Monday, August 17, 2009

The Cask of Amontillado in the Practice of Vipassana Meditation, by Quentin S. Crisp

THE thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult, I took myself to my meditation room, assumed the lotus position upon the cushion that sat squarely between the four unadorned walls, and started on anapana meditation in order to clear my mind. When some thirty minutes had passed, my mind being sufficiently focused, I moved on to vipassana meditation, observing my bodily sensations, noticing how the subtle vibrations of pleasant sensation or the gross vibrations of unpleasant sensation were both equally subject to the law of impermanence, anicca.

Anicca! Anicca!

Coming again to a state of samadhi and realising that all phenomena arise and pass, arise and pass, I understood the truth of the doctrine of anatta, and comprehended the futility of attachment to any of the phenomena of either mind or matter. Consequently, I found arising a sense of joy, compassion and deep peace.

Leaving my meditation room, I contemplated how best to celebrate my liberation from the bondage of dukkha. I will call my erstwhile enemy, Fortunato, the very enemy upon whom, only an hour or so previously, I had thought of exacting revenge, and I will share with him, I decided, a pipe of Amontillado I had recently come by and stored in my vaults.

I set the table in my dining room, laying places for two, a candelabra between them. I decided upon a light pasta dish with a sauce of my own concoction, sent my servant out with an invitation to Fortunato, and began my preparations. As I was doing so, I remembered of a sudden the Five Precepts of the Sila to which I had made my vows when I took up the practice of vipassana meditation, that I must abstain from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying and intoxication.

I slapped my forehead in frustration.

Anicca! Anicca!

The sense of joy and compassion that had arisen now passed. The invitation had been sent out, but my plan had changed.

I would show Fortunato the vault where I kept the Amontillado, yes, but neither he nor I would ever drink that wine, and only one of us would ever leave the vault again.

Anicca! Anicca!

As I put the last brick in place behind which Fortunato had now grown silent, I felt at peace, detached, equanimous, in accordance with the doctrine of anatta - no self and no other.

Equanimous mind.