"I have a background in gambling mathematics and collective intelligence. I measure the accuracy of information. This was previously applied to gambling theory but more recently applied to derivatives pricing theory and capital markets trading. I am deeply quantitative, analytical, and invented a variety of derivative structures now widely used. Given my career on Wall Street where my primary role was to measure the value of information and to calculate probabilities of events, I make a living measuring the truthfulness of claims so I am highly cynical and skeptical. I'm good at what I do - my track record speaks for itself. I have very little to prove to others in the way of quantifying truth or vouching for things I don't believe in.
"Therefore, I approached the Dhamma Sukha experiment with no small amount of skepticism. I was acutely cynical. And I would consider myself highly credible. So below is my true account of my experience with Bhante Vimalaramsi's Retreat Experience during March of 2018.
"I had been practising meditation off and on for about 4 years, but was no Dharma expert. I was fluent in a few of the concepts, but not deeply studied. My previous experience was mindfulness of breath and I would often struggle to get a 40 minute meditation session. This tended to require a lot of effort, was not all that enjoyable, certainly a struggle, and bit of chore. I didn't know a lot about Buddhism. I'd never heard of dependent origination at all, for example.
"My back-story, was that I was going through some personal challenges and decided I needed to go on a retreat to relieve some stress. So did some research on retreats available in the area during that calendar period, and basically signed up sight unseen to the Dhamma Sukha Easter Retreat. In fact, when I arrived, and I saw the sign for Dhamma Sukha, I wasn't even sure it was the right place. But wow, was I incredibly fortunate to have found this experience!!
"A few weeks before the retreat I decided that I needed to research Bhante V, and did a few searches and came to the conclusion he was certainly controversial, and is either incredibly wise and getting legitimately fantastic results or slightly unstable. :-) AND coming into it I thought the later, because his claims of success/progress were bold relative to anything I had read previously. I had skimmed the 6Rs in his book, didn't understand them, and wasn't actually going to use them on the retreat. I thought I would just be left to myself to take a break, meditate on my own, and wouldn't have a daily check in-so could do my own thing. On the first evening when Bhante V arrived, from his presence I realized, he is the real deal, and my previous plan of doing my own thing was ill conceived. So I committed to practising the 6Rs and following exactly what he told me: no more ... no less. Mainly because he reminded me of my father and out of respect for him (and my father) I would be totally compliant and would only tell him the truth (Previously, I had decided to fake it). And so I committed to following his instructions(!). I had no expectation from the retreat other than relaxing and clearing my mind and dealing with my personal challenges. In the opening talk when Bhante V said a large number of people would sit for 3 to 4 hours per meditation session, and highlighted the likely progress and expectations, I distinctly remember thinking that will definitely not be me.
"Once I understood Bhante's definitions and the 6Rs they immediately made sense. Intellectually, but more importantly how they mapped with my limited understanding of the Dharma, but most importantly experientially. I could feel my body and mind letting go. I could actually see and experience the sensations described in the Jhanas. When I started practicing them the results were immediate, rather than fighting through meditation sessions and wrestling with thoughts, the sessions were enjoyable and flowed ... I just started to realize that I can do this and there was a huge potential and incredible opportunity here. About 3-4 days into the week something clicked, I became confident that I could go very deep and possibly reach cessation. I was right on schedule and everything I was experiencing was as promised and as expected. Bhante knew exactly where I was on my path and actively guided me to the next experience. What he said it would happen, it happened.
"Based on my experience, I strongly believe that if you commit to this process, amazing life transforming developments can happen, and most likely will happen. They happened to me. I'm nothing special. And in spite of my initial cynicism.
Truly wonderful things happened to me, I am blessed. I am a different better person as a result and these changes are permanent. And I wish for all of those looking for the path, TWIM is it. Look no further."