Why Do We Practice Vipassana?
Do You Know Why We Practise Vipassana as Opposed to Meditating Another Way?
I’ve been sort of masquerading as teaching Vipassana for the last however many years, but how many people are actually feeling in their minds that their aspiration is to get off the wheel? And if not, why not? Fair enough, I think 10 years ago we were on the fence about that, weren’t we. We were thinking, ‘You know what, I’m living the Life of Reilly, am I really ready to jump off the wheel?’
Well, I’m not sure it’s the Life of Reilly any more, is it? We’ve got to be realistic about it. We’ve got to be realistic about what’s going on and we’ve got to be realistic about what we’ve got to do if we want to build something better, not just for future generations, but for ourselves too if we want to move on from here.
To break the cycle of attachment to the human round is very, very hard to do – and to come to a human life as fortunate as this one is extremely hard to do. Things are not getting better. There’s no point tap-dancing or beating about the bush, things aren’t getting better out there. We’re just pretending harder, that it’s still OK, but it isn’t, is it. I’m sorry, but at what point…?
I had a crack at saying this message about 10 years ago and then I bottled it. 10 years ago I should have been saying things aren’t getting better. Well, the truth is, if I’m your spiritual teacher or meditation teacher or anyone who you’re seeking some kind of guidance from, I need to be saying that to you. I need to find the courage to say that to you. I don’t think it’s appropriate for me any longer to let you pretend that the right attitude is just to hope that everything is going to be OK.
You’ve got to realise that we’re experiencing the effects of choices we made in the past, and if we want something different, we have to make some serious choices now, and those things don’t suddenly come about. We haven’t changed anything like as much as we were being asked to change, and we’ve got to be honest about that. We’ve done the bare minimum and we haven’t actually changed very much.
Now I think it’s time to say that we need to do a little bit more than that. At the very least we need to challenge ourselves to seek or to ask whether we could be doing more, because if you don’t challenge yourself in this life, if you don’t ask yourself questions like, ‘Am I prepared to change?’ then you are basically still bound to this way of life regardless of which direction it goes. If you want to break your attachment to the human cycle, if you want to make your way back to a state of consciousness that is higher than that, you have to live in a way that is considerably higher than the way we’re living. That’s just how it works. You already know enough, now, about the laws of the universe to see what’s happening. So now is the time to take this seriously and do the work that you’ve spent these years preparing yourselves for. It really is.
It’s my fault actually, because I was the one who said, ‘Well, you know what, this is awesome, this life, isn’t it? Let’s go and have as much of it as we can in the most considerate way,’ when actually we had the chance of freeing ourselves from our attachment to it. Well now is the time to do it while you still have the opportunity to do it – it really is the time to be practising. I don’t know what your aspirations are, but unless your aspiration is to come back and carry on soldiering on through this lot then you’re going to have to put your head down and you’re going to have to start letting go. Because we are clearly still very intoxicated by the illusion of it.
So I feel I need to paint a picture of where this could lead if you were to do what you could do, because it’s not really a question of whether or not we do Brexit or how Donald Trump is going to roll out. All of that is the effect of choices we’ve been making over the last 20 years. Or the choices we didn’t make over the last 20 years, that’s, more importantly, the point. The choices we didn’t make over the last 20 years are the reason we’re facing what we’re facing now, that’s the way to look at it. That’s because of what?
It was because of our intoxication. Continuing to allow ourselves to be intoxicated with the illusion. That can’t go on forever. If you look inside your heart you will know that there’s a point at which you did some tap-dancing around to realign, or rearrange, the conviction, the insight that had matured in you, the understanding that you come to. You will all see that inside you there was a point at which you re-arranged your insight so that you could kind of pretend you hadn’t seen the reality of our predicament. Come on, if you’re really honest there would have been a point in your lives where you kind of knew what you had to do, and then there will be another point not long after that where you convinced yourself you might not have to do it. Is that true? Is that fair? Because we’ve got to get to the point here.
You’re not taking any of this material stuff with you when you die. You know that. The only thing you’re taking with you is the mind that is intoxicated with illusory things or not. If you want to come to a higher state of being than the one we’re living now then your mind has to operate in a wholly higher state of consciousness than the way it operates now. That’s just how it is. But the thing is, you’re all capable of operating in a higher state of consciousness than this. That’s the point, you all have it in you and now you’ve got to do it. You really have to. Because someone’s got to start doing it. It’s like there’s a boat or a train that’s leaving and you’ve got to get on it, and that boat or train is consciousness. It’s leaving, folks. That consciousness that connects you to source, that you are still lucky enough to be able to connect to so that you know that that consciousness is not just a nice idea, that consciousness is leaving, and when you lose it, it’s very difficult to get it back again. While you have it you have to let it show you what you have to do. This is really serious.
There is a state of being that is a higher state of being than the one we live here and we all have it in us. We all have a memory of it, and part of us is longing to go back there, but you don’t just get back there by turning up to church on a Sunday. That is a very high state of consciousness. It’s the very best and highest of what we are and if you don’t honour it and make it extremely important in your life it will not be the momentum that carries you forward, whether you went to church every day of your life or not. You have to live your life by those very high principles now. There was a time when that was just what was expected. So, we need to raise the bar. We all need to raise the bar. It’s no good complaining about how things are turning out.
So this is a very, very important time. Hearing this Dharma again and going, “I’m not going to let that slip away into the background” is really important. Because having the opportunity to turn that Dharma into something that’s alive within you, it’s harder and harder to do now, you know that. You all come on retreat knowing that it’s harder and harder to progress with your practice, that it’s harder and harder to keep your connection to that consciousness that I’m talking about. You’ve all experienced over the last two or three years a feeling of that depleting or a feeling it doesn’t feel as reliable as it was, as innately there as it was.
So you’ve got to let go the stuff that isn’t that now. I don’t know how else to say it. But come on, those of you who have been on retreat a few times and now know as much Dharma as you know, won’t be thinking that Burgs is supposed to be telling you anything other than what I’m telling you now. If you came here hoping that I was going to tell you how to go back home and carry on and polish it all up and keep it going a little bit more smoothly and not get yourself into so much of a muddle next year as you got into this year, then you kidded yourself. You know what this Dharma is. This is your pathway home. And if you’re going to keep drinking of the cup you need to take that path, because you don’t get that many chances. And I get it: it was too intoxicating for us up until this point, we were too intoxicated. It was too alluring, the world had too much to offer us. ‘Why would I possibly want something other than that?’ Fair enough. But it isn’t like that any more. It’s not alluring or intoxicating to us any more so don’t stay entangled in it. You’ve got some catching up to do. And you’ve got to encourage your friends.
These changes that have to happen aren’t going to happen because we get told to do stuff, they’re only going to happen when we start choosing to do it. Now don’t be glum! You need to feel the calling in your heart that tells you, “This is something I came here for. This is what I came here to do.” All the other stuff is nonsense. This is what you came here to do, now you’ve just got to do it. Stop tap-dancing around. Stop looking for an excuse to go and do something else now, because when you’ve done it then OK, you can make your choices. But you can’t make choices right now. You are not yet free to make choices. You know that you’re still in the grip of that mind of yours that chose not to make choices when the higher part of you knew what you had to do. So that means that we are all still capable of going away from here and going, “No, it’s going to be alright, I’m going to be alright.”
Look, we are all going to be alright, we’ll muddle through, but whether it’s a real struggle or whether you elevate yourself up to a place where it’s not, that’s what’s in your hand at the moment. Do you get it? The distance between us and where we want to get to is very far now, very far – and it’s getting further. Bring it closer. Keep it close to you in the way in which you live the rest of your life. What you make your daily life about now has got to be about looking towards that consciousness, aligning yourselves to it and being guided by it, and not being guided by all the other things that you are capable of being distracted or intoxicated by.
Once you lose your connection to that higher consciousness it’s a very long and very hard road to come back to it again. So don’t wait until the fire in your heart goes out. Stoke the fire now while it’s still alight in you