We finally get to end our “Noble Silence” today. After our morning group meditation we leave the Dhamma Hall and little by little, shy at first and unsure of the boundaries of our new communicative abilities, people start talking to each other. It may sound silly, but it is jubilant. Complete strangers introduce themselves to each other and there is an easy and hearty bonding between just about everyone. I meet a nice guy named Dhanajay and we bond over the incessant burping of the hall. Ian (my next door neighbor from the cell block) and I start to deconstruct our experience in detail and share a great lunch of philosophy and conjecture about the course. I reconnect with Shumona and find out about her experience and am thrilled to dicover that our couple of covert glances at each other were as much the highlight of her day as mine in the strange communication deprivation tank of days 7 and 8.
We are all on quite a high, as much from the sense of accomplishment as from the gag being removed. The experience, although one of the most difficult I have had, was entirely worth it. I feel as if I confronted a few demons and learned some valuable lessons. I didn’t “see the light” or “feel the total disintegration of self” that we were told we would eventually experience, but it didn’t really matter to me. I came in contact with something meaningful and loving, and that was enough for me. I resolve to continue to meditate each day upon my return. Perhaps the light will appear eventually, perhpas not. But even if I only manage to maintain equanimity in the face of negative feelings, that will be fine with me.