Since my graduation – there has always been some sort of an interest in “figuring out life”. The vast abyss that life is – sometimes scares me, sometimes inspires me and sometimes makes me just plain lazy. I seek education in the hope that I might be able to make leaps in my journey of “figuring out life”.
- Year 2003 – I took the “Art of Living” course. Sudarshan Kriya was just phenomenal. However, I left the course with a bad taste. I felt like there were elements of “cultish behaviour” in the Art Of Living Centre, Bangalore.
- Year 2009 – I took the Landmark Forum. What started off as a tremendously insightful program that moved several aspects of my life – landed up as a disappointingly obnoxious experience 5 years later. I had dreamed of being a Seminar Leader at Landmark. But the kind of experience I had in the first few months of 2014 – made me drastically rethink whether I really wanted to submit my life to these people. The education was really great. But some of the people were questionable.
- Year 2010 – 2012: KFI Study Centre Retreats. Krishnamurthi is a breath of fresh air. He is so simple that he is not easy. Study Centre Retreat, in my opinion, is the absolute best way to inquire into fundamental questions about life and discover deep insights within oneself. Some of the learnings I gathered from these retreats shaped a lot of my thinking about life, work, profession and living.
- Year 2011 – 2015: Lots of independent study of Existentialism (Sartre, Martin Heidegger, Gary Cox) and Present Moment Awareness (Dan Millman, Eckhart Tolle). Existentialism is a treat for the philosophically inclined. The framework of thought in Existentialism (comprising of Negation (nothingness), Being, Freedom, Responsibility, Facticity & Transcendence) offers a brilliant set of tools to take a look at one’s life.
In spite of a lot of hits and a few misses, I felt that there is something I don’t yet KNOW. When I say Know, I mean know from within. There is enough knowing because of all the books I have read and because of all the people I have listened to. But there isnt enough knowing stemming from personal inquiry.
Just when I was pondering over what I could do next, a good friend & mentor of mine – Dr. Sudarshan Rao suggested that I take up a 10 day course on Vipassana Meditation. From what he told me – I gathered that it was a 10 day silent meditation retreat, where participants are made to sit for meditation 11 hours every day and abstain from all sorts of communication (verbal, textual & non-verbal) during that time.
Short of having one’s hand stuck under a rock in Blue John Canyon, the experience is pretty much like what Aaron Ralston goes through in 127 hours. After watching that movie I came back with a feeling that if anyone is subjected to 100+ hours of being with themselves, they are bound to come back with deep insights that would transform their whole life.
I felt drawn to the idea of Vipassana because of the nature of the course. 10 days – silence – just sit and meditate. Not much else is taught apart from the act of meditation itself. I spoke with my wife about it and she encouraged me to take it up. So I applied for a course starting Jan 13 (yes two days from now) sometime in September/October last year. Last Friday I received confirmation that my application has been accepted. And at that point, it became very real for me that I will be undergoing this course.
Right now, it scares the sh** out of me that I will have to live with myself for 100+ hours without any chance of escape. Even at a very shallow level I know that my mind is full of sh**. The thought of being with it for 100+ hours sends a chill down my spine. I know that my body will ache, my mind will scream AND I have to be with it all, without having the luxury of speaking to anyone. I cannot even speak to myself out loud. It is almost like I am going to be put into a solitary confinement in a prison, with no chance of parole.
But some part of me really wants to do this. I just hope that I wont run away mid-way. It would be a shame if I did.
I will come back and write about what I got.