On that night my sleep was rather uneasy, and in the morning I only woke up from Pepi’s soft voice at the door. Knowing I had overslept, I quickly hopped into my clothes and rushed to the Zendo. During meditation I could not help feeling embarrassed about this. Apart from these feelings I also heard many voices, even music, inside my mind. Would this constant chatter ever fade?
Compost. In the morning Pepi and I made some flower arrangements and fire in the hearth. At noon the first of about 16 other seminar participants, Katrin form Germany, arrived – followed by Klaus from Styria. At Pepi’s request we acquired the task of taking care of the compost. Thus we separated the decomposed contents of one big compost box from non-decomposed components and stones, using spades and some sort of large sieve. Klaus and I were conversing about Theravada, and I was fascinated to realise that his motives for choosing Theravada were quite similar to mine (seeking a fundamental teaching which can be directly experienced without any need for “mental additives” like interpretations, visualisations or belief structures).
Vipassana & Yoga. In the afternoon more participants arrived, including Hannes, our Vipassana meditation teacher. Before dinner, a specific duty for the upcoming days (cleaning the floor, watering the plants, maintaining the candles, …) was assigned to each person. In the evening the first group meditations started. Hannes always gave us an introduction, followed by very calm and gentle instructions about sitting, breathing and watching the mind. Occasionally he would weave some theoretical aspects into his speech, especially during his Dhamma talks (once a day), never neglecting the practical side. And twice a day he would perform some Yoga exercises with us.
Spices & Wind. During these evening meditations, I was wearing a pullover with the strong scent of Indian spices. I had nothing better to think of than ‘this must be very distracting and annoying for the others’, while it most probably distracted myself only! And then wind started going through my belly. Of course the last thing you wish to do in a filled Zendo is farting, and so I clenched my muscles together. Soon I felt cramps in my belly, followed by a strong tension in my legs, so I slightly adjusted my position. And eventually the back pain started setting in. My muscles were getting too tense. But then I told myself that this was just part of the practice, and continued sitting.
Reflections. The stunning starlit sky above us appeared much more intense than in the city. What a wondrous sight! The light radiated by incredibly hot stars, travelling for many millions of years, reaches our solar system, pervades the earth’s atmosphere, hits the retina of human beings, which stand and gaze upon it in awe. Countless things (evolution, laws of nature, even physical constants) had to be just right for this to happen. For a limited lifespan we can perceive, cognize and understand such amazing things.
What are we going do do with such reflections? Buy new designer clothes while counting cents in the supermarket? Live in the past and future? Accumulate more wealth and power at the expense of those who cannot defend themselves? Lie, steal, fight, kill? – I believe that with our last breath we would finally know our potential. And I am sure it’s not about the bankroll, nor titles, nor any of the temporary sense pleasures we seek to indulge in.