Day 6 (Immovable Buddha, sweat and pain)

9
Feb
2007

In an effort to reach the “subtler” sensations (read: not painful ones emanating from various body parts) I start dividing my meditation sessions into private ones where I lay flat on my bed in my cell (room, lodging, whatever) and the group public ones where attendance is required in the Dhamma Hall.

It is working out pretty well, even though I worry a bit that I am on two separate tracks, not knowing when or if they will converge. In the private meditations in my cell, I am able more and more to feel sensations just by thinking about the part of the body in question, and start to be able to “sweep” through head to toe as Goenka indicates we should be able to. The public meditations are mostly taken up with pain management (gross as opposed to subtle sensations, they call it. Ya think?). A particularly unkind monkey wrench they throw at us today is that during the thrice-daily one-hour group sittings we must remain completely still. No changing positions. I start to wonder what sort of sadist this Goenka is.

We begin the first of these static meditations and I get into my concentration groove and easily pass the first 30 minutes or so before noticing the ever greater buzzing from my hind parts. This goes on for the next 15 minutes or so (one can’t be really sure. It feels like hours and hours.) until the real torture begins. I start sweating profusely, huffing and puffing, and going through a fairly lengthy catalogue of swear words. Finally, the chanting of Goenka comes on the tape and I know I have only to hold out for a few more minutes until the crowd of meditators (cultists) chants “sadu, sadu, sadu” (signaling their respect or adulation of the master, and more importantly, that the session is over and I can now unlock my legs). In great pain but feeling very self satisfied for making it through, I hobble over to the discourse Dhamma Hall and try to jockey with the other victims for a position up against the side wall to prop up my back.

We do get some acknowledgement from Goenka that this is a very difficult thing to do, but then he explains why it is important. We must be able to see pain as just another sensation and try not to attach value judgements to it that lead to aversion. The goal in all of this is to eliminate our cravings and aversions. He waxes poetic about equanimity, and I see that he has a point. I resolve to really examine my pain (instead of ignoring it) over the next few days.