Vipassana – From reaction to action

Ενημερώθηκε: 22 Σεπτ 2020

Another 10-day Vipassana course has come to an end and as always, I have left the place in Evia/Greece enchanted and inspired as I always am after this experience.

10 full days, 10 hours of sitting meditation per day, in complete silence, 4am wake up bell, 11.45am last meal of the day, no mobiles-pc-tv-music, not even eye contact with each other, no watches or clocks, just bells ringing. S.N.Goenka described it as a ‘mental operation with no anaesthetics’. Loads and loads of mental rubbish will be removed…Obviously if you keep practising. 10 days is only the beginning of the surgery. There is no way out these 10 days….You are asked beforehand to understand and read very carefully the code of discipline again and again…once the silence starts, that’s it….there is no way out.

Vipassana is the Pali word for ‘insight’ taught by the Buddha once he actually had the experience of the truths in which he spoke. In actual fact, a technique that is extraordinary in its simplicity and worth investigating. The aim is to sharpen the mind (conscious and unconscious mind); however, the operation goes deep into the core of man’s existence and plays around with the unconsciousness, so one needs so much patience and determination. Once you start practising though you have glimpses of peacefulness and it feels like a heavy load of concerns, fears and thoughts are emptying your head….very very slow process but so so powerful.

According to the teachings, suffering exists in all humans and the only way to end this problem is to understand their own reality, their own nature by observing the breath and the senses..by developing the ability to be aware of the present moment. Therefore, we require a method to focus our attention on our reality in this moment. Developing awareness of respiration, we observe the mental patterns in a deeper level and enables us to start dealing with whatever arises. We observe that when the mind is peaceful and calm, the breath is regular and gentle. But whenever negativity arises in the mind, whether anger, hatred, fear or passion, then respiration becomes rough, heavy and rapid. Throughout each day the mind keeps generating reactions with soft or deeper impressions that lead to immense suffering…’I want this’ or ‘I don’t want that’. What causes reaction of liking and disliking? They occur because of sensation..any sensation like cold, heat, numbness, pain, tickling, prickling, throbbing sensations..But all these sensations are constantly arising and then passing away… arising and passing away. Through these sensations we feel the impermanence of all craving and aversions….We feel and observe objectively a gross, unpleasant sensation and realise that it passes away…We then feel and observe a pleasant more subtle sensation and it also passes away..We stay there, alert in the present moment, observing our sensations objectively with perfect equanimity.

One who follows the well-instructed noble path of dhamma (the law of nature) see that all types of sensations (pleasant and unpleasant) are impermanent and by seeing this reality, by developing equanimity, one becomes detached, therefore liberated from all suffering. Developing equanimity and this will be in the subtle unconscious level of the mind, can remove effectively and permanently tension and negativity, so we live happier and more positive lives.

Thinking about equanimity, one may wonder that in our every day life this is impossible because how can we be involved and interact in life unless we react? There is a danger that we become passive and inactive, like vegetables. The essence of the teachings encourage us to learn to live detached, with love, compassion, good will, joy and equanimity. By quietening the mind we learn to act sufficiently (and not react) because the mind becomes more balanced and sharp. We learn to act positively. If we can change our life pattern from reaction to action, the right action, the balanced action, then we have achieved something very valuable. Always be happy 🙂

‘Seed and fruit’ – Story as told by S.N. Goenka

As the cause is, so the effect will be. As the seed is, so the fruit will be. As the action is, so the result will be.

In the same soil a farmer plants two seeds: one a seed of sugar cane, the other a seed of neem tree, a tropical tree which is very bitter. Two seeds in the same earth, receiving the same water, the same sunshine, the same air, nature gives the same nourishment to both. Two tiny plants emerge and start growing. And what has happened to the neem tree? It has developed with bitterness in every fiber, while the sugar cane has developed with every fiber of it sweet. Why is nature, or, if you prefer, why is God so kind to one and so cruel to the other?

No, no, nature is neither kind nor cruel. It works according to fixed laws. Nature only helps the quality of the seed to manifest. All the nourishment merely helps the seed to reveal the quality that is latent within itself. The seed of the sugar cane has the quality of sweetness; therefore the plant will have nothing but sweetness. The seed of the neem tree has the quality of bitterness; the plant will have nothing but bitterness. As the seed is, so the fruit will be.

The farmer goes to the neem tree, bows down three times, walks around it 108 times, and then offers flowers, incense, candles, fruit and sweets. And then he starts praying, ‘Oh neem God, please give me sweet mangoes, I want sweet mangoes!’. Poor neem God, he cannot give them, he has no power to do so. If someone wants sweet mangoes, he ought to plant a seed of a mango tree. Then he needs not cry and beg for help from anyone. The fruit that he will get will be nothing but sweet mangoes. As the seed is, so the fruit will be.

Our difficulty, our ignorance is that we are not attentive while planting seeds. We keep planting seeds of neem, but when the time comes for fruit we are suddenly alert, we want sweet mangoes. And we keep crying and praying and hoping for mangoes. This doesn’t work.