I want to bring my Vipassana rendition to an end.  Mainly because I’m getting confused with all this toing and froing in time, and with so much that I learnt resonating through my daily life I’m beginning to think that looking back isn’t wholly necessary.

I had a few doubts towards the end, as to whether it was right for me.  If it was in fact, the answer to everything.

However, I’ve just had my application for another retreat in November approved, to which I will be an old student, and must adhere to 8 precepts instead of 5.  This includes not sleeping on a high and comfortable bed, and no food after midday.  I figure, despite some of the resistance I feel, it must really be the answer to something, otherwise why would I put myself through it all again so soon?

I have always been attracted to extremes.  And when Geonka describes the whole retreat process as being like performing an operation on yourself, but without the anaesthetic, I think he’s really onto something.  Once you’ve opened yourself and have started to drain all this puss and gunk out of you, its inevitable that you spot something else that needs your attention before you close yourself up again.  You just can’t cope with it all at once.  You need to take some time out to heal and rebuild your strength.  Learn how to integrate back into society and return to the complexity of human relationships that will have undoubtedly altered.  In some cases it’s for the better.  Festering resentment and grudges absolved, renewed love and affection, a rush of forgiveness and compassion.  In other cases, the relationships seem to fade out.  What drew you together once, is no longer there.  Perhaps what is most difficult of all is  some of the negative responses to the changes in you.  I’ve seen happiness be met with anger, and affection with contempt.  One of the greatest and most terrifying things is with all this opening up and inner work, comes significant vulnerability.  You want to share everything, open up to everyone around you, express love and with this experimentation its inevitable that you’ll hit brick wall after brick wall, and in some cases a lashing out.  Whilst you begin to see your own reflection in judgments of others, others don’t necessarily feel ready to see themselves at all.

It can feel a bit heavy at times, taking on “you’re this” and “you’re that”, “you should” and “you could” on top of the greatest critic of all – “I”.

But that’s all part of it.  Looking inwards is always a good place to start, but eventually you have to look at yourself in relationship to others.   I described it to a friend as the intrinsic link between looking inwards and the universe.

Its like your attention gets so finely tuned into something so small, well molecular, that instead of reaching an understanding of that molecular experience, you end up understanding the stars and the planets, without really knowing how you got there.

This intrinsic link I haven’t quite got my head around, is something about the paths we take.  You can either study the universe and the solar systems and get lost in the billions and trillions of light-years and space, or you can sit cross-legged on a cushion and study the sensations of patch of skin to patch of skin, and whatever path you take, you essentially reach the same conclusion.  We are nothing, we are everything, we are all the same.   It’s a universal truth if ever there was one, so why is it so difficult to accept?

I’ve decided that I want a bit of both.  To continue along this path of self-evaluation.  To occasionally experience the effervescence of my existence, or non-existence, whatever it is, all the while laughing to myself, “I AM quantum physics!” as I furrow my brow and try to understand all the scientific terminology Dr Brian Cox somehow turns into poetry.

Professor Brian Cox, speaking at the Royal Ins...

Professor Brian Cox, speaking at the Royal Institution, London, 26 November 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)