When we think about various aspects of our life which have not turned out as desired, we often think what more could I have done to mend them. There was nothing in my hand and the circumstances were totally out of control.
I am describing few situations which you can easily relate to in life. For instance, I don’t know why those days, I started feeling tired and sick and when I saw the doctor at the hospital it turned out to be a non-curable, painful disease! I have to live with this disease for my whole life and I will never know why I got this disease? My family culture, my value system, my language is the biggest problem of my life. I can never tell my friends from which community I belong. I have always tried to become like them, imitate them in every respect and I still feel like an outsider from inside. I live-in fear every moment thinking what will happen if they ever know about me. My mother has always neglected me. She never loved or cared for me. If ever, I had a good mother I would have been a totally different person today. I don’t have a child and can never have one! That’s what the doctor told me. That day my whole world turned upside down! My child is sick and I can’t help it. My children won’t listen to me and treat me well. Everybody in this town is my enemy. They are jealous of me, my wealth and my achievements. Where on this earth is my best mate? I am waiting for him/her for so long! When he/she will come? When will I get married? Why should I be living alone on this earth all along? Oh mother!, my spouse left me midway on this life path. Why I am being denied of my legitimate inheritance? Why my father is the biggest troublemaker for me in this life? Why can’t I get a single job in this world to pay my bills? Why my business fails every time, oh God!? It is the dilemma of my life that my success has become the biggest hurdle of my life!
What was my fault? I was only trying to make my life a better place to live but the circumstances did not favour me. These are just few situations and is not an exhaustive list. We can easily relate to some of these or find someone around us who have gone through them. I totally agree with you that we could not have done much about these situations. But, I will share with you something which I experienced while doing Vipassana. There is someone who will obey your command and work as per your wishes. In Vipassana, we are taught to gain control over our mind and with practice we can engage it as per our wishes. Slowly, it feels that we are in control of when we should sleep and wake up when the alarm goes off! We start getting the feeling that although the worldly results are not in our control but by gaining control of our mental reactions, we can be the protector and owner of our mental peace. With time and practice of Vipassana, we can have a much better control over our speech, our food habits, our exercise pattern and our whole body! In other way, we feel in any situation whether it is favourable or non-favourable, we can live our life in a wholesome manner and the way we desire!
Shri Bhagvad Gita is the conversation between Shri Krishna and Arjuna before the beginning of the Mahabharata battle. In chapter 2, verse 54, Arjuna asks Shri Krishna how he will define a person with a focused mind and true knowledge:
Shri Krishan replies:
From these excerpts of conversations, one can very well see that Sri Krishna is telling Arjuna about Sheel, Samadhi, Pragya and Samta which are the very tools of Vipassana meditation as the way to witness and establish oneself in the true knowledge.
This is a technique by which the mind unlearns its behaviour of reacting toward pleasurable and painful sensations and develops equanimity toward them.
How Vipassana works?
Vipassana works by using four main tools:
Sheel (Do’s and Don’ts)
Samadhi (Focused and concentrated mind)
Bhawanamayi Pragya (Ability to feel bodily sensations)
Samta (Equanimous mindset)
Explain the importance of each of these tools:
Sheel means following precepts like avoid stealing in any form, avoid telling lying, avoid any kind of narcotics, avoiding sexual misconduct, avoid hurting any being in body and mind.
By following Sheel, the mind is saved from all the trouble that is bound to arise as a consequence of all these misconducts. So a smooth peaceful path is laid out for the being.
Samadhi means a concentrated and focused mind.
To achieve a focused mind, it has to be engaged in some kind of repetitive task. This repetitive task can be anything for eg. repeating a word continuously in mind or using a bead necklace or focusing on an image of someone on whom the person has high belief.
In Vipassana, the mind is given the task of knowing the incoming and outgoing breath at the entrance of nostrils. This task is termed Ana-pana. Ana-pana makes the mind focused, sensitive and expands the boundaries of conscious mind in the unexplored territories of subconscious mind.
With regular practice, the mind becomes sensitive to fine sensations occurring throughout the body which will help in achieving the goals of Vipassana.
With continuous expansion of conscious mind in the subconscious territory, a stage comes when the whole mind becomes conscious and the subject feels awake during sleep! The subject can hear his snoring, feel the chest movements with each breath, feels the heartbeat, remembers his dreams and the sleep duration is decreased as well.
Bhawanamayi Pragya is the ability of mind to feel bodily sensations. When the mind becomes sharp and sensitive it starts feeling sensations throughout the body. This helps in knowing the whole body and mind at the levels of sensations.
Samta (Equanimous mindset)
Samta i.e. equanimous mindset is one of the main ingredients of Vipassana. It helps in developing equanimous behaviour of mind toward pleasurable and painful sensations. With continuous practice of Samta, the mind eventually frees itself from the pattern of reacting toward pleasurable and painful sensations which is know as Sankaras.
Sensitive and Equanimous mind are the final tools of Vipassana which will purify and liberate the mind of the accumulated Sanskaras and help in witnessing the ultimate truth which all human being desire to achieve!