There was one of my aims to go to Asia, doing 10 days vipassana meditation again. It is Thai style and differs from Burmese in the sense that they add walking meditation. We have to do it very slowly and in detail to give time to observe every moment of the steps. There are many regulations, we woke up at 4.30, were not allowed to speak at all, to eat after 12 o’clock, and gradually we had to meditate at least 13-18 hours a day.
I was there to learn Buddhism and awareness. On the way to our goal we first meet the suffering in the form of pain in our backs and knees. But we have to treat it with patience so as not to accumulate anger inside us, which could cause (mental) suffering too. So suffering at the same time teaches us too. The coin has two sides, if we do our duty well we can win our suffering.
The same in our everyday life too, the difficulties teach us a lot, and the people who have never really suffered can’t know this. ( life always gives chance to suffer) And Buddha started his teaching from this common experience (suffering), finding a base what is known by everyone. (During meditation we can also feel the (physical) pain in our back and knee. Later we can experience our impatience against the pain which makes us suffer more.) Yes, we practise the acceptance of reality, then it is easier to keep our mind controlled. The teachers say: suffering is necessary as we go on our way. The same in life: if someone was starving than he would learn to appreciate the richness of the few things he had and could accept more easily the fact that if he didn’t have anything.
I think my life did not lack of experience, and much more happened during my 32 years than for another during their 70 years. And I gained teachings, even from the people whom I met once. (Maybe one of you are?). The situations teaches us; or a good teacher just gently pushes you in the way of self- understanding. Showing you a mirror. And anyway you will eventually meet the proper situations, with the proper people. (If you understand yourself easier it is easier to understand others. Many people ask me: do you feel alone during your travel? My answer is: “you never alone if you formed a friendship with yourself”. Then it is easier to understand others (be with them). If there is peace inside, there will be peace around you, even at so trivial level that you don’t go into noisy pubs.
And Buddha recognised it and suggested to us to follow some regulation. Very useful even if it seems useless at first glance.. ( I’got possibilities to experience life, if not from my will I was forced by life in a painful way. (Such a big difference!) Yes, most of you know almost nothing about me, you just met a result of these 32 years of my experiences combined with my personality. It is me. Is it good or bad? You can decide. I’am who I’am.
But would be good if the words, the thoughts and the acts were in unity, were in harmony. I’ll work on it. If someone is in a situation which is outside his comfort zone (illusory world), his worldview doesn’t work anymore. This shock could be helpful on our way, but this is the point for lot of people when their nervous systems give up… or they will have just hurt which they cannot easily treat themselves. (Most of the time it was already happened in our childhood.). If nobody was with us who was prepared to help, to lead us, treat us (understanding parents, or teacher) we would have some complexes. Later as an adult we can find a teacher or teachings. (And if it is the right time, I’m sure both; the teaching and the teacher will appear) But: can we use them, can they see me?? The good teacher can see immediately where we are, where we need help, and how we can accept it. (This is for example, a way of Buddha’s teaching. Read his stories and sayings.)
So, if we experience the suffering, we can observe that it is going to disappear. It is a second important teaching of Buddha: impermanency. Even the happiness is disappearing (why doesn’t exist present continuous form of the word “happy”? For suffer is exist: suffering!)
Buddha chose the middle way, and followed in his practise and his daily life. Part of these regulations we have to follow during our retreat. The meditation is also about it: the observation of breathing, pointing our present moment. The present is on the narrow line between the past and the future. And we can observe the present through our feelings, sensations etc. So, doing breathing exercise or walking meditation, is about the present. We try to keep our mind in the present. Not easy. Even more difficult than to treat our physical pain or our impatience (desire, anger, doubt). But it is the next step and doesn’t differ from the previous one.
The aim of meditation is: to understand the suffering, the impermanence and non existence of Ego (self). Everything that exist (born) is impermanent (given to decline), so it is a subject of suffering because of our desires, or we think we have something (time, life etc) – but we don’t). And we think we are – but we are not. (Not at all, from the view of eternity.) The only moment which exist is the present moment. Here and now.
To avoid these traps (suffering) Buddha advised us to purify the mind (attitude), understand the natural realities, the law of life, and encourage us to attain Nirvana. But we should understand: Nirvana is not a place, but a state of mind! How we look, understand, respond etc. And this you can attain right now and here!! In the present moment. It is the vipassana meditation. Meditation not only during the retreat but in everyday life, how we eat, talk, doing something, how we think, how we react. This is we are at that moment.
And during the centuries this flexible and living teaching became a stiff religion, something that Buddha wanted to avoid. Buddha wanted us to get out from our patterns which determine our reactions, and make us not to be in the present and to be far away from the reality. And these takes us to suffering. The religious attitude takes away the happy moments of discovering something. The prepareted world is safe world (See the tourist groups. But I understand them, because to move on the Way needs effort. But most of the people are satisfied with it. But what a big difference to be travel or just reading about it! (As in the TAO Te Ching 1 verse.) I always have to return to Tao, because the teachings are so simple, the truth so simple. But the Pharisees (the religious men) coming and trying to explain how to understand (as I do it now :o) ) making life complicated, and making others suffer instead of living the truth, living the life.
VIPASSANA 2 Is there anyone can use the experiences that I share? Did I do anything useful for the world by writing, sharing pictures, and sharing myself? Is my life in coincidence with teachings? You should decide. I will not write too much about the people and the technique, because that is your experience, I can write just as I see the meditation, and what questions were around me. Can I share any of my experiences? Can the film director or the art painter show with his camera, brush and through color what is in his mind (or behind)? Or can the compositor (writer) find the proper musical instrument (words) which could translate his ideas? Our visions are more detailed than we could express. And let’s see from the side of the acceptor: is there that affect that the painter (compositor, writer) wanted to express through his picture, melody or poem? What is the effectiveness of the teachings? Did they achieve their aim? So there must be a kind of coincidence as in the radio tuner. If the receiver and the broadcaster are on the same wavelength you could enjoy the program. The Upanishads (sometimes translated as: secret teaching) are the same. There is nothing hidden, the knowledge is in front of you and if you are ready to accept it you will understand. I told, when you are ready, the teaching will come.The same with Nirvana: it is just here, but we have to make effort to see. When Buddha sat down and was enlightened he started to talk about it. Nobody understood him (the same with some contemporary writers, painters, and composers). After that he tried to speak about the Way (the path) on which he had gone before. Just a few people understood him. So he had to go even further more back. Back to our basic experience: to suffering. It is the reason why he focused his teaching on suffering. That is obvious for everyone (pain in our back and knee for example during meditation) and it could be a proper point for intending to combat against it (if someone wants). Of course during the ages the teachings changed into religions, which are not that personal and flexible, not so living anymore. And on the altar of popularity (and the money, politics) they sacrifice the teachings, the Way, the Tao. As many religions did.So nowadays, the chance for realization is minimizing in this way, but luckily there are always some people on the same wave. Buddha’s teaching breaks our rigidity (our stable points: soul, reincarnation, ceremony, permanency) on which before our life was built. Jesus told the same: share your belongings and follow me. Buddha just said: don’t bring anything with you. Put away your burden, they just make your way more difficult. The truth, the way, the answers you will find yourself (in yourself). Jesus teaches us: you are the temple. The Buddha says: nirvana is here (and now). But we still bring too many luggage (faith, patterns, thoughts etc.) with us and make our life complicated, miserable. And we still follow many illusions (if I were a rich men, if I have more time, if, if.. etc. ) Never in the present. In this way Nirvana is always somewhere else, and that state of mind is not real for us. But if we practice it could be. For me the Vipassana meditation showed that: it is possible to attain that state of mind. We can taste a bit of that state of mind during meditation. Of course we never have time to practice but as for I try to think globally and act locally. The real practice begins after the practice. So I try to make order around my house (it is Theravada) and maybe show an example about the different life. Non-self and Impermanency is another important teaching of Buddha. There is nothing without another (moment). Like the spider’s web: if somewhere anything happened that influences you (read short story of Ray Bradbury). If you get a slap you start to think why was it deserved, whether was it correct etc..? It was a resonance of someone’s spider web. And not so as to regenerate this unbalanced act we have to cut our imaginations, prejudices (the past and future). The slap is nothing else but a sudden audible bite, nothing else just: I think you think that I think.. It makes life complex and difficult. The present moment is simple, and easy (as a Taoist way). When Buddha was asked about reincarnation he answered with a question (he never answered because if he did he would have been “crucified”..) He lighted fire from his candle on another candle, asking is it the same flame or not? (I told this story because my candle just passed away to Nirvana. :o) Nirvana = extinction) So our life, our mind is the same as the candle: while we give fuel (desires, thoughts, and anger) while we full with imaginings, desires, we can’t be quiet, and at peace. To empty our mind (of the patterns or imaginings) can lead us to Nirvana. When we let the remaining fuel burn we won’t make new waves by a slap so not giving fresh fuel, that means trying to get out from samsara. But to be successful we have to practice and obey some basic rules. It helps us in our way, but religions gave reductions, satisfying the peoples desires in this way, leaving them unbalanced. And so the desires are contrary (against) the Way. As our teacher said: what is good for people is no good for practice (and he smiled). So if I turn my button on my “receiver” maybe the teaching will get to me. I will try to find it. The teachings are more than matter or physical substance. I like to cite the example of Plato about knowledge. If you have an apple and you give it to someone he will have it and you will not. If you have knowledge and you share it; both of us will have this knowledge. So knowledge is for sharing. Nobody should stay ‘hungry’ because of lack of knowledge. Like Jesus show us with the fishes from his basket. Everyone can eat who want to. So, everyone can know (to see, to realize his own life) if he want. So simple. If you knocking on the door, the door will opened for you – citing again from the Bible. Just you have to make effort. There was on the board of the teacher’s room: if you want to know who you were in your previous life look at who you are now. The spider web again. But it is not necessary to think about previous lives. Enough to see our previous moments, because they tends in one direction. So we can read who you were. That huge selection of experiences which is you, lets you to know who you were, what you did. It is in your motion, glance, words, (and beyond that) etc. As Nietzsche told us: the nobility is not be improvised. We bring very strong patterns from our past. Difficult to get out from there. The meditation (and being in the present) that is why it’s so difficult. Our body and our mind protest against it. In the beginning. But afterwards we can take control of our life. (Take control of your moments!) So we have to do everything here and now. ‘Life can only be found in the present moment’ these words were on the board. So acknowledge the present moment. My other classical favorite is Epiktetos who was a slave and an invalid. One of these disabilities is enough reason for us to cry. But he was wise and he knew: there are some things that are in our power and there are things which are not. For the second there is nothing we can do (nothing to worry about). But for the first one we are responsible. That is our life, this is a quality of our life. What we do (eat, say, think) and what we don’t. It under our will. Even as a prisoner you can be free; and as a “free” man you can be in your prison (mind, in your patterns, samsara). Life is practice, practice is life. So practice (live) your life! The people who stay 1 month in the meditation center finish their practice with 72 hours of permanent meditation without sleeping. We think it is impossible but it is not! It is the vipassana (makes you or: you make vipassana). Of course if you are not aware in your moments you fall asleep immediately because you are not in the present moment so you don’t control your life. It is a kind of examination of yourself. If you pass through it. Wow, that’s it!! The result is shown on the face of the person who does it. You can handle your life! Big thing. And it is just the beginning. And as was written on the board: the real practice begins after the practice. It speaks about: possible to do it. The Way is there you “just” have to step on it and go go and go. The Way is going the act is doing, it is not a small thing if you go: (on) the Way. And after you can roll in a new film. May all beings be happy: Gabor