Despite just a 2 hours sleep, as per my newest habit, I woke up at 4 am and got ready to go. My system had geared up for this routine now. The options were to go for the 4:30 group meditation session or to lie in bed worrying anxious irrational MotherMind (term coined by Mrs. Piroj, a dear friend and regular-reader-of-my-blogs) thoughts. I chose to go and meditate in the shunyagaar. Of course I dozed off in between, woken up in spurts by the Ravens (https://poornimapoonam.wordpress.com/2017/06/03/the-ravens-of-igatpuri-and-squirrels/) who had probably begun to worry on my behalf, having felt my anxiety through their surveillance efforts. I felt good by 6:30 and even better after breakfast. My doubts and anxiety had lessened to bare minimal and I was sure that everything was fine. The Shunyagaar experience continued.
At 11:30, before lunch, I located the Sevika, who informed me that the phone call had been made and my husband had given the message for me that everything was fine and I need not worry at all! Bless him!! My MotherMind, was now relaxed and at rest.
After the lunch as I returned to my room, I realised I had a new neighbour. On asking the Sevikas who were helping the lady with her luggage, they said that the previous one had gone home the day before. The new neighbour had been in a double occupancy room with a snoring member as a roommate. She had requested for a change. Looks like everything happens for a reason! Or at random.
By now I was also full of admiration for the way the course had been brilliantly designed, giving us a little bit more everyday, making it a stepwise learning of such a complex skill. The highlight of each day would be the recorded talk or discourse by late Shri Goenkaji in the evening session, wherein he would put all the day’s happenings in a contemporary contextual perspective. His oratory skills are / were admirable. He catered to an audience with a wide spectrum of ages, cultural differences and other variables. He made us laugh and we were glad to hear that sound resounding in the Dhamma hall. Aware that adults were being taught, he focused on some rationalisation, some intellectualisation, stories, humour, suggestions, advise. And everything was amazingly non-judgemental and non-preachy. That, of course was my perspective.
He spoke to us about change and impermanence – अनित्य !
He spoke about the five friends:
(1) Faith ( not blind, but discriminatory & intelligent),
(2) Effort – in the right direction
(3) Samadhi – mastery of mind & concentration,
(4) Bhavanamay Pradnya – experiential wisdom and (5) Awareness – being alert and aware.
He warned us against the five enemies –
(1) Doubt ,
(2) Drowsiness / dullness
(4) Aversion and
Wisdom / Pradnya, he said was of three levels: Experiential knowledge and wisdom.
1) Shrutamay Pradnya – wisdom we gain from what we hear / read about (or nowadays, google!)
2) Chintanmay Pradnya – wisdom we gain through discussion, intellectualisation, analysis and conclusion
3) Bhavanamay Pradnya – wisdom we gain as we go through life’s experiences.
Bhavanamay Pradnya was the most superior! Vipassana was a process which gave us Bhavanamay Pradnya as it made us actually experience sensations which revealed the truth, along with settling the mind into equanimity and awareness.
These were the thoughts of Gotama, The Buddha, he said. And these particular ones were / are relevant even today. And the path to attain them was meditation, which was a skill, a tool, essential in the toolkit of managing the human existence that we have been given.
With all the small bits of free time piling up, no phone and no writing allowed, listening to late Shri Goenkaji talking about the Person who attained compassionate enlightenment 2500 years ago, since the second day of our course, images had started forming in my mind, struggling to get out. Guided by my forever running Squirrels and the Ravens, I went scavenging the area for some material to sketch/draw on. I found a bark of a tree – I am not sure if it was banana or a part of a fallen coconut tree leaf – with one side dark and another cream. It was hardened. I washed it and peeled a layer from the inner side. I had a drawing pencil with me, which I hadn’t submitted at the office. And since nothing had been said about rules against drawing, I spent minutes of the remaining 2-3 days in sketching the image which kept knocking from inside. Not having drawn since years, it took some time. But I had lots of time now since life here was simple and uncluttered. And I discovered that just by washing I could erase and sketch again after drying the parched bark, thus further highlighting the concept of impermanence.
The Image formed itself and a Face expressed itself smiling silently back at me with eyes open in slits of compassion. I kept it in a corner of the room and instantly felt companionship with the Person. It did not talk back or want to listen. I did not share or listen either. The Person was there in my temporary residence, and so was I – when I was not in the meditation hall or the shunyagaar or the dining room or the Shantipath or the walking area.
Of course I grew attached to MY creation. Watching the meditative eyes and the content smile thereafter.