Day 9 (do we really need 10 days for this course?)


Although I have learned some valuable lessons here, I am also starting to go a little stir crazy and day 9 is from a practice perspective identical to days 8 and 7. In addition, Goenka keeps sounding like a scold on the tapes as he admonishes us to “stay equanimous, equanimous, equanimous and not generate any new sankaras of craving or aversion, not generate any new sankaras of craving or aversion, not generate any new sankaras of craving or aversion…”

OK, OK, I get it. But he is making it sound like such a moral imperative. I give this quite a bit more thought during the day and at the nighttime discourse and come to some conclusions. I’m not really sure I want to be free from ALL craving and aversion. What about the need for food? I notice more than a few of my fellow meditators seemingly ready to go live in a remote mountain cave and ignore the world and just work on their freedom from the cycle of rebirth.

For my money, what is the point of being born human if it isnt to experience a little of the joy and sorrow? Why not just kill yourself and get it over with? The more I think about it, the more I shudder at Buddhism’s supposed ideal state. I like the idea of leaning to experience the world in greater immediacy via this technique. I like the idea of moderating our worst impulses of craving and aversion. But I stop short of the extreme idea of “total liberation”, because while it may very well be possible, I don’t consider it desirable.

In the past in my contact with various religions, I always felt that Buddhism was the closest to my ideal, mostly because it was more of a philosophy of being, and less a religion. This course has shown me that while there is a great deal to be learned from this tradition, its end point leaves me cold. I strongly value the idea of experiencing the here and now, but leave me a little of my connections to love and our humanity.