The Vipassana center of Montebello
Located between Montreal and Ottawa, a nice and isolated center welcomes the students. 70 men and 70 women can do more or less long meditation courses. The welcoming is really warm and cheerful. Volunteers are very generous and helpful and make a perfect atmosphere for a deep introspection.
Vipassana is the name of a meditation technique that was discovered, practiced and taught by Bouddha for the last 2500 ans. It keept its authenticity throughout the years in Birmanie. SN Goenka, a birman, having discovered its astonishing potential, decided to develop and expand it throughout the world by creating centers in every country so that everybody could access it. All of it is founded by donations, ours.
It has nothing to see with Buddhism besides the pure technical aspect of it. It doesn’t involve religious cults or doctrines. It is literally a scientific tool to purified the spirit.
Oriental religions are somehow the science of the human spirit. Looking to free mankind from its misery, they understood that everything has to do with the spirit more than with physical body. They discovered that it is the attachment to physical object that ultimately created suffering as, by nature, everything is impermanent. Anything appears and then, sooner or later disappears. They tried break free from the attachment by working on the perceptions means, without ever being totally free from it. The problem remained.
The discovery of Buddha, the one that lead him to illumination was that: THE SENSATIONS
Object > perception > SENSATION > reaction (=desir/aversion) > attachment > suffering
He realized that we are not attached to physical objects but rather to the sensations that they imprint on our body, unconsciously perceived. So he began to observe his sensations with EQUANIMITY. By observing them without reactions, he was working on 2 levels:
1 – He was educating his spirit NOT to react (= equanimity) to the sensations perceived. Its like making the unconscious conscious. By doing so, the next time that a sensation would rise up, instead of unconscious reactions (anger, frustration, passion, deception, craving…), the fact that being conscious of it existence he could just observe and so get liberated of it.
2 – He was getting liberated of its past habits and suffering. In fact, every sensation perceived when you are meditating (in a state when you are not reacting to outside objects) are like subconscious imprints that crop out to the surface. By observing them WITH EQUANIMITY, the disappear.
What resists you persists, what you observe disappears
By doing so, he could get totally liberated and achieved the illumination, the nirvana.
10 days at Vipassana, how is that?
The first step consist to learn how to control you spirits, your thoughts. And what a challenge!
The first 3 days, we are to observe ou breathing and every time the spirit wanders away, to bring it back to the respiration. Its is then clear how much we lack of ‘mind’ education. NOBODY can hope real freedom and happyness with a troubled mind that keeps mastering our thoughts by constantly projecting desires or aversions in the past or the futur. Being happy is living in the present.
Master of you mind, master of your life
The 6 other days were given to observe the sensations. Square centimeter after square centimeter, every single part of the body has to be scanned. Everywhere, a sensation is present. We have to observe it with equanimity and then moving on.
10 days, it’s long…but necessary. Its what we need to bring home some changements, a new perception, a new person. Around the 5th day, I started to get frustrated. I arrived with some expectations and I was finding myself not good at it, I couldn’t see any effects and started slowly to get tired of the intense and strict schedule.
The next 3 days, my concentration was going down, my thought were persecutating me: ” Its too much, I cant do anything even when on rest, not even reading. I should leave, I know enough. I m getting bored. I could do this or that… desires/avesion/desirtes/aversion etc”. The 7th day, I went to see the teacher and told him that i was thinking of leaving. I explained him my frustration and my boredom. He goes: “Here, we call that a storm. You let you thought taking over. By giving them attention, you give them importance and they start to grow bigger.Then you end up convinced of their reality and proceed so”. I answer: “Does that mean that a wise person, illuminated, doesnt ever get bored?” “YES”. For me, that was a revelation. Indeed, EVERYTHING goes through thoughts. If one stops to give them attention, they naturally vanish. Right after, I did my best meditation.
At the end, I learned TONS, about myself, our behaviours, our reaction, the art of living of Vipassana, the impermanency of all things, the equanimity etc. I just learned how to walk but I havent taken a first step yet. I think that meditation is a perfect practice to lead a balanced life. It doesnt comdamn any other approach/religion/spirituality and bring an equilibrium point to all of it. Im already thinking of doing another 10 days at Vipassana at some point.
Beforehand, I had read some book about it but I really have the impression I discovered it all during my stay.Theory is nothing without experience.
To know more:
The art of living – William Hart