Filed in Vipassana, Theravada

A Story for Sophie

Will Bennetti

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Can you really just see?” the Theravada monk had asked. “Can you just listen?”

We had gathered on the porch of a farmhouse in upstate New York. The weekend retreat had ended and a dozen of us sat with the orange-robed Bhante from Sri Lanka sipping tea in the early spring sun. Sophie, a college student like myself, had complained of the tedious "labeling" in the Vipassana practice as a technique for paying attention.

And so the monk had challenged her. "Try it," he had said. "Try right now, for one minute only to just be, no labeling, no 'you' watching your breath. No 'rising, rising of the abdomen,' no 'falling, falling of the abdomen,' nothing, just being. Right here. Right now. Forget one minute. Ten seconds. Try it for ten seconds. All of you. No labeling, but no thinking."

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