Sunday, October 30, 2011

If you could change places with anyone…

Personal experience of how, over time, I’ve answered the question ‘if you could trade places with anyone, who would it be?’

Initially, the answer was a celebrity of some sort, sports, music, actor, etc.  Then, it was someone rich/powerful, like a businessman (Gates) or politician (President).  More recently it was a highly ‘cultivated’ person, like a spiritual or religious leader (my favorite was Rev. Heng Sure).  Now, I wouldn’t want to trade places with anyone at all – but most interesting to me about that answer is the ‘why’.

My initial answer was due to the sense that attention or popularity was a source of happiness, so those that had tons of it were certainly worthy of switching places with. 

Then, my feeling was that happiness and leading a worthy life actually comes from changing the world for the better – and of course the more leveraged one was (having money or power), the more one could do this. 

Next came the belief that a worthy life is actually one that is free from mental imbalance (which by consequence would change the world for the better anyways), and so certainly it would be desirable to switch places with a very balanced person. 

Now, my feeling is that its not that mental balance is desirable, but that the process of moving towards awareness and equanimity is beautiful.  Reason being that my process is uniquely my own, tailor made to help me understand my own blockages.  To be free from that process doesn’t free the blockages – I actually need every experience that comes my way.  Every moment the process continues is a beautiful moment :)

On semi-related point, I read a wonderful quote by Jack Kornfield recently – “There are many writings on spiritual paths, and not one of them speaks the truth, for the truth cannot be spoken anyways.  Such writings are spiritual garbage in many ways.  However, eggshells and grapefruit rinds do indicate that somewhere near by there has been nourishment” :)

Happy day!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Latest Vipassana Meditation Experience

I recently returned from another intensive 10 day meditation experience.  Although I’ve written about this experience a few times before, the impact it has on me continues to deepen. 

SN Goenka is the teacher of this course, in fact he was the root of many of today’s western spiritual folks including Sharon Salzberg.  As a bit of background, he is basically attempting to teach exactly what the Buddha taught, and he is quite qualified.  Reason for this is that he learned for ~15 years in Burma, which is apparently the only country to actually preserve Buddha’s teachings entirely.  About 100,000 folks take this type of course per year, but as mentioned before, this is more ‘meditation bootcamp’ than ‘spa and yoga’. 

To be clear, this is what the Buddha taught, this is not Buddhism (and I am not Buddhist).  Buddha taught a way to transform oneself through personal experience of the nature of reality at the root level – something performable by anyone in any system of belief.  To literally ‘see things as they are’ – no imagery or mantras, just experience of the moment as it is.

There’s just so many ups and downs over the course of 10+ days that it’s really tough to encapsulate that experience for me at this point.  For me, the unique aspect of this is that there is personally experienced wisdom everytime – not something I read from another, not even something I reason out in my mind, but truth experienced.  Something about that leading to stronger sticking ability in day to day life, although of course it’s a long path. 

Little by little, I’m seeing the importance of the subtle - ones intentions, small actions, and small reactions.  They certainly add up, and by the time small becomes big, its really hard to stem the tide.  So grateful for the chance to develop in this path and to work seriously on it, at least for a short time.