Sins was twenty-four years old and looked so.
He had never heard about meditation one month before June, 2019. In the sense, he had been under the impression that rites, rituals, chanting, deities, human or imaginary, spiritual experiences and meditation were all tools, methods and techniques to calm the human mind through belief and sustained devotion towards an unknown, supernatural, mysterious power. The only thing was, he was skeptical if they worked.
When he was in his teens, he had stopped believing in the imagined power, yet in the deep, deep recesses of his mind, he yearned to believe, aided by a series of conspiracy theories about Aliens, miracles, mysterious incidents bordering hallucinations and near-death experiences where people convincingly claimed they had hovered between life and death, projecting themselves out of their bodies and witnessing beings from other dimensions. His mind, laden with all these baggage, more or less, instead of belief, was rather confused. He didn’t know whom to believe or even what to believe.
He watched several discourses, ranging from brain and neuroscientists to seers and sages, who had supposedly mastered the art of controlling their minds through thought alone. Robin Sharma’s The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari made a lasting impression on him, but he wasn’t able to generate the motivation and the willpower to practice the techniques from that book. A few days, he was very productive at work, but lost motivation soon after, unable to continue, his mind, a cacophony of distractions, thoughts and intoxications.
A few days, he worked on cultivating good habits like exercising and reading lots of books, but again, to his frustration, consistency eluded him, amidst a pile of restlessness and anxiety, in spite of him, trying his best to convince himself that everything was all right. The self-help books were of no use. He felt he was lacking something fundamental, a deep stated need to know the right things explained in a simple way, not the subjective jargon masquerading around in the guise of expert advice.
In June, on the recommendation of a friend, he read Yuval Noah Harrari’s Sapiens, Homo Deus and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, in a space of three eventful weeks, staggered, stunned and exhilarated by what he had read, written so clearly and precisely, that sometimes, it was downright scary. He felt he had been waiting for all his life to read these three books. They fulfilled his mind in a way he couldn’t express completely.
They answered all his questions about religion, spirituality, culture and tradition. He marvelled at the simplicity of it all. It was objective thinking at its very best. Not one sentence was wasted. From the fact that six different species of humans had been discovered so far, to the repercussions of computer algorithms modelled along the brain’s neural network, the sheer impact of the content was staggering to say the least.
Yuval Noah Harrai dedicated the second book, Homo Deus, to his Vipassana teacher, the late S.N Goenka, a man born in Burma, in a Hindu community, who had learnt the technique from a Burmese man, Sayagyi U Ba Khin, the first Accountant General of Burma and a leading Vipassana meditator. The technique, discovered by Gautama Buddha to reach enlightenment, in India twenty-five centuries back, had been lost in the subsequent centuries. Fortunately, the great emperor, Ashoka, had been so enraptured by Vipassana meditation, that he ensured teachers travelled across South-East Asia to help people everywhere understand the technique and come out of their misery and bondage. The Burmese people, led by a small section, had managed to preserve the entirety of Buddha’s teachings, and S.N Goenka became the man who bought Vipassana back to the land of its origin, including helping setup Vipassana meditation centres around the world to help as many people as possible to give a fair trial to the technique.
After reading Homo Deus and googling S.N Goenka, Sins decided to give a fair trial to the technique.