Healing Experiences of Vipassanā Practitioners in Contemporary China, Case study 4

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 4: Jiang Hailong

Since May in 2006, Jiang Hailong, a forty-six-year-old civil servant from Fujian Province, had started practicing vipassanā with Goenka’s method for ten years. He attended four ten-day retreats and five eight-day satipaṭṭhāna retreats. Jiang said: “Learning vipassanā can purify the mind and cultivate wisdom. After a car accident in October 2005, I started suffering from headaches all the time. They could not be cured, although I had tried various kinds of treatment in clinics by spending a lot of money.”

Finally, he started practicing vipassanā to help relieve his physical pain in his daily life. He shared with me in a grateful tone: “I practice mindfulness every moment. From my experience, I feel pain in my head if I don’t practice. Yet with moment-to-moment awareness, the headache can be released. I can see clearly the change in the mind and the body. The whole body is composed of waves and particles. They emerge and disappear. I can see the phenomenon clearly during sitting and in my daily life. There is no concept of my arms, legs and head. They are waves only, with the vibration of particles. They arise and fall like bubbles… many bubbles …arise and fall… very quickly.”

Jiang highly recommend the teaching of Goenka. He believes that the teaching can lead to liberation of life and death. “Without awareness, I feel so painful. It is suffering. With awareness, the pain is relieved. Previously I had hatred towards the pain. Progressively the pain and hatred have faded away. A pleasant feeling even sometimes arises. Yet [I remind myself] not to attach to it.”

Jiang highlighted meditators should report to meditation teachers, who would give instructions during interview. Jiang thought that he did not practice well. He said shyly and humbly, “I have never dared to share with anyone about my practice–the experience of impermanence and not-self. But when I report to teacher, he confirmed that he could see it [in a similar way].”