This is temple on the site of the Buddha's passing away at Kushinagar, India. There are a few more pictures from Kuhsinagar posted at The Traveller's Mixtape.
Sunday, March 31, 2013
Director of the International Meditation Centre at Wat Chomtong, Thanat Chindaporn. Taken outside of the Vietnamese Temple near the site of the Buddha's enlightenment -- Bodhgaya, India. More pictures from Bodhgaya are posted at The Traveller's Mixtape.
Friday, August 3, 2012
My friend, Philippe Leduc, wrote this short article in May, 2007 to describe his experience at one of the retreats we hosted in Pembroke, Ontario:
I recently did a 13-day Vipassana retreat in the Ajahn Tong tradition. I wanted something to help me get out of my head and be more in the present moment. And this is exactly what I got, though my mind refused categorically to stop worrying about past or future!
Vipassana is about practising present-moment awareness, ie mindfulness. The mind is like a monkey, perpetually leaping from branch to branch, reaching mindlessly for the closest banana. Try focussing only on the present moment for even ten seconds, for example by looking at any object around you and see what your mind does... I dare you to try it right now! In Vipassana, the goal is to tame the monkey, gently.
Our minds are usually busy with the past or the future, ie remembering, regretting, planning, dreading, looking forward, and this brings about pleasant and unpleasant emotions. However, all these thoughts and emotions are not based on reality, as neither the past nor the future exist right now! Only the present is real, and Vipassana teaches us to live there.
In Vipassana, the mind is constantly brought back to the present moment. In walking meditation, we move in full awareness of the movement. When the mind wanders off, we acknowledge the wandering, and come back to the exercise. It is quite simple and yet very difficult. I found myself thinking and feeling more than walking! With none of my customary distractions available to me – whether it's work, the phone, eating, going for a run, or even sleeping –, I quickly found myself flooded with mind-stuff. The mind loves to keep busy.
But Vipassana is not an exercise in repression. We are not telling the mind to shut up. On the contrary, for once we pay very close attention to its movements and acknowedge each and every one of them. Everything that comes up is let go of through acknowlegement. No dwelling, no analysis, no thinking about causes, just acknowledgement and letting go. Sitting meditation is similar to walking, only the mind does the walking now. We guide it gently through a sort of mental gymnastics, and patiently bring it back to the exercise when it wanders.
In both walking and sitting meditation, much stuff "comes up". It is not so much that it comes up, but rather we have no way of avoiding noticing it. Our daily lives are so full of distractions we rarely notice the anger, the boredom, or the happiness. For myself, I tend to dwell on negativity and to analyse causes to "try to get to the bottom of things". Some people are unaware of their negative emotions, some express them right away, others deny them. Vipassana proposes another way: that of the witness, which acknowledges and lets go.
The result of Vipassana practice is increased attention in the present, ie less daydreaming, worrying, fantasizing, and more alertness and ability to attend to whatever is going on right now. The mind is a very useful tool for daily living, and Vipassana sharpens the tool so it becomes more effective. Finally, Vipassana is a great way of managing emotions, because it trains us to recognize instantly what is going on inside us and to acknowledge that it is just monkey business.