Exposure to Dhamma meditation technique: an observational viewpoint
While most of the Nepalis are preparing to sacrifice millions of animals in the name of celebrating their major festival Dashain, about 140 participants of the 637th batch at Nepal Vipassana Center-organized 10-day Vipassana meditation course return home on 12 October 2010, with some impressions of mind purification meditational exercises and discourses based on the principles of compassionate love for all beings, nonviolence and equanimity to craving and aversion.
This reporter was one of the participants of the course.
On Tuesday, we were taken back to Jyotibhawan (located at Kantipath where the City Office of Nepal Vipassana Center lies), Kathmandu from where we were picked up 12 days ago for the meditation camp of the Center located at the foothills of Shivapuri Jungle in Northern Kathmandu.
Most of the participants, 25 to 40, appeared extremely excited while returning home. The reasons for excitement vary, despite much similarity among them. Beginning from 01 October 2010 to 06:30, 12 October 2010, we were not allowed to communicate with our family members, relatives or friends because this was a logical prerequisite for participating in the program. Besides, we had to maintain Noble Silence as a strict rule that sought our noncommunication with fellow meditators by any verbal and nonverbal means during the whole 10-day course period all around the Center compound. This was something extraordinary that the participants had to go through up to 10 days continuously. Since human beings prove their viability and liveliness through constant communication, its cut-off in direct form creates storms in their minds. One primary reason of meditators' excitement was this resumption of communication after the 10th day of the course at the Center.
Many participants admitted to having achieved something through the Dhamma meditation technique, almost neglected by the world till now. This was another reason for their excitement. Although most of the Nepalis boast of Gautam Buddha's birth in Kapilvastu which is in Nepal, they have rarely bothered about his noble principles mostly applicable to the human society. The 10-day meditation course at least provides many Nepalis exposure to how the Dhamma technique could be of universal rationale in today's Age of hatred and belligerence. The Dhamma has been interpreted as the way to "to see things as they really are". The Vipassana teacher S. N. Goenka (based in India but his discourses are used as the main Dhamma teaching tools in Nepal) in his recorded discourse, means "to see things as they really are".
Several of the participants said they experienced progress in their mental calmness and tolerance degree. Following the 10-day course, some of the participants pledged to seek their total liberation through Dhamma meditation.
Most of the participants admitted to having had a lot of mental exercises to sharpen and tame their minds while they remained under the camp discipline. They have at least recognized the significance of mental exercises to strengthen their minds. But this was one of the secondary benefits that Vipassana meditators could expect, according to S.N. Goenka whose discourses were used as the chief tools to train the meditation students at the Center. His has clearly stated in his series of discourses that the chief goal of Vipassana meditation was to be a good human being equipped with compassionate love for all beings and noble ethics.
The first-day practical meditation as well as the recorded elaborative discourse explains to us principal purpose of this meditation. While introducing the practical meditation in the Dhamma Hall, Assistant teacher Yogendra Man Tuladhar accompanied by three of his colleagues, namely, Madan Tuladhar, Nalina Shakya and Tara Dangol, guided us for observing our own in-breath and out-breath and concentrating our mind on it. They instructed us not to imagine any image, color and recite any verbal slogan used in other meditation techniques. They, instead, told us that the Dhamma technique is based on observing our own breath and become totally aware of it every moment. In the evening elaborative recorded discourse delivered by Goenaka, the reason for choosing respiration as the starting point for meditation was explained: mind is the sub-atomic particle of Universal Nature and this meditation technique discovered by Gautam Buddha 2500 years ago contains the understanding of the human body and mind as the products of the Nature; the natural breathing observation could concentrate mind for feeling different sensations on the body parts, inside and outside.
On the first day, we were made aware of some physical discomforts and difficulties as we had not developed the habit of such meditation. The first-day discourse also let us understand that breath is a tool with which to explore the truth about oneself at the experiential level through the concentrated observation of our own body sensations propelled by innumerable biochemical and electromagnetic reactions constantly occurring constantly throughout our body, of which we are little aware.
The consecutive days allowed us to exercise examining our body sensations. The evening discourses linked such varying body sensations to Gautam Buddha's discovery that as the Nature itself, human body undergoes constant changes--something that proves impermanence. The consecutive discourses stress on taking nothing in this world as permanent; doing so would be the primary cause of human misery.
Middle days of the meditation course highlight how important it would be to understand that being equinimous to craving and aversion was the best way to become happy and peaceful by developing a habit of non-reacting with hatred or craving. Moreover, the discourses and meditation sittings asked us to understand the Dhamma as the art of living peacefully and harmoniously within ourselves and the way of generating peace and harmony for all others. We were also told to examine our own mental and physical structure since there is a tie between mind and matter in the Nature.
Most often, we were reminded of our deep-rooted psychological habit patterns that frequently generate negativities resulting in hatred and animosity. Similarly, we were warned that craving for something would also bring miseries. Adopting a neutral stand towards both pleasant and unpleasant phenomena in life was a more stressed point in the meditation course.
Goenka's chief emphasis was on developing an experiential level of meditators, not on the intellectual luxuries.
Earlier on 01 October, we had signed a paper with Nepal Vipassana Center before we departed from its City Office at Jyotibhawan, Kathmandu, for its meditation camp at Budhanilkantha surrounded by jungles at the Northern side of Kathmandu. The paper sought our full commitment to the course and rules and regulations of the camp. Under the specified rules, on reaching the Center camp, we deposited our cell phones and money purses for 10 days.
The formal beginning was scheduled for 02 October, the second day of our life in the camp. However, were taken into the hall in the evening for some orientation and briefing about the rules and regulations that we were to abide by during our stay at the Center.
We did not have to go through usual city turmoil and high level of pollution because we stayed for 11 days at the meditation center full of natural beauty, fragrance and oxygen. The Center accommodated us with attached bathrooms and toilets along with all other essentials for the bedroom. These facilities were provided free of charge (voluntary donations were welcomed, of course). Breakfast at 06:30, lunch at 11:00 and snacks with tea at 17:00 were also provided free of charge. Participants after the 10-day duration voluntarily donated some money the way they could.
We were given a set of moral principles to follow during the 10-day course duration: not killing any living being, maintaining noble silence, not speaking lies, not stealing and maintaining celibacy. But some of the participants did not bother about these moral precepts set for following at least up to the course period. Many rarely cared to save insects while walking. Some even did not deposit their cell phones and talked to their friends and relatives on phone at night. Some of the participants were seen communicating within the meditation hall through gestures. Similarly, some of the participants were also found talking freely of where to go, stay and eat after the course ends. Besides, a few boys were found stealing fruits from the nearby trees. All of us were made aware not to do any such thing on the very first day.
According to volunteers at the meditation camp, eight male youngsters escaped from the walls without completing the 10-day course.
The growing curiosity towards and participation of youngsters in such a mind tool is a positive sign for the society. The 10-day course for beginners has been useful as part of exposure to the rationale of the Dhamma technique that allows us to further explore about the mind and the matter in the Universe. Besides, it has helped the serious participants to remain adherent to ethical human life--something highly important for the modern materially addicted people (who may be ready to commit crimes of any nature for the sake of sensual pleasures) to know themselves as the primary determinants of good and evil in the world. Acquiring more comprehensive knowledge on the Dhamma principles and techniques could hint out the possibility of expanding the size of the ethical world.
First published in the Opednews
Tags: Nepal , Vipassana Meditation , India , Buddha , Buddhism , Mind Purification , Science , Body , Structure , Universe
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