The word Vipassana means seeing things as they really are. It is the process of self-purification by self-observation. One begins by observing the natural breath to concentrate the mind. With a sharpened awareness one proceeds to observe the changing nature of body and mind and experiences the universal truths of impermanence, suffering and egolessness. This truth-realization by direct experience is the process of purification. The entire path (Dhamma) is a universal remedy for universal problems and has nothing to do with any organized religion or sectarianism. For this reason, it can be freely practiced by everyone, at any time, in any place, without conflict due to race, community or religion, and will prove equally beneficial to one and all... Although Vipassana was developed as a technique by the Buddha, its practice is not limited to Buddhists. There is absolutely no question of conversion. The technique works on the simple basis that all human beings share the same problems and a technique which can eradicate these problems will have a universal application. People from many religious denominations have experienced the benefits of Vipassana meditation, and have found no conflict with their profession of faith... It is not a rite or ritual based on blind faith... It is neither an intellectual nor a philosophical entertainment. Dammah.org Code of Discipline
Through the power of critical thinking I give you my account of observations of the outer and inner worlds of the land of Vipassana, as taught by S. N. Goenka. By the testament of many personal and professional relationships I speak honestly and with truth through the power of discernment and not judgement. I was not the first break the vipassana Code of Discipline and our contract but the Code of Discipline was first broken by the course itself which created a relationship of mistrust and abuse to which many including myself continued this abuse on our own bodies, minds, emotions and spirits causing much harm. I am fortunate to have some knowledge of psychology and a ten year practice of working with my heart and spirit to come out of Vipassana with a different understanding then many before me this is why many leave the course after a few days and/or suffer psychological emotionally after the course or experience the opposite and become enamoured with the practice. I write to inform, to assist anyone coming out of Vipassana and for anyone who is considering taking this course and/or any other course for that matter. Knowledge empowers.
The first time I heard of the 10 day Vipassana Course, as taught by S. N. Goenka, was last year when one of my students had signed up for the course and then in August of this year (2017) the word, "Vipassana" kept coming up among the spiritual circles I conversed among. I decided it was time to experience the teaching for myself. In most cases anyone I had met who'd taken the training said it was wonderful and only one had mixed thoughts about it. Although few elaborated on why it was so great they simply stated it was something I needed to experience myself.
Looking into the course I got very excited! I loved the idea of isolation, time schedules, silence, restricted diet and 12 hours a day to meditate and explore the inner working of my mind and what I thought would be connecting to deeper levels of spirit. Some may cringe at such an idea but for me I know there is much value in such practices; discipline in any form produces fantastic results! After thoroughly reading all the material on the Dammah.org site I quickly checked my calendar and signed-up timing the course with the New Moon in Libra, symbolizing truth, balance and harmony (also known as the tarot card XI Justice). My choice influenced a close friend to do the same then we discovered another lady from our community had signed up too with-out her knowing we had signed on. This was an auspicious coincidence.
The few days before I left for the Yougnstown Vipassana Centre I felt the level of anticipation and maybe even fear arise in me and I knew this was going to be a profound experience. I called on my spiritual communities to pray and hold space for us as we entered into our 10-day commitment to the practice (I am so grateful to them because they will never truly know how much we needed them). I did not know what to expect and I simply trusted that I was being divinely guided to take this opportunity, although the reasons behind my journey where much different then I initially thought.
People who know me can attest that I am a very rational and critical thinker even though I am a spiritual teacher and healer I continuously attempt to never blindly follow any teaching even my own until it shows up exponentially in nature. I teach this as being our fail-safe net to keep us grounded in the world and to fully know and trust ourselves. I do my best to stand for love and compassion for life and know there is a big difference between judgement and discernment which requires knowledge. I know and trust myself and this is it what saved me from becoming trapped in a maze of confusion and "misery".
The drive to Yougnstown was a beautiful late-fall day and my husband was so generous to make the eight hour drive to drop us off at the centre. As we pulled into the entrance a feeling of peace ensued over me as I left the distractions of the outside world go to commit to deep inner work for the following ten days. In the female dinning hall I sat down to fill out the registration form, waiver and contract to my commitment to stay the 10 day course. To which I signed and orally agreed witnessed by the female course manager. In this contract I agreed to the Code of Discipline, to stay the 10 days and that I was doing this of my own free-will. I signed with no hesitation on the pretence of the statements made in the Vipassana Code of Discipline (please read the Code of Discipline as it will give you and understanding of the set and setting of the events taking place). Surrendering to the technique and having fours hours before the commencement of the course I went to my dorm room where I met my roommate and introduced myself. I gave her a big hug letting her know that even though we wouldn't be talking or looking at each other in the eyes over the next ten days that I would be right beside her and that we would be going through everything together. She was happy and so was I.
DAYS ONE AND TWO
Physically: Hard but for me enjoyable in the sense I knew my body was making big adjustments physically to support a strong sitting posture to be maintained for12 hours of meditation (with breaks to walk, use the bathroom and eat). I knew the physical discipline would pass and having trained to fight competitively in my mid-20's I knew the sacrifices one needs to make to work through the discomfort and pain to achieve amazing results. Luckily I have a nine year yoga practice for my foundation and know how to work with structure and alignment in a safe way i.e. the difference between muscle pain and physical harm. Unfortunately the majority of the students at the course had no such foundation nor where they given any safe mechanics to sit for long periods as not to cause harm to ones self. This I could let go of as I felt that each person would have the ability to know their own limits.
Emotionally: For the most part I felt very neutral or non-attached to my surrounding circumstances although something was beginning to arise with-in me that was telling me something wasn't right. I let this go by logically concluding this was a natural response to the physical discipline I was putting my body through. I also began to wonder what the words being chanted into my ears were at the beginning and end of the group meditations, as I had been told many times that this was a non-secular, non-religious rite or ritual, or philosophy. This made me a little annoyed. But I felt I could let this go as I was here to learn the technique and I was committed to giving it a "true chance" returning to my refuge, anapana.
Mentally: The power of breath "anapana" and observation is highly awakening. Clarity of mind was focused and precise. The technique of focusing on the triangle area of the nose while simply observing the breath and allowing it to do what it wants i.e. not controlling the breath, was present with much sensations felt in and around the nose. Full surrender to what is in the moment the breath for the breath is life! The evening discourses seemed rational and logical and a nice break from meditation. The Art of Living.
Spiritually: Well... no spirit for I had committed to the Code of Discipline; not use any other practices or beliefs for the ten day period. I consciously chose to stop my inner communication with god and/or spirit and my practices of connecting to my higher power and "a" higher power. Although I did question why the hell would I do something so ridiculous as that, with a sense of humour I attached to myself to my choice of committing to the Code of Discipline. It is my testament I did so, "Vigilantly" for a full five days then spirit came to me using the power of logic and rationality to open my heart and to the see the truth of what was really taking place. And so I now present to you what I observed and experienced...
Awakening to the third day sleep deprivation was beginning to show and the need to eat more food to have the energy to keep going was clear. Alas the restrictive nature of the diet did not allow for dinner in the evening which put the body and the mind under much stress which I totally understood because, when we are under stress it creates the perfect environment for our minds to become more alert and for us to "feel" and sense more. This all seemed like a rational and logical reasoning behind what was taking place. And a wonderful "science" to awaken our potential. For me it was not so bad as I already eat a very clean diet and I'm physically fit to engage in such extremes. But for many this is not the case. I could see the desperation beginning to show in the faces of my fellow practitioners and the way people were holding their bodies was showing low energy and pain. I also began to feel the atmosphere and tone of the centre begin to shift into struggle and sadness. Again I rationalized this as part of the process to bring us down low to arise above our physical condition.
Later in the evening discourse the content of the previous two days quickly shifted from rational reductionism to philosophy in an attempt to provide evidence to how miserable we all are in our everyday lives because of attachments we had or "cravings and desire" repeating the word "miserable" many times over an hour period and how the technique we where now going to be introduced to on day four was going to save us. I had a hard time with this discourse as I was not miserable nor did I feel I had issues with attachment as I've been practicing non-attachment for over 10 years now. This "philosophy" was a hard pill to swallow for me. I also had a fundamental belief that "desire" when in alignment with the heart and acting through the power of love was how true happiness was found. So I began to question myself which I quickly realized that everything around me and the circumstances being provide is designed to do just that. But again I was committed to my "contract" to let go and surrender to the technique, to give it a "true opportunity" to take hold. I also thought questioning myself was actually not a bad thing and so the process must be working. That night as I went to sleep I could feel and hear in my inner mind the sadness and desperation my roommate was experiencing. I could tell she was crying and I actually felt the whole women's wing crying. I too cried but it was not for my own condition it was for the condition of all those around me. But the technique was teaching us that this was somehow wrong that we needed to un-attach ourselves because this is what causing our misery. We were only to, "observe" and let go... "just observe, do not act or re-act... just observe". So many entered into their own misery and I entered into the misery of others. But I did not break the Code of Discipline I did not use any healing modalities or techniques to help others, I did not call on all my spiritual helpers, I did not call to god or spirit. I did not reach out to others or talk or look into others eyes, I simply returned to my refuge, anapana. And questioned where is the love in all this.
We received our first instruction on the vipassana meditation and I thought awesome it is all going to shift. It did not things progressed much worse. Sickness was spreading through the centre. And as a healer with the gift of sight I could see the energy around the hearts centres of people to begin to shut down. Which was very dis-empowering to watch especially knowing I had signed a contract to do nothing about it. That morning I received a vision in my meditation but before I share with you what I saw I need to share my personal journey over the last three years of working with the power of my heart.
Almost three years ago I began to have a very debilitating condition in my spine which would not allow me to sleep. I would be fine during the day but if I laid down for any length of time the pain would be so horrendous and my spine would seize up where it was very hard to move. There was much concern at the on set and conventional medicine quickly investigated including MRI's to ensure something more serious wasn't taking place. For five months I suffered from sleep deprivation and pain so much pain I had to put my physical yoga practice aside. Shortly there after I began to move into my life's purpose and my gifts and abilities as a spiritual teacher and healer began to emerge in full force. I had a strong foundation to fall on and understood the process going through my spine was a spiritual one as physically there was nothing wrong with me. I learned to live with my pain and accept it knowing that it would pass when the time was right. I also new through much self search and investigation of the nervous system that the pin point of the cause of this pain connected right into my nerve in my back that is known as the needling point in Chinese medicine for the heart. My heart was being broken open to move into the capacity for more love for the work I am know doing. This summer my back reached an apex and I knew it was in its final transmutation and I welcomed the severity of the pain knowing it was right on the surface ready to come out. And now for the last month I have been sleeping with no pain, doing, yoga again and coming fully into my power through the heart. I considered my process with this pain as being an initiation and not a karmic cause and consequence. I consider it to be one of my greatest trials and gifts and now I am so grateful for if I had not experienced this I may not have been able to stand in my power with the events that transpired over the past few days.
Visions are not uncommon for me nor is inner sight or spiritual experiences. So when I received this vision I didn't have the attachment or the excitement one would receive if they were experiencing this for the first time. I have ten years experience of walking and working in this capacity and now teach and mentor many students how to read the language of spirit. I know to trust when being spoken to and know when to act. The vision I experienced was the final "branch" to break for me as I had been ignoring what my body was already telling me because the technique was urging me to do so. Half way through the first day the heart nerve in my spine began to flare up specifically during the chants, group meditations and discourses. In the beginning I attributed this to the last of my physical ailment that was surfacing to be healed but here is the kicker it never hurt when I was sleeping. I pushed it aside committed to the technique and ignoring my own teaching I give to my students that the body always knows first! Then my vision came... I saw and felt my heart in my chest it had a tree growing out of it encompassing my entire lungs and chest with branches reaching through my body and rooting into the earth. The tree and my heart were one and pulsated a moldavite green colour it was crystalline like moldavite itself. Then I was taken deeper in to the centre of the tree where there was a branch connecting into the nerve of my heart line. On this branch was a plastic groom and bride like you see on a wedding cake. I knew immediately this was the symbol for a contract and relationship. Then the branch snapped and broke and the little figurine fell down into nothingness. I came to. Now there are many ways one could interpret this dream so instead of attaching myself to it I, "simply observed" and put it in my back pocket. That evening the discourse really got me questioning the philosophy and what was happening in this place. I felt I was being lied to, I thought that if the technique is so great then only teach the technique not the philosophy and certainly not the chants especially not knowing what they where saying. Then I started to really think about the Code of Discipline specifically, "It is not a rite or ritual based on blind faith... It is neither an intellectual nor a philosophical entertainment... and has nothing to do with any organized religion or sectarianism." If this was the case why where we ritualistically listing to these chants and why where the discourses thick with Buddhist philosophy and why where we told to simply let go and trust the process? Blind faith? I was certainly confused and honestly a little angry because the picture of what was happening was beginning to reveal its self. That night I went to sleep determined to have an audience with the teacher during the private question period after lunch. I still did not break the Code of Discipline.
I woke up early and went for a walk before the 4:00am bell went off. On the walking path I found a large tumble weed blocking my way. I picked it up and I could see this was the image of the tree that was in my vision but the tumble weed was dry and brittle; it was dead. I started to laugh spirit was talking to me even though I had turned off my communication with spirit it was right there beside me showing me my path and then I began to cry and I knew I had to get out of this situation. I broke the Code of Discipline and began to pray and talk with spirit for courage, for strength, for love, for non-judgment and most of all thank-fulness so much thankfulness. I composed myself and went into my early meditation dropping the technique and moving into the meditation of the heart. I broke my silence and sneakily approached my friend to let her know I was leaving but I would wait till after my audience with the teacher to make my decision. I could see in her eyes she was elated. When we moved into group meditation I began to move into my heart and hold space for every person in the hall. Before I had my meeting I asked for words of wisdom to speak through the heart in love and kindness. The teacher was kind and respectful of my questions. I kept them on the surface level of simple inquiries of philosophy premised on the discourses we had received. He gave more time then any other student for no doubt he could tell I was intelligent and articulate. I also openly confessed that I was attached to my philosophy and believes but no more then he and that there was probably no way to reconcile these two. I would say talking with him helped to realize the pressure and I decided to stay with the course using the best of my time to connect to spirit and hold space for the others there. I met with my friend and said I would stay and asked no matter what happened for the remainder of the course to stay in her heart. Little did I know she had broken the Code of Discipline way before me and was doing heart meditation and holding space for others. She was sad I had decided to stay on but figured if I could do it so could she.
That night the discourse made me very uncomfortable and I new it was going to be very hard to stay in the place of the heart and remain in course. When I went to sleep the energy in my room was so intense I could see light vibrating everywhere. I could tell my roommate had been crying. I wanted to stay for her to support her, I did not want her to be alone. That night I didn't sleep I stared to remember brainwashing techniques from the Korean war and how everything I was observing fit the criteria although not as extreme. This made it seem all the more subversive and nefarious being masked as enlightenment playing on peoples self-identity and egos. I figured I was strong enough to with stand my psyche being disassemble and/or disassociated and just then my mind I began to hum the mantras from the group meditations and I knew my sub-conscious had been violated. Even if I had the strength to stay who knows what damage it may have done deep in my mind. I knew escape was the only option and the only way I could stand-up to what was taken place. Actions speak louder than words.
I did not sleep. I counted every minute until after breakfast when I could talk with the female manager to which I am ever grateful for. She too was struggling as every woman had come to her crying yet she could do nothing because we were not allowed to touch or comfort each-other. God bless her for what she has seen endured and is enduring. I asked to use the phone to call my husband to leave she asked why? And I gave her many, many, many reasons. She understood and was fascinated by what I said for she had been in the room when I asked my questions during my audience with the teacher. She said she would have to confirm with the teacher before I could use the phone and she would come and find me afterwards. She also let me know that she had been talking with my friend and my friend had said to her that if I was to leave she would leave with me. I went back to my room and my room mate had not gotten out of bed and had missed breakfast I knew something was wrong. I went and got her a tea and placed it by her beside table. When I got back from my phone call she broke the Code of Discipline and said, "Thank-you" and I said, "Your welcome". I started to pack my things she asked, "Are you leaving?" I said yes! She said why and I told her how I felt she started to cry, "Do you have a car?" No, I said but my husband was coming. She asked if she could come and said of course we hugged and held each other for a long time crying in each others arms. Then she said god was looking after her for she was afraid she was going to have to walk to the next town to catch a bus I said, "God is taking care of both of us."
News came that the teacher didn't want us to leave until the group meditation in the afternoon so not influence the other students with our decision. I agreed to comply which gave me the opportunity to enter in to deep prayer for all the souls at the centre. Synchronistically I started to see why we had been sent there. The room number I stayed in was C39, in numerology C=3. 3 + 3 + 9 = 15 . XV is The Devil card in tarot it represents the illusion of the bonds and chains we put on ourselves. 1 + 5 = 6. VI is The Lovers card for only through the power of love are the chains broken and not through the power of "equanimity" or numbness to our thoughts, feelings , body and heart. We also left on the 6th day of the course and on the 24th which is again 2 + 4 = 6.
As we walked through the barren courtyard and down the road to the gates of the compound I could see my love standing on the other side of the gate. I thought we were free I was wrong. It's taken three days to work through and unwind from the events that took place but also to remain, "Vigilant" in holding space for those who remain and will need support as they return to their lives. Before going into Vipassana I had knowledge of brainwashing and knowledge of psychology this is what got me to serious think critically about what was taking place. With this knowledge I received information from my body and ultimately from my soul and spirit to see things as they really are!
I was not the first to break the Code of Discipline and the contract we made. The course broke it first by lying about the statements quoted at the start of this article. Dammah.org is an organized religion and/or sectarianism, they use a philosophical belief system to confess these believes it is not scientific at all. Read through the Pali mantra's Gem Set in Gold these are the chants we listened to. These are confessions of faith. We were fooled into surrendering our lives over to another. I seriously question the statement, "There is absolutely no question of conversion" and the statement, "people have found no conflict with their profession of faith... It is not a rite or ritual based on blind faith... It is neither an intellectual nor a philosophical entertainment." True it is not an intellectual or philosophical entertainment this is extremely serious shit! We listen to these chants, rites and rituals every day three times a day at a specific time each day, at the end many responded with sadu, sadu, sadu..."I agree, I agree, I agree". Never once did I say, "sadu, sadu, sadu" and now I know why!
Homage to him, the blessed one, the worthy conqueror, the fully self-enlightened Buddha...
The definition of a rite: a religious or other solemn ceremony or act. A body of customary observances characteristic of a church or a part of it. A social custom, practice, or conventional act.
The definition of a ritual: a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order. The role of ritual in religion the prescribed order of performing a ceremony, especially one characteristic of a particular religion or church. A series of actions or type of behaviour regularly and invariably followed by someone.
I am so grateful to my spiritual communities The House of Mem and Hollow Bone Healing Lodge you have no idea how much I needed you during this intense time that I can only describe as spiritual warfare. Going to this Vipassana course is was like going into a pipe fast with-out a pipe! This deposition is a small summery to the events that transpired over my six days at the Yougnstown Vipassana Centre. There where many other synchronicities and messages from spirit so numbered it would take three days to recount all the events that took place and my story is just one of hundreds. The vigilant is not over but we are not alone, none of us have to this alone, we are bonded together in love!
If you have taken the Vipassana Course as taught by S. N. Goenka please read these articles on brainwashing and ask yourself seriously if this is what you have been through. Many people leave the course with dissociative and psychological disorders and many have lost their lives to suicide because of it (please research and read how many lives have been destroyed and the testaments from followers that have been with the organization for ten plus years who are speaking out). I suspect the level of discomfort and mental harm that has been done is way higher then reported like any form of abuse it is hard to stand-up and speak truth for fear. This means at some level you have been brained washed. Do not be silent stand up and reach out, find community, friendship, eye contact, touch and love support is available. For those who fall deeply in-love with this I have two words for you, "stockholm syndrome". Brainwashing doesn't work on everyone mostly for those who have a high sense of self or ego by breaking the Code of Discipline and leaving the course or calling on a higher power or inner power to tune out the mantras and philosophies being shoved into your sub-conscious when your in a highly suggestible state of mind, you can save your soul and your psyche. Go into your heart use your mind and always feel your emotions! By the way the Buddha never taught philosophies on Saṅkhāra's and that we have to purge them from our past lives! Know your shit do not follow blindly! Share this article get the word out set the captives free!
In the late 1950s, psychologist Robert Jay Lifton studied former prisoners of Korean War and Chinese war camps. He determined that they'd undergone a multistep process that began with attacks on the prisoner's sense of self and ended with what appeared to be a change in beliefs. Lifton ultimately defined a set of steps involved in the brainwashing cases he studied:
Read more on...
Brain Washing Techniques
How Brain Washing Works
How to recognize and Avoid Brainwashing
Did 10-day meditation retreat trigger woman's suicide?
Thank-you everyone for your love and support. I just want to say I don't think there is anything wrong with the Vipassana technique itself, it's the environment it is been taught in and all the other "attachments" to the philosophies and beliefs being repetitiously whispered in your ears when you're in a highly suggestive state of mind, body, spirit and when all your tools to think critically are being stripped away. I also think one's ego or pride is sometimes what keeps us in situations like this... to be able to say, "I did it, I succeeded in completing a difficult task." I also don't have anything against Buddhism either. It's important to know there are many different secs of Buddhism and the Dammah.org IS sectarian even though they are claiming they are not. The Buddha never wanted people to subjugate their lives to him or to any other teacher. S. N. Goenka has you take a vow to commit you life to him but few know this because its in another language (Pali mantra's Gem Set in Gold). Run people, run, keep running. And if you want to be extreme and disciplined go live in the wild and meditated with the law of nature, "Dammah" or maybe just do some Yoga Nidra in a lotus position (with some physical training behind you😉). Much love , Ria-Mae.
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