It is winter in Rajasthan. Temperatures fall well below 8 degrees celcius at night. And they only raise to moderate levels at noon when the sun is strong. Some Indians stare at me the pale, blonde guy thats shivering in the early morning train on the baggage rack. The outside air blowing in through open windows and doors makes it even colder. We should have been three people. But it is only me.
When Lucie asked me if I want to join for 10 days vipassana course I don’t make the connection. My roommate had recommended it to me. Plus it is frequently featured in popular media. Although in such cases it is generally referred to as the “10 days of not talking” which is like saying that football is a “game of 90 minutes of throw-in’s”. Off course it happens constantly but it the throw-in’s are a result of the rules and framework to keep the game focussed on the actual purpose. So is the noble silence which you vow to keep for 10 days when you join the course. But as I said I don’t make the connection. After reading the rules and program I sighn uponly half knowing what I am getting into.
When I arrive at the vipassana center just outside Jaipur the sun is strong and warm and lunch is waiting.
11 days later I am standing at the same gate. I could have gotten a charter bus ride directly from here to the train station but I feel like walking. It is roughly a one hour walk to the outskirts from where I can catch a city bus. It is dawn, the sun has yet to rise above the mountain ridge. For my choice of walking I get in return cold feet, fresh morning air, an incredible view of a temple bathed in the first sun rays, a taste of what it would be like to be a wayfaring stranger with just the most essential stuff in a bundle on his back and the chance to sing as loud and of tune as I want. I make plenty of use of the last one. When I encounter an old shivering man walking in the same direction I tune it down … a bit. At that moment a motorcyclist stops next to me and offers me a ride. Tempting but I decline. So instead of me the old man gets the ride. Ha, see how that worked out. A little while later I get invited to tag along on horse car and this time I can’t resist. Galopping we enter Jaipur. He asks me for 100 rupees. I give 12 or 14 of whatever change I have left. Buy some beedies old man.
Later in the train I start reflecting on the course.
The meditation technique is called Vipassana and it is the key element of the original, pure teachings of Buddha called Dhamma. Now there are many things out there that call themselves “pure” or “original”. Where Dhamma differs from other teachings and religions with that claim is the definition of the “pureness”. The teaching is pure when it is universal and secular. Meanining: No rites, no rituals, no symbols, no saints. You don’t become a buddhist by practising dhamma, you do not need to convert, you don’t worship buddha nor anybody claiming to speak in his name. All you do is meditating to see things as they are and not as you would like them to be and this will lead you to a sharper mind, a composed self and be a free, happier person – or at least that is what I experienced. Dhamma consists of three parts: Sheila, Samadi and Panya. Sheila is morality. Do not kill, steal, lie, do sexual missconduct or take intoxicants. Samadi is mastery of mind and panya wisdom, the inner thruth. The later two are to achieved by vipassana.
Off course for the ten days following that course you have to submit the rules but after that you are free to decide to do or not to do whatever you want with the things you have learned. Don’t accept it because someone wrote it or said it. Accept it because you experienced it. Or not. For ten days you follow the strict discipline resulting in 10 hours of meditation per day. It is hard. But the reward is worth it. After three days my mind calmed down, then first powerfull experiences of body awareness excited me and subsequently set me back as you can only achieve them by not wanting them. Day 6 and 7 are hard work rewarded occasionally. Day 9 first anticipation of returning to “normal” society makes meditation really difficult. Day 10: In order to make transition to daylie life easier talking is permitted again. For the first time you get to know your co-meditators. And then before you know it it is over leaving you wondering if you will be able to implement what you learned day to day. I am certainly going to try.
But there is something else. In therms of my research. I kinda knew (and wrote it) that the technology is there but not the mindset. I wanted to get to the root of the problem and dug into the policies and organisational background. But policies are made by humans more or less based on the needs/requests of humans. Dhamma teaches that we crave objects not for the objects but for the sensation they give us. And we get addicted to those sensations. Which for example explains why people keep buying cloth although their wardropes are full (and thriftshopes nower days receive clothing donations where the price tags are still on). Not because they need clothing but for the sensation of buying something new or making a good deal. When the sensation is gone the process is repeated. A bottomless pig.
Dhamma teaches that this addiction to sensations comes from the craving for something that is not there or the aversion something that is, the not accepting of the situation as it is on a subconscious level. And this creates misery, which in turn amplifies the addiction to sensation. The goal of vipassana is not to submit to craving or aversion for or against sensations and break that negative cycle of wanting, needing more and more, faster and faster. This gave me a breakthrough on a problem I have been chewing on for quite some time now. I have been residing in an rural indian community for a couple of month now. Food security is one of the major problems that have to be addressed. Influence in the community is based on the size of your family, more precise on the number of sons you have. By works of Barefoot in improving health, work and food conditions Tilonia has been constantly expanding as the population grew. The growth was possible because of the foodsecurity. The growth was driven by the strive for more influence and enriching the family name. Ergo: If we supply food secrurity to a society without changing their attitude of more, more, more, of how status is defined, soon the growth will render the solutions useless. It will go on like that till the system (available resources of a community, land, the world) will reach its limits and break.
Russel Brand said: “More than a political revolution we need a spiritual revolution.”
I would like to add: “More than a technological revolution we need a spiritual revolution.” A shift in consciousness.
In my search for the root of unsustainability I have finally reached it: Human Nature – in its current state.