In 1980, after the hot season from April to June, few Westerners remained at Dhamma Giri. And during the rainy season that followed there were fewer still. Most of the Indian servers too had departed. Goenkaji himself had gone to conduct courses in Europe and North America.
During the monsoon Dhamma Giri is a magical place enswirled by leaden clouds and buffeted by pounding rain that abruptly gives way to dazzling sunlight. The parched hills turn emerald green with fresh grass and newborn waterfalls cascade off the surrounding mesas. How to dry your clothes and keep them from becoming mouldy, however, was an enduring problem.
The final installment of the essay on the Noble Eightfold path
concerns the cluster of factors that address the cultivation of wisdom,
or paññā. In the Buddha’s teaching, with a strong base of sīla, one is
well-grounded to more easily tamp down the hindrances, which leads one
to more easily develop strong samādhi. And with the sharpened mind, one
can penetrate into the laws that govern existence, and uproot the
tendency towards experiencing dukkha at the deepest level of the mind.
Paññā is also called “insight.”
I handed the instructions for the
location over to the chosen driver and we started making our way to the
destination. I closed my eyes for a few minutes in the back of the taxi
and the meditation process started spontaneously despite all the sounds
outside and the bright sunlight. I was delighted to note that I was able
to meditate in an unusual setting like a car ride. Taxis and flights
were a big part of my work week so it was comforting to know that I
could meditate in such environments.
the viewpoint of cultivating liberating insight, a central distinction
to be made is that between avoiding the types of joy that lead to
attachment while at the same time recognizing that there are commendable
forms of joy. These are in particular the wholesome types of joy that
come from deepening insight and learning to let go of clinging and
attachments. Finding joy in such letting go can provide an important
inspiration for dedicating ourselves wholeheartedly to the continuity of
practice and for this reason should not be underestimated.
For centuries Ashoka and his reign were forgotten in the mists of time and history, his name hardly known, his monuments broken, burnt and buried. It was only in the 19th Century, as India opened up to the West that a series of scholars, epigraphers, and archaeologists began to reassemble and understand his achievements and his message.