, however, I suddenly realized that I had become comfortable with my sitting cross-legged for considerably longer duration, enabling me for the first time to concentrate and moving my attention from one point to other, head to toe, as instructed. Then again on the very same day, when I got enraged at the ill-treatment meted out to the old man at the hands of some ill-mannered youngsters, my problem with sitting cross-legged got back to square one.
It says ‘everything happens for a reason’ and it’s just that we are not wise enough to see it. Though the group of unruly youngsters I mentioned above apparently proved to be the last nail in the coffin, i.e., the final reason for my failure to gain anything from this ten-day meditation course; it ushered me to a very important observation about life.
On the last day at Igatpuri, as I got my mobile back, I was clicking some photographs standing at the borderline separating the residential complex from the restricted area. This group appeared from nowhere and scurried past me towards the restricted area. The young lad who was the most wicked among the group members (the one I referred to as ‘leader’ before) suddenly turned around and smilingly gestured me to cross the low barbed-wire fencing saying “Uncle, you can come over, there is no restriction today.” Smiling back, I shook my head. I was surprised at my sudden change of attitude towards this fellow.
I despised him for his misdemeanor right from the very first day and finally when he misbehaved with that old man, I just hated him; and here I smiled at him today. Why? Was it because it was not ‘him’ but an ‘open heart’ to which I responded to? No doubt, he was in the wrong; but I must confess, he had an open heart, while mine was a closed one.
This whole affair made me realize the importance of living with an open heart, a must for our personal growth. It reminded me that the essence of our true self is ‘love’ and we must forgive and forget to connect to the higher.