What is Vipassana? (中文版故事寫在照片之後)
I went to a 10-days Vipassana Silence Meditation Retreat at North Fork, California in the end of October. I would like to share my personal experiences and thoughts here. You can google it to see experiences from others.
It was interesting how I signed up and attended this retreat. I went to see an old friend in June who I haven’t see for three years or so. During our conversation, he mentioned that he has attended Vipassana 7 times in 4 years and he is going again in October which is a bilingual session (English and Mandarin that is offered once a year), and he recommend me to attend because it helps him a lot in many ways. Few weeks later when I flip through my photos on my phone, I realized that someone else has told me about it years ago because I took a photo of a marketing piece of the Vipassana that has their contact info on it.
I totally forgot about it until now. So I looked at it as a sign that I should really look into it this time. In the end, I did submit my application and got accepted. This retreat is totally free for everyone because someone else who donate money. It’s a donation based and you can only donate if you have attended at least one 10-days retreat. It has a long waitlist and people do drop out in the middle of the retreat so please take it seriously.
Personally, I don’t meditate in a regular daily basis so I really don’t know what I got myself into until I got there. Stay silent, no eye contact or interaction with others wasn’t hard for me. I kind of like the quiet time. By the third day I can sit very still for one hour and not eating dinner but I want to leave on the fourth and sixth days . . . .and you wonder why?
All the chanting, English+Chinese instructions and discourse are all done by recording which is about 5 min long. The chanting is in Sanskrit or Hindi, the English has a heavy Indian accent and the Chinese has Mainland Chinese accent plus the Chinese translation delivery has totally lost the original personalities, sense of humor and the temperature of the voice. Moreover, they play the recording in the beginning and in the end of every hour meditation.
Guess what?? It play 11 times a day!!! I was so turn off by the recording. I want to skip the recording but can’t. I especially hate to listen to the Chinese instructions and the discourse. I want to switch to the English, and ask the assistant manager but her response was no, it’s better to stay in Chinese since it was my first time. Since I offer someone a ride from the Bay area and I didn’t want to leave him there so I stay through.
By the 11th day early morning (the day we are leaving), after we finished our last Chinese discourse, assistant teacher let us go into the meditation hall to watch English discourse video. Wait a second, the English discourse is using videos?? This was my first time listen to the English version of the discourse, and got to see Mr. Goenka, and what a big difference did it make!!!! He was funny and loving. Even it was the last 5-10 min of the video but I was ended up in tears. What the hell that I listen to the Chinese for that 10 days and totally disconnected when I should have listen to the English and have a totally different experience.
So seriously, If your English is good enough, I would recommend you to take the English one. If your native language is something else, look up the website using your native language, google search some youtube videos, get familiar with some keywords that are in your native language, then I think you will be just fine with English. I wish I have done that before I went because I would have a totally impression and experiences for the 10 days.
One good reason to take the bilingual retreat is the food. They do offer some Chinese food such as porridge, rice, veggie, tofu, rice noodle, hot soup, etc for breakfast and lunch; otherwise, I think the standard meals would be oatmeal, cereals, toast, instant coffee and tea for breakfast, and salad for lunch.
If you are not a regular meditators, maybe you want to attend shorter one such as 3 days or 5 days with other organizations just so you get used to the idea of meditation. “Sitting Still” for an hour long is harder than you think, let alone that you need to do that 5 times a day or more.
By the day three, I am fine without eating “dinner” (fresh fruits and tea) because I don’t feel hungry. However, from the day four, I slept until 6:30 for breakfast because I was so tired. Go figure.
I am back from the retreat for two months now and I wasn’t able to continue to meditation in a daily basis. I guess it will be on my 2019 resolution wishes!!! LOL
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Now, let me share some logistics (besides what they say online or in email) with you so you can be more prepared for your retreat.
I went in the end of October in North Fork, California. The weather was nice, 46F to 80F, no rain.
> I would suggest to have boonie/bucket + down vest during the day, and beanie + down jacket at night and early morning because it’s cold from your dorm to the meditation hall or the dining room during the 5-10 min walk. And it will get colder as day goes on.
> Bring a indoor flip flop. The dorm is carpeted in the room and the hallway but tiled in the bathroom.
> Bring a Thermos if you want hot water. All the water in the dorm is drinkable; however, you only get hot water during meal time in the dining room. You can bring a kettle if you really need a lot of hot water per day.
> Make sure your flashlight is bright.
> They have hair dryers in the bathroom
> In the bathroom wall, there are different signup sheets for shower time/shower room, and cleaning day.
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A typical daily schedule:
4:00am Wake-up Bell call
4:30-6:30 Meditation in your room or in Meditation Hall or Pagoda Cell
9:00-9:00 Group sitting in the Meditation Hall*
9:00-10:00 Meditation in your room or in Meditation Hall or Pagoda Cell
1:00-2:30 Meditation in your room or in Meditation Hall or Pagoda Cell
2:30-3:30 Group sitting in the Meditation Hall*
3:30-5:00 Meditation in your room or in Meditation Hall or Pagoda Cell
5:00-5:30 Tea and Fruits (Dinner)
6:00-7:00 Group sitting in the Meditation Hall*
7:00-8:15 Teacher Discourse* (English and Mandarin in two different rooms)
8:20-9:00 Group sitting in the Meditation Hall*
9:00-9:30 Q&A or retire to your room
10:00 Lights Out
男女的住宿, 用餐, 活動範圍完全分開/ Men and Women has separate dorms, dining room, walking area.
每天要走的路/You walk on this path few times a day
女生宿舍之一/one of the dorm
有三間廁所, 三間浴室/ 3 toilets and 3 showers in the dorm
男女共修/分二邊坐的大禪堂/ Meditation Hall, men and women sit on different side
Pagoda 小觀房的外觀, 裡面有很多小隔間, 獨立空間打坐.
我十月底去North Fork, CA參加一場十天的內觀禁語禪修營, 這次會去是因為一位三年沒見的中醫朋友強烈推薦, 他四年內已經去了七次, 他說對他幫助很大, 所以鼓勵我考慮參加. 後來我才發現, 數年前已經有朋友告訴過我, 只是我當時沒放在心上. 這次大概是時間點對了, 因為我真的報名也被接受參加了.
我平常沒有固定打坐冥想, 都是想到才做, 所以完全沒有心理準備實際上每天要打坐五次以上, 每次一小時會是什麼樣的挑戰和感覺. 後來發現, 維持不動的一小時打坐是可以訓練而習慣的, 但我非常不習慣, 而且後來非常抗拒排斥的, 是每小時打坐時間的前後五分鐘所聽的錄音帶.
英文的指導是葛印卡先生所錄製, 中文版另有他人直接翻譯後錄製, 而我不習慣印度口音很重的英文, 也非常受不了冷硬死板的中文直譯的聲音和內容, 因為英文版的原音起碼很有溫度, 很有感情, 很有幽默感, 而中文的完全失去那個原味.
痛苦的是, 每天要聽十一次的五分鐘錄音帶, 內容大同小異, 但一樣痛苦, 我反感到很想離開, 後悔當初幹嘛不報英文版的就好. 不過報中英雙語營的好處是食物, 因為參加的華人多, 所以他們有特別準備一些稀飯, 米粉, 豆腐, 熱湯, 炒菜等, 不然的話, 早餐可能就是麥片或玉米片, 咖啡, 午餐就是沙拉.
晚上的開示, 中文和英文是分開在二個不同空間, 我到 “最後一天” 才知道, 原來英文的是看錄影帶, 所以他們看得到葛印卡先生實際說話的樣子, 我才真正感受到他的慈悲關愛, 當他說 “May all being be in peace, happy, liberate. 願一切眾生安詳, 快樂, 解脫”, 我的眼淚忍不住流下來, 而我們中文的還是聽錄音帶, 常常聽到我睡著. 你無法想像那二者的落差之大, 讓我後悔不已啊!!!
我強烈建議, 如果你的英文程度還行, 建議你是先在網上找Youtube, 看一些影片, 弄懂一些關鍵字, 你就直接參加英文營就好, 我覺得那個體驗會好很多. 如果你平常沒有打坐冥想的習慣, 建議先去參加其他三天或五天的暖身一下, 一下子參加十天的, 需要毅力和決心.
我回來二個月了, 完全沒有繼續打坐, 我看把它列入2019年的新年新希望吧!!! LOL
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古老的印度留給世界兩種實踐方法。一種是體能鍛鍊的瑜伽體位法(Asanas) 以及調息法 (Pranayama) 來保持身體健康；另一種則是内觀（Vipassana），心的訓練以保持心的健康。任何宗教信仰的人都可以學習並實踐這兩種方法。同時，人們仍可安詳與和諧地遵循自己的宗教信仰，完全不需要改變，改變信仰往往是產生緊張與衝突的主要因素。除非内心能獲得安詳，否則世界和平無法實現。焦躁不安與安詳和諧無法共存。要獲得内心安詳的一個方法就是內觀，這是非宗派、科學的，以成果導向來自我觀察與了解實相的方法。修持這個方法，能在經驗上體驗身心是如何相互影響。 每次當負面情緒自心中產生，比如焦慮, 生氣；身體上便會升起不愉悅的感受。而内心產生無私的愛、慈悲與善意時，整個身體就滿溢著愉悅的感受。修持内觀也體驗到，心的作用引導著身體和言語上的行為，從而决定了行爲的好壞。心是最重要的，這也就是爲什麽我們要找到實際可行的方法來使内心安詳與純淨。