By U’un Arifien (Kwee Ping Oen)
I have joined the 10 days of Vipassana meditation retreat 3 times, first in 2007, then in 2008 and 2009. As a child, I did not have a culture of meditation. My religion being closer to the culture of prayer, it was actually a bit difficult to learn about meditation.
However since I read the book “Oh Indahnya Dharma (Oh the Beauty of Dharma)”
I became quite interested in the concepts of the Dhamma way and meditation. Then driven by my curiosity and with my passion of wanting to feel and learn, I made up my mind to try Vipassana Meditation as taught by the S.N. Goenka method.
In this world there are many methods of meditation, but the method of Vipassana as taught by SN.Goenka is quite unique. The technique is a simple and logical way to achieve a fundamental mind and to live a happy and worthwhile life.
The Vipassana method of meditation, which has been preserved in the Buddhist community in Burma, is not sectarian. This Vipassana method can be adopted and practiced by anyone of any background.
I now have a new understanding that Vipassana means, “look inside” or “Insight” or “wisdom”. I will not go into the details of Vipassana meditation since I am not an expert at it. I am included in the universal list of beginners of Vipassana Meditation.
Here I just want to say what caught my attention and then the reason why I am seriously trying to learn it.
The most difficulty I have in the practice of Vipassana Meditation is remembering the terms, which are originally in Pali language. The lessons of Vipassana Meditation include many Pali words.
This, according to the expertsis because the original Buddha used Pali language, and it is difficult to fully translate Pali into Indonesian or English as the translations only partially approach the true meaning. This is why I myself find it a little bit difficult to remember.
Hopefully what I will explain later can make you understand, but if you want to know more, you should go to a certified instructor of Vipassana Meditation. You may inquire at http://www.indonesian.dhamma.org or http://www.dhamma.org.
One of the very first lessons taught in meditation is learning to control our mind by observing the inhaling and exhaling of our breath. Breathing cannot be suspended until later. This means that we are encouraged to learn to be aware of the present moment, learning to live in the present moment, not yesterday, today or in the future.
By observing the incoming and outgoing breath through our nostrils, we learn to become an observer and soon find out that becoming an observer is extraordinarily difficult.
Our mind is akin to a monkey in the jungle. He is never still. He keeps on moving his hands swinging from branch to branch. He jumps to and fro until his tail can hang onto another branch.
Our mind is also very strong. It can be illustrated as a mighty elephant.
If the elephant rages and begins thrashing, no one can stop him. Therefore we were taught to manage the elephant (mind) so that it can be controlled.
So with meditation we learn to control our mind, which is as strong as an elephant and as smart as a monkey. That is the human mind.
Some other experiences I had during my 10 days of meditation after registration and checking into the hostel where the meditation was conducted. The living quarters for men and women are separate, but for the meditation everyone met in the same hall.
All retreat participants must obey existing regulations, namely:
- Should not carry a mobile phone or other communication device.
- Should not bring textbooks or stationery and beads.
- Not permitted to greet or talk with any participant during the 10 days of the retreat. Mutual eye contact was also prohibited.
- Meals two times daily, at 7 to 8 am and 11:00 am to 12:00 Noon. Tea and snacks are provided in the afternoon. Water is supplied throughout the day.
- Each morning at 4 o’clock all participants should join dawn meditation for one and a half hours, and then every day should follow the meditation group schedule. At night we listen to a lecture about meditation, and end with participants consulting with meditation teachers.
- There are several officers called DW (Dhamma Worker) who are there to help in the event of any emergencies, such as illnesses.
A wise man once said:
Strengthening the mind cannot be done using the same method as strengthening the body; it’s done by making it calm.
Beginner participants usually will have difficulties in the first 2 days, especially if the participant has a misconception of the retreat. But according to the observation of the senior participants, beginners who are ready usually become more adaptable and are able to enjoy the proceedings after the third day.
In my experience with meditation, I have found the first two days (a day of meditation is approximately 13 hours) difficult to concentrate. Thoughts are like episodes. They arise and continue on and on. From private matters, domestic affairs, the affairs of the organization or business, neighbors or relatives’ affairs, it is endless. Overall the thoughts were about past events or future plans.
It is obvious the mind likes to dwell on the past or future. It is quite difficult to linger on the present. The mind spends short periods when it comes to the present, after which it will jump again into the past or future.
Painstakingly I learned the meditation as taught then during the third day I started to feel the joy of meditation. I was even able to feel the benefits of Vipassana meditation as taught by the SN. Goenka method.
Here briefly are some of the benefits I have observed in my daily life since I started meditating:
- My emotions can be controlled; it is not reactive to negative stimuli from the outside (more patience and calmness regained quickly).
- I can do more good deeds without asking for any return. In other words,filled with love, I can do a good deed with more spontaneity.
- I can tolerate differences of opinion with other people more. This reduces conflict with people.
- Being more honest with myself, (In fact many people do not dare to be honest with themselves. Example, if you make a mistake, you do not want to admit it, even looking for excuses to justify)
- I am more aware of my “attachment” to my old habits.
- I feel I have more energy, I feel healthier (maximum power relative to my age)
- Life has become easier (calm, peaceful and happy).
How is great the human mind:
The results of the human mind, the intelligence to create technology as advanced as it is today. There are cars, airplanes, ships, the ability to explore space with the space shuttle and the depth of the sea with submarines. There are mobile devices and the Internet, all to make life easier for all of humanity.
But let us not forget that creating weapons of destruction is also the work of the human mind, which consequently has killed millions of people in conflicts worldwide, giving rise to the suffering of millions of people, especially children, women and old people.
On a small scale, it is actually our minds which create a peaceful or chaotic life within ourselves, within our own household and in the environment around us.
After I trained to meditate, I never get bored in my daily life. For example, on a long trip by train, plane or bus, I can meditate. If queuing at a counter, I could do a standing meditation, so I’m never bored.
IF YOUR MIND IS HAPPY, THEN YOU SHALL BE HAPPY TOO, WHEREVER YOU ARE.
HOW CAN YOU HELP OTHERS WHILE YOUR OWN HEART IS NOT AT PEACE NOR HAPPY?
Translated by Selfy parkit, edited by Maurice P. Smith