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‘Happiness lies within us’

When you live in a world ruled by noise, chaos and commotion, you realise the importance of silence. What silence does for an individual, both physically and mentally, is best understood when experienced. In these moments of silence, one perceives the intimate connection between breath and the mind. In fact, the answers to life’s most daunting questions lie in this silence. Soulveda delved deeper into the subject through an engaging interaction with Vipassana teacher Jaya Sangoi. And the learning couldn’t have been more pertinent–the reason for misery lies within us and we can change this misery into happiness by observing our breath in silence. Excerpts from the interview:

We often speak more than what is necessary and our minds are cluttered with thoughts. How do we deal with our excessive thoughts and words?

Through Vipassana your approach will certainly change for the better. When it comes to thoughts, you will learn to deal with them, observe them as you can neither suppress them nor roll into them. The only thing you can do is understand that thoughts are impermanent. You will speak what is necessary with a positive mind. 

For most of us it is difficult to forgive and forget. How do you address this dilemma in Vipassana programmes?

When the past comes to mind, we are not able to forget and forgive. The target seems a long way ahead, but you have to start somewhere. During the course, we work towards this goal and understand the cause of our misery. We are the cause of our misery and we learn through our experiences. As we dig deeper, we realise the truth that the other person is just an instrument.

After the programme, how does one continue the practice?

After the completion of the course, we are advised to carry out this practice twice a day. We carry two minds–conscious and unconscious mind. Our lives are governed by the unconscious mind where our habits are buried. Everything that is in the mind gets translated into the body in the form of sensation. Sensations are the carriers of our habits, our karma. Whatever actions we have taken through the day get eliminated with a sitting in silence in the evening since they are on the surface level. At night, the unconscious mind is in touch with our reactions and it keeps accumulating them. Hence, when we do a sitting in the morning, we eliminate whatever is accumulated at night due to our ignorance. It is difficult to deal with the mind as it is uncontrollable. But when we observe these sensations, we observe the mind. Once we learn to accept the sensations, we learn to accept our minds.

“Future is the offspring of the present and the present is the child of the past.”


Can Vipassana cure mental ailments?

It is a by-product. Vipassana purifies the mind.  After practising it, one develops the wisdom that all misery lies within oneself. When the mind is calm and healthy, the body is calm and healthy too. Through Vipassana, the mind is purified first and then the body.   

How would you define Vipassana?

Vipassana is a way of life. It is concerned with the present moment. If my present moment is not right, I cannot have a great future. Future is the offspring of the present and the present is the child of the past. Vipassana is about this mental awareness.

Do religious ideologies matter while practising Vipassana?

No, they don’t. For instance, when you have fever and you see a doctor, he prescribes medicines. And he prescribes the same medicine to everyone. Disease is disease and cure is cure. Vipassana is not restricted to caste, creed and gender. It is open to all. There is no god or chant here. It is just your breath and mind.

More and more people are turning to meditation and hence Vipassana. Why is that?

We live in a world where everybody is equally miserable. We don’t know how to live as our focus is on the outside. We keep comparing ourselves with others and blame others for our problems. But these are not the real causes of our misery. After practising Vipassana, people realise that the reason behind their misery is them. Vipassana tells people if they want a sweet fruit then they need to sow a sweet seed now. Perhaps, realising these realities of life, people are taking it up.

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    Jaya Sangoi is the centre teacher in-charge of Vipassana Meditation Centre, Dhamma Paphulla in Bangaluru. Since 1988, she has been instrumental in organising courses in the region. In 1996, she was appointed as a qualified Vipassana teacher.

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