I still can’t believe I’m doing this.
Today, I arrived in Sri Lanka, first stop on my journey. I was dreaming of spending a couple of weeks at the beach wave surfing, hiking around Kandy and going into the wild to see the Sri Lankan elephants.. But no. Just not yet.
When Vipassana came across for the third time this month, I knew it was time.
Vipassana, being at the top of my “avoid list”, is an ancient meditation technique rediscovered by Gotama Buddha more than 2500 years ago in India. It is said to clear mental impurities and ultimately leading to a liberated mind and all the happiness that come along with it. Practicing Vipassana, one transforms through self-observations. As nice as it sounds, simply put into words, it means silence. You don’t talk for 10 days. You don’t interact. There is no eye contact. No writing. No reading. No exercise, not even physical yoga practice. There is little food. No cigarettes for sure. One needs to stay away from anything that keeps the mind busy. You just focus on your breath and watch the thoughts as they come and go. 💭
The Dhamma schools describe this practice saying;
“The scientific laws that operate one’s thoughts, feelings, judgements and sensations become clear. Through direct experience, the nature of how one grows or regresses, how one produces suffering or frees oneself from suffering is understood. Life becomes characterized by increased awareness, non-delusion, self-control and peace.
The threatening Vipassana experience came across for the third time as I was telling this friend who lives in Sri Lanka about my journey.
“Have you considered doing Vipassana?” he asked.
Have I considered? I was consciously running away from it. As he sent me links of Vipassana centers in Sri Lanka, I started gazing through. They were all closed for admission, seemed like I could only go in 6 months if I wanted to. I wasn’t surprised. People usually apply to Dhamma centers a year before they intend to go. These centers are spread out throughout the world, mostly in India and Myanmar, where Goenka was born and raised. They work on a donation basis it was almost impossible to find a spot three weeks before the course starts.
Then I came across this mediocre looking place up in the mountains in Kosgama. Dates were matching and it said ‘apply’ in green. Without thinking, I wrote them. I wrote them one paragraph, something I cannot disclose, but somehow it worked. A week later I received an email with their invitation for the 22nd of October. This was some sort of a miracle. I was really going to do this.
Last night, with my heavy backpack on my shoulders I arrive at the airport. There was one thing I had to do before I left Istanbul. I had to find a book.
It is called “Masallarla Yola Cik” (On the road with fairy tales), written in Turkish by a french lady. It came out three days ago and all the illustrations are done by my dear friend Gamze Yalçın. I walked through the bookstore at the airport and the book was there, looking right at me. I grabbed it in a hurry, I was so happy! I was going to read my first fairytale on the plane. Gamze called me some weeks ago before the book was even published. She told me how she saw me in this dream she had and there I was travelling with this book in my hand like a protagonist. It was almost becoming true. ✨
I usually read these books in a playful way. Turn around the pages, and read whatever story touches my fingers first. This time I chose to read the first story.
There was a poem;
Masallar nereden geldi? Onlari ilk kim anlatti? Where did fairy tales come from? Who told them first?
Masallari ilk bir kadin anlatti. A woman first told the fairy tales.
Peki o kadina kim anlatti? Who told them to the woman?
Bir cocuk anlatti. A child did.
Henuz bu dünyaya ilk adımını atmamış bir çocuk. An unborn child.
Ya o cocuga kim anlatti? Who told them to that child?
Sessizlik anlatti, sessizlik. Silence did. Silence.
Vipassana. It was there. It was a cosmic confirmation that I was starting this fairy tale just the right way.