The center was located somewhere in Shueng Shui, near Hong Kong Jockey Club. When I first got there, I didn’t like it already. There was a major construction going on, right outside the center, with a huge construction crane and some trucks. I was like “Oh god. How can I get a calm and peaceful mind with all these buzzing and drilling noises? Or did I come to the wrong place? Let me check the map…” (I later learned that the construction was for the Olympic equestrian events in August.)
Well, I did get to the place right. On top of the small entrance, it painted 香港內觀襌中心 (Hong Kong Vipassana Meditation Center). And after checking out the dormitory, I was like “Hey girl, if you want to back out, you better do it now before it gets too late!”
I am very glad that I didn’t. Actually, in hindsight, these had created a chance for me to learn better about equanimity (平常心) and anicca (無常).
Yes, there had neither a quiet, peaceful zen garden with sun dappled gravel paths wind through many trees and plants, nor any pond with beautiful lotus blossoming the compassion and love of nature. But the center provided the essential and its volunteers – the instructor, our course managers, and many old students – did the best they could to make sure the class got the most out of the course. The center was always kept clean and tidy, and the food was great (lucky that we had a good cook. On Day 11, I asked the cook if I could have the recipes of the different kinds of soup we had for lunch. But the cook told me to come back and be a volunteer next time so I could learn how to cook them…).
After a simple dinner (noodles) and orientation, Noble Silence and the course officially started. Noble Silence means silence of body, speech, and mind. So there should be no talking nor any other form of communication. Physical contact and eye contact should also be avoided. While students may exercise during rest periods by walking around the center, neither yoga nor other physical exercises is allowed. That’s right, not even jumping jacks…