This post is from a guest writer named Dipanshu Mansingka living in Hyderabad, India:
My mother took me to Dhammagiri when I was 9 years old studying in 3rd standard. She sat a course and I was staying in the hall (present day Main office). Some volunteers used to help me getting food. At times I used to water plants, serve chapathi in the dining hall and play most of the time near to this building. (somewhere in May 1983). I had the chance to meet Mr. and Mrs. Goenkaji every day at 12.00 noon at their residence.
Next year I went with my younger brother. This time Mr. Goenkaji allowed me to seat two 10 day course back to back. There were no assistant teachers at that time. I had few relaxation for food and early morning and post lunch sittings. But I followed the silence seriously. In second course near the D dormitory one of the crow from the mango tree used to come and beak on my head. After couple of times this incident happened I had to change my walking path. One day one volunteer felt I am disturbing others and wanted me to come out of course area, I quietly went out and from the back of kitchen came back inside and continued the course. (somewhere in May 1983) After that we lived to serve the course and mother sat the course. Giving water to plants, serving in dining hall or ring the bell, cover the cushions, place them in the hall, etc.
The next (third) visit was after 2 years, while I was in 6th std.; then in 8th std. (4th visit)and after the 10th std. (5th visit) board exams. Each time we used to stay for about a month, do one course, serve one course and then return back. At home parents wanted us to practice daily, but we didn’t.
During 3rd or 4th visit I also had a chance to do service for collecting donation and give receipts for amount up to 100/-. I also had a chance to do complete seva of Dhobi/laundry service, keep track of tokens, clothes, money, final calculations and returning back money on the final day. By this time few assistant teachers had been appointed and started conducting courses. I served course which was conducted by Mr. Pallival ji.
During 4th visit or 5th visit the first 3 day children course was organized. Around that time first course was organized for teenagers too. During this time I had a room partner in K and I broke the silence during course for the first time. At the start of course I was in W, Goenkaji’s old residence, where I seriously followed the silence and in between was shifted to K.
After 5th visit I was kind of negative and did not wanted to go. I used to feel why parents have quarrel if they practice Vipassana and could not understand the pressure or circumstances in which they grew us.
During exams I used to observe respiration the moment I had an answer paper and filled it with name and hall ticket number. Until question paper came in my hand I used to do it and then start writing answer with calm mind. This was the biggest benefit I had from Vipassana during school days.
By the time I reached first year of engineering I had a wandering mind. My friend saw a banner on Vipassana at my father’s office and he had a feeling like Syagyi U Ba Khin had. This is for me. Also during first year introduction/ragging to seniors I came across few more meditators. This made me start going to course again. Remaining three years every vacation, twice in a year I used to be at Dhammagiri, with 5-10 new students from our college.
During this 3 year period of engineering I maximum enjoyed the benefit of it and practiced regularly. At times I was sitting and my friends had to return back without meeting me in the evening.
During studies I used to realize that my concentration was improving as while reading or writing, I was able to be aware of sensation (in some part of body) and respiration. The exam day I did not study and used to walk into the corridors calmly going towards my classroom. My friends used to envy me that how can I remain so cool. Many of them had open books and reading until last minute.
At times after returning from Dhammagiri, friends used to say you are looking more fair or have a charm on your face. The key is it bring change, if one continues to practice regularly that charm and glow will continue to remain on face.
In 2000 I moved to Delhi to do a diploma course in Computers and then got the job in very first interview. In first 6 to 8 months about 5 times I came across incident where people wanted to lure or drag into wrong doings (came across both male and females, it was kind of test of my celibacy), if I had not been practicing I could have chosen the path. 1500 km away from parents, with no one to notice on what I am doing.