Enduku Peddala

Yesterday, a friend visited us and she was talking to us about the 10-day Vipaasana programme she had attended. My wife asked her about the benefits or what she discovered from the programme. I am not going into what my friend told her. The question set me thinking about the possible benefits from the programme which involves no talking, no reading, no writing and no eye contact with anyone for ten days.

Your only company is your thoughts. I can see the benefits of the programme. It can lead to an intimate awareness of oneself. All thoughts hidden deep within the crevices of one’s mind and memory will come gushing out – the good, the bad, the ugly, the profane, the gross, the sublime, the perverse, the straight, the generous, the mean, the narrow, the vicious and the magnanimous. One is bound to be surprised, startled, alarmed and repulsed and even scared by some of those thoughts.

But, the idea is precisely that. To become more intimately familiar with one’s thoughts and learn over those ten days to accept them, to see them for what they are – mere thoughts – and not to take them too seriously.

So, the programme has to be eventually about becoming more familiar with ourselves and not taking ourselves too seriously. In the course of the ten days, we realise that we do not miss the outside world and perhaps, more importantly, the outside world does not miss us either! Thus, it is also about coming to terms with one’s own insignificance and dispensability in the overall scheme of things.

Sure, this can happen without attending the programme or one can attend the programme and not achieve any of this too.

That should remind us of what Saint Thiagaraja meant in his kriti, ‘Enduku Peddala’:

vEda shAstra purANa tattvArthamu dElisi bhEda rahita vEdAntamunu dElisi nAda vidya marmambulanu dElisi nAtha tyAgarAjanuta nijamuga

Meaning:

In spite of me being aware of the profound meanings of the Vedas and Sastras and expounding the Bheda Rahita philosophy and the subtle secrets of Nada Vidya (knowledge of sound), yet real wisdom which transcends mere intellectual awareness you have not blessed me with! Why? [Source]

One thought on “Enduku Peddala

  1. **Copy/Paste from email sent to Ananth**.

    Please allow me to add a few things to your observations as I have done Vipassana 5 times (includes one unsuccessful attempt) in the last 30 years. I did the last one just 5 months ago. I have known another 3 friends who have done it 5 times. The rest of the mail is based on my observations alone.

    Each time the experience was different. You will surely observe some changes at the physical level each time and experience truly with great authenticity the mind-matter connection at varying degrees of intensity every time. In fact even during the 10 days (especially from the 4th day when the Vipassana practice is taught to you) you will observe that. But the key thing is not to get into the craving – aversion swings (Craving: I like the connection now, Aversion: I don’t like that) and watch what is happening to you with equanimity. Some intellectuals are prone to analyse and find reasons. It is advisable to to avoid that and just observe the experience. That is liberating.

    I am sure you would realise by now that no 2 people have the same experience. In some cases the experience can be befuddling and challenging to articulate. One can even be frustrated, but slowly one will be able to make sense of it. So, my view is that one should not ask another their experience and comparing experience and hankering after a particular experience is best avoided.

    One should also not attempt to recreate one’s own experience (some experiences are pleasant) and avoid some kind of experience (some may be really unpleasant). Let them be. They will eventually peter off and die away. Just be with the experience with EQUANIMITY.

    Some people may have unresolved trauma that is buried deeply. It is very likely to surface in some way or the other — in some cases quite gently, in other cases quite violently. Just allow it to happen in the manner it chooses to without feeling embarrassed or guilty or any other associated feeling. Same mantra: Just be with the experience with EQUANIMITY.

    Some people may find a solution or acceptance to some long pending problems/issues. It happens in a flash and one will be able to connect the dots which has been hitherto elusive. But one should not go to the meditation with that objective. It is an unintended benefit and should be seen as such. In fact one should go to the meditation with NO OBJECTIVE. The more objectives you have, there will be heightened anxiety.

    Some people have sleepless nights, but taking pills or adopting mechanisms to sleep is best avoided. Best is to go for a walk. The next day one is bound to feel tired, but that is part of the experience.

    I would also like to add that you are not allowed notes, music, phone, watching TV (except the dhamma discourse given by Goenkaji for a hour in the evening) or even exercise /yoga or any other meditative practice. You are allowed slow/normal walk for about a hour in the evening and occasional light stretches. It is better to avoid eye contact and have no judgements about the other person. Men and women are housed separately, eat separately, meditate separately.

    I have always found that meditating in the hall is better than meditating in the room allotted to you even though they allow that sometimes. I always recommend that.

    People who come back after the course take about 2-3 days to get themselves oriented to the world. Family/friends who constantly interact with them may observe changes — including feeling withdrawn. It is quite usual. They should ease themselves into their normal routine in about 2-3 days.

    Finally this is the only meditation practice that is 100% free. You don’t pay a cent for food, accommodation, teaching, practice etc. All centres run on donations. The thing is they don’t even ask for donations. All the more reason to donate. They don’t use you as channels to market or evangelise the practice or form WA groups, email groups etc and send you messages like others do. So, best not to oversell it to others.

    The whole experience seems scary or weird to many people. I can assure that it is not. My suggestion is that never publicise to anyone that you are going to Vipassana before you go. Just go quietly. Don’t even discuss benefits and experience till you have internalised it to some level.

    Hope this helps.

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