The New Year’s Eve party across from our campsite continued well into
the early hours of the morning and the sounds of the live band and the
revelers were intermingled with the chants in the courtyard. This was
probably the first New Year celebration I had spent alone and in a quiet
manner. I reflected on the relevance of “the party’s over when the
music stops” to my condition coming into the camp having lived for all
these years in ignorance, reveling in the party of my unaware and
This third installment of my four-part essay on the Noble Eightfold
Path explores the cluster of factors that fall under the umbrella of
samādhi. Samādhi is commonly understood in this tradition as collecting
and calming the mind so that it can be focused on the observation of
reality for the purpose of cultivating wisdom/insight. However, it can
more broadly be defined as the calm abiding of mind and body.
Sīla is not merely about
moral and ethical considerations; it is also spiritual in nature, the
very foundation on which any strong practice is built. It is interesting
to note that the tenets of sīla are not intended as commandments.
Rather, sīla is undertaken as a “training.” The Buddha seems very clear
about the importance of sīla, which comprises three of the eight steps
of the Noble Eightfold Path. So in conformity with that teaching, our
tradition gives great importance to maintaining sīla in our lives.
At this stage, I was now completely convinced that hard as it may be,
I would continue to put in every effort humanly possible to maintain
the practice of Vipassana meditation when I resumed my regular life. The
significant changes in my energy level, concentration power, attention
span, creativity, mind-body coordination, temperament, and numerous
other faculties I had experienced through the use of this technique were
palpable, especially when I didn’t even know that such a big delta was
even available as headroom for potential improvement.