“The only Constant is Change”
I first heard this quote during my high school days and loved it! For a couple of months I was repeating it wisely to friends and family whenever they get upset when situations take a wrong turn.
When Intellect is not Sufficient
However, very often we only understand such words of wisdom on a superficial intellectual level, while that is beneficial it is never sufficient. When misfortune happen to others, we can maintain mental equilibrium and even contribute wise words of consolation. When the same misfortune happen to ourselves, we quickly lose our balance and get so agitated!
But as things turn out, when I lost my wallet I was quick to blame and not able to heed my own wise words.
Be Wise, Practically
On the 2nd day of Vipassana, we were taught how to apply this wisdom of impermanence practically.
We have to continue working with the breath, to observe the passing of the breath. This time, only on the triangular area spanning the upper lip to the tip of the nose. By focusing on a such small area, we are sharpening our minds.
Soon, I started to feel sensations on this tiny triangular area, I was amazed by how sensitive I could be, and how many sensations I had never realised I had before! Sometimes it was a throbbing sensation, sometimes it was a deep intense pressure at the base of the nose. Many people also started wheezing or coughing with this new sensitivity
Act, not React
Whenever we feel a sensation, we react either with craving or aversion. In fact, most of us are so used to reacting that at times we are not even aware of it! For instance if you feel an itch, you will naturally reach to scratch it. If you start to observe yourself, and count the times you react to an itch, a pain or any sensation you will realise how strong your reacting subconscious is.
The purpose of sharpening our minds, is to relearn how to break this strong habit of reaction with every sensation we feel on this small triangular area.
Wheel of Samsara
Many believe in repeated reincarnations, in karma and future lives. However for most, this is an empty belief because there is no understanding.
The nature of all sensations are that they rise and pass away. If we react, we are feeding the sensation strength, generating future Samskaras. Samskara is a Sanskrit word which means mental impressions or psychological imprints. Yoga, Vedanta and Nyaya philosophy explain Samskara to be the motivational field that drives a person to future actions. Samskaras is also believed to be the driving force for future lives.
Thus if we can learn to act to remain equanimous, we can stop creating Samskaras for the future. This allows for past Samskaras (mental impressions) to rise to the surface. By again not reacting, we can slowly clear our old stock of the past Samskaras.
(This concept might be new to some, feel free to ask any questions you may have 😉 )
Death is not the End
Fortunately or unfortunately, Death is not the end. This can be explained by simple reasoning. Our physical body is constructed by physical constructs – the sperm and the female ovum. What about the mind? It has to be made by non physical constructs.
Some call it the Soul, others call it the mind from the previous lives.
Whatever name you call it by, the mind or the Soul is the sum total of one’s actions. Our experiences now are results from our past. This gives importance to your present actions, for it is the present that shapes your future. It also empowers you to create your own future.
Monsters from the Past
As I struggled through the 2nd day of Vipassana, I realised that the really strong Samskaras of cravings and aversions only raise their heads during moments of pure equanimity. Its akin to a wound up toy, when one stop winding up the toy with new reactions to cravings and aversions, past Samskaras are bound to rise.
These past Samskaras peaked with such intensity that it took every once of my will not to react. When I managed to keep my equanimity, they eventually lost their power.
It took so much of me because these past Samskaras do not arise only as sensations. For me, waves after waves of recollections of the past, incidents I thought long forgotten emerged. They all attempted to incite some form of reaction, but as I fought to remain even-minded, they gradually extinguished.
While it is not possible to clear all the past stock of Samskaras in a day, or even ten days. I did feel definitely lighter, I had not realised these were weighing me down..