G’day from the land of oZ!
Projected by the tailwinds of time, after fourteen hours in the air the mysteries of aviation drop the airplane into Sydney two calendar days after the flight commences. Undoubtedly, one of my favorite sounds in the world is the hum of landing gear deploying and this morning was no exception. It means stepping out of the capsule and touching my feet onto the soil of a destination I couldn’t reach by sprinting. It’s someplace I wasn’t when I started and holds the air of mischief not yet accomplished.
Immediately after landing I quickly glide away from the city-scapes surrounding the Sydney airport and into the deep fog-engulfed valleys of the Blue Mountains. Stopping off in Katoomba, a quaint little mountain town that reminds me of Park City. Adjusting my eyes to thew new digs I set about getting reacquainted with the main street, intersperced with locally owned restaurants, galleries and shops it's set against a pristine wooded world of rocks and valleys. It feels like home with an accent.
The air is heavy and gray with a drizzly humidity to match. My hair is already beginning to take on weight and by morning I suspect I’ll be sporting a full afro. In the two days prior to joining one hundred fellow meditators, I’m staying at a youth hostel at the end of the street. While well beyond the phase that would still consider me a youth, it’s convenient, impeccably clean and boasts an enormous communal kitchen.
This new home base will make an excellent transitional portal, both before and after my cerebral cleansing. The Blackheath Vipassana center is two train stops over and to give you an idea of what the next ten days are about here is the schedule:
4:00 a.m. Morning wake-up bell
4:30 - 6:30 a.m. Meditate in the hall or in your room
6:30 - 8:00 a.m. Breakfast break
8:00 - 9:00 a.m. Group meditation in the hall
9:00 - 11:00 a.m. Meditate in the hall or in your room
11:00 - 12 noon Lunch break
1:00 - 2:30 p.m. Meditate in the hall or in your room
2:30 - 3:30 p.m. Group meditation in the hall
3:30 - 5:00 p.m. Meditate in the hall or in your room
5:00 - 6:00 p.m. Tea break
6:00 - 7:00 p.m. Group meditation in the hall
7:00 - 8:15 p.m. Teacher's discourse in the hall
8:15 - 9:00 p.m. Group meditation in the hall
9:00 - 9:30 p.m. Question time in the hall
9:30 p.m. Lights out
You may be wondering why this sounds like a good idea? For someone with extreme rule-averse tendencies as myself, why is indeed a reasonable question.
"Vipassana means seeing things as they really are. It is the process of self-purification by self-observation. One begins by observing the natural breath to concentrate the mind. With a sharpened awareness one proceeds to observe the changing nature of body and mind. This truth-realization by direct experience is the process of purification."
Just to be clear, meditation is not about religious affiliation and if you speak to my mother please explain to her that I’m not joining a cult. But haven’t you ever wondered what the point of all this is? We wake up. Go to work. Come home. Eat, sleep and do it all over again. Along the way we make some friends, have children, develop neurosis, and pass them along, just like good little Doozers.
I’m tired of distracting myself with the minutia. There is something out there beyond what I can see with my own eyes; of this I am certain. Admittedly, I am not going to solve the great cosmic riddle after ten days of sitting with my eyes closed. But the deeper I penetrate the nature of my own thoughts, the closer I come to untangling the misconceptions and prejudice that cloud my perception.
Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.