VIPASSANA : Guiding Those With No Objective
This article, "Guiding those with no objective," brings in Dr. Ropp Jyoti, a mentor in the institutes, as well as Nisha Adhikari and Reena Serchan's experience in the course and their outlook on Vipassana.
What is Vipassana?
The Gautama Buddha gave birth to Vipassana after attaining enlightenment during his lifetime and witnessing people's misery and sadness. The art was then lost to time and was later rediscovered by the late S. N. Goenka in India, who followed the Hindu religion. The core essence of Buddha's teaching is a practice to understand the cycle of misery, finding a way out of the cycle of sadness, and ultimately attaining Nirvana.
The classic Buddhist practice of vipassana, also known as insight meditation, includes concentrating on one's breath and physical sensations in order to increase awareness and comprehension of the mind and emotions. While it may appear straightforward, using this strategy effectively calls for commitment and self-control. Vipassana mentors provide a safe and encouraging environment for participants to improve their understanding and experience with the method, as well as advice and support.
The vipassana course is a complex course that an individual person has to learn with the help of the teachings of the great Satya Narayana Goenka, from Myanmar (Burma) practitioner who brought the technique to India and then started to spread it in different parts of the world. His message stressed the non-sectarian, all-encompassing, and rational nature of the Buddha's way of freedom. He rose to prominence as a teacher and was crucial in the global establishment of non-profit Vipassana meditation facilities.
What does the course Vipassana?
The course begins with the "Anapana method," a meditation technique that is taught in the first three days of the course or to aspiring young practitioners in the children's course, which consists of two days at the shrine. Anapana meditation involves focusing on the natural flow of the breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils, and it is typically taught to beginners before they progress to the more advanced Vipassana technique of body scanning for sensations. This method stresses the level of concentration an individual has, ultimately resulting in the mastering of the mind.
The one aspect that stands out in the course is the way in which giving and taking are portrayed. At its core, the course is a free teaching session that can be attended by anyone, and at the end of the course, people have the option of donating money to the institute for non-profit aspects that will be used for the session or providing service in the next course, such as helping in the compound, which is also giving back to the institute and is optional to everyone.
One of the main teaching points of vipassana that emphasises is the understanding of karma. Each action we take in our day-to-day lives results in karma, whether good or bad, and each act of karma that we do in our lives defines our consequences in the future. If someone consistently does good, good deeds and actions will come back to him and benefit him; the opposite is true for bad karma. Everything we do in life, from birth to how people treat one another, is a result of the accumulation of karma from our past lives and actions. Whatever happens in our lives is an outcome of our own deeds.
One of the reasons we do meditation is to cleanse our body, mind, and soul of the past by recalling the events and making amends. "While meditating, negative karma may manifest in various ways, including physical discomfort or mental distress, both of which can serve as obstacles to their progress along the path to enlightenment." The vipassana course has 10 fundamental rules that each individual has to follow strictly, which are the basic aspects that one has to commit to learning during the entirety of the course.
Vipassana teaches us a way of life; the first teaching of the course is the mastery of the mind, getting rid of negative thoughts such as jealousy, greed, anger, envy, etc. The second lesson is a more practical approach to life: to live a moral life, or to follow the five precepts: not to kill or harm, no stealing, indulging in no sexual misconduct, no lying, and no ingestion of intoxicating substances. The art of not feeling upset is the end goal of each session when following the teachings of Buddha.
Nisha Adhikari is a Nepali actress and model who has represented Nepal on various international occasions as well as starred in various movies that have resulted in huge successes. Her journey to find vipassana was unexpected and inspiring to many people who are searching for something missing in their lives. Her experience and result of the renowned vipassana are something that should be known by people as an inspiration for starting the course.
Nisha has acted in various Nepali movies, including "First Love," "Mission Paisa," and "Mero Euta Saathi Chha." She has won several awards for her acting, including the National Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the movie "Paap" while also representing the country during her career in multiple international stages. Nisha has also hosted a number of TV shows and beauty pageants, as well as served as a goodwill ambassador for a number of organizations, and she also hosts a podcast channel on YouTube that goes by her name.
Her story for vipassana was found indirectly through the goal of summiting Mount Everest. After achieving her dream of conquering Everest, her life did not have any goals she wanted to achieve. She describes the time after her ascent as one of the most confusing and difficult times of her life, struggling to find the next thing to strive for. She stumbled unexpectedly into vipassana after hearing about the famous teachings of it while she was abroad, and since then she had the urge to take the course but couldn't find the proper time. One day she made an impromptu overnight decision to attend the course and disappeared into the Dhamma Shrine without informing anyone, leaving people unaware of her whereabouts and sceptical of her decision. This was the decision that shaped the person that she is today
Before entering the gates of the shrine, she was completely unaware of the course content and her destination. However, by the end of the course, she realized that it had given her exactly what she had hoped for. Initially, she had no idea about the strict rules that were to be followed, such as the prohibition of phone use and student-to-student communication. These rules were particularly challenging at first since she was accustomed to using her phone daily, but she eventually realized that understanding these addictions and working to overcome them had many long-term benefits.
After the course, she describes how understanding oneself became clear. “A human being I can live with” is what she wanted to achieve after realizing her weaknesses and faults through meditation. Nisha ji discusses how the course changed her personality, how the art of doing good is what matters most, and how the podcast she produces was created with the intention of educating society for a better tomorrow. The best doctor for benefiting or treating oneself is the mind itself. She mentions that knowing a person takes a lifetime to understand and a careful process that consists of devoting time in understanding, this aspect of the course plays a major part on the teachings that are provided during the course.
The health benefits of the course are also to be kept in mind, as Nisha ji shared that while trekking in the mountains, she suffered from sunburn in her eyes, causing blurry vision that made it difficult to focus on objects and the dispersing of light that made it difficult to drive at night. During the Vipassana course, Nisha Adhikari mentioned that the rest given to one's eyes is unmatched, especially considering our daily lives that heavily rely on digital monitors, which can strain our eyes to dangerous degrees. The skin, breath, and food of an individual are also indirectly benefited by the environment due to the shrine's location outside the city and the diet being completely organic in a cycle of intermediate fasting.
Throughout the course, she describes her days at the monastery as enlightening, but the part about giving back to the foundation that stood out the most was a direct teaching of the great Gautama Buddha, or Dharma. The course is a non-chargeable one at its core, with the only requirements being the urge to learn and strictly follow the rules, which each individual can apply for as long as they meet the required age. The institute does not accept upfront payments, but does accept donations after the course as a way of expressing gratitude for the teachings that they provided, which are available to all participants. All the donations that they receive are used to support the upcoming courses. The participants can also do good in a way by providing their services to the courses, which are completely voluntary and beneficial to the institute.
While she recommends that everyone at least try the course once in a lifetime, one should be aware of what to expect from the course as well as conduct prior research on the course's pros and cons.