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An Ode to Vipassana Centres

By | 1/22/2022
It can be overwhelming to think about the unfairness of life, the complexity of its problems, the impossibility of solutions, and the ignorance, irrationality, pettiness and selfishness of humans, myself included. But it helps to remember Vipassana centers, places that do make ssense. Places that seem too good to be true. Unrealistic. A system, an environment, an organization that I would never believe to be true without first-hand experience.

At Vipassana centers, anyone can take as many courses as they want as long as they're willing to abide by very simple rules: stay quiet, disturb no one, and sit in the meditation hall during mandatory daily sessions.

If you think that a virus is a great equalizer, you should visit a Vipassana center. There is no cost. No one is excluded. There is no way to pay for better accommodations, better teachers, or better treatment. There is no class system. A billionaire stays in the same type of room, sleeps in the same kind of bed, and eats the same offerings of food as you and I do.

There is no way to fast track into a course and no shortcut to finish. No hacks. No competition. No winner. No loser.

Everyone is equally welcome regardless of race, religion, gender, age, physical appearance, bank account, and connections. I can't claim that I always follow the teachings perfectly, but we are taught to be non-judgmental, loving and compassionate to everyone. And it's up to us to practice well. There aren't any "karma police."

The teachers are not paid even though they've trained for years. They rarely speak and when they do, it's not about themselves. The buildings are not named for donors or teachers or anyone, including the founder.

The servers volunteer their time and energy. They are former students helping to provide the same peaceful setting that they received on their courses. In between courses, former students give more time and energy to work on projects at the centers.

We don't find this way of life in the rest of the "real world" yet Vipassana centers continue to flourish without sponsorship or marketing of any kind. There are more than 200 centers located in almost 100 countries.

This is not a call to action. I do not wish to proselytize. I just feel slightly better about our world when I remember that Vipassana centers are not fairy tales. They do exist.

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