MAE (me at 18) did something that MATS (me at 36) would probably scoff at and tell the person suggesting it to go do unmentionable things to him/herself. MATS is world-weary, impatient with suffering (especially of the physical kind), and too deeply enmeshed with life and the people around him.
It was August 1995. MAE was still on the brink, unattached and as yet inessential. A month later, he would head off to the US to study and wouldn’t return to India for another four years. MAE was afraid. He was about to be tossed into the world. He instinctually sought out a retreat before the big departure. Also, MAE was borderline masochistic.
The Vipassana centre at Igatpuri had turned down MAE’s application. There were no empty seats for the August course. So MAE boarded a train and landed up at the centre late at noon. His cousin had promised to pull some strings. It worked. MAE was allowed in just half an hour before the course started.
The initiation into the practice happened on that first evening, in a huge hall, where...