October 16, 2011 by rahulbrown
Just before my last meditation retreat in mid-August, I was fortunate to see off my dear friends Uma and Sriram with a dinner and sleepover :-) on the eve of their big move back to India. They were so lovingly persistent and curious in asking about how my retreat went that the answer below finally flowed out over email. The long story and ‘play-by-play’ still hasn’t found time to come out, so I thought I’d share this semi-concise note to them in a more public forum.
I’ve been grappling with the right way to share my Vipassana experience because I suppose I’m simultaneously concerned about people thinking I’m crazy, and not being sure myself that I’m sane :-) I’ve mentioned it before, but this last retreat was the most difficult and profound sit ever. To people who have asked thus far, I only shared the difficult part of the story without the other side (which was equally challenging, but not as negative). Suffice to say that I remembered things, and saw connections, and experienced insights that the rational part of my mind can’t explain. Greater aspects of the work I have to do in this lifetime, both on the personal, family, and community level became clear to me though I still find my courage in integrating all of that to be less than the seemingly large task. Perhaps most importantly, it was clear to me that all the identities I/we create for ourselves are false (by virtue of being only partially and superficially true). They’re just stories, but the extent to which we cling to them is the extent that we take away from the scintillating mystery of who we are in this very moment. Prior to the retreat, I had this growing and very uncomfortable problem of not knowing who I was–something I had never really felt in my life prior to the last year or so. After the retreat, I still don’t know the answer, but I’m no longer afraid that I don’t know (and so its not a problem that I can’t explain who I am to people who try to size me up). That alone has felt liberating. And I’m less locked in to any story about “me” from any part of my past. I feel more free, and more fearless, and more committed to staring down my weaknesses and owning up to my mistakes.
In short, things will never be the same.