On the second week of September 2019, Savy and I quenched our longing to witness a Tony Robbins show in Singapore called ‘Unleash the Power Within’ (UPW).
On the third week of December, we went for a soft 10 day camp where we were imprisoned for 10 days and forced to watch our breathe in the outskirts of Chennai, titled ‘Vipassana’.
Listed below are a few of our observations:
UPW – This program is designed to pump your Adrenalin, take you to a peak state and equip you with tools to grab as much as you can from this ‘abundant world’. The prime objectives of life are – achievement, accomplishment, passion and power.
Vipassana – This program is designed to pull off the plug to unwind your stressed up ‘go-getter’ life and work on your compassion.
UPW – The air is surcharged with pumped up volunteers, high voltage music to juice you up and fire up all your cylinders. 9000 people, each spending lakhs attended the convention. Tony Robbins was a tad disappointed that many more outside were still not part of the seminar. When you are getting such valuable knowledge at such a ‘negligible price’ there was obviously no question of providing you with boarding, lodging or even a cup of tea.
Vipassana – About 100 men and 100 women came for this 10-day camp. Boarding and food was provided ‘free of cost’. Not a single paisa was demanded as a tuition fee. How could we pay a price? All the wealth that we had attained in our lifetime would not be enough to pay this fee.
UPW – The program was all about the mind (monkey). How to empower the monkey? How to make it attain outrageous goals? How to give a value based direction to the monkey and how to possibly transform the identity of the monkey into that of the gorilla? This program talked about how to achieve ‘peak states’ and create a ‘certainty’ in the monkey and make it walk on fire.
Vipassana – On the contrary this entire program talked about ‘dropping the monkey’. It made us realize how the monkey is the cause of misery and how it creates undue damage to our being. The course talked about the true meaning of ‘liberation’ that is – eliminating the monkey.
UPW – Tony Robbins explained how he had made huge sacrifices. He had fish poisoning (mercury poisoning) at atrocious levels, in-spite of which he was conducting the program. He was available only for 2 days in the 4 day event. The participants were never coerced to attend the full workshop. As a matter of fact many of them did not turn up on the last day and 25 percent of the time was allocated to promoting the upcoming workshops and also products of a few companies to which Tony was affiliated. Don’t people have to invest if they have to reach higher standards in life?
Vipassana – The sewaks and the trainers were with us from 4.30 am in the morning till 9.30 pm in the night. The participants had to mandatory attend the complete workshop, sit in excruciating positions and endure the torture of these ‘vicious assassins’. There was not an iota of promotion for the next event and on the last day the sewaks apologetically mentioned of a one day children’s workshop which was to be conducted the next day.
In Northern Georgia there is a hiking trail, the longest in the world (about 2200 miles) in which 2 million participate every year. It is called the ‘Appalachian Trail’. Its entire trail is funded through hikers who upon seeing its benefits funded for laying the path so that the next set of hikers could enjoy the experience.
Vipassana works on the same guidelines. Seeing the benefits derived from this program the participants fund for the next set of participants to come and enjoy the course. It’s a classic case of ‘paying forward’ and has worked well for many years.
Which is the right approach is difficult for me to decide as they lie on the two ends of the spectrum.
One approach talks of winning, accumulating, in this recognition starved pleasure seeking world. It talks about maximizing your pleasures and minimizing your pain through accessing different states of the mind.
Tony Robbins through his approach has helped many suicide cases, depression victims and traumatic patients come out of their state. ‘I am not a Guru’ – a documentary on Netflix shows him helping a women who was physically abused lead a better quality of life and near divorce cases now lead ecstatic lives.
The other approach talks about dropping the mind, leading a life ‘devoid’ of misery, craving and aversion, not seeking attention and moving from breathe to breathe with compassion.
This approach by Buddha has transformed continents; generations and even the prisoners in Tihar jail have reformed themselves after going through this course.
Which approach is right, it is for you to decide.
Is Mephistopheles listening?
This is Shiv signing off from S&S Family First.