After ten days of vipassana

  1. I am the source of my own misery.
  2. Nothing is permanent.

These are two things I’ve realized during my first 10-day course of vipassana.

«Wow, what a discovery!» you may say. «Everyone knows that…» And so did I. Nevertheless, there was a trick—I realized it, and it made nothing but radical difference.

Imagine Bob. He is a smoker. He knows that smoking kills. Still do you see him trembling in fear? Now imagine Rob. He wakes up in the middle of a desert with a huge hairy tarantula on his face. Can you imagine him instantly coming up with the brilliant idea to make the removal of that spider a part of his New Year’s resolution? Or, let’s say, boldly claiming that he can throw it off whenever he wants, or even stating that tarantula calms him down?

This course helped me bridge the gap between knowing and realizing. Gradually. Step by step. Through practicing sheela, samma samadhi and panya.

Sheela is morality, which is achieved during the course through abstaining from:

  • killing any being (that is why all food is vegetarian)
  • stealing (all possessions are locked away)
  • sexual misconduct (men and women are separated)
  • telling lies (through practicing noble silence)
  • using intoxicants (such as alcohol, drugs, cigarettes).

The idea behind this is simple: you cannot meditate effectively if your morality isn’t strong.

When sheela is established, the next step is samma samadhi, which is a state of clear mind. This is gained through practicing anapana meditation. For 3 days the only thing you do is observing your breath—coming in and going out. Over and over again. Continuously.

This is the time when you face your own mind in its full megalomaniac insanity without a loophole of whatsoever character to escape this observation. I suddenly discovered that my mind is an agitated monkey with thousand arms stretching in all possible directions. Sometimes—simultaneously. It circled back and forth between the past and future occasionally taking me to some imaginary places. It tried to please me, upset me, make me feel good about myself, diminish me to complete nonentity, sexually arouse me and frighten me to death. It managed to do everything but one thing—remain in here and now. At some point I even wondered if all that chaotic and unquiet conglomeration of thoughts was actually me. Sooner or later though you realize that your mind wandered away and then you bring it back to observation of your breath. Coming in—going out. Over and over again. Continuously. And you keep it up until the next megalomaniac seizure takes your mind away to whatever direction.

Anapana is difficult. At least it appeared to me. But the more diligently you practice it, the clearer your mind becomes. By the end of day 3 you notice that your mind is less hectic and it takes less to realize it wandering away.

Once the mind is clear (more or less), you move to establishing in panya. Panya is wisdom. It is achieved through observation of slight sensations. Although these sensations are constantly present in the body, they are rarely registered. The reason is that our mind is not clear enough. This observation is called vipassana.

At first, you start small. You observe an area around your nose and upper lip. Thus whenever you stop feeling any sensations you can swiftly return to anapana without losing too much of concentration. On day 4, as vipassana commences, you are asked to move away from your nose and start observing sensations on the tip of the head and then slowly shift downwards to your occiput, temples, face, neck, upper limbs, trunk and lower limbs. Once you reach the toes, you move upwards in reverse order. This is basically all you do for the rest of the course. Every single day and on you equanimously, piece by piece, observe your body trying to overcome the threshold of gross sensations.

What are those sensations? They can be anything: itching, tingling, stabbing, warmth, cold, vibration, pain, etc. Half of them do not even have their own names. Sensitivity to sensations varies from person to person and from one body part to another.

At this point you may ask how exactly observation of sensations made me realize the following truths:

  1. I am the source of my own misery.
  2. Nothing is permanent.

The answer is simple though not as easy as it might seem.

The mind divides sensations into «pleasant» and «unpleasant» ones. I clearly saw how unpleasant sensations annoyed my mind while pleasant ones made it crave for them. But as soon as the pleasant sensation was gone, the mind got annoyed in a similar way! So I was utterly stuck in this loop circulating from bliss to frustration and back. Over and over again. And this is that very misery which felt like an endless experience. And the more I practiced, the clearer I was able to trace that miserable pattern. That’s how your panya becomes stronger and as a result you lessen your misery.

«Can’t I just find one pleasant sensation and stick to it eternally?» you may ask. Surely, you could—and here comes the second big question—if sensations were permanent. But you soon realize that they are not. No matter how pleasant this or that sensation is, it will pass. It is also true with the unpleasant ones. Scale these sensations up and you get emotions, compound feelings and behaviors. But the pattern remains the same.

So, the dilemma distills to this: «Is there really any point to suffer or crave over something that is impermanent?»

More info here.

via Daily Post

Books for giveaway

Today I gave away 31 books each containing the following message inside:

I confess—I have been greedy. Very greedy.

The book you are holding was a prisoner of mine for a long time. I kept it concealed on dim shelves and locked away in dusty boxes. Why? I thought I might need it one day. But the day had never come.

I am free of my greed now. So take it, read it, and pass it on when done.

Imagine this book as a flower thrown into a river—how many places is it going to pass during its lifespan? Many? None?

I left this book in Arkady Wrocławskie on 29/02/2018. Thus ends my story. What is yours?

If I ever get any answer, I will post it here.

via Daily Post

Popreclowe pytania

Piątek. Dzień precli. Kupiłem trzy: Szpinak na Wypasie, Grecki i z czekoladą. Pięć minut—i po preclach. Napełniwszy żołądek sokiem, opieram się na krześle i rozglądam się po biurze. Wszyscy bezsensownie wpatrują się w ekrany. Ciekawy jestem, co zmusza ich do chodzenia do pracy? Codzienne przebywanie osiem godzin przed komputerem, rozstrajanie nerwów, upośledzanie wzroku i postawy? Co jest takiego pociągającego w tym, żeby być wykolejonym dodatkiem maszyny?

Pieniądze? Ale czy pieniądze są wystarczającym powodem, żeby tak roztrwaniać swoje najlepsze lata? Jeśli każdy z nich wygra jutro miliard, czy staną się tymi, kimi chcą się stać? Czy pieniądze są tylko wygodną wymówką? Przecież pieniędzy zawsze brakuje! A jak być tym kim chcesz bez pieniędzy? Czy otrzymane 10–314932 milisekundy kosmicznego czasu (znane także jako średnie statystyczne ludzkie życie) jest warte tego, żeby spędzać je na wymówce?

Zgadzam się, że wymówka jest wygodna. Ona jest jak matczyne łono, w którym jest ciepło i bezpiecznie. Ale kiedyś trzeba się urodzić! Ona jest jak marchew przed nosem osła, która daje iluzoryczny cel. Jednak nie można wiecznie być osłem! Ona jest również pokrywą włazu kanałowego, szczelnie przykrywającego system rur, ścieków i rezerwuarów, których jedyną funkcją jest odprowadzenie strachu. W małych, ledwie wyczuwalnych ilościach.

Ale co jest takiego strasznego w byciu kim chcesz? Czyż nie jest to najlepsze na świecie uczucie—uczucie samorealizacji? 

Co mnie samego tutaj trzyma? Oczywiście—pieniądze. Pieniądze to wszystko! Przecież bez nich nie kupisz ani jednego precla, a życie bez precli to nie życie!