Friday, 3 June 2016

Ingyinbin Journal: "Vipassana Begins"

John, a meditator from New Zealand, spends extended periods in Ingyinbin each year, the home of the revered Webu Sayadaw and with his friend Ashin Mandala. This winter, he has decided to keep a journal, which he has kindly offered to share with us. His journal alternates between observation and poetry, between meditation practice and commentary about Burmese Buddhist society, from his learnings and his questions. The full collection of his musings can be found here.

27 January 

"Leaving the breakfast hall, in the overcast sky I see a spread V shape of birds, up to 80 ibises in dark shadow, moving to the east, above the pond and tamarind. Sharp at the leading edge, and splaying outward from there, a few individuals cross from one side of the V to the other, edging in there. As the group moves, the lines of the shape undulate, as if it better belonged to the sea. Extraordinary.

One evening, returning from our daily walk to the canal and back, we see in succession three or four such formations, each one containing up to sixty birds, dark in outline, outliers to the main group forming of between two to five birds, soon re-assimilated as the direction pointed is headed in. Children near us, stopping at their top-spinning game gaze upward, reciting something that expresses their own amazement. Similar sights pull our eyes and thoughts upward in the coming days and weeks.

I walk by myself to the hut. Vipassana begins. The mind moves to observe sensations in the body. Attention narrows. Language itself oversized:

                                    Thoughts too large to   
                                    pass through this mental sieve -
                                    inexact fragments!

Sitting is very quiet and soon I cannot remember a happier time being so still a couple of hours. Contented, centred, tranquil, not wanting anything to be otherwise.

                                    Initially confused - does it contain
                                    or is it contained? - or perhaps body’s simply the element
                                    of wind, blowing about.

Very quiet:

                                    An orange peeled
                                    sealing nothing -               
                                    this body!"

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