Turning 30 in the land of the namesake

When you find your calling….

It redefines you. It redefines your purpose, your attitude, your perception. Exactly what I experienced last winter.

When you find your calling??

It took me four years to arrive at this one destination. I do not regret that it did not happen four years ago for me. I believe I was not wiser than today to make the most of it. And surely one is expected to be more wise at 30.

December 2016 I finally took the plunge. I am usually not very upbeat about birthdays and even if it is the 30th. However, everyone around me was quite excited about my 30th. I decided to do it my way. I booked myself for Vipassana at Bodhgaya in the same week in which I turned 30.

‘Be Careful What you Wish For’

New Delhi to Bodhgaya are connected by railways as well as airways. You can take a train to Gaya which takes approximately 15  hours. I have always loved train journeys and have always wanted for more of them. My excitement of going for Vipassana almost went a notch higher when I realised that I was getting ready for another train journey. The journey that was supposed to end in 15 hours lasted for 29 hours.  Someone has righlty said ‘Be Careful What you Wish For’. I spent some time clicking a few pictures around the station and how could I have not tried a few eateries around the train station.

 

Vipassana at Bodhgaya

Vipassana is a Buddhist form of meditation which has its roots in Myanmar (erstwhile Burma). It was revived in India by S.N. Goenka who is fondly referred to as ‘Goenka Ji’. This technique was practised by Gautama Buddha about 2500 years ago.

It is ten day meditation course wherein the participants are required to practise complete silence and refrain from any activities such as reading, listening to music, consuming intoxicants etc. The millennials need to take note that mobile phones are not allowed during the ten days.

The campus in Bodhgaya is located at a 45 minutes drive from the railway station and is very near to the Magadha University. Going from Delhi it was a transition from an urban concrete jungle to an ocean of greenery. I was able to spot butterflies and that too in different colours throughout my stay at the campus. Break during the lunch were spent strolling amongst the woods like I have done never before. Breakfast time was one of the most serene and beautiful morning times I have seen in a long time. Foggy, moist mornings with Goenka Ji’s recitals echoing all around the campus were pure bliss.

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A day at the Centre

Our day used to start at 4:30am. We were woken up using the prayer bells. Breakfast was served at 6:30am after the first session of early morning meditation. The second session led us to lunch which was served at 11:30am. The last meal of the day which somehow turned out to be my favourite was served at 5:30pm. This was one level of discipline I have never observed in my life. The day had 12 hours of meditation which ended with a televised discourse by Goenka Ji.

I am sure if this routine is incorporated as a part of our daily lives, it would transform us in ways more than one.

My Learnings

The centre at Bodhgaya is within touching distance of the Bodhi Tree where Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment.  There was some energy at the centre that made me feel that I was so close to the iconic location which has no parallel in this world. Fellow participants who had attended the course at different locations earlier agreed to my observation .

The course had 100 participants from all over the globe. I mean it when I say that. Africa was the only continent which was missing. Would have loved to have had a complete grid though. It was such a privilege for me to have participants who had done the course at various locations almost a dozen number of times but were back again. Such is the power. Their belief and faith was not only extremely positive but also very re-assuring.

We did not speak a word to each other but it was the faith that was the common thread. It helped us strike friendships and connect with people after the course ended. I am lucky to have met wonderful and inspiring people with so much to learn from.

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Jim, Petr, Azar and Me

I will not be able to do justice to the course by trying to write what I learnt and gained from it. Firstly, it is just not possible to explain the feeling and I also believe that every person would gain differently from the other one. Everyone has to have his own judgement independent of any perceptions.

However, there are two things which I would love to conclude with and highlight from my experience. While I was preparing to leave from Delhi, I felt it would be a kind of retreat from the world and its worldly concerns. No doubt that was true but this was the closest I could have come to myself and understanding myself.

Last and most important, one thing that Goenka Ji always reminds us and which has been eternally etched in my mind is ‘Annica’. This is one word to describe how I have started living my life – everything is temporary and it shall pass.

Annica.

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4 thoughts on “Turning 30 in the land of the namesake

  1. Mansi

    Anything that really affects me, makes me cry! Not tears of happiness or sadness, just tears. With a feeling in my heart that some part of me just got rewired!
    This did exactly the same to me.:)
    Thankyou for writing this; especiallly at a time when i was so confused about life.
    Food for soul #dudeandthefood
    Beautifully written, like a short story!
    The words and pictures run togethe like a movie in my head.

    Like

    Reply

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