SAT CHIT ANAND
- APRIL 2008 NEWSLETTER -
VIPASSANA MEDITATION RETREAT AT PACHA MAMA, COSTA RICA
Imagine a place on the other side of the planet, surrounded by miles and miles of forest. Pacha Mama (meaning “Mother Earth”) is the spiritual commune established by my first teacher, TYOHAR, regarded as an enlightened OSHO disciple. “The spiritual path can become a lifestyle. That was the vision that created Pacha Mama: A Buddha field that experiences life in its fullness, in the depth of meditation and to the peak of celebration. A place that reminds those who step in, of their own beauty, their inner joy and their Buddha nature.” [TYOHAR]
Pacha Mama is located in Costa Rica, ecological paradise of this planet. The commune is established on 250 hectares of pristine nature with ocean views. I lived in a wooden casita surrounded by trees and brimming with animal and insect life: hawks circling silently in the sky, monkeys jumping from tree to tree, butterflies flitting around, parrots and colorful birds chirping nonstop, anteaters scratching in the foliage, the deafening evening chorus of crickets and cicadas, and so many creatures of the night that it took me a while before I was able to sleep through all their noises and movements.
Living so close to nature is very healing and refreshing. Showering outside with a screen of dense vegetation as your bathroom wall. Watching the sun sinking into the ocean every evening as a big orange ball. Eating deliciously healthy breakfasts of fruit platters, and seeing the pineapples and bananas growing around the open-air dining area. In the tropics fruit grows abundantly, and it very nurturing to be in touch with the earth’s abundance. Seeing your food growing as you are eating it makes you feel close to the source of this abundance. It cannot compare to buying your fresh fruit and veggies from Woolworths (even if they are grown organically).
Connecting with many friends from the India days, when we shared an intense journey of transformation. For many of us, our worlds were turned upside down, as new dimensions of being were revealed to us. It was an unforgettable time, and our lives were forever changed. It was not possible to come back and be the same people. The challenge began to manifest a new way of being and living in the world. Some moved to Costa Rica to help build the new commune, and others returned to our home countries.
Re-visiting Costa Rica (my last visit was 8 years ago) and seeing the growth and creativity that has happened there, was amazing. The outer flowering of the development of the commune, and the inner flowering of the people living there, was a mirror that made me see how much we have all grown, and this growth is so beautiful. Pacha Mama has flowered into a place where people can come and experience a different way of living, where mindfulness and connecting with the inner silence of one’s being are the most important elements in daily life.
Being a spiritual commune, it offers transformation cycles with weekly retreats or workshops. I was invited to conduct a Tibetan Buddhist Vipassana Meditation Retreat, and this is why I went there. It was my first international retreat and I thought it was a bit crazy to undertake a journey of over 30 hours (but then I do such nice crazy things and this has taken me down many roads less traveled and oh so interesting). It was a rewarding experience: a circle completed and the opening of a new circle. Bringing together in harmony Buddhist wisdom and the creativity and openness of the Osho approach.
So I came back inspired to expand our activities to include the existing Buddhist Centre, as well as a new Mindfulness Centre, and Healing Centre. This will take some time and some planning. We will continue with weekly Buddhist teachings and meditations every Thursday evening, but there will be less Buddhist retreats this year in order to make space for the new activities. There will be a new mindfulness training course. There will be self-retreats to support individual transformation and healing. There will be selected evening functions to educate and enlighten and enrich your lives. It is our intention to benefit more people from more walks of life.
VIPASSANA MEDITATION RETREAT
“Vipassana” means insight. It means cultivating wisdom that has the power to liberate us. Liberate us from what? From self-grasping ignorance, negative thoughts and emotions, that cause suffering and keep us trapped in the cycle of samsara. How to get out of samsara? There are 3 doors of liberation: insight into (1) suffering, (2) impermanence and (3) emptiness.
INSIGHT INTO SUFFERING
Most people don’t realize the suffering nature of unenlightened existence. They are too busy being busy in a constant effort to distract themselves from the underlying suffering, which expresses itself as anxiety, dissatisfaction, restlessness. There is the belief that, if you keep on running, and avoid encountering yourself in a deep way, it will never catch up with you. Stop! Do a Vipassana Meditation Retreat and insight into suffering is guaranteed!
Buddhism emphasizes the need to understand the mechanics of suffering. Why? Because all beings are looking for happiness, yet we constantly create the causes for suffering. This is because we don’t understand the true causes of happiness. We think that happiness comes from outside ourselves. We don’t know that happiness and suffering depend on our own mind. An unenlightened mind that is governed by ignorance creates suffering. An enlightened mind that is governed by wisdom creates happiness.
Insight into suffering and how it is created is empowering. When we learn how we create suffering, then we know that if we create it ourselves, then we have the possibility to stop doing this and to start creating the causes for true happiness. This puts us on a spiritual path of growth and evolution, and the most remarkable and meaningful journey of life begins – the journey to liberation.
INSIGHT INTO IMPERMANENCE
Our perception is not accurate. The Buddha said that where there is perception, there is deception. The way we see things is not the way they really are. We have to stop being deceived by our perceptions, and develop wisdom so that we can start seeing with our inner eye. Meditating on impermanence helps us to break down our false perceptions of things as being solid and static.
We see things as being solid, fixed, permanent. This is how the ego is created and maintained – it seems like there is something solid, fixed and permanent inside that is “me”. But in reality this is a fiction – there is no-permanent-self. When you investigate deeply (and this is confirmed by modern science) you discover the impermanent nature of everything, including ourselves. This kind of investigation breaks down our deeply entrenched idea of a solid fixed entity that we call ego or self. Understanding impermanence helps us to understand selflessness or emptiness.
Insight into impermanence reveals the constantly changing nature of everything, including ourselves. We are a dynamic process with no static core. Our mind stream is a continuum, one moment giving rise to the next moment of consciousness. Impermanence is a door to liberation because when we believe “I am like this” we get stuck, trapped by our own ideas. This makes change and transformation difficult. When we know that there is no fixed core that constitutes “me”, then anything becomes possible.
INSIGHT INTO EMPTINESS
According to Buddhism, the main cause of suffering is grasping at a truly existing, separate self. This ignorant belief causes us to divide the world into self and other, and sets up deeply entrenched patterns of conditioning to protect “me” from what is not me. We view the world from a self-centered perspective, and our belief in the existence of a separate self causes us to feel threatened, weak and vulnerable.
Understanding emptiness of self liberates us from the prison of self-grasping. We come to see that there is no “me” behind the scenes. There is simply a process of conditioned responses. The more we come to know this, the more we can change these responses from being ego based to being altruism based. The more we can let go and rest in our true nature, which is emptiness, clarity and awareness. Don’t worry you aren’t going to disappear! Emptiness does not mean nothingness - it means empty of separate self-essence, because all things are connected.
When you have insight into the emptiness of self and of all phenomena, when you start to understand that everything is empty of inherent existence - then you start to appreciate the interconnectedness of all things. This profoundly changes the way you perceive and relate to the world. Dualism collapses. You know that you cannot look after your no-separate-self without looking after all others – humans, animals, plants, the environment, the earth. This is moving towards a more enlightened way of living and everyone and everything benefits by it.
Images used in this newsletter are from Pacha Mama's website and brochures.
SAT CHIT ANAND namaste to you Buddha-to-be!
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