Brought up short by wonder

It’s almost a year since I went to the Vipassana meditation retreat. Ten days of living like a monk, rising at 4am, 12 hours of meditating each day, chants in ancient tongues lasting hours, the earth in midwinter.

I’m recalling today a phenomenon that started on day 5 or 6. On walking up the hill to meditation hall, one would see people prop suddenly. One off there to the side, another up there on the hill facing elsewhere. Each brought up short by wonder, seeing something as if for the first time: a bush, a bird, a pebble, a cloud. As the days passed, the hill became dotted with people gazing at the world in a blade of grass.

I’m recalling a day of sun and coming down the hill to see a woman asleep against a tree, ruddy cheeks, rough boots, the face of a honest peasant resting after the wheat harvest.

I’m recalling the trills of electricity, great riffing sweeps of pleasure, coursing through my body like they did when I was a child, and which I’d forgotten to miss.


Images: Autumn watercolours in my street today

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21 thoughts on “Brought up short by wonder

  1. This piece would inspire a meditator to go & revisit those experiences thus if missing the daily sittings, revive them. And some one who hasn’t experienced those blissful pure moments would want to do so. Both of this carry a great amount of merit. May you be happy


    • The experience I had on the street corner two years ago was the taste of enlightenment. The experience at Vipassana is that of “bare world”, the world shorn of the “is this for me or against me?” or “do I like this or not like this?” The world as it is.

      The two experiences are not preludes or consequences of each other. Both are wonderful.


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