Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Serving in a new role

It was when I completed my second long course (30 days) that I was invited to serve Dhamma as an Assistant Teacher. The invitation did come as a surprise as I had just finished narrating to my Area teachers the difficulties I had during my recent course. 'Difficulties will be there, its the way you face them'.. they said. Yet I wasn't sure if I had it in me to sit on a Dhamma seat and actually conduct the proceedings of the course.

It took me a year to finally accept the new role, a realization of the fact that it wasn't really me conducting the course, but Goenkaji, and it would be the best way to repay the gratitude I had for him by fulfilling his vision of spreading the teaching to people. This was followed by about a year of rigorous training, where I learned some aspects of theory involved in the practice. The role of Assistant Teacher involved conducting the proceedings of the course and clarify any doubts about the technique of meditation that may arise among students. I was a representative of our teacher and therefore would have to be very conversant with his teaching.

After the 3 stage training I was appointed Assistant Teacher in May 2013. I did have my doubts about actually conducting a 10-day course as it would mean additional days to take off from family and work commitments. However, the teachers seemed to have much faith in me, and I started off conducting a good number of 1-day courses.

Then came the opportunity to serve the awesome 3-day course at St. John's island. This course is restricted to those who have completed at least one 10-day course. It is really awesome as the evening discourses cover many aspects of day to day living, and how the practice can help one face up to daily challenges. It helps one to see his/her life from the 'dhamma' angle.

Finally it was June 11-22, 2014 that I got to co-conduct a 10day course, along with James, the male teacher. The experience was really lovely. There were 54 women taking the course of ages ranging from 19 years to 65 years. It was really interesting, as all I had to do was to be fully present and fully alive in a calm and peaceful sort of way.

As I sat on the Dhamma seat, I could really tune in to the wisdom of all teachers on the path who seemed to aid and guide me in my new role. The whole process of guiding students became smooth as I found myself being guided along. It was like being one with all beings, in peace and calmness. I was not there to teach or instruct or fix....just gently guide and remind people of the instructions they heard from Goenkaji.

I was ably assisted by a cheerful course manager who helped me take care of students who fell sick and at times wanted to leave the course. One student left the course on the 2nd day, and though I did try my best to convince her to stay, she left and I could accept that without disappointment. I could really experience the impermanence of whatever little upheavals we had in those 10days, and that was mainly because the mind was calm and tranquil.

Even the one major area that would potentially cause some disturbance...the kitchen--went smoothly with no conflicts or personality clashes. It was a lovely, peaceful experience. A tough fulfilling course for students as they began their voyage of self-discovery.

Many years ago, I had wanted to help people understand themselves and lead a useful productive life. Consequently I chose to pursue Psychology at the University as part of my Graduate studies and later PhD. But it is really this new role as Assistant Teacher of Vipassana meditation that is really meaningful and satisfying in every way. This is what I really wanted for myself. Very fortunate to have found this path and fortunate to be helping others walk on this path.