This is about an experience during a ten day Vipassana meditation course where my ability to focus inwards was challenged, so too was my ability to stay even minded, and equanimous. This was largely due to the fact that I am attracted to men, and segregation of the sexes (which works for the vast majority) had little impact on me.
He stood with his spine perfectly straight, with his hands perched behind his back with his gaze fixed on a leaf. His wrists were placed one on top of another behind his sacrum, yet not clasping each other, as if they were held together by invisible rope. For some time, he was absorbed with this green shrub with long pointed leaves. Days of intense mediation and silence can bring a new appreciation for simple things. After a while, he began his slow amble, around the meditation centre. It was during a break, on Day 5 of a 10 day Vipassana silent meditation course that my curiosity was piqued, and in time, developed to something more. Instead of focusing my attention internally, I couldn’t help but be fixated with this human.
In that moment I wondered what he saw. Was he appreciating the way in which the afternoon light quietly reflected off the dappled skin of the leaf? Or did some form of awakening happen in him, and he saw himself reflected in the plants very veins? I still remember the awe inspiring scene of my first Vipassana course in the eucalypt forest of Australia. Seeing dancing drops of dew suspended on hundreds of small silky spider webs, like jewels, reflecting the lazy light of the morning sun. The suns rays at the perfect angle, my sense of self was momentarily diminished. A peak experience.
During meditation, he was seated in the front row, a couple of seats to my right, indicating that he had more experience than I did. Extrapolating from this I figured he had much more wisdom that I, and could teach me things. This was such a turn on for some reason. A man that meditates. He probably won’t be quick to anger, would be honest, empathetic and would be present with you.
One humid South Indian afternoon, the sky bruised, and it started showering. I noticed him in his intricate purple, black and green lungi, as he watched how the droplets from the sky formed random, organised, patterns on the cracked concrete pavement. There were a few more moments that stood out over the past ten days. The expression that overcame his face when he saw a green-black millipede writhing, recently being injured. When I saw this, I realised now why he was the only one that walked with his torch on the ground at night. He swept it towards the side of the path. Once over the ten days, our eyes met once. He was filling the communal aluminium cup at the water filter, and mid drink he caught my gaze. I didn’t know what to think of it.
Habits – I couldn’t help but observe his habits, which were similar to mine during those days. He’d always be of the last to eat, and last to leave the mediation hall, I realised perhaps that maybe he was trying to lessen his time navigating around other people, trying to expand his solitude. I noticed the way in which his right shoulder moved a bit more than his left. I noticed how he never really washed his clothes, and just hung out his colourful lungis out to air. I noticed how when he walked, his right shoulder would move just slightly more than his left.
Maybe it’s quite apparent how much notice I took of this man. It wasn’t just his beauty, his presence, his grace, but perhaps, that with his introspectiveness, his empathy, his slow amble – he would understand me. To be understood, or to think that you have been understood is a beautiful thing.
During meditation one should focus their attention inwards; and be aware and equanimous to our bodily sensations that arise due to craving and aversion. Those of us which are straight are lucky enough to have segregation that lessens some of these cravings. I see it as an additional way in which I can strengthen my equanimity, my ability to be mindful of craving, and see it for what it is. What was it I was craving in those moments? Not so much those of a sexual nature (though they were present), more conversation, to see what his teeth looked like, to hear the timbre of his voice, to hear his laugh, to touch his hands.
I suppose this whole experience has showed me the intensity of craving that I have in relation to men and relationships. It also reminds me of how the path is long, like super fucking long. And also perhaps how easy it is to idealise someone, seeing in them not knowing their full truth, being creating images of them, skewed by our own very lenses.
And now while I write, and remember, I feel the pleasant, fine sensations prickle my body. And I am aware of its nature – of arising and passing, arising and passing. Anicca, Annica.