14. Vipassana. What Are You Doing Here?

by HelluvaGirl

Disclaimer: This is a personal experience of a novice in Vipassana, presented as a series of insights, not an attempt to render advice or explain the technique in full extent, and should not be taken as guidance or a comprehensive course report. 


I’ve noticed her on the first day and realised it was really her when we weren’t supposed to speak any more. She would sit right behind me in the Meditation Hall. The last person I could expect to meet here.

She excuses herself from a conversation and comes up to me. We laugh – without a reason, or just instead of saying hey, I’ve been trying to not look at you this whole time, how ridiculous that we meet here of all the places…

So tell me, what’s wrong with YOUR life that you are here?

She laughs at the question. The last woman to be called attractive but I would go to war with her, and I would survive.

So she wanted to run away from everything for a bit. To leave the kids, the chores, the business, the routine. She’s had the second boy I’ve never met, and apparently she hasn’t divorced. She’s extremely sober about Vipassana and tells me she’s been disputing with the Teacher about some of the evening discourses, telling him they sound like a typical cult brainwash blabber.

He told me to just take away what I find personally useful.

I guess that’s the way to do it.

As we catch up on what’s been going on for the past several years that we haven’t run into each other, I notice Beardman lying on the grass in the company of several other people. We have met and exchanged several phrases at the announcement board where I left my number in the list of people who could give a lift to Vilnius.

Tried to look chill to hide my curiosity. Did he come to that board after me on purpose?

So she keeps telling me:

You know how I would have fun to kill the time? I would watch people. One day, someone was watching a frog for like an hour. Another day there was a queue to smell the scent of the lilac growing in front of the kitchen. There were the depressed ones, tormented by all the sorrows of the world. Then there were others, five minutes from enlightenment. And some days I would see Kristina walking past my bench, with that little ironic smile, and I’d think to myself: that one’s not getting enlightened any time soon!

I crack up because she’s right.

We have lunch and recall common friends (Witch of Eastwick is expecting her third child? I think and I think about her, and I never call…), and she asks about my life after divorce, and my job, and I tell her I want to do something more creative, and she tells me she’d speak to her husband who works in one of the top ad agencies (he’s created a series of very successful TV commercials for one of the leading mobile service companies), and I say cool. I tell her I’ve also missed doing something meaningful for a change, and that I’d fancy coming to another Vipassana camp to serve.

She is quite enthusiastic about the idea:

Actually, I would totally be on board. See, I would sometimes listen at the window to them chatting in the kitchen – because the ones serving are allowed to speak – and lemmie tell you, they have fun! Of course, eventually they noticed me stalking and closed that window, but I think it would be cool to come here and serve, at least for three days.

Then we go to meditate. It’s different today. People find it hard to stop talking to each other, even in the Meditation Hall, even me.

That night everyone is outside in groups, talking away. It’s sunset. I notice Beardman standing alone at the lake shore. A minute of hesitation and I leave my company to cross the meadow towards him.