Hi Folks, I haven't posted here for awhile as I"ve been busy moving house and changing jobs yada yada.. However, during that time I managed to do a 10 day Vipassana course. Wow! I would recommend everyone interested in meditation to try this course if they can - the reward is well worth the 10 day investment! It's very strict - no talking or communicating with other people whatsoever; no phones; no reading or writing material; wake up at 4am and lights out at 9pm; last meal is at 11.30am; meditation time in total is 10 hours per day and 3 of those hours you must try not to move AT ALL.. not a finger! The aim of this is PAIN. But by experiencing this pain and discomfort in your own body one can experience true equanimity for yourself rather than vicariously thru reading about it in a book etc.
I can see how some people might criticize such a tough regime but it works and is the nearest a lay person will ever get to living like a monk. I used to believe that the mark of an Enlightened person lies in the number and depth of the spiritual experinces they had. Not so. I had countless 'spiritual' highs myself on the course, but you come to realise that these are actually quite natural biological/mental states (probably endorphins/serotonin) and nothing mystical at all. Buddha felt so to - read the sutras). The trick is not to become attached to these blissful states as they are impermanent. Likewise, don't avoid the pain (sometimes I sat as long as an hour and a half and the pain is INTENSE!!) because this too is impermanent. Nothing spiritual to it at all. And the truth of this is that people of any faith can practice (a muslim breath is the same as a christian breath). If anyone is interested I would be willing to answer any questions about my experiences. Oh by the way, just for JMJM and Edgar - the Tao that can be named is not the real Tao. Regards Mike.