quarta-feira, 2 de março de 2011

My moveable feast

On the first page of Moveable Feast, Hemingway wrote "If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast". As far as I understood, Hemingway was not only talking about an experience abroad, but an experience which had helped him become Hemingway. 

Then I asked myself which trip had had a similar effect on me, and all my trips suddenly flashed before my eyes, and I recalled a peculiar one. 

To get there we must accept its rules and schedule. A minimum stay is a ten-day-period; during that period, the day starts at 04:30 am and ends around 21:00/21:30 pm. One must abstain from any action, physical or vocal, which disturbs the peace and harmony of others. It means that during these ten days we could not talk, read, write, watch TV, use any gadgets, or exercise. One must not lie. One must not kill any kind of being (which includes mosquito and bugs). One could only eat vegetarian food, during the time settled for it, and learn how to meditate.

One day before the journey started, the organizers introduced themselves, explained how things work, where everyone were going to sleep and with whom to share a bedroom. Everyone had to share a bedroom with someone of the same gender. 

In my case, I shared a room with a girl that I had never seen before, but somehow we became friends. We arranged not to look at each-other to make sure that we wouldn’t communicate. Everything was settled for our no talking, no drinking, no sex, no anything trip.

For me, time went slower each day; every minute seemed to last forever, and all I had to do was to be aware of my breath.

On my first silent day, I was wondering why we should be quiet during lunch and tea time; we should be allowed to ask for salt or tea on the table, I thought; I also noticed that some people were strange and were eating a lot. On my second day, I only thought about breakfast, lunch and tea time and that I should be one of the first to be served. On my third day I had all sort of thoughts, like a psychopath,  and I realized that I still had seven days to go through. On my forth day, I realized that my thought was a kind of parasite that could ruin my whole life; and I understood the compulsory silence.

We were allowed to ask some questions to the teacher, in a specified time. On my forth day, I asked “what do I do with my loud and bad thoughts?” “You concentrate on your breath and will understand some day”, she answered. I did everything that I could to remain concentrated on my breath; I pinched my nose, bit my lips, I didn’t move, I cried, but my thoughts were getting louder and poisoning. I saw myself as a judgmental and intolerant person. On the sixth day, I was tired of my parasite thought and realized that I still had four entire days with myself that I couldn’t bear. However, I carried on breathing and following the rules.

As everyday was forever and lasts until today, I don’t know when exactly I noticed that parasite was not myself, although it was (and is still) part of me. I understood that those “mad people” who talk alone in the streets are just louder brothers. I was laughing. Everything apparently was going well, but then I started thinking of sex. “You cannot ask this kind of thing to the teacher?”My mind tried to mislead myself. But I did ask her and she answered peacefully: “it is the sacred energy; keep concentrated on your breath”.

On the last day, I felt released. I’ve succeeded to have a break from my thougths for a few minutes. Nine years have passed and more will while I keep practicing it. Then wherever I go for the rest of my life, it stays with me; for   vipassana is my moveable feast.

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