Vipassana shows you how to wipe out the pain-component of experience. Vipassana shows you how to dismantle your automatic punishment-reward system so that, even though it is still running, it is running in empty space, without traction, without transmitting its power to your story telling, image-making, speaking, or movement. The impulses never make it your muscles and bones.
Which brings up a point: the goal of the system is to do work. Work is the application of volitional force to the inertial counter-forces of nature (including one’s own). Muscular effort accomplishes real work and drains real energy. And remember that the “I” is just the outermost emergent layer over all bodily systems. Muscular action can lead to drastic consequences, so of course it is a big deal for the conservative “I.” (And this could be a motivator for the anti-activity element in Buddhist practice. An immobile and secluded organism is at peace, but because it is less likely to be noticed by predators.)
Vipassana shows you how to wipe out the pain-component of experience—but maybe we should be welcoming this pain and its urgent command that we undertake muscular action. Maybe the knots, tension, pain, and misery that Buddhism strives to remove are allies that can help us make painful changes. The pain that motivates us to make painful changes needs to be more painful than the pain of change.
The foal of pain is movement. Buddhism teaches us how to let pain arise but without the subsequent cascade of muscular action. But maybe we should be moved by the pain into taking action that itself is painful. Sometimes, pain is needed in order to initiate good actions; or, sometimes taking good actions is painful—so painful that we might avoid taking it for years. And now maybe the consequences of our inaction have piled up so night that that pain that Vipassana would seek to eliminate is actually our own good sense attacking us for being on the wrong track. Persistent misery is likely a sign that you are in perpetual rebellion against your current bad trajectory. All hail the pain that is greater than the pain of right action.
What else could motivate us to exert so much effort and energy when we plainly see that there I no urgency, and when we also see that a comfortable low-energy path is already there in front of us?
So instead of trying to minimize upset, roll with it and get to work.
Those upsetting sensations could be your own inner coach trying to help you be happy and get the HAVINGNESS you truly want.
So the ultimate Tech is twofold:
- When pain comes, first interpret it as a message from The Coach. Are you fucking off, wasting time, avoiding your duties? Then get to work—and practice Vipassana on your aversion for the work. Do not practice Vipassana on your pain if you ought to be feeling it. You should feel pain when you let your life fall apart. Acclimating yourself to self-defeat is a terrible and tragic idea.
- If the pain is just bullshit pain, dissolve it with Vipassana as usual.
When any dark painful urge comes and you’re feeling like shit and craving any distraction, be crazy and get to work on your project.
Someone fucked you over? Good—get back to work. You were playing around wasting years. On your deathbed, when you see you own flesh as soon-to-be excrement, when you see yourself as soon slipping from it, slipping out. Then you will regret.
You are here for only a short time. Use your time to achieve your goals. The choice is either (A) goals, or (B) floating.
Remember the urgency Goenka expresses about time spent at the course. You should have the same attitude about life.
So, so sad that the finitude of life has only now hit me. My God, I’m having that stupid mid-life crisis they used to talk about. That thing.
Why were they so obscure? They could have just been clear. When you begin to get dizzy with regret, remember two things:
- You’re not on your deathbed now but you soon will be.
- At that time, you will look back and wonder, “What the fuck was I thinking? I guess my back-then self really hated the important one, the Final Judge, the helpless Deathbed Self.
Treat every day as your last day of life and your first day of the Vipassana retreat:
The first day is over. You have nine more left to work; to work very hard. To get the best result of your stay here, you have to work very hard—diligently, ardently, patiently but persistently; continuously. It is your own hard work which will give you the best fruits of your stay here. Nothing else—your own hard work. From morning four, four-thirty to night nine, nine-thirty, you have to keep on working very diligently. Continuously.
Deathbed Friend Tech
You feel a vague pain or anxiety and it’s driving you to do actions that are merely for pain distraction. Don’t react automatically—but also don’t do Vipassana. Instead, be Deathbed Friend. Go you your dying future self, the one who knows that slipping out of excrement is coming. What is his deepest regret? Feel it and GET TO WORK.