Day 10 on a Vipassana Retreat is Mettā Day. Mettā is the Pali word for benevolence, loving-kindness, and goodwill. This is the day students start refocussing on the world around them, the world outside the confines of the center grounds and spread good wishes to where it may reach. This is also the day students break their silence and engage in conversation with one another.
After 9 days of silence everyone’s individual insecurities are voiced, only to be discarded upon finding out how most others had them too. Revelations come to the foreground of things people thought to be, that was not and of private moments held in laughter or tears. Mothers, close to worried sick that their children MUST be concerned about them after so much time, usually phone home immediately, only to find out life carried on as usual, that they’re not so much missed and that they are good to sit another ten days should that be their desire.
Occasionally someone would admit that they thought they had found final enlightenment during the course, only to once again be overcome with the sensation of pain and human conditioning.
Us humans project all kinds of things and meditation is still a very mysterious topic to many. One of my favorite stories is of this healthy, intelligent twenty-something year old man:
Every morning, at around 5 am, the teacher enters the meditation hall in preparation for morning chants. Mostly people sit with their eyes closed, but even with closed eyes we can perceive changes in light. This was the case. Every morning when the teacher came in, with him came in this calm glow of light.
“Wow, how wonderful this light that the teacher emanates!” The student was in thought-heaven. “He must be really accomplished on his path. He must be really enlightened. He must be someone really special.”
I’m sure the morning meditations were the highlight of this student’s days, until the last morning. On this particular morning, the student opened his eyes as the teacher was approaching. He clearly saw the torch in the teacher’s hand as he walked to the front of the meditation hall in order to find his seat.
We’re all looking for that something special, that someone special, that otherworldly bliss. We want to find it in a teacher, a soul mate, in magical form and as long as we have this approach, disappointment is to be found just around the corner.
When throught the ordinary we are able to see extraordinary, I believe we are a step closer to finding what we are really looking for.
I end off with a somewhat related old saying, that a fool needs a wise man to teach him, but only a wise man can learn from a fool.