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No, actually I didn’t go to France. But I went to former-and-still Francoindia: today’s Puducherry, former Pondy or Pondycherry four bus-hours below Chennai at the coast, was once the center of the France’s India-colony dream. The British and others beat them a few times but somehow Pondy always came back into french influence - and so the french had nearly 300 (1674 - 1954) years of more or less steady influence. That leaves big scars…

Ok, enough anti-frenched! Actually Puducherry is quite nice. There’s a shore and there’s loads of restaurants serving good foreign food (a rarity for India as far as I can say that) - but also there’s billions of French, the prices in said restaurants are ridiculously high for Indian (sure, not for European) standards and somehow the whole city just has this slightly crazy atmosphere… that made me sick… Continue Reading »

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Well, I just got time and needed some change from writing, so I just added another plugin (actually I had it in the old blogs but it didn’t work with my current wordpress-version - which by the way is the system via which I am writing all this…) - so now you can see how many people have read each post (only counts the specific clicks, not the main-page opening, and they all start with zero now…) - at the end of it - and at the side you can see the overall site hit-count below the “meta” menu.

And I just decided to start using the “more” tag, which means that from now on you have to click to see the whole article… makes the loading time somewhat shorter and the blog overall more readable :)

somebody

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Hola again! Yeah, today I have time, so: another entry… lot’s of things that weren’t written before :D

Ok, so from the narrating point I’m still in Thiruvannaamalai (and it’s still the 31st uly 2008). But nothing else was that interesting: Sure, I went to the temple several more times (with new slippers that I gave to the shoestand…) and I went up the mountain. Arunachala mountain is actually famous for two things: Shiva ones appeared on it’s summit in the shape of a “shivalingam made of fire”. That’s why the Arunachala temple is famous and very important for Hindus. And second a Swami, “Sri Ramana” lived there for several years in caves until he and his then-many devotees built an ashram close to the mountain. Actually he’s dead but the ashram is still active and actually you can look into the room where he died, which was left the way it was back then (well, they got the corpse out, of course) through a window. But as I have now interest in such sort of person-glorification I just skipped the ashram. And as the guide said the mountain offers a superb view over the temple I climbed up, with the heat at about 30degree…

Continue Reading »

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I left Chennai via the Mofussil bus stand: “the biggest and busiest bus stand in south-east asia” as one guide describes it. Used to the Indian semi-chaos I expected the worst but was surprised to find a huge but very well organised place. Easy to get away…

… for a daytrip to Vellore. Famous for a new golden temple (which I didn’t visit because I think gold is just for the stupid and show-offs) and an old fort, obviously named Fort Vellore, occupied over the years by many Indian and European powers. I was surprised how huge it was, including a big hindu temple, a mosque, a police academy, a university, two museums, a police hospital, several other buildings and some houses and some huge lawn areas.

First I tried to get into the temple, Continue Reading »

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Every photo that you take is a moment that is saved for eternity - but every moment that you look at a photo is lost - because you don’t see all those things that happen now.

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Yeah, that’s it. Until now I was either a (Yoga) student, or a tourist (Mamallapuram) or a meditator (Chennai), but actually I was not so much of a traveler, my self-declared status. I don’t want to be a tourist, because tourists lie at the beach and buy souvenirs. I’m a traveler: I want to see - and experience. And not buy.

So, after my meditation ended (28th) I went to Chennai - but not alone, one of my fellow meditators invited me to his place. Continue Reading »

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Yes, I am talking about torture, but no, I’m not talking about brainwashing - Goenka (the teacher) calls it “purification of the mind” - for me that’s a brain-laundry… so, but anyway - I was not allowed to write for ten days, so now it’s time to write a long long article… but as a German, let’s start in a nice and orderly way!

What am I talking about?
I just completed a ten day course of Vipassana meditation in a center that belongs to the organisation “Dhamma“, founded and run by S.N. Goenka, but with several centers around the world. Continue Reading »

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This is part of a series, please start with the main article.

Actually there are many factors why I got this impression. First of all, there were many posters propagating the “Great Vipassana Pagoda” which would allow a perfect meditation in unison with the universe or so… Second: The “Dhamma workers” - former students who volunteerly work in the center for the whole course period. Why the hell would anybody do this if he/she has not been seriously brainwashed? Third and most important was another fact: On this day we arrived at around 16.00 and then got some information and then just half an hour of meditation at the end - so we had about four introductory talks: First, a taped recording of S N Goenka, the guy who brought Vipassana back to India (Gautama the Buddha “found” this technique and teached it, later the emperor Asoka, after turning from cruel slaughterer to nice king through this technique, organised the training of teachers who he sent around the world - but only in Burma this technique survived “in it’s pure form”). Goenka talked a lot about the rules and said at least two times we should not run away. Then, again, one guy, somehow the manager of the place said the same thing again two times. Then we went to the meditation hall and again a taped Goenka said the same thing, repeated by the “assistant teacher” who would later answer our questions… so, at least six times, I think even more, we were told not to leave.. why the hell would somebody leave if there’s not something really bad hidden behind…?

Oh, and then, that we were not allowed to write (I understand talking, but I mean, writing is plain self-talk….) annoyed me - I would have loved to write down my thoughts to later check my development…

So, is “Dhamma” a sect? The first day really gave me this impression….

And as I later realized, every day in the evening, in the last half hour of meditation we get the main instructions what to do during the meditation and the first one was:

Day 02: Observe the respiration “as it is”

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This is part of a series, please start with the main article.

The last part (”as it is”) got annoying because it was repeated several times every day of the course. But the message is easy to get - if you get it: don’t change what you see! Watch the respiration, but don’t change it - “if it is shallow it is shallow, if it is deep it is deep, if it goes through the left nostril it goes through the left nostril…..”, so: “observe the reality as it is, not as you would like it to be”.And that turned out to be the main element of Vipassana and Anapana. Actually observing the breath is not Vipassana (the technique that Buddha found) but just Anapana, a preliminary technique that is supposed to train the concentration - so that later, for Vipassana, you are able to concentrate on other areas of the body…

On this day I already found it impossible - to keep my position. Actually it sounds quite easy to sit for an hour or two. Don’t we do that every day? But during meditation it is far more difficult - because you do not distract your mind. You focus on something, but on something internal - if you watch TV your mind is occupied with the story, pictures, characters, actions going on outside, but if you start watching your body/your breath you find that your body is concentrated on the inside…. which means that you feel the pain in your legs getting stronger and stronger and stronger…

And another thing got obvious: Concentration is not easy. On this day I did not really realize it, but I watched my breath for one, two times, and then, somehow, started thinking about sooooooo many things… until some moment I realized that I should watch my respiration, so I focused back on it - and two breath later I was in some other place again… and luckily that’s not just mine but a typical, everybody’s problem: Few people start and can instantly concentrate without getting distracted. Actually I thought I would be good at it, due to Yoga meditation and such - and in some moments I was so proud of my surely existing concentratability that I thought more “I’m so good in concentration” than I concentrated… ouch

Later the instructions changed slightly, first I didnl’t realise it - but then: “Concentrate on the area, in, around and below your nostrils”… ah, ok… and: “feel the sensations, whatever sensations comes up - cold, heat, pulsating, pain, pressure, tickling, …” - we were told to watch the area and observe every sensation that would appear, but: Don’t react! That’s the important thing… and then I somehow lifted my hand and wanted to start scratching, when the instruction came back in my mind, not to change it… that happened about 20 times :D

Day 03: “Don’t quit, Vipassana is really good”

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This is part of a series, please start with the main article.

Actually the days where most people want or do quit are the second and sixth day. But for me it was the third. It was not a real reason, I just felt like the whole thing was useless, Goenka kept annoying me (and later I found: everybody else too!) with his chantings and his sour-throat-coughing and his strange way of stretching every vowel into an “eeeeeeeeheheheeheheehhhh” (Imagine an old broken truck driving past you, or somebody emptying his throat or something like that.. creepy) and the constant repetition of some things while other important suggestions were not repeated - and the indian accent is not always easy to get… So, well, actually I did not think about running away, I just felt like doing it - get up, give the teacher a good hit and then run away…

And this was also the day when I started laughing - about the message, scribbled on my bathroom’s door: “Don’t quit, Vipassana is really good!” But my legs are certainly no good…

So, first we were to focus on our breath - and the third day was first focussing on the area of and below the nose and then later just the “triangle below your nostrils and above your upper lip” - the area of concentration gets constantly smaller so that your concentration sharpens, is focused “on the spot”.

Day 04: “Vipassana day, pain day…”

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