Journey to a Pāli Workshop in Colombia
A Volition Comes to Fruition
It was at Dhamma Siri, during the 2014 Latin American AT meeting that the idea of organizing a Pāli Workshop in Colombia first arose. León Naranjo, a Vipassana teacher (as taught by S.N. Goenka) from Colombia, approached Adriana Patiño about it; while discussing the idea, they already got into the “hows, whens and wheres”, but it took another eight years for the volition to actually bear fruit.
In 2022, Adriana travelled to Sri Lanka and got sick with COVID-19—right after landing on the island of Dhamma and reaching Argentinian Vipassana teacher Daniel Mayer’s home as the first stop. “Danielji insisted we’d stay with him, and so, through his warm hospitality and mettā, I was able to recover,” Adriana said.
Those who know Daniel Mayer know he is well-connected and one day he called León: “León guess who is here? Why don't you organize a Pāli Workshop in Colombia?” “That’s how that old volition came up again, and came to fruition. Daniel propelled us,” Adriana said. “Right then and there we agreed on a site close to Medellin, and the dates: December 8–17, 2022.”
From that moment on, things got going; Adriana, León, the organizers, and the registration department at Pariyatti settled on details for it to happen. But as we all know, obstacles can manifest on the way...
To reach the workshop location, Adriana had to take two flights: one from her hometown Monterrey, Mexico, into Mexico City, and then from Mexico City to Colombia. As Adriana reached Mexico City, she unfortunately fell sick with flu: “I had a high fever of 39.5 °C (103.1 °F), joint pain, body pain—I simply couldn't even get out of bed.”
The Mexico City to Colombia flight was scheduled on Tuesday, December 6; the Pāli workshop was to start on Thursday the 8th. The tests at the hospital’s emergency department luckily showed negative for COVID-19, but a strong ear and amygdala infection did not allow for flying the following day. The doctor provided shots, hoping to speed up healing the infection.
Arrangements were made for Adriana to fly on Thursday and she was optimistic she would be able to. But Wednesday brought an even higher fever; the infection had gotten worse and Adriana had now also lost her voice… So, the flight was postponed for another day.
In the meantime, the actual setting up of the site in San Antonio de Pereira was in full swing: registration was confirming all the students, organizers were cleaning, buying food, and making other preparations.
When Thursday came it was clear Adriana would not be boarding any plane that day; her situation had even worsened. “Thursday evening my mind started to feel really disappointed, rather baffled by the situation as so much effort had been put in by everybody and dāna had been spent… Somehow I did manage to sit (or rather “lay-down sit”) with a chanting. Closed throat, no voice, ears swollen and pounding with pain, passing-saliva aches, body weak with fever. However, the mind made a strong adhiṭṭhāna: ‘It is Thursday. If according to Dhamma I am meant to go, and this workshop is to happen and we are to honor everyone's efforts, by tomorrow early morning this body has to be ready to travel.’”
By the time Adriana finished meditating, she said the flow of Dhamma had become stronger and stronger. “The intuition that the body would be ok to travel arose, and so I prepared my suitcase and went to bed. That night the body started sweating and hallucinating, and sweating some more, and coughing and coughing until the throat opened. It was quite a night!”
When Adriana woke up at 5.45 am her ears were not as swollen, the fever was gone, and the infection reduced significantly. Adriana called the team: “I am flying today!”
The opening one-day course schedule was altered to have the Vipassana session in the afternoon, directly followed by the discourse. That way, Adriana would be there for the Metta session the following day, after which the Pāli workshop itself would start.
“And so it happened. I reached Colombia in the evening and slept till late Saturday morning and from the start of the course the gracious flow of Dhamma poured over all of us, blessed with the words of Dhamma,” Adriana said.
The course saw twelve students and four servers participating, from Colombia, Mexico, and Argentina. Adriana said one student’s testimony moved her deeply. The student approached Adriana on Metta day to express gratitude. “The student shared that all of her life she had felt some kind of emptiness in her heart and her chest area, but had never understood where it came from. It was some kind of loneliness—not a craving for motherly protection or affection, or for somebody's love... she didn't know what it was,” Adriana said. “Yet, the day we studied the first words that the Buddha uttered right after his Enlightenment, she felt as if that void started to fill up, she felt her heart expand, tears started flowing and she had a deep sensation that it was those very words she had been missing. That very teaching was what she had been longing for.”
As the Dhammapada states, all those who participated in the workshop were able to witness:
Sabbadanam dhammadanam jinati
sabbarasam dhammaraso jinati
sabbaratim dhammarati jinati
tanhakkhayo sabbadukkham jinati.
The gift of Dhamma surpasses all other gifts.
The taste of Dhamma excels all other tastes.
The joy of Understanding the Dhamma exceeds all other joys.
The eradication of Craving overcomes all ills.
"We were all witnesses of the triumph of Dhamma where we all were quenched and appeased by this Noble Teaching, by the words of Truth of the Enlightened One."
May the words of Dhamma arise.
For the good of many.
For the benefit of many.
“May all those visible and invisible beings, all the Dhamma forces, donors, and friends who made this meritorious deed possible, may all be happy, may all be peaceful, may all reach liberation as per their profound aspirations.”
The above wonderful drawing was gifted by a student at the end of the workshop. Adriana: "It’s an exact replica of all of those that attended the workshop—she really captured the essence of each person."
Find out dates for upcoming residential Pāli workshops.
View videos of chanting practice during the workshop on Facebook.