Sunday, September 25, 2011

Future plans: now I've really done it.

Now until October 4: in McLeod Ganj
October 4-10: trip to Gangotri, on my friend Gaurav's suggestion. It'll be a lot of travel: overnight bus to Rishikesh, long bus to Uttarkashi, short bus to Gangotri, 2-day hike to/from the Gaumukh glacier, then a long bus back to Dehradun.
October 21-23: hang out in Rishikesh for a couple days
October 24-26: back to near-Delhi to celebrate Diwali with the Mohans. (thanks to them for inviting me!)

Which leaves a gap from October 10-21, doesn't it. Well, I've just signed up for a 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat in Dehradun.
The organization (it's legit; internationally known and recommended by my Seattle Buddhist friends)
The daily schedule during the retreat:
4:00 am              Morning wake-up bell
4:30-6:30 am           Meditate in the hall or in your room
6:30-8:00 am           Breakfast break
8:00-9:00 am           Group meditation in the hall
9:00-11:00 am           Meditate in the hall or in your room according to the teacher's instructions
11:00-12:00 noon           Lunch break
12noon-1:00 pm           Rest and interviews with the teacher
1:00-2:30 pm           Meditate in the hall or in your room
2:30-3:30 pm           Group meditation in the hall
3:30-5:00 pm           Meditate in the hall or in your own room according to the teacher's instructions
5:00-6:00 pm           Tea break
6:00-7:00 pm           Group meditation in the hall
7:00-8:15 pm           Teacher's Discourse in the hall
8:15-9:00 pm           Group meditation in the hall
9:00-9:30 pm           Question time in the hall
9:30 pm           Retire to your own room--Lights out 

Yikes! But this is it, this is an actual substantial retreat. It'll be a test, for sure. But I think I can do it, and I like how it's all practice with little talking. I don't imagine I'll go through it and not make progress. Well, wish me luck!


  1. Hi, Dan! Great stories and pictures!
    Your plan to do the ten day retreat took me to some blogs that show pictures and descriptions of it- some lovely, some bleak-including some complaints about the pain in the a-- of sitting cross-legged for hours.

    Here's a quote I liked that I thought you might enjoy:
    “We could say that meditation doesn't have a reason or doesn't have a purpose. In this respect it's unlike almost all other things we do except perhaps making music and dancing... Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment.”
    - Alan Watts
    Be happy!

  2. wow that retreat schedule is intense! nothin' like waking up at 4am...should be an experience! i noticed on the website that they have programs at prisons! fun fact of the day

  3. Helicopter: I like Alan Watts! Tom Robbins had a good quote in one of his books rather like that too.

    Seriously, though, sitting cross legged for hours is super tough, and I have no idea how I'll do it. Even on the last retreat, I couldn't sit for the full 3 or 4 hours/day. I think some of the meditation is walking, so it's not sitting all day, so that helps.

    Cheryl: I know! Some retreats are really quite like prison: you have to follow a strict regiment that mostly consists of sitting in one place. But people go there voluntarily! Curious thought.

  4. What are your plans in Rishikesh? Think you'll visit the river and observe the rituals? My Dad says its a great time of year to visit - Nice and cool. Both Rishikesh and Haridwar have tourist resorts so there should be a lots of young travellers and new friends. If you do decide to bathe in the Ganges, Haridwar is the nicer of the two but either way the Ganges is very clean at that altitude and good for a little swim. You can forget the Pundits along the water's edge trying to bamboozle you for money in exchange for prayers. You can purchase flowers cheaply and offer them to the water's edge yourself - for free! Also bathing in the Ganges is symbolic of a baptism I guess - it's supposed to wash away your sins :-)

  5. Also have you any plans to visit Lumbini ( Buddha's birthplace)? or Allahabad?

    Your meditation schedule is pretty hard core man! Let me know if you learn any new secrets to meditation. Oh and Good Luck!

  6. VR19: I don't know, mostly just hanging out after the fast travel and intense meditation. Oh, I forgot Haridwar is right there too! Have you been to either/both? If so, which is more worth going to?

    And thanks for reminding me about Lumbini. I could theoretically hit up there and Kushinagar and then check all the big 4 Buddha sites off my list. Maybe I'll do that.

    No plans for Allahabad. It's just the Kumbh Mela (and other Melas) site, right?

  7. Oh my pleasure, happy to help :)

    Haridwar definitely! That's where all the action is , especially if you want to hang out from the travelling. If you like engineering in action there are the swinging bridges - Ram palna, and Lutchman palna, there are beautiful areas you can walk along the Ganges. The Sages live in Kutias along the river and are very interesting looking! You'll get pretty pics there, and there will be more opportunity to interact with people.
    Rishikesh is much quieter. As for Allahabad, I think the Melas are high points.

  8. Ah, very cool! And I was just talking to a couple other travelers, who recommended the Santosh Puri ashram to stay at. (it's a bit out of the city, but I guess I can get a lift in to see some things one day) Two recommendations in one day = my new plans. Thanks!