As I mentioned in my last blog, I completed a ten-day Vipassana course. This was a special ten-day course. And that means this was only for old students who have done the course before. And not just old students but students who had sat 20 days, 30 days, 40 days – and some veterans in the long courses. 

Image of student meditating in dhamma hall

So, I was sitting the course with people who were 60+ years old. But looked decades younger. And that wasn’t the only unique factor. They had a zest for life which was inspiring. Buddha said old age is suffering. And as I cross over to the more senior side, I can see why it is suffering. My parents are ageing, my friend’s parents are ageing, and my relatives are ageing. So there is no doubt that when you grow old, there is any shortage of suffering. There are the usual aches, pains, and always some or the other illness you are grappling with. And this group of students I sat with were no different. They had their share of aches – the conversation on the last day had pretty much centred around passing stools. But, some of them had more serious troubles, like one was getting over cancer, and another was dealing with her husband’s girlfriend. Some were not happy with their daughter-in-law. So, no different from the usual troubles humans have on this planet as they grow old.

Quote about how old age is suffering and you cannot escape death

But, what was different was their response to it; there was an acceptance of it which at times transmuted into a deep inner peace and joy. Doing a Vipassana course requires you to sit cross-legged for most of the day, and none of them complained about it. So be it if they had to sit in a chair for a bit. When the lady told us the story about her husband’s girlfriend, I could not distinguish it from a stand-up comedy act. And we all had a good laugh about it. 

It was very inspiring to know that it is possible for people to sit 20-day, 30-day and longer courses regularly. And also because it is good to see that you can enjoy yourself in old age regardless of what’s happening. I have seen a bunch of 70 years old have the time of their lives on the last day of a gruelling and intense ten-day meditation retreat. I am grateful to have experienced that because that will remain with me. 

About five of us in the last row were doing the special course for the first time. And we were the ‘babies’ in the course, which was different from other courses where I am usually the veteran. Vipassana meditation takes you on a path similar to a video game. When you have conquered level 1 – the next level comes up with the appropriate difficulty level. And it is a long path with many levels. Hence, I am grateful that I got to sit with other experienced students to bring inspiration, bask in their vibrations and enjoy life with them.

How will old age be for you? 

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