The Risk Of Meditation

On a cloudless afternoon in March 2017, Megan Vogt drove her truck toward a Delaware town between the coastal plain and the foothills of the Appalachians. She was on her way to a silent retreat at Dhamma Pubbananda, a meditation center specializing in a practice called vipassana, which its website describes as a “universal remedy for universal ills” that provides “total liberation from all defilements, all impurities, all suffering.” Those who attend Dhamma Pubbananda’s retreats pledge to observe strict rules (no reading, no dancing, no praying) and to stay for the whole ten days, as it is “both disadvantageous and inadvisable to leave . . . upon finding the discipline too difficult.” Megan knew that she’d have to forfeit her cell phone and observe a mandatory “noble silence,” so she called her mother one last time. “I love you, I love you, I love you,” she said. “I’ll talk to you in ten days.”

Harpers Magazine