Vipassana the Key to Liberation

The sun is shinning, birds are chirping, crows are crowing, bells are ringing, bees are pollinating and I, Aga, am crying.

Noble silence is active in Dhamma Giri’s main Pagoda, I am sitting still in the second row, surrounded by 150 indian women of all ages. A 70 year old woman from Tamil Nadu is sitting to my left and a young college girl is sitting to my right. I can’t help myself, tears are rolling down and I don’t even know why. Are all my suffering, sorrows are clearing out? Or did I just realise that I have no control over my mind’s reactions. 

My conditioned mind has been living my life for me. Embedded childhood traumas and conditions created who I identify as I, Aga. I get angry, I avert, I am happy, I crave. All life I have been living in the past or future, craving or averting. Without realising how much misery it has created over the years. As Goenka* says, deep sankharas, the imprints of experiences that form the habit patterns of the mind.

I am a happy kid, I would say. I never felt any need for improvements in my life, according to my mind I never suffer, I am not miserable. Perhaps because my mind has lead me on. It wants to feel pleasant sensations always and forever. 

So why am I crying? What is crying? Is it because I am training my mind to cooperate and instead? Its a toggle war.

I operate by using my senses, we have 5 or 6 senses depending what book you read. The eyes that see, the ears that hear, the nose that smells, touch that feels, the tongue that tastes and maybe I am missing one more there, but you get the gist. Using my senses is how my mind connects the dots of what’s happening and my unconscious reacts with craving or aversion. 

A double dutch chocolate  cake will make me crave. A piercing sound would make me avert, the pleasant smell of jasmine flowers will make…. and the list goes on. This is how my mind differentiates between what I normally call good or bad. My mind’s reactions to these sensations sculpt who I think I am. But what if there was no good or bad? What if the feeling of love and pain was the same? What if the smell of jasmine flowers or dog shit was the same. How would my mind operate then. Who would I be? Will I float in the universe without any opinion? Would I live a hippie life and feed on berries? Or perhaps, I might just be liberated from creating a fiction world that I project onto others. 

You ever smelled someone’s perfume and wondered why in the world they sprayed this stuff on? – Oh lady, you need to wash yourself, this perfume smells straight up like an ass crack! – meanwhile she is feeling like a million dollars.

But in reality, the smell whether pleasant or foul is just a smell. The taste whether delicious or disgusting is just a taste. What about the color pink? How does it make you feel. Take notice, not to the reaction, but feel the subtle sensations that your senses create. 

It’s all the same.

The first thing that David, my boyfriend said when he came out of his second Vipassana retreat – The feeling of pleasure and pain is the same, it’s all made of the same material.

– When my 10 year relationship ended with my ex, I was laying in bed and felt this feeling, the very same feeling that I felt when I fell in love. It was then that I realised, that the two sensations had no difference. – Said Nina a 15 year Vipassana meditator, who I met in India.  

A young girl gets raped, this deep sankhara is embedded in her for life. She has managed all her life to cope with this sensation and this reflects in all her actions. She might never want to have sex again, or she might be the highest paid porn star in Hollywood, or there might be a completely unrelated action, which is how her mind coped with the rape, and she keeps repeating it. It is her deep sankhara, that is directing her actions.

– I am never upset for the reasons I think I am. – Said Eckhart Tolle

So why are addicts addicts? What made my mother smoke for most of her life, knowing that this is slowly killing her. Tobacco, alcohol, drugs all put you in a certain state, to which your mind associates the feeling of pleasure, and you crave for more. Or the opposite, you had a bad experience and you will avert.

I am crying because my mind is going though a deep surgical operation, and it simply does not like it. I am training my mind not to react to pleasant or painful sensations and to remain equanimous. I am sitting for an hour without movement with pain in my knee, which is a gross sensation, I ignore my feeling of aversion. I simply acknowledge the present moment and observe as the sensation dissolves. This is how all things happen. Anicca, anicca, anicaa. Change, change, change. All things change and never remain the same. All feelings or sensations, they all change. So if I remain equanimous, I will not create new sankharas and the old ones will surface and dissolve.

The first step is to realise that craving and aversion is all derived from your five – or six – senses, which your mind categorises into good and bad. Second step is to be aware of the current sensations they create, and third step is to be equanimous and not react to them. These three steps will guide you to liberation and a happy hippie life. 

Vipassana is a ten day silent meditation where you meditate for ten hours a day. Your mind, the wild beast, goes under a deep surgical operation. Goenkaji guides you each day deeper into a technique that digs into your mind and its habit patterns. It’s a technique which will make you aware what makes you tick and react. The main difference between Vipassana and other meditation techniques, is that it not only calms your mind to stillness, but it also makes deep stuff resurface and with time, dissolve. 

It’s one of the hardest things I have done in my life and one of the most rewarding experiences on this journey. In the ten days I learned a technique which trains my mind not to react with craving or aversion that leads to my unconscious misery. I did not become liberated from all my sufferings, I am not yet enlightened and I might not be in this life time. I have learned a golden tool invented by the Buddha, passed down through generations from teacher to teacher. With practice and patience day-by-day, I am closer to step out of the wheel of suffering.

Perhaps I will not look for imperfections or perfections and accept beings and things for what they are. Perhaps the smell of flowers or sewers will just bring me to recognise my presence. Perhaps all sounds will create music in my ears and perhaps a touch will bring me to the present moment. Because reality is, you and I only live in this present moment.

As I sit and observe my body sensations my tears have stopped, and a feeling of vibration has taken over my body, yet another sensation has arisen. I feel light. Anicca, anicca, anicca.

May all beings be happy, be peaceful, be liberated.– Goenka 

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Individual meditation cells

View from my residency


Goenka’s residency

This is one of the biggest centres in India, where Goenka spent most of his time.

*Mr. S.N. Goenka- is a teacher of Vipassana meditation in the tradition of the late Sayagyi U Ba Khin of Burma (Myanmar).

Although Indian by descent, Mr. Goenka was born and raised in Burma. While living in Burma he had the good fortune to come into contact with U Ba Khin, and to learn the technique of Vipassana from him. After receiving training from his teacher for fourteen years, Mr. Goenka settled in India and began teaching Vipassana in 1969. In a country still sharply divided by differences of caste and religion, the courses offered by Mr. Goenka have attracted thousands of people from every part of society. In addition, many people from countries around the world have come to join courses in Vipassana meditation.

Mr. Goenka has taught tens of thousands of people in more than 300 courses in India and in other countries, East and West. In 1982 he began to appoint assistant teachers to help him to meet the growing demand for courses. Meditation centres have been established under his guidance in India, Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, France, the United Kingdom, Japan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Nepal and other countries.

The technique which S. N.Goenka teaches represents a tradition that is traced back to the Buddha. The Buddha never taught a sectarian religion; he taught Dhamma – the way to liberation – which is universal. In the same tradition, Mr. Goenka’s approach is totally non-sectarian. For this reason, his teaching has a profound appeal to people of all backgrounds, of every religion and no religion, and from every part of the world.


2 thoughts on “Vipassana the Key to Liberation

  1. You are extremely lucky Aga to have experienced the phases of meditation so deeply. There is honesty and directness in your writing.
    First realizing your agonies and pains, then learning what do they come from, then realizing how mind creates all the suffering and if controlled, we can liberate ourselves from the pain by controlling the mind rather than the mind controlling the body.
    I had read about it, but now you have inspired me to really go and experience it.
    Thank you so much. Gob Bless. May we all realize our true calling and keep endeavoring for it, every passing day.

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