Converging Two Divergent Worlds Into One Life

I’m trying to unite my Vipassana and worldly lives and it feels a bit vulnerable. Before Vipassana, I lived a successful life but I hadn’t found satisfactory answers to some of life’s big questions. Twelve years ago, I sat my first 10-day Goenka course and learned a completely new lens to view life. For nine years I immersed myself in this tradition and found answers to many lingering questions, but this small community didn’t quench my thirst for societal engagement. Three years ago, I stepped away from the tradition to build a complete life balancing family, work, and a social life – three areas that had taken a back seat while I discovered Vipassana. Recently I decided to take one more 10 day course.

Following the path and living my life have always seemed like two different worlds. Dhamma is not a part of a typical life in the United States, so prioritizing precepts and 2 hours of daily meditation is unusual feels isolating. I often felt like I either needed to choose between dhamma or a successful worldly life, but I managed to straddle both worlds with many struggles. While continuing my daily practice and annual courses, I got married and developed a career as a high school teacher. Three years ago, I stepped away from the tradition a bit frustrated and prioritized starting a family.

Now, with a 2 year old and a second child on the way, I want to see if I can unify these two worlds. I’ve made some progress by answering some difficult questions about myself. I’m not ready for a monastic life. I realize there is more to life than the typical daily responsibilities, but I still find connection and satisfaction through my relationship to society. I’m not afraid to be different or share my voice, but I’m also not in a position to judge anyone else’s life choices. In fact, I’m inspired to learn about the many different directions people’s lives lead when they follow their own authentic truth. Goenka Vipassana works for me, and I’m happy to share the ups and downs of my journey, but I won’t let this path separate me from everyone else finding their own way in this complicated world.

We must learn to coexist and celebrate our differences. We have so much to learn from one another as we all seek to align with truth and love. Dhamma has a lot to offer those who are unaware of the path Buddha revealed for us, but those people also have a lot to offer dhamma. I live 10 minutes from a meditation center with my meditating wife and 1.5 children. I live in a lovely community of non meditators while sharing meditation with my diverse high school students. I want to feel alive and connected with all the divergent components of my life, and I’m close, but even after 12 years, it can feel uncertain and vulnerable. I just completed a great 10 day course – my first time back at a Center in three years. I hope I can successfully bring all these loose ends together in one successful life. Time to meditate.

2 thoughts on “Converging Two Divergent Worlds Into One Life

  1. ed C

    Bryan,

    Thanks for sharing, at 59 and had done my second course 2020 First center open during covid, a small group large center. After 35 year of 12 steps, and moving closer and distancing myself from time to time real sounds like a healthy path after submerging ourselves with and system or course or ways of being in the world, space creates the space to explore what works for you. From this place, we can take what works for use, and leave the rest. STill chopping wood and caring water.

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