„A life is like a garden.
Perfect moments can be had,
but not preserved, except in the memory.“
The International Meditation and Dhamma Study Centre Rockhill Hermitage in Wiegirikanda didn’t look at all as i imagined myself what a monastery would be. There where no banks and beds made of stone, no praying monks in silence, it was neither dry nor waste. The Rockhill slumbered on a hill in the middle of a jungle somewhere in the nowhere. And this jungle was pretty succesfull in slowly taking back everything, the humans took from him in long, hard work. Fighting for the monastery: an old, lazy gardener without any teeth, who really didn’t want to overwork himself in his old days. On side of the jungle: fast growing plants, humility, heat, a lot of insects like ants, spiders and mosquitos, caterpillars, worms, leaches, butterflies, birds, monkeys, martens, squirles and pigs. And endless time and patience.
A nice, wild growing garden made the heart between the buildings, from whom some of them where build on huge, black rocks. The arteries of the garden were its many small stairs and trails, one of them even lead to the hilltop, where you could enjoy a fabulous view over the countryside.
My room was a biotop and was beneath the obligatory geckos home for a whole folk of ants and fourteen spiders. In front of my door tiny bees had built their nest and on the toilet lived another ant folk and a quite crazy frog.
When i arrived at the monastery after a seven hour train ride from Ella to Kandy and another one hour Tuk-Tuk ride (most of that in stucked in Kandys awful traffic), i was pretty surprised about the fact, that this place was runned by nuns. Nuns with no hair on the head and clothed in darkred robes, so that you had to look twice to identify them as women. The first thing, Sister Dhammachari mentioned after the welcoming, was, that the former chief monk of the monastery, venerable Bhante Kassapa, passed away one month before and all of them would be still shocked and very VERY sad. The direct consequence for me: no meditation course, but an individual retreat. Means, i got a time schedule which i could follow if i wanted to. And if i had questions, i could ask them a every time. Beneath that on the plan, a one hour Dahamma-Talk every day in the evening. For me this was perfectly okay, because at this time i was pretty sure about myself that i already knew how to meditate. I only had to do it and on a place like this i wouldn't have any more excuses. But most important for me was, that i had found a powerful, peaceful place like this, where i felt to be at home from the very beginning.
The afternoon i spent in making myself comfortable in my room and repairing the toilet and the washing can. Then i declared war to the ants in the toilet an won the first battle. Quick washing of my laundry, slipping in my white clothes and after that i went to the kitchen. There wasn’t waiting any meal, but actually three other guests. Young Christie from Australia, who spent her retreat in silence. Fifty years old Rainer from Germany with his sad eyes and a tattooed damon on his arm, which he hated, but accepted it as part of him. And then, there was the bright and sparkling sun: Willemijn. From the Netherlands. Tall, blonde, beautiful. While the other two guys came here already some days before, Willemijn arrived only one hour before me. This woman had an aura, which catched me from the early beginning. The way she was talking, how she smiled on me, how she moved, obliterated suddenly every thought of being alone or living as an ascetic.
The first dahamma talk with sister Dhammachari distracted me in the first instance very successful. The Dahamma is Buddhas teaching. I would sum it up in: „Do not hurt the other, be always mindful and you will overcome suffer and be happily ever after. Ah, and don’t lie and trick others, let your hands of your neighbors wife an don't take drugs and alcohol.“ Seems pretty legit to me (besides the thing with the alcohol). But because of this would be way to easy, there is the dahamma. the teaching of the four noble truths, which can be reached by the noble eight path, which again is separated in three further categories. And about all of that you can do a lot of philosophy and there are numberless allegories and stories to tell. Sadly, my nun was stucking so deep in her sadness about her loss (which, to be honest, irritated me quite a little, after 36 years of mediation and practicing to let go any emotion and feelings), that she got lost in her talking and switched themes for several times. But at least, she did a very beautiful chanting, (Buddhas healing songs), that really touched my heart.
The first night in my way to short bed under the mosquito net went pretty harmonic. Despite all of my roommates (amongst them a fat tree martent, which was living in the roof, partying every night). I was pretty excited about myself with how few comfort i was comfortable with. And for the bothersome dogs down in the village, which barked all night long and reminded me of the screaming cocks in Bali, i had earplugs.
The next morning i pulled myself out of the bed at six o’clock an went to the meditation hall. First a half hour of walking mediation (in tiny tiny steps around the hall), then sitting meditation. Went pretty good, i think, probably because of i had still been so tired… Except me there was only Willemijn meditating. Maybe the other students and the nuns where meditating in their warm beds.
For breakfast we got served rice and curry. And for lunch, too. And for the rest of the ten days. And because of the fact, that a good buddhist may not eat after noon, i brought some cookies for the evening. Not that i would have had anything against more rice and curry. I probably never will have to much of Sri Lankas national meal. Thanks to Willemijn i skipped the idea of spending my stay in Rockhill in silence from the early beginning. And so did Willemijn. Whenever it was possible for us, we spent the time beneath our meditations together. On our second day, we climbed up on the hilltop, in our white dress and with flip flops on our feet. On the top, we where lying on the warm rocks, enjoying the sun, did some meditation were philosophizing until sunset. Here at this place i was even able for the first time in my life to activate my second Chakra (the sexual Chakra…).
The climb to the hilltop became a daily rite for us. Twice a time i stood up at five in the morning, to spend the sunrise with Willemijn on the rocks at the top. Of course, the cold morning air made it necessary, that we had to cuddle up to each other. This Sparkling Moments, how Willemijn named them, needed no further sexual contact, despite the attraction between the two of us, also the one of our bodies, was quite strong… But we respected the place and his rules. And sometimes, sex isn’t even necessary for a deep meeting of two connected souls (although my freshly activated sexual Chakra was in an enormous rotation…). What Willemijn and i had, went far beyond plain physicalness.
Another of the sparkling moments we shared when we were wandering in the countryside around the rockhill. A small village was was settled on the foot of the mountain and because the locals there havn’t yet been spoiled from tourism, they welcomed us very very warm. The highlight was the small temple with its dahamma school, where we fled from a sudden rain shower. In the school, children where practicing dancing. After we were welcomed with great hello, we watched the childrens’ choreography, which seemed to come directly out of a bollywood movie. Later we couldn’t sit still anymore on our chairs and went on the stage, where we hopped and fooled around, while the children where laughing and cheering of joy. Then, Willemijn gave one of them her mobile phone and they connected it to the speakers. Willemijn chose a salsa song and then we danced, on a school stage in the middle of the jungle, at the end of the world, a salsa.
Even the days after Willemijn had left, the children where shouting „Andi! Dans! Dans!“ and „Andi, wär is Willma?“, when they saw me wandering near the temple.
After some time i realized, that the real reason why i was drawn to this place, had not been the nuns or the buddhist teaching. Actually, it must have been because of Willemijn. Sensitive, clairvoyant and absolutely calm in herself. And with the remarkable ability, to push my buttons and to lay her fingers in my wounds without that i could have been angry with her. After i had disburdend my heart as i had never done it before, and after i had told her everything what i had tried, what i got to know, where i failed and what i had reached, in life as in spirituality, one evening she asked me the one and only question: „Andi, why aren’t you happy?“ We were hiding in the meditation room like little children, because the nuns had banned us from the kitchen, it was dark and quiet and we had to whisper, and for the first time i had no answer. I knew how this „being happy“ had to work. In theory. And since a short time in my life, i did everything what was necessary: quit my unloved job. Went traveling. Enjoyed life. Earned my money with something i loved. Had wonderful friends and a loving family. So why wasn’t i happy?
And the answer came to me so easy as it hit me unexpected. In this dark meditation room in the Rockhill on Sri Lanka, with Willemijn, my beautiful girl from the Netherlands, my guru, by my side: I am happy! Right at the moment! But havn’t accepted it so far! Until now. And i had let it happen, that this, what Willemijn named „The Old Pain“, took the feeling of happiness away from me. THIS was what i had to work on. Not the search for happiness. But the healing of the old pain. Sometimes it’s so obvious that we need a hint from someone else to recognize the truth. And in my case then all that it needed was a simple decision to be happy. The old pain could wait a little longer, i was pretty sure that i would find a proper technique to heal this on my further journey. For the moment all that was important was the feeling of pure happiness flowing through my body.
The whole size of this realization came to me on the next day, when Willemijn left the Rockhill (and me), because she had to fly home. When saying farewell, she gave me a handwritten letter. When i read it, sitting alone on a rock in the warm sun, the knot in me finally exploded. I cried the rest of the evening, everything went out, everything could go and what was staying was a deep, peaceful tranquility.
In this night for the first time the dogs weren’t barking. The beast, that followed me for a long time and finally to this place, was gone. And for the dogs, there was nothing more to snarl at.
When Willemijn left, there suddenly was a hole in the Rockhill, that i tried to close with starting to write again. And the lust for writing came back to me with a fresh, new power. I wrote ten and more pages a day and had a great time. I quit all the dahamma talks and spent al lot of time in meditation. At first, i activated and cleaned my 7 chakras. But this meditation is quite easy compared to the vipassana. In the kitchen i found a small book called „Mindfulness in plain english“ from venerable H. Gunaratana Mahathera. which was fascinating me a lot. Never before i’ve read a lecture, that explained the act of mediation in such an easy and clear way. Until this point i always thought, meditation would be about getting rid of every thought, feeling and emotion. But according to vipssana it’s the mindfulness, that matters. When a feeling or an emotion distracts one from meditation, one can mindful watch it and deal with it. Then it will simply disappear or one can heal it. Even old pains. Just look, what is there. Watch and be mindful.
„The purpose of meditation is not to concentrate on the breath, without interruption, forever. That by itself would be a useless goal.
The purpose of meditation is not to achieve a perfectly still and sense mind. Although a lovely state, it doesn’t lead to liberation by itself.
The purpose of meditation is to achieve uninterrupted mindfulness.
Mindfulness, and only mindfulness, produces Enlightenment.“
Mindfulness - Venerable H. Gunaratana Mahathera
But to know the theory doesn’t mean that it was no easy for me, to meditate. Quite the contrary. It needed incredible strength of will, superpowers, to stay with the subject, because my mind was firing thoughts like firework that got out of control:
„Breath in, pause, breath out. pause, breath in, pause,…
Yeah, already two breathings without think.. fuck, concentration!
Breath in, pause, breath ou… ah, sun begins to shine, i should wash this on T-Shirt i want to wea… Maaaaaannn! But now! Mindfulness an let’s go on. So.
Breath in, pause, breath out. pause, breath in, pause,…
Damn, what is this sitting on my foot? Okay, mindfulness on this spot, oh, it’s gone. But where? In my trousers?
Breath in, pause, breath out. pause,…
If i am at home i will definitly try to cook some rice and curry, this can’t be es hard at all… DAMN!!!Breath in, pause, breath out. pause, breath in, pause, breath out. pause,
breath in, pause, breath out. pause.
Yeah! I am the king of the world! Enlightment is near, i did three breathings without thinking!“
The rainy weather didn’t cause a lot of distractions. Although it never got really cold, and the sun came out for many times, it rained a lot in these days. And every time after, the jungle was exploding an spit out a lot of strange animals (or to say it with Willemijns words: „The rain brings out all this funny creatures!“), one of the most crazy ones were footlong, black centipedes or the thumbthick wood loueses.
But when the sun was shining for longer periods and heating the black rocks, i climbed up to the hilltop again, thinking of Willemijn and the view on the fresh, green hilltops was just to beautiful to close the eyes for meditation. From everywhere came the most different noises to me, the zirping of the bugs, the singing of the birds, the screams of different animals and between all that i heard the singing, chanting and shouting from the various mosques an temples all around my place.
The days went by, so fast as i never would have imagined. I was practicing meditation and love&kindness all day long and was writing unlike i never did in before in my life. As if i would have opened i direct line to my intuition, here, between the black stones of Rockhill.
And then suddenly the day i had to left, was there.
But i wasn’t sad at all. I was quite sure that i had learned what i had to learn on in Rockhill. I got to know a wonderful new friend. I found my way into meditation again. And to be honest, i was really looking forward to a little more comfort, more sun, a cold beer in the evening, good parties, the sea and a surfboard.
The enlightenment could wait a little longer…