I tried at least. My attempts at meditation are now almost over. I’m gonna stick to the bottle for comfort for the foreseeable future.
This is a sad tale of woe, long and drawn out; meditation isn’t the spiciest of topics and failure to get into a meditation program isn’t going to make for a best-selling novel. I’d suggest you not read of my movement from interest to pissed-offness.
I’ve suspected for quite a while that attempting to learn some meditative techniques might help me physically and emotionally. Knowing that I would need structure and strictness and a change of environment to learn anything, I asked around and heard good things about the Vipassana Center and heard that courses were in English and that it was open to all and not teaching religion – this being important to me, as I’m looking for the joys (peace? / insight?) of meditation without the religious baggage that comes with it. Focusing doesn’t (in my book) require an anesthetizing credo. (Actually, I don’t have a Book.)
I have long breaks between semesters and after having already squandering one or two breaks, I promised myself that I would make attendance at a 10 day course at the Vipassana Center in Taichung a priority for this coming summer break. So I signed up over the net (see dhamma.org/en/bycountry/ap/tw) soon after the Chinese new year began – for a course in June. The site informed me that I would know of my acceptance about two weeks after sign-up.
Friends laughed at me for signing up – we’re talking of 10 days sans smoking, drinking, medicating (of any kind), phoning, meating, coffee-ing, speaking, reading, or (even) tea-ing. Not exactly a laugh-fest. You can’t even take in a porn magazine. Nevertheless, I adamantly wanted to try this and wanted to stick it out for 10 days, no matter what. You must – after all – learn something after that degree of deprivation.
Two months after signing up, I called to inquire. I was told when I called that I would actually find out only a few weeks before the course and not two weeks after signing up and that they wouldn’t be able to know if my application had been received until they processed things months later, just before the course. They had no way to check if I was even in the system.
No problem. I thought that they were probably just too meditative and relaxed and that I might just sign up more than once to ensure being in.
A week ago I got a mail asking if I spoke Chinese, and requiring an answer so that they could process things further as “The conducting teachers of the courses does not speak English,We are not sure whether we can find a English translator for the courses.”
Nice to get some sort of response, but this surprised me as Vipassana courses around the world are often held in English and have been in English in Taiwan in the past. But of course, I wasn’t pissed off (yet). It’s my own fault for not having a better grasp of Chinese. I’m in Taiwan, after all. The courses should be presented in Chinese. But I was somewhat irritated that I had gone through pages and pages explaining the course in English (check the site) and not one had even hinted that this course was not going to be available to me.
I responded to their mail with “Unfortunately, I don’t speak Chinese. Do you know of any other meditation centers that have courses in English? That would be a big help.” And it’s just after that, that I started to get irritated.
I got "Hi, / There are many meditation centers can accept your application, you may find them via website. / Be Happy. / “
They suggested happiness. Be happy everyone. Frigging happy. Happy. Happy.
It may have been their idiotic thought that I hadn’t checked websites already. It may have been their thought that this particular type of supposedly non-religious, non-denominational meditative training center grows on every bushel; I mailed again and spoke of my dismay that their site has no disclaimer, and asked if they specifically knew of other courses like theirs.
In the next mail, I was told: “The course in Taiwan is bilingual, but councting teachers are not all can speak English, so we suggest tha you may attend the course in Malaysia. We are sorry can’t help you.”
Don’t tell me that they are being sweet, because I get that them responding at all is polite. Still ….
Assuming a councting teavher is a conducting teacher, I’d like to know in what way the course is bilingual? And if I am gonna spend the money to travel in Asia, why would I use it to travel to a specific country, enter a center and sit there for 10 days? I’d rather go to Thailand and wear a red shirt. They need to frigging put the obvious on their English version of the site: it’s no longer a meditation course in English.
Has anybody else out there had a similar experience of trying to take a healthful and meditative break? I don’t care if the Vipassana philosophy works for you or not. But where can I learn meditation without the overt religious crap? And preferably in a restrictive setting where you sleep with a bunch of farting vegetarians? Other than barring my own doors, inviting vegetarians over and not going to the 7-11 for smokes?
I realize that this particular center does their work not for gains in this goddamn friggin world, but is supported by donations and therefore can’t be expected to live up to normal standards of service, but I’m slightly amused that people could be so relaxed as to not add salient facts to a website.
Take a break – everybody – and say “Om”.
I’m far from heeding their “Be Happy”. Your experiences?