Tag Archives: #service

I am here to serve

I did my first 10-day Vipassana course in Delhi, Gurgaon. Vipassana meditators run all the Vipassana courses on a volunteer basis – nobody is paid. They do it because they want to and genuinely too. I had to do two more courses before the desire to serve arose in me.

I remember standing at the door in Dhamm Dipa in London and saying aloud for the first time in my life – “I am here to serve.” Vipassana changed my life and continues to change my life – it is hard work, I won’t lie, but it does change the grand canyons I have built in mind consciously or unconsciously. This blog is dedicated to Vipassana and S.N.Goenka who brought this course to the rest of the world from Burma.

If you have ever done one of the 10-day courses in Vipassana as taught by S.N.Goenka, then the following will resonate with you – more so if you have served.

One of the rules we have to observe is segregation between males and females – they have separate quarters, separate dining rooms, etc. When we (dhamma servers as Goenka Ji likes to call us) are preparing meals in the kitchen, you will hear statements like
– Is the female rice ready?
– Do we need Male Olive Oil?
Everything is divided into three categories – female, male or serve because that is how we partition food and prepare the dining rooms and set the food out.

Second, gongs – I never wear my watch in Vipassana because life is so simple and everything is announced with a gong. There is a morning gong that wakes you up, gong before every lunch, gong after breaks, gong before group sits. If you miss the gong – the course manager will make sure you don’t forget. And I remember the first time I rang the gong – the vibrations from the gong centered me to the core.

Third, silence. It is a silent retreat. You do not speak unless asking for supplies or questions for the teacher when you are sitting a course. While serving there is talking but very less, and all the students are silent. There is something about the quietness that lets you hear the incessant chatter of the mind and move towards just observing it and not becoming it. Nine days of silence increases the depth to which you explore with every course.

At the end of the course, Goenka Ji says that one of the reasons there is no charge for the Vipassana course is – “What price will you pay?” The teaching is so invaluable there is nothing you can pay that can compare to the value you get. There are some things in life which are truly priceless, and Vipassana is one such gem for me.

I am eternally grateful
– to Buddha for discovering it
– to all the teachers who maintained the teaching
– to Goenka Ji who helped spread it to the rest of the world where I could receive it
– that I got the human birth
– that I was born in a period where dhamma in its pure form is being taught

My heart overflows with gratitude.
May all beings be happy!

Beginning with a Yes!!!

At a CPM reunions, one of my friends suggested the idea of a improv – one of the first things he said is that you have to start with an Yes. I found that exercise very difficult because it meant I needed to put the BIG “I” behind and go with the flow. It was not easy for me to just accept what the person in front of me was saying and build on it – I wanted to show my smartness by contradicting or trying to prove I was right.. It didn’t come easy to me.

I remember my first course as a server in Vipassana at London. I had sat three courses and the feeling to serve arose in me – as you know Vipassana courses are all volunteer led. Many people had served me when I sat my three course and now it was my time to give back. I showed up at the door and remember saying “I am here to serve.” Those words made a difference to me – I was ready to put the I behind and serve. And I ended up serving as a course manager – someone who is the conduit between students and the staff/teachers etc. And one of the rules of conduct includes that we don’t give advice – we only listen and direct as needed to staff/teachers. And we also served the teachers. I found myself saying yes at the beginning of every sentence – regardless of the what the question/ask from me was – my attitude was “Yes, I am here to serve.” It was very helpful to live in a space where I put others in front of me. I learnt a lot in that course both knowingly and unknowingly.

I came back and found that my daily practice has been established – Dhamma does work.

Coming back to real life there is so much power in saying yes to everything that happens, people asking you difficult questions/emails that need to be answered/swimming classes/dance classes – in short life. How many times have you resisted something and it has still happened? Why lose energy in resisting something when it is what is? Yes- means accepting life as it is regardless of your liking. Your likes/dislikes in essence don’t matter – what matters is what needs to be done and doing it.

In a gamble between life and you – I would place my bet on life and win 100%. Man proposes – God disposes. This does not mean if somebody asks you to harm yourself you say yes – no it means saying yes to the fact that this is what is happening and then reacting to it – but see here is the main difference you won’t be reacting, you will be acting if you have accepted the situation and a much better position to come from.

The more we show up with a Yes- with willingness to serve the more we are putting others in front of I. More we do that more the I flourishes – this is one of the paradoxes of life.