Healing Experiences of Vipassanā Practitioners in Contemporary China, Case study 3

Elsa Ngar-sze Lau 劉雅詩

Ngar-sze Lau is a PhD candidate at the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster University. Her thesis examines the emergence of Theravāda meditation communities in contemporary China.

This is a case study that is part of a series of linked posts:
Introduction, case 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Case 3: Xie Mingda

Xie Mingda, in his 40s, was born in Shamen of Fujian Province. With the influence of his parents and relatives, he has had chances of learning Buddhism since he was a child. “I attended some classes of Buddhism, and learned some Chinese Buddhist scriptures, such as The Diamond Sutra. I have a few good friends who have ordained as monks in Chinese Buddhist tradition, and also some in Theravāda tradition. I have been interested in learning scriptures in Theravāda tradition and Pāli language.”

Since 2008 he has attended ten-day vipassanā retreats of Goenka’s method for ten times, twenty-day for once and thirty-day for twice.[i] He has also served ten-day vipassanā retreats ten times as a volunteer helper.[ii] Nowadays he practices meditation for two hours every day. He found that his physical health has improved. His mind has become more balanced and more compassionate.

“I had suffered from Ankylosing Spondylitis, a disease related to immune system. It took me a few minutes to get up from sitting meditation posture. After I insisted to practice regular meditation, my body has been improved a lot. I feel that the body is full of energy after meditation.” However, he emphasized that a right attitude of meditation practice is important. In the beginning of his practice, he hurt his leg as he tried to strive for good results.

Overall, Xie Mingda showed a great sense of gratitude to meditation practice. “[Through practicing meditation, I have experience the sense of impermanence[iii] and not-self.[iv] Comparing with a few years ago, I feel that the sense of self has been reduced.” The benefits of meditation have influenced his mental state. “I work in Futures trading [which renders me a lot of stress.] After practicing vipassanā, the anxiety emotion has been reduced. The mind has become more balanced. I think that my frequent donation also helps.”

[i] See Vipassana Meditation website for details https://www.dhamma.org/

[ii] It is usually called as Dhamma worker (Ch. fagong).

[iii] Ch. wuchang; P. anicca.

[iv] Ch. wuwo; P. anattā.