It's a fantastic experience! Very good vibrations, nice nature, good accommodation and delicious food! The intense meditations sessions were very beneficial and so was the silence. I learnt a lot from the meditation sessions and from Bhante Upatissa's teachings.
It was about 6-7 years ago when I heard about Vipassana for the first time. Probably since then I mentally secretly from myself prepared for this experience. I assumed that with great difficulty but I will be able to cope with a strict regime and domestic issues, but I didn't know how to meditate. Here in Nilambe Centre I realized that all my fears and anxieties were from a "big" mind and the pursuit of excellence. Here I felt even more like a beloved child of the Universe. The beauty of nature, the kindness of people around, calmness and wisdom, care and quiet joy. If on the third day I was still thinking of running away, on the fourth I was ready to stay here for another month! The incredible experience that I still have to unpack. Thanks to my teacher Ewen Arnold, to my group and to myself. Here I found my heart.
It was early in 2014, when I first came to Nilambe. Since then I have been a regular visitor for the meditation. This place is so magical and peaceful. Environment is calm is silent. At first, I found it difficult not to speak, not using mobile etc, however by day 2-3 I started enjoying the meditation and more importantly I learnt to “live in the present moment”. Rather than spending time with other form of entertainment, Nilambe gave me the best relaxation for my mind. Usually I take my dinner around 8-9 pm and need some snack later. I hardly can wake up before 6 am. Surprisingly, when I’m at Nilambe, 2-3 slices of bread at 6 pm is more than enough despite the cold weather. Even before the alarm rings, I usually wake up by 4.30 am. Environment is kept clean and secure. Teachers here, Upul sir and Deepthi ayya are so kind and helpful. Their teachings helped a lot to withstand many problems came in my life. Sadly, it seems that our own people do not see the value of such place while people from thousands of kilometers away coming and learning meditation here. I wish all the success and sincere thanks for everyone in Nilambe.
Quite a nice place if it were not for leeches!
Thank you for giving me the key to my inner self.
I am grateful that I was there. My journey to myself has been started...Thank you so much. With love Vladimira
I can't wait for another 6 weeks to visit this wonderful and beautiful place on earth as I have heard and read so much about the teacher and the place.
Nilambe is a special place on Earth and in my heart. This is where beloved Godwin lived and taught, and thus my spiritual home. I fondly remember the time I spent here on Godwin's 10th death anniversary year. It was a privilege to connect with Acharya Upul at that time. I'm so glad to know that the legacy of wisdom and compassion continues on like a crystal clear river merging into the sea. With anjali and metta, Chris.
Nilambe meditation centre the most calm & cool place i have been ever visit.
Four days in your life - it is really not a long time. Four days in Nilambe – these few days were so intensive that the short time was long enough to start a new journey to myself and through my life. I am very happy to have found this new path. I was searching for it for a long time. Even if I would have been happy to have some more days here in the Center, I left Nilambe without any sadness. I knew that the most important thing is not to be in Nilambe, but to continue this new path at my home in my daily life. I have found a lot of talks, discussions and writings here on the homepage. They are very helpful for me. So I practice by my own, as well as I am able to do it, and I am very happy to notice that a lot of things begin to change - step by step. I am so happy and deeply grateful for this. The journey is going on. It will be a long one…! Thank you so much!
Nillambe Meditation Centre is the most practical place I have seen. Non like other places, (even there are retreat programmes on some periods which are very useful) we can practice on our own and observe our own inner behavior; merely depending on how much effort is there within us. Because even others can guide you in this journey, no one can do it for you. It's you who have to do your self.... If you practice meditation in other traditional places, once you left the place it is over, because there are other activities you do in life... But when you practice at Nillambe, you get the practice on mindfulness on activities as well. So you can learn meditation as a life style at Nillambe.... This is what make it more practical
Spent 4 days in nilambe with a great silence experienced the life and struggled to understand the amazing insight but when I was starting to see something had to leave nilambe back to the hell.
Just returned from Nilambe Meditation Centre after 04 days of mindful Living in Absolute Silence, for the First time in my 77 years of Living. My grateful thanks to you Dear Upul Sir, for making me understand the art of Meditation in the simplest practical way with the minimum of time with the least confusion. Shall be with you Sir, for further training. Theruwan Saranai.
At Nilambe, 1st week: feeling excited, new and curious. 2nd week: struggling and surviving. 3rd week: counting down and wanting to get out of the place asap. 4th week: wanting to stay and extend the stay but learnt myself not to attach too much. Now three months later I still think of Nilambe and the appreciative sharing and learning. Thank you!
It was in 2006 that I wanted to find a place to go, for me to get out of home & be peaceful, as a remedy to my daily stressful life. A friend of mine gave me several contacts, Nilambe was one of them.
I think in 2007 I had the opportunity to visit Nilambe. It was at about 6 in the evening when we reached the place and even at that time it was dark, and Nalaka was there, to meet us. He showed us the centre with the aid of a torch, as there was no electricity, that day I decided that I am coming to this place as soon as I get a chance.
However it was on the 4th of April 2009 I finally made it at about 4 pm. Upul Sir was there to meet us that day, and I was perturbed when I saw the giant figure standing so calm & serene. As he spoke, I could see & feel the kindness in his voice & the eyes were radiating compassion right round him.
He told me to have tea at 4.30pm, and then rest a little and come back at 6.30pm to join others for chanting & to find the best way to sit for a long time. I was given the room no.11, I had tea, arranged my kutti, rested a little, then came for chanting & found that two cushions together would be most comfortable seating for me. After chanting & the “Nilambe special” snack of “Hulang biscuits & Soya coffee with fresh milk”, I went to my kutti. I was all alone in that area and it had started to rain. I could still picture myself, clutching on to the bag of water & stuff, the torch to find my way in the dark, and the umbrella to save me from getting wet. It was difficult to open the door too with all these in hand. Somehow I managed to get inside the kutti, I must confess I had a long sigh of relief then. Then tried to take a wash, which I usually do at home, before going to bed, no way the water was icy cold, so decided otherwise, only to brush the teeth & sleep under the welcoming blanket. It was a different world, altogether.
This was my first day in Nilambe, I can still remember all these vividly, even after all these years, as I think I found a new meaning to my life that day, and it was like a re-birth to me.
Upul Sir asked me to come for an interview on the next day after breakfast, another “Nilambe Special”, “Semolina & rice porridge with dates and peanuts”. When he listened to my past experiences, he said, “Read your life book, that is more than enough to understand life”. From him, I learnt how to meditate with the environment, which was a new technique to me. Even the Metta meditation was so pure; it comes straight from the heart, not just words. Anapana sathi too, I realised where I had got stuck, trying to stop thoughts, he taught to be mindful, and not to let anything pass without your knowledge, hey! Thoughts don’t come! So I continued this way, he was like a mirror to me, from which I saw my life, my weaknesses and my strengths.
In front of the kutti, there was a white rose bed, but neglected, rose being my favourite flower; I felt it was a shame to let those nice white flowers sleep on the ground. So during the working meditation time, I collected the garden tools from the office & started weeding, pruning and cutting. Once the job was completed, I was so happy to see the lovely white roses waving & smiling at me as if to say thank you. Then some monkeys came from no-where & plucked those roses, looked at me with their comical faces & ran. So the first practical lesson, don’t expect anything from what you do.
(I must add here, when I came the second time after a month, the same plants, weeds to me, were planted back in an organised way, by somebody. Second practical lesson, likes & dislikes, good & bad, are our own opinions only.)
First time I stayed for 16 days, and came back home a different person. Thereafter, whenever, I got an opportunity I have been going there, to the serenity, that one could find being close to nature with basic requirements of life, to overcome the hustle bustle of Colombo. Thereby, harnessing an opportunity to review my understandings and clear the doubts with Upul Sir. He never forces anything on you; he always makes us open to life and reality.
I left home early in the morning for Kandy to spend the forthcoming long weekend at the company holiday bungalow. As I was driving through Battaramulla I saw my friend Buddhi waiting for a bus towards Colombo.
A senior manager of a leading company with a company car, I was surprised to see him in Denim jeans and T shirt carrying a back-pack waiting for a bus like a tourist on a shoestring budget. I stopped the car, crossed the road and asked him what he was doing there. "I am planning to go to Kandy on holiday and waiting for a bus" he said quite casually.
"Come with me. I am also going to Kandy," I said.Buddhi liked the idea.
Still puzzled by what Buddhi said, I asked him" Why are you waiting for a bus, what happened to your car?" "Ah, this is a different kind of a holiday, it is better to be without the car" he replied. We placed his back- pack in the boot and set off.
"Tell me, what is this special holiday you are talking about, are you on a secret mission or doing a consumer research?" I asked.
"Yes, in a way it is a kind of a research " Buddhi said.
I became even more inquisitive. " Tell me Buddhi, what are you up to?" I am now imagining various possibilities.
"I am off for a meditation retreat" said Buddhi looking straight in to my eyes.
"That sounds interesting. Tell me about it"
"Well, every year when I have a long weekend like this I go to a place called Nilambe, for a short meditation retreat. It is a real holiday. Free from all the busy-ness of the business world, free from meetings, phone calls, e-mails and the rest of it. I will be there with just the bare necessities. No phones, no electricity, no noises, no meals in the night. It is a holiday for both the mind and body. A holy holiday". Buddhi continues with so much joy in his voice.
This little description of his holiday plan got me really interested. "Buddhi, if you don't mind, can you tell me more about it?"
Nilambe meditation center is situated up on a tea estate. Turning off from the Peradeniya University, you go 18 kilometers along Galaha road till you reach a board indicating the turn-off to the Meditation Center. From that point, you have to climb uphill about three and a half kilometers to reach the Center.
There is a long hall and a kitchen just above the landing. Around these buildings there are lines of rooms for the meditators to stay. These simple little rooms are called 'Kuti'. There are separate sections for male and female meditators. One can stay as long as one likes provided there is room. The Center is very popular among international students of Buddhist meditation. The resident teacher, Godwin Samararatne was well known. He passed away an year ago.
There is no charge levied for your stay. You are only expected to make a little donation to cover the cost of your stay.
What do you do there ? I asked.
Well, the day begins at 4.45 in the morning with the sounding of the gong - a hollow log . The sound created by hitting this log with a wooden hammer is the means of communicating the start of an activity. It can be heard very far. After the morning gong you come to the main hall where all sit in a group and meditate till 6.oo o'clock. The end of the mediation is indicated by ringing a small bell. You then walk down to the kitchen area to pick up your morning tea. Hardly anyone talks except a brief greeting. People line up with a cup, collect the tea, sit in silence at a place of your choice and have the tea. Some prefer to sit inside the kitchen around the hearth to fight the cold, others sit outside where there are cement benches. Some go up hill and take a vantage point to see how the morning sun removes the veil of mist that covers the Gampola valley far down. Every morning it is a new experience with birds of different shades and colors singing away on tree tops. On a clear day one can get a clear view of the Sri Pada away in the horizon.
After tea around 6.20, the Yoga session begins. It is not compulsory. Yoga is a form of exercise that attempts to unite body and mind, thus making the whole being healthy. The tradition of teaching Yoga continues with one person taking the lead for the benefit of the newcomers. Most of the westerners who do the spiritual circuit, get some exposure to Yoga in India, hence sometimes you come across very good yoga teachers at Nilambe. There are also very smart Sri Lankan youth who conduct yoga lessons. Those who do not wish to join Yoga classes take a morning walk up the hill. It is indeed a treat. You walk through a thick grove of pine trees above the meditation center. A foot path takes you to the top of the hill. At the edge of the foot path there is a little lake with fountain water at the border of the virgin forest. One can imagine what a rich vegetation it would have been before tea was planted on our hills.From the top of the hill you can see the Hantana range and a valley down glistening with the morning sun.
Yoga classes last for one hour. The next half hour is to get ready for breakfast. Near every dormitory or the line of 'kutis' there is a wash room with running water. Water just flows down from the lake on top of the hill.
Breakfast is at 8.00. It is a simple breakfast. A porridge made out of brown rice flour and 'kurahan' is the usual recipe. One can add a banana or a few grapes to make it sweeter. Once again eating is only to satisfy hunger. You try to eat mindfully, without talking. Silence is the key word. You finish your breakfast and wash the plate mindfully and place it at the right place.
Till 9.30 am it is "Karma Yoga".
Karma Yoga? I asked with surprise.
Karma Yoga means doing some work mindfully. It is a very good practice for lay people like us. You can choose one of the daily routine work which keeps the place going. While some choose to clean toilets others work in the kitchen or clean the areas around the 'kutis' they stay in. Some cut grass while others repair a broken foot path. Once again the important thing is how you can do it mindfully.
I was tempted to ask Buddhi what he means by doing things mindfully, but did not want to disturb his vivid description of the extraordinary experience.
At 9.30 in the morning the gong goes again announcing the time for Group Sitting, meaning group meditation in the main hall. The main hall is about 100 ft long and 20 feet wide. It is a simple hall. Along the walls on all four sides is a cement bench of about 1ft high and 2ft wide. The whole floor including the surface of the bench is covered with mats. There are enough cushions of different shapes and sizes. Some Japanese style meditation cushions are circular in shape and black in color. For the benefit for those who cannot bend their legs in the traditional cross legged position there are little wooden bunks. The art is to sit with your back straight and the weight of the body distributed evenly to both legs.
You choose the type of seat that suits you and sit for a meditation session for two to three hours. Depending on your choice you can either sit the whole period or mix it with a session or two of walking meditation as well. Though you meditate in a group there are no instructions given to the whole group at once. The bell to end the session goes after two hours. Yet some sit longer. Others leave the hall silently and retire in to their own 'kutis' and continue their meditation on their own until lunch time.
Lunch is served at 12.00 noon. It is a simple, balanced vegetarian meal. Eating mindfully, watching the desire to experience tastier food, experiencing the touch sensation of the fingers, and at taste points of the tongue, observing the smell of the food, becoming aware of the wandering of the mind while eating, these are all part of the meditation.
It is interesting to see how the mind wanders between the plate and the lip.
After lunch there is time for rest and using the library till three in the afternoon. There is a library with a large collection of books on Buddhism, Meditation, different philosophies, and even a good collection of audio cassettes of well known teachers such as J Krishnamurthi.
The afternoon meditation session starts at 3.00pm and lasts for two hours. After the meditation session tea is served in the kitchen.
To keep the body relaxed you can join the evening Yoga session or take a stroll either to the top of the hill or down the tea estate. Before the evening 'pooja' to offer flowers to the Buddha, there is an item in the calendar called "watching the sun set". It is the celebration of the day. Every day you are treated with a symphony of colors on the sky as the sun sets in the western horizon. You learn to observe the beauty of nature being with it. You keep your eyes loosely focused on the distant horizon and become aware of all the sounds around you and the silence that deepens within you and around you. In this state of awareness you begin to enjoy the sun set. How it slowly silences the day. Sometimes you hear the sound of the gusty winds as they pass through the pine forest. Slowly the day ends. there is no rush. You let it happen. You begin to observe beautiful shapes of clouds that glitter in kaleidoscopic shapes and colors. You hear sounds of children in a nearby village. Birds vary their chirp. Some even come to trees near you.
The evening pooja begins at 7.00. But by 6.30 all retire to the main hall and sit on the ground in front of the small white statue of Buddha. For the benefit of those who are not familiar with the Pali stanzas, one long staying German meditator has prepared a small booklet where Pali stanzas are written in Roman characters with the meaning in English. Buddhists observe Pansil and join the chanting. Others just listen. The chanting is done in a way so that the westerners can pronounce them easily. The candles that burn in front of most of the meditators to read the books help create a serene ambiance in the whole place. The chantings end with the Karaniya Metta Sutta and the group sit together for a short meditation on loving kindness.
The supper is a few biscuits and a cup of Soya coffee. Though many may feel it is not enough, you will be surprised to find that you hardly feel hungry in the night.
After dinner there is a short discussion on a topic related to meditation. Now that teacher is no more to lead this discussion, either his assistant Upul (he is now the resident teacher) or an experienced meditator does it.
Around 9.30 people retire in to their 'kutis' either with the help of a torch or a candle. It is encouraged to use candles to protect the environment. You begin to realize how little light you really need to live when you spend a few nights at Nilambe.
One can practice meditation in the 'kuti' as long as one likes or can sleep on the small bed provided there. It is a narrow cement bench in most rooms. In some rooms it is a small bed. Blankets are provided as it can be quite cold up there on some nights.
What do you wear? I asked.
Well, there is no hard and fast rule as long as you cover yourself properly in a manner that suits the occasion. Most of the westerners wear white cotton trousers. Females wear the sarval camis sets. Locals wear sarongs and shirts.
Do you have to observe Ata Sil (Eight Precepts)?
Not really. Since this is a place mainly for the westerners most of whom are non-Buddhists, what is expected is for them to observe the Five Precepts even without taking the three refuges. For the Buddhists, they can either observe Pansil or Ata Sil.
"You mentioned words such as Mindfulness, and awareness, do you have to know all these before going there?"
If you have previous experience in meditation this is an ideal place to deepen your practice. If you are a novice then you can meet the resident teacher Upul Gamage, a very kind young person with experience who will give you the required basic instructions.
When we talk of meditation, it does not mean that we keep thinking of something all the time. The English word Meditation can mean contemplation, but the Buddhist concept of 'bhavana' is really the development of the mind. There are two basic types of Meditation. One is called Concentration meditation where you choose one object either an internal or an external one - and bring your attention to it all the time. For example one can select a word and keep repeating it until the mind reaches one-pointedness. The other type of meditation is Vipassana meditation which teaches you to be aware of all the sense messages that come to your mind including your thoughts. There again you start by concentrating on one object such as the breath. You can either focus your attention on the rising and falling of the belly as you breathe in and out or observe the touch sensation at the tip of your nose trills as you breath naturally. While that becomes your main meditation objective any other sense message that comes to your mind too can be the meditation object. Here what is important is keeping awareness intact irrespective of the object.
If you sit down to meditate, it is because you want to know the true nature of your being, your mind. Then you need not have any preconceived ideas as to how the meditation session should be.
We are told of the story of how a meditation student went to a teacher and said, "Sir I cannot meditate, because my mind goes all over the place". "Then be aware that your mind goes all over the place", he was told. In this meditation technique you learn to let go thoughts without getting caught in them. Well these do not happen overnight, but why hurry?
Different teachers teach different techniques. But the core message is realizing the true nature of life. One begins to concentrate on the ever changing nature of life, that there is no permanent self, and as a result, there is unsatisfactoriness in life.
When you come to realize these to some extent, not intellectually but through direct experience, then you are free to that degree.
A meditation retreat lasting a few days help you create a real space in your mind. This is a worthwhile experience. You begin to see inner likes and dislikes that shape your being. You begin to develop awareness throughout the day. It gives so much freedom in real life as it gives you the ability to face life a bit more objectively and realistically. You will enjoy a certain amount of freedom. The fact that you spend a few days in total silence without uttering a word can be a unique experience in itself. You can see for yourself how the mind quietens when you keep your mouth shut. Although you sleep only for a few hours, you will not feel tired. You will be quite happy sleeping for just three to four hours. You will feel totally relaxed as you take only one main meal, that too, a simple vegetarian one. You will realize how much energy we spend to keep this busy-ness going?
I did not feel the journey. It was a long chat. When we reached Peradeniya, Buddhi suggested I drop him there. But by then I was so keen to visit Nilambe myself that I offered to drive him up there. He was not sure whether my car could make it to the top, but it was worth taking a chance, I thought.
Through the beautiful landscapes of Peradeniya University we drove along the Galaha Road. The air was so fresh we put down the shutters allowing the clean natural air sweep us as we cruised along.
The journey up the tea estate was not that easy. Yet I managed. Around 10.30 we arrived at the Center. There was absolute silence. The air was so pure, the breeze was soothing. The silence was so deep that I too decided to join Buddhi. I called the holiday bungalow and cancelled my booking. I switched off the cellular phone disconnecting my links with the rest of the world for the next three days.
My journey began with a drive from the University of Peradeniya near Kandy along the Galaha road, about 18 km through stunning green mountains and valleys. Soon after passing the Gamisevasewana auditorium, I took a sharp left turn and drove another three km up a narrow track that rose steeply through tea plantations, enjoying the scenic vistas of mist-shrouded mountains. Arriving at my destination about 4 pm and getting out of the car, I felt a deep sense of peacefulness amid the greenery with only the sounds of birds and the wind in the trees.
I walked slowly along a stone path looking for the person I had met twice before. He was dressed in white with an off-white scarf around his neck. I said, “Sir, please tell me what to do, because I am staying here for three nights.” In his deep, serene voice he answered, “First of all have a cup of tea, will you?” which made me feel even more calm and peaceful. Having enjoyed a big mug of tea with milk and feeling wonderful, I walked with him to the office where I was introduced to a person with a big smile…
That was the first of my heavenly experiences at Nilambe Meditation Centre near Kandy, Sri Lanka. Here the resident meditation teacher Kalyanamithra Upul Nishanta Gamage or simply Upul Sir or Upul, has guided thousands of people from different backgrounds who come to Nilambe to practice meditation.
The person with the big smile was Maitri, a Frenchman who walked me to my ‘kuti’ or room. He carried blankets, a pillow and sheets for me, reflecting his humility and friendliness. He showed me the meditation hall, the library, the yoga hall, dining room and kitchen in a manner that filled me with enthusiasm for the experience ahead. I had read the well-planned schedule of activities by Upul Sir so I dressed in white (although there is no absolute need to wear white but rather to dress to conceal instead of reveal) and waited patiently for the first sound of the Centre’s gong.
I walked slowly to the meditation hall at the sound of the evening gong. The hall was simply but impressively arranged for devotional chanting, with long mats laid out on the floor with cushions for sitting and a candle and booklet by each place to facilitate chanting. The meditator sitting next to me helped light my candle, a gesture typical of the friendliness and thoughtfulness within the family at Nilambe. I chanted with the help of the strong, musical voice of Upul Sir coming from the back of the hall -– a profoundly moving experience. The booklet was a great help not only for me but for the foreigners who were not familiar with the Pali language. Chanting was followed by a group meditation session until 7:30 guided by Upul Sir. During that time I was aware of sounds I could not remember hearing before, which made me realize that I had not been paying attention to the sounds around me.
After the group meditation, I had a snack and a big mug of hot soy coffee with milk by candlelight in the dining hall with the others. Afterwards, I walked slowly to my kuti and meditated for some time. To the best of my remembrance, it was the first time in my life that I have slept soundly in a new place on the very first night. Before coming to Nilambe, I could not help thinking that I might not be able to fall asleep without a proper evening meal. But my sound sleep made me realize that it was not the fullness of the stomach or the comfort of the bed and linen that matters, but peacefulness of the mind.
On the following day I awoke about 4 am, long before the wake-up gong, feeling very peaceful, energetic and happy regardless of the chilly weather. At the sound of the gong at 4:45, having dressed appropriately for the chilliness, I walked slowly up to the meditation hall to attend the first group meditation session of the day. I felt very fortunate as it was guided by Upul Sir in such a way that I felt energy accumulating inside me, then radiating out as loving kindness to the whole universe. His words touched my heart intensely and made me realize that only what I have within me can be given to others, which is the heart of practicing ‘Metta’ or loving kindness. After meditating for one hour in the early morning, a big mug of tea at 6 am was such a treat. After tea, the hour from 6:30 to 7:30 was allocated to practicing mindfulness while in motion, and I did yoga during that time.
After yoga, I had breakfast with a feeling of thankfulness for the meal, which was simple and nutritious but filling. The hour after breakfast was allocated for working meditation, which gave me an opportunity to work mindfully. As it was my first stay at the Centre I was not sure what to do, but chose to clean the toilets and bathrooms in the ladies section which made me very happy. At the sound of the 9:30 gong I went to the meditation hall to attend my first 1.5 hour- long group meditation session. At the beginning of the session I had mixed feelings as it was a long period, but it turned out to be a joyful session for reasons that I have difficulty in explaining. From 11 until noon I had a very pleasant time walking in the garden of the Centre, deeply appreciating and loving Nature. I saw many lichens growing on the trees around the Centre, a sign of fresh, unpolluted air for which I felt grateful.
The gong was rung at noon for lunch, which was again a balanced and simple vegetarian meal which I enjoyed with a deep sense of gratitude. After lunch the library was open until 1:30 -- another wonderful experience for me as I am a bookworm. The books were very methodically shelved in the library and I realized the value of the collection. English translations of some of the talks given by Upul Sir were kept outside the library. I remember that I read them one after the other in a great hurry, as if I was going to die at any minute. After 1:30 there was an interval of one hour. At the sound of the gong at 2:30 I took part in the second 1.5 hour-long group meditation, which was even more successful than the first one. At 4 pm I had a cup of tea and a friendly chat with the other meditators, which gave me an opportunity to express my love and care for the foreigners. By that time, I’d had 24 hours of heavenly experiences at Nilambe.
Although I was free to do yoga between 4:30 and 5:30, I didn’t because I was preoccupied with many questions which arose during meditation. While I was seated outside thinking about these, I saw Upul Sir approaching and immediately stood up, forgetting my manners, and said, “Sir, I want to ask you some questions.” Though he was probably coming to attend to some other work, he felt the need of my heart and gave me an appointment, reflecting his selflessness. It was a wonderful experience to listen to Upul Sir while seated on a flat stone under a bower of flowering vines. My questions were answered, which made me joyful.
On the following day I was engrossed in a book titled “Your Mind is Bigger Than all the Supermarkets in the World”, a compilation of conversations between Upul Sir and Cecilia Neant Falk (available through firstname.lastname@example.org). My inward happiness after reading the book made me ask Upul Sir to find me another of his books. He was probably busy doing something else, but he again felt the urgent need of my heart and found me a book titled “Namata Ruwak Ruwata Namak”. Reading that book was a real turning point in my life. Since then, I have been visiting the Centre and staying there for a couple of days every month. Nilambe Centre feeds my mind and spirit.
Many changes have taken place in my life as a result of my efforts to apply the teaching of Upul Sir to my day-to-day life and practicing meditation. I now think of the Centre a ‘My Heaven on Earth’. According to his teaching, the practice of meditation paves the path to help ourselves, to understand ourselves and to change ourselves for the better as we become more and more mindful of all our day-to-day activities. Moreover, Upul Sir’s great ability to speak to our hearts and his practical, philosophical way of presenting Dhamma has enormous power to help us practice meditation in a joyful manner. Among many lessons, the best I’ve been taught by Upul Sir is about the importance of practicing mindfulness from the moment I wake up until I fall asleep. Living in the present moment is probably the toughest lesson ever, but it has brought enormous happiness to my life. Though I am still a toddler in the practice of meditation, I now experience and enjoy the beauty of living in the present moment. As a result, I’ve learned to experience joy in all that I do, and that makes me feel wonderful.
May my experience inspire you to plant a seed in your heart that might one day lead you to your own awakening at Nilambe!
Chamara Illeperuma, PhD
Professor, University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya
Nialmbe Meditation Centre is a very good place to start learning about our mind. Very Convenient and useful time table.
Having studied quite a number of books on Buddhism I was keen to practice meditation in a quiet & serene environment. It is at this point I became aware of the Nilambe Buddhist Meditation Centre guided by a well meaning friend. I approached the place for a week of meditation. The Centre is situated at the top of a luxuriant Tea plantation. Away from hustle bustle of the City life. Immediately I fell in love with the place.
Having registered myself at the office, I retired to the "Kuti'' allotted to me for some rest. After that, according to the timetable I went to the meditation hall & sat cross legged on a cushion provided. Closing my eyes I began concentrating on in breathing and out breathing. After a moment I was awaken by some one's sneeze, with came like big shock to me. I was wondering whether other were looking at me. Everyone has their eye closed whether they sleeping like me or meditate. I slowly turn down & check the time on the small clock to find that half an hour had already left. My mind would have been floating on the stream of thoughts that rushed through me. I would not have been conscious of more than 3 of 4 in breath and out breath. It occurs to me that this cannot be 'Anapanasati meditation.'
When I discuss the matter with the meditation instructor, I was told that is not due the method of meditation. Thinking has become a strong habit with us. He emphasized the need to continuance meditation paying attention only to existing moment. The famous Thai monk Ajahn Chaa has compared the beginning of meditation to a child learning to write. Child had to write crooked letters of various shape in order to master the alphabet. There is no short cut. Even after these instructions I did not have much success. At best, I would have been conscious for about six or seven in breath & out breath. However as I practice for a few days I found my mind gradually becoming more calm. I gained a lot of experience about the working of the mind. That is something I have never come across the books that I read. We should not stop after calming the mind. When one makes an attempt to see the world through that type of calm mind, I believe one can gradually see the real situation around. That understanding and that vision should enable us to find a way out of the constant struggle for life & suffering.
My mind was had been logged with the stuff got from books. My learning had closed my mind. I was too proud to listen to others. But in practical meditation I realized, how little I knew. In quietly examining my thoughts I discovered how badly I would be offended and enraged by the slightest careless word or action of another. How much I repent over some forgotten past memories. I also realized that some time I behave like a child in spite of my age and experience. This residential course of meditation and the discussions I had with the Upul Gamage, help me to remove the various doubt and myths that I had about meditation.
Leading a normal layman’s life you might have even found the practice of meditation to be an exercising swimming against the current. Many of the people around you who want to lead you along with their line, would not appreciate the effort you are making. There are also internal mental forces which try to keep us away from meditation. Most important thing is to continue your practice in daily life to develop your awareness. One has to be mindful of all these things in fashioning a life devoted to meditation.
I have put down these brief notes on my experience hoping they would be useful to you as mental activity is common occurrence in everyone. I wish that the reader to think of making a trip to this serene centre of meditation situated in a salubrious climate of Nilambe, where he will find the time to study about his own mind and the practice of meditation. Above all he will have the benefit of the services of a true friend and a great teacher who can lovingly guide alone the way.
I visited Nilambe Meditation centre on 07/01/2012. Mr Upul changed my thinking pattern. Showed us how to find inner happiness & how to realize life. His teachings were 100% practical. We are searching for something that no one can give. But we can find the same by starting the journey to go deep into one's own mind.