arrived at the ashram around noon and checked in. I was given
a room and told to do as I pleased. This place had been founded
by a Jewish fellow who was a real Vipassana nut. I was finally
here. I had somehow made it. It was my final journey of the
year. It was the last inner pilgrimage before the a-bomb exploded
in San Diego and I knew this. I really did.
was back to vipassana-land. " Don't feed your thoughts!
Observe them. They go on forever.." So said the new teacher.
I sat in the shrine-room. It was large. I just kept watching
my mind. There was nothing else to do. I tried not to duplicate
my experiences. I tried not to expect anything. I tried not
to get attached to my emotional fluctuations. This was the real
challenge here. I was ready for it. For I was now a veteran.
I wanted to win the battle with my mind. I really did.
sitting continued. I hated getting up so early, so I drifted
into the grave-yard shift. I sometimes would sit next to the
Buddha statue in the shrine-room and see my thoughts just kind
of regress into certain patterns. The observer was watching
his thoughts and then another observer would watch
the observer and so on. I wondered if this was how one could
eventually bump into astral realms.
were periods of intense weeping and this would kind of clear
the heart-space for a while. I was learning to be attentive
and aware. I mean, to what was actually there this moment, and
no other moment. It was harder than it sounded. Your skill determined
just how subtle your awareness was. I mean, like what was your
touch-point of sensitivity? It was an important question. Thoughts
seemed to always chunk into constellations. Thoughts were really
tricky. I mean you could observe them, but it was also very
easy to get lost in them. They were a tough concentration vehicle.
That's why the breath was less hairy. I mean, you could always
go back to the breath. Once you were at the movies, it was easy
to get lost in the show.
I watched the snow silently drift from my window, I realized
it was really important to learn how to concentrate on an object.
Different objects interested the mind with different kinds of
intensity. The mind loved going to the movies. It was hungry
for tons of objects. The mind needed thoughts like
the stomach needed food. CHUM, CHUMP. It was endless gluttony.
Greater awareness was the key to survival here. Vipassana was
the science of micro-awareness. The mind would be fed with less
and less thoughts. It was put on a diet.
EXPERIENCE. This was the thing. It turned all experiences into
a less polluted form of reality. Direct experience even made
the object vanish after awhile if you got deep enough into it.
All shells needed to be stripped away. No husks could remain.
That's what you had to do to get aboard the enlightenment express.
It was leaving off track 109.. So you had to really hurry.
mean it was silly to get attached to ghosts. It was kind of
important to let the awareness come out. To just let things
reveal themselves. It was important to observe. If the mind
got confused, you just went back to the breath. That's how you
kept awareness focused and aimed. There was nothing to really
judge. You just did it. I mean, all perception and feeling were
just temporary. So why judge? This non-judgment brought a new
lightness to your mind. It was great.
one really experienced directly an object, it just disappeared.
I mean, it wasn't really real to begin with. But to get to this
level of experience was hard. Our minds have a nasty habit to
make things as real as possible. I mean all normal experience
was indirect. All illusions thrived on this indirect experience.
The breath cycle was your anchor. If you wanted to focus on
these emotional and mental cycles you could. The focus if it
was intense enough made them dissolve. That's what you wanted.
After they dissolved you were free to go back to the breath
and anchor your mind there. Or if you couldn't dissolve these
mental and emotional cycles-that's why you then went back to
the breath. The direct experience of the cycles betrayed their
illusory nature. It was spooky. The breath was like a training
tool for the ultimate goal of casting away mental ghosts. This
is what ultimately generated a calm and forgiving mind.
walked into town when silence was finally broken. As I walked
through the snow, the wind slapped my face. I thought about
forgiveness. It was dumb not to forgive. It was fucking useless.
It hurt. It felt heavy. You had to give it all up! It was important
not to be defensive. To just breathe a little easier. The little
town, near the ashram was filled with many war memorials. I
was so amazed how such a small place could have lost so many
men and it really made me sad. All these men had died because
somebody, somewhere had held a grudge. You had to practice forgiving.
It made life a lot less miserable. You had more space to feel
a little better inside. You were less isolated. This was true
wisdom. And it didn't come out of a sermon. It came out of my
own experience with my mind and body.