Who doesn’t like a treat? But even better than a treat is a retreat; and that’s what I just came back from . . . a 10-day meditation retreat at Yosemite. I felt somewhat like Prince Siddhartha Gotama must have felt when he sat down under a tree 2500 years ago, experienced vipassana, and became the Buddha. I know I didn’t become a Buddha, but I do feel like I experienced some vipassana, some insight or enlightenment.
As said by S. N. Goenka, the re-discoverer of this ancient vipassana method of meditation, “The technique of vipassana is a simple, practical way to achieve real peace of mind and to lead a happy, useful life; vipassana means ‘to see things as they really are’, through self-observation.” A part of seeing things or better, feeling things as they really are (some things are so small they can’t be seen) includes becoming sensitive to the ever-changing, constantly dying and birthing of kalapas, those tiny microscopic particles that make up the basic units of matter and come into and out of existence many thousands of times per second. Feeling them leads to discovering and hopefully eliminating, or at least lessening, one’s own sangkaras, those nagging desires for things to satisfy one’s senses or to get rid of the things one doesn’t like or want. Sangkaras are what really cause all of our problems in this life: we don’t get all the things we want, we don’t want all the things we get, and we think life is all about satisfying those desires.