“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”
Inner Peace and Liberation
Vipassana meditation is a technique in the Buddhist tradition of seeing things as they are. You start by scanning different areas of the body and reflecting on the sensations that arise. What often comes about through these techniques is an unveiling of stories that keep us bound to our suffering (and if you don’t like the word suffering there are many alternatives — discomfort, lack of ease, frustration, stress, ambiguity, regret, etc). As we unravel the stories and strip away they exterior shell that conceals us, what remains is understanding. And from understanding comes the end of suffering. Understanding, or clear perception, can only come through such insight. But you do not need to sit for 10 days to have this same experience. Liberation is possible between the meditations.
As I was walking down the road today I was struck by a spark of understanding, much like in meditation, into what that moment of liberation from suffering feels like. In a foreign country it is easy to have your senses pull you in many directions and being immersed so deeply in India, this culture, especially, makes you very sense-itive. I don’t mean sensitive in the way of emotional fragility or a fluttering heart, but sensitive as in our capacity to experience. Awareness becomes heightened. The light is more light and the dark is more dark. Everything is revealed. Sounds, tastes and smells are all so illumines and piercing that the sense of self actually begins to dissolve.
With the dissolution of the self comes dissolution of our ego. Our identity and the stories that hold us in a state of comfort, whether good or bad, no longer feed us. What we consider ‘normal’ is no longer painting our perception and a whole new set of colors are added to the palate. Experientially it feels as if you were looking through binoculars and what you believed to be the whole world was in actuality just a spec of dust. In that moment of realization your whole sense of who you are drops away. As I was walking I no longer saw poverty. I no longer saw trash and filth. Struggle and strife. What I saw was just the essence of life; breath and body. But there was something more which was set much deeper. I can’t really put a word to what that subtleness was and I don’t want to use the word like spirit because it is not tangible. It seemed as if there was a thin thread of silk that held everyone together. It didn’t discriminate on age, gender, social status, etc. It was all pervading and let me feel truly free.