All About Vipassana Meditation
A gift from the ancient world, Vipassana, a meditation technique of self-purification through self-observation, is the epitome of the Buddha's teachings, offering a universal path to liberation. It is an exploration into the depths of the human psyche, stripped of cultural and religious pretenses.
The term "Vipassana" translates as "to see things as they really are", a technique revived by Gautama Buddha over 2500 years ago. One finds a fascinating link to Vipassana in the period of King Ashoka, in the form of two monks, Sona, and Anuthara Thero. They were dispatched by Ashoka to the celestial realm of Burma to establish Dhamma, the teachings of Buddha, playing a vital role in the preservation of this age-old wisdom.
The unbroken chain of Vipassana Meditation teachers
All Vipassana practitioners who follow the teachings of Goenkaji and his Assistant Teachers hold profound respect and indebtedness to the lineage of Teachers. These venerable masters have, since the time of Gotama the Buddha, diligently safeguarded this precious jewel of Dhamma, ensuring its authentic purity is passed down through generations.
Although it is likely that this unadulterated technique of Vipassana was maintained for many centuries by a succession of bhikkhu teachers, their specific identities remain unknown to us. Nonetheless, we are privy to the identities of the most recent lay Dhammachariya in our tradition and the esteemed bhikkhu scholar/teacher who sanctioned their teachings.
In this section, we will explore a concise history and biography of each of these revered teachers in our tradition. This exploration is our tribute to their contributions and a way to further our understanding of the depth and lineage of this transformative practice.
1st Buddha - Taṇhaṃkara
2nd Buddha - Medhaṃkara
3rd Buddha - Saraṇaṃkara
4th Buddha - Dipankara
Dipankara, also known as Dīpaṃkara in Sanskrit and Pali, is recognized as one of the Buddhas of the past, believed to have lived on Earth a hundred thousand years ago.
In this world system, 28 Buddhas are acknowledged, with the Buddha of our era, Gotama, being the latest. Each Buddha presided over a life cycle. Dipankara is revered in certain Buddhist traditions as a Buddha who achieved enlightenment many eons before Gotama, the historical Buddha. The general belief among Buddhists is that numerous Buddhas have succeeded one another throughout the distant past, and many more will manifest in the future. Thus, Dipankara is considered one of the many preceding Buddhas, with Gotama as the most recent and Metteyya anticipated as the next Buddha.
In Chinese Buddhism, Dipankara is typically venerated as one of the Buddhas of the past, forming the triad of Buddhas of Three Times along with Shakyamuni, the present Buddha, and Maitreya, the future Buddha.
Despite the absence of archaeological evidence supporting the existence of Dipankara, he is classified as a legendary figure. However, for Theravada Buddhists and many other Buddhist practitioners, Dipankara is considered a genuine individual who achieved Buddhahood.
5th Buddha - Koṇḍañña
6th Buddha - Maṃgala
7th Buddha - Sumana
8th Buddha - Revata
9th Buddha - Sobhita
10th Buddha - Anomadassi
11th Buddha - Paduma
12th Buddha - Nārada
13th Buddha - Padumuttara
Padumuttara Buddha, the thirteenth of the 28 Buddhas, holds a significant place in the Buddhist tradition. His life shares many similarities with that of Gautama Buddha, although he was said to have been assisted by different individuals, and his Bodhi Tree was a salala. Padumuttara Buddha was believed to have lived for ten thousand years, and many of Gautama Buddha's disciples reportedly began their pursuit of monkhood during Padumuttara Buddha's time.
Although there is no archaeological evidence to confirm the existence of Padumuttara Buddha, he is an important figure in Buddhist lore. While he is categorized as a legendary figure, Theravada Buddhists and many others within the Buddhist community regard Padumuttara as a real person who achieved Buddhahood. The story of Padumuttara Buddha continues to inspire and guide Buddhists in their spiritual journey.
14th Buddha - Sumedha
15th Buddha - Sujāta
16th Buddha - Piyadassi
17th Buddha - Atthadassi
18th Buddha - Dhammadassi
19th Buddha - Siddhattha
20th Buddha - Tissa
21st Buddha - Phussa
22nd Buddha - Vipassi
23rd Buddha - Sikhi
24th Buddha - Vessabhū
25th Buddha - Kakusandha
Kakusandha Buddha is recognized as the twenty-fifth Buddha, and the first of the five Buddhas of our current era, as well as the fourth of the seven ancient Buddhas. In Sanskrit Buddhist texts, he is referred to as Krakucchanda, while Tibetan texts call him Khorvadjig.
As recorded in the Buddhavamsa, one of the books of the Pāli Canon, Kakusandha is regarded as one of the 28 Buddhas within our world system. He was born in the Lumbini Zone, in Khema Park, Gothihawa, Nepal. His parents were Aggidatta, a Brahmin chaplain for King Khemankara of Khemavati, and Visakha. His spouse was Virochamana, also known as Rocani, and they had a son named Uttara.
Emperor Asoka reportedly visited Gothihawa during his visit to Lumbini and erected a stone pillar to commemorate his visit. Given the existence of the pillar and a local stupa, it is widely accepted that Kakusandha was born in Gothihawa, near other significant Buddhist locations such as Kapilvastu, Lumbini, Devadaha, and Ramagrama.
In his lifetime, Kakusandha resided for four thousand years in three palaces named Ruci, Suruci, and Vaddhana. At the age of four thousand, he chose to renounce his worldly life. After practising austerities for eight months, he achieved enlightenment under a sirisa tree. His first sermon was delivered to an assembly of eighty-four thousand monks in a park near Makila.
Notable events in Kakusandha's life include the performance of the twin miracle beneath a sala tree, and the conversion of the fearsome yaksha named Naradeva. His chief disciples included Vidhura and Sanjiva among the monks, and Sama and Champa among the nuns. His principal lay-supporters were Acchuta and Samana among the men, and Nanda and Sunanda among the women. It's worth noting that Acchuta constructed a monastery for Kakusandha Buddha on the same site where Anathapindika would later establish Jetavana Arama for Gautama Buddha.
Kakusandha lived until the age of forty thousand, passing away in Khema Park. It is believed that the future Siddhartha Gautama was born as King Khema during Kakusandha's time.
While there is no archaeological evidence confirming Kakusandha's existence, Theravada Buddhists and many others within the Buddhist community regard Kakusandha as a real person who achieved Buddhahood. Thus, despite his categorization as a legendary figure, Kakusandha Buddha holds significant spiritual importance.
This is how it goes according to all the information I can find on the Internet.
26th Buddha - Koṇāgamana
27th Buddha - Kassapa Buddha
Kassapa Buddha is known as the third of the five Buddhas in the current aeon, the Bhaddakappa or 'Fortunate Aeon,' and the sixth of the six Buddhas preceding the historical Buddha mentioned in the earlier parts of the Pali Canon. In Sanskrit Buddhist texts, he is referred to as Kāśyapa.
Kassapa Buddha is considered one of the 28 Buddhas of our world system and the Samma-sam-buddha immediately prior to Gotama Buddha, the Buddha of our time.
He was born in Varanasi, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, India, to his Brahmin parents Brahmadatta and Dhanavatī, of the Kassapagotta lineage. Kassapa spent two thousand years in the household, living in three palaces named Hamsa, Yasa, and Sirinanda. His chief wife was Sunandā, with whom he had a son called Vijitasena. Kassapa renounced his worldly life while traveling in his palace.
After practicing austerities for only seven days, Kassapa attained enlightenment. Prior to his enlightenment, he had received a meal of milk-rice from his wife and grass for his seat from a yavapālaka named Soma. He achieved enlightenment under a banyan tree and delivered his first sermon at Isipatana to a group of monks who had left the world with him. Kassapa performed the twin miracle at the foot of an asana tree outside Sundaranagara.
Kassapa held only one assembly of his disciples, and among his most renowned conversions was that of a yakkha named Naradeva. His chief disciples were Tissa and Bhāradvāja among monks, and Anulā and Uruvelā among nuns, while his constant attendant was Sabbamitta. His most eminent patrons were Sumangala and Ghattīkāra, Vijitasenā, and Bhaddā. Kassapa was twenty cubits tall and lived to the age of forty thousand years, passing away in the Setavya pleasance at Setavyā in Kāsī. A thūpa, one league in height and built with bricks worth one crore each, was constructed over his relics.
There was considerable debate over the size and materials of the stupa, but the construction eventually began. However, the citizens discovered they lacked sufficient funds to complete the project. To raise the necessary money, an anāgāmī devotee named Sorata traveled throughout Jambudīpa, seeking assistance. After hearing that the construction was finished, Sorata set out to worship the thūpa but was attacked and killed by robbers in a forest later known as the Andhavana. Upavāna, in a previous birth, became the guardian deity of the chetiya, which explains his great majesty in his final life.
Due to the absence of archaeological evidence for Kassapa Buddha's existence, he is classified as a legendary figure. However, Theravada Buddhists and many other Buddhists regard Kassapa as a real individual who attained Buddhahood.
28th Buddha - Siddhartha Gotama the Buddha (Maha Baddra Kalpa)
Siddhartha Gautama, known as the Buddha, was a spiritual teacher from ancient India and the founder of Buddhism, one of the major world religions. His teachings have had a profound influence on millions of people worldwide for over two and a half millennia.
Gautama Buddha was born into a royal family in Lumbini, in modern-day Nepal, around the 6th or 5th century BCE. His father was King Suddhodana, ruler of the Shakya clan, and his mother was Queen Maya. The name "Siddhartha" means "he who achieves his aim." As per tradition, a prophecy at his birth suggested that he would either become a great king or a renowned spiritual teacher.
Despite his privileged upbringing, Siddhartha became disillusioned with the pleasures and luxuries of royal life. After witnessing the realities of human suffering - old age, disease, death, and ascetics who had renounced the world - he decided to leave the palace in search of answers to the fundamental questions of existence. This monumental event, known as the "Great Departure," marked the beginning of his spiritual quest.
Siddhartha spent years seeking wisdom from various religious teachers of his time and practicing rigorous ascetic disciplines. However, these did not provide the answers he sought. Eventually, he chose a middle way between the extremes of indulgence and self-mortification.
In his mid-thirties, Siddhartha attained enlightenment, or supreme insight, while meditating under a Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, India. He became the Buddha, which means "the awakened one" or "the enlightened one." The teachings he subsequently developed, known as the Dharma, focus on the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, which offer a way to transcend suffering and achieve Nirvana, a state of liberation and inner peace.
For the next 45 years, the Buddha traveled throughout northeastern India, teaching his philosophy to an extremely diverse range of people, from nobles to outcasts, and establishing a monastic order known as the Sangha. His innovative teachings did not rely on the authority of scriptures or gods, but rather on direct personal experience and rational investigation.
Gautama Buddha passed away at the age of 80 in Kushinagar, India. His final words to his disciples were, "All conditioned things are impermanent. Strive on with diligence." His teachings continue to guide and inspire people worldwide, shaping the course of countless lives and cultures.
For more information: https://www.thestonestudio.in/gautam-buddha-story-of-wisdom-enlightenment/
Punna and Anuththara Therro's ()
During the time of Kind Dharma Ashoka, these Rahath monks has been sent from India to Burma to spread and protect the pure dhamma teaching of the Gautama Buddha. Especially the meditation technique of Vipassana.
Pūrṇa Maitrāyanīputra, also simply referred to as Pūrṇa (or Puṇṇa in Pali), was an esteemed disciple of Gautama Buddha, renowned as an arhat and one of the Buddha's ten principal disciples, with particular prowess in preaching the dharma.
Born into a Brahmin family in the region of Donavatthu, close to Kapilavatthu, Puṇṇa Mantānīputta was the son of Mantānī (or Maitrāyanī), the sister of the venerable Añña Koṇḍañña, who would later become Puṇṇa's spiritual mentor. The influence of Puṇṇa on Ānanda, another significant disciple of the Buddha, was notably profound. Following his initial period of monastic retreat, Ānanda credited Puṇṇa as the driving force behind his attainment of the sotāpanna, the first stage of enlightenment.
The venerable Sāriputta, another of the Buddha's principal disciples, first learned about Puṇṇa during a conversation between the Buddha and a group of Shakyans who were extolling Puṇṇa's virtues. Later, Sāriputta had the opportunity to meet Puṇṇa in Sāvatthī. He asked Puṇṇa about the dharma, maintaining anonymity during their interaction. Puṇṇa, in response, used the relay chariots analogy from the Rathavīnitasuttaṃ. It was only after their conversation about dharma that they revealed their identities to each other. Puṇṇa mentioned that although his given name was Puṇṇa, his fellow spiritual practitioners knew him as Mantāniputta, while Sāriputta revealed that his given name was Upatissa but was known as Sāriputta in his spiritual circle. This encounter led to mutual respect and admiration between the two venerable disciples.
THE VENERABLE LEDI SAYADAW (1846-1923)
The Venerable Ledi Sayadaw was one of the most influential and revered figures in the Theravada Buddhist tradition in Burma (now Myanmar) during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Born in 1846 in Saing-pyin village, Dipeyin township, in the Shwebo district of British Burma, he was ordained as a novice monk at the age of 8.
Ledi Sayadaw was a scholar-monk and a prolific writer, known for his depth of knowledge in the Buddhist scriptures, the Pali language, and the Theravada Abhidhamma tradition. He had an exceptional ability to convey complex philosophical and spiritual concepts in simple, comprehensible terms, making the Dhamma accessible to the general public. His writings in Burmese and Pali significantly contributed to the modern understanding and practice of Buddhism.
In addition to his scholarly pursuits, Ledi Sayadaw was an influential meditation teacher. He emphasized the importance of vipassana meditation practice, not just scholarly understanding, as a means of attaining enlightenment. He revitalized the practice of vipassana, making it widely accessible to laypeople for the first time in centuries.
Ledi Sayadaw had a profound influence on many disciples, one of the most notable being Saya Thetgyi, who later became a renowned lay teacher of vipassana meditation. Ledi Sayadaw's encouragement and authorization for Saya Thetgyi to teach vipassana in his stead played a significant role in the propagation of the Dhamma in Burma and beyond.
The Venerable Ledi Sayadaw passed away in 1923, leaving behind a rich legacy of written works, teachings, and disciples. His teachings continue to guide and inspire Buddhist practitioners worldwide.
For more information: https://www.dhamma.org/en-US/os/chain/sayadaw
Saya Thet (1873-1945)
Saya Thetgyi was a renowned Burmese lay teacher of Vipassana meditation. Born in the late 19th century, he rose from a humble farmer in the village of Pyawbwegyi to one of the most respected meditation teachers of his time. His life underwent a dramatic transformation following a cholera epidemic that claimed the lives of his children and other relatives, leading him on a quest for spiritual enlightenment.
Saya Thetgyi's journey took him across Burma to various monasteries and retreats, studying with different teachers until he finally found his spiritual mentor, the Venerable Ledi Sayadaw. He devoted seven years to learning and practicing under Ledi Sayadaw's guidance.
Upon his return to Pyawbwegyi, Saya Thetgyi did not resume his former life. Instead, he dedicated himself to meditation and teaching others the path to spiritual enlightenment. He established a Dhamma hall at the edge of his family farm, where he and his followers practiced meditation continuously.
Saya Thetgyi was known for his deep commitment to meditation and his ability to teach people from all walks of life. Despite criticisms due to his lack of formal education in Buddhist scriptures, his teachings were respected for their authenticity and depth of understanding, gleaned from his personal experiences and studies under Ledi Sayadaw.
Saya Thetgyi taught for 30 years, fulfilling his mission of teaching thousands of people Vipassana meditation, thus spreading the Dhamma far and wide. Despite his declining health and personal losses, he remained dedicated to his path till the end. His life and teachings left a lasting impact, and he is still remembered as a significant figure in the propagation of Vipassana meditation.
For more information: https://www.dhamma.org/en-US/os/chain/sayathet
Sayagyi U Ba Khin (1899-1971)
Sayagyi U Ba Khin, born on March 6, 1899, in Rangoon, Burma, was a significant figure in the propagation of Vipassana meditation. Despite hailing from a modest background, U Ba Khin demonstrated exceptional academic abilities, which culminated in him winning a gold medal and a college scholarship. However, he had to forgo further education due to family pressures and began working, eventually ascending to the position of Special Office Superintendent in 1937 when Burma separated from India.
U Ba Khin's spiritual journey began on January 1, 1937, when he first tried meditation, learning from a student of Saya Thetgyi, a respected meditation master. The profound effect of this initial experience led U Ba Khin to complete a full course at Saya Thetgyi's teaching center, where he quickly advanced in the practice of ana pana and Vipassana meditation.
Sayagyi U Ba Khin's professional and spiritual paths intertwined, with him serving the Burmese government in various capacities while simultaneously cultivating his meditation practice. On January 4, 1948, the day Burma gained independence, he became Accountant General, and he continued to hold prominent positions in the government for the next two decades. In recognition of his service, he was awarded the title of Thray Sithu by the Burmese government in 1956.
Despite his demanding government duties, U Ba Khin remained dedicated to the practice and teaching of Vipassana. He founded the Vipassana Association of the Accountant General's Office in 1950 and the International Meditation Centre (I.M.C.) in Rangoon in 1952. Here, he instructed numerous Burmese and foreign students in the teachings of the Dhamma.
Sayagyi U Ba Khin also played a crucial role in organizing the sixth Buddhist council, known as Chattha Sangayana, held in Rangoon in 1954-56. This council involved thousands of monks from various countries and aimed to recite, purify, and publish the Tipitaka, the Buddhist scriptures. U Ba Khin served as an executive member of the planning body for the council, the Union of Burma Buddha Sasana Council (U.B.S.C.), and as chairman of the committee for patipatti (practice of meditation).
In 1967, U Ba Khin retired from his government service and focused exclusively on teaching Vipassana at I.M.C. until his death in January 1971. Despite the limited number of students he could personally teach due to his demanding government duties, his teachings have had a far-reaching impact, and his influence has been felt by many, including S.N. Goenka, who became a prominent Vipassana teacher.
Sayagyi U Ba Khin is remembered for his devotion to both his government service and the spread of the Dhamma. His legacy endures through his teachings and his students, continuing to inspire and guide practitioners of Vipassana meditation worldwide.
For more information: https://www.dhamma.org/en-US/os/chain/sayagyi
S.N. Goenka (1924-2013)
In the 20th century, a significant torchbearer of this tradition emerged - S.N. Goenka. Born in Burma (now Myanmar), Goenka was an industrialist who turned to Vipassana meditation, learning from the esteemed Sayagyi U Ba Khin. After 14 years of rigorous practice, Goenka was granted the authority to teach this technique and thus began his teachings in India in 1969.
Goenka's rendition of Vipassana transcends religious dogmas, focusing on the deep connection between the mind and the body. It seeks truth through disciplined attention to physical sensations, leading to a balanced mind overflowing with love and compassion.
Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without. – This aligns with the Vipassana principle of self-observation as a path to inner peace.
If you would like to learn more about this great meditation technique you can always use this great e-book titled as "The Art of Living" written by S.N Goenka and William Hart.
Here are some links to read, download, listen to, and purchase this great e-book of "The Art of Living";
- Link to PDF e-Book: https://cicp.org.kh/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Art-of-Living-in-English.pdf
- Link to Audio Book: https://youtu.be/WSJYf0EwrOY
- Link to Purchase the actual book: https://store.pariyatti.org/art-of-living-all-languages-pdf-ebooks-vipassana
Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it. – This quote could serve as a reminder of the commitment and dedication required in the practice of Vipassana meditation.
The path of self-purification - The 10 days Vipassana meditation course
The essential ten-day residential course under Goenka's tradition imparts the rudiments of Vipassana. It culminates in the practice of Metta Bhavana – the cultivation of loving-kindness or goodwill towards all, a potent tool for peace and harmony.
Vipassana, as instructed by Goenka, carries the essence of the Buddha's teachings. It is a practical method to experience universal truth within oneself. As such, it can be embraced by anyone, irrespective of their religious or cultural background, to lead a more peaceful, harmonious life.
A 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat as taught by Goenka and his assistant teachers follows a very structured program. It begins with registration and an orientation session. The first three days are dedicated to Anapana meditation, focusing on the natural breath. The next six days involve intensive Vipassana practice, observing bodily sensations without reacting to them. The course concludes on the tenth day with Metta meditation, cultivating goodwill towards all beings.
We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves. – This speaks to the transformational power of a disciplined and focused mind, a central goal in Vipassana practice.
S.N Goenka's Discourses of the 10 Vipassana Meditation Course
Vipassana Meditation Apps
Vipassana Meditation Mobile App by Vipassana Research Institute
iPhone App Apple Apps Store link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.vipassanameditation&gl=US
Android App Google Play link: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/vipassanameditation-vri/id1491766806
The DhammaOrg iOS mobile App is a comprehensive resource for Vipassana Meditation as taught by S.N. Goenka in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin.
The app offers access to 10-day residential courses where participants learn the basics of Vipassana Meditation. These courses are offered free of charge, funded entirely by donations from past participants.
The app provides a list and map of over 300 locations in more than 80 countries offering these courses. It also allows you to apply and register for these courses directly from the app.
In addition, the app provides access to a wide range of resources in multiple languages, including discourses, instructions, talks, interviews, documentaries, and more, which can be streamed or downloaded.
The app also includes features for 'Old Students' - those who have completed a 10-day course - including group sitting recordings, a counter to see how many Old Students are currently meditating, additional discourses and talks, and a wealth of written resources.
The DhammaOrg app also supports the creation and maintenance of individual user accounts, with an option to pre-fill course application forms with profile information and to sync the user account with updated information provided on application forms.
For Old Students, it also allows for the administration of standard or customized self-courses.
iPhone App Apple Apps Store link: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/dhamma-org/id1127952631?platform=iphone
Android App Google Play link: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=Dhamma.org&c=apps
Anapana for Young People by Dhamma.org
The official Anapana Meditation App by Dhamma.org is specifically designed for children and teen old students who have undergone at least one Anapana course as taught by S.N. Goenka in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin. The app is intended to assist these young students in maintaining a consistent daily Anapana meditation practice, encouraging them to dedicate 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening to meditation.
Android App Google Play link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.dhamma.ctc_app
Old student's login credentials:
User name: oldstudent
Despite its potential for life-changing results, the retreat comes with its challenges. These range from physical discomfort due to extended sitting hours, restlessness, boredom, the surfacing of intense emotions and memories, and doubt and skepticism about the technique. However, with patience and determination, these challenges can become a part of the learning process, leading to profound self-discovery and insight.
Goenka's teachings, rooted in practicality and universality, continue to transform lives, contributing to the global spread of Vipassana meditation. His unyielding commitment to the true essence of Vipassana – developing awareness and equanimity – offers a beacon of light to navigate the tumultuous waves of life.
Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most. – A powerful reminder of the importance of mindfulness and presence.
The Legacy of Goenka and the Spread of Vipassana
Goenka's journey from an industrialist to a meditation teacher is an inspiring testament to the transformative power of Vipassana. His teachings, a blend of wisdom and practicality, have reached far and wide, making Vipassana a globally recognized practice.
The structure of Goenka's 10-day Vipassana retreat is meticulous and gradual, designed to maximize the benefits of this profound technique. The silence, simplicity, and solitude of the retreat create optimal conditions for inner change. It starts with Anapana meditation, moves to Vipassana practice, and culminates in Metta meditation, creating a powerful trifecta for self-exploration and realization.
In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you. – This quote can be linked with the practice of Metta Bhavana or loving-kindness meditation, which concludes the 10-day Vipassana retreat.
However, navigating the path of Vipassana is not devoid of challenges. From physical discomfort and restlessness to the emergence of intense emotions and memories, the journey can be testing. But these very challenges serve as stepping stones to greater self-understanding and personal growth. As Goenka often emphasized, equanimity in the face of these experiences is key to progress on this path.
Goenka passed away in 2013, but his teachings continue to guide thousands on their spiritual journey. His unique approach to Vipassana, unadulterated by religious or sectarian biases, makes it a universally accessible tool for self-purification and peace.
Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. – This quote underscores the essence of mindfulness, which is a key aspect of Vipassana meditation.
Today, Goenka's legacy lives on through the network of Vipassana meditation centers worldwide, run by dedicated volunteers. These centers continue to offer 10-day courses and group sittings, helping countless individuals experience the transformative power of Vipassana.
In essence, the tradition of Vipassana, as taught by S.N. Goenka, is a timeless gift to humanity. It's a path leading to the heart of our being, a journey of self-observation that unveils the universal truth within us. It's an invitation to transcend the mundane and experience the profound, to liberate ourselves from suffering and cultivate enduring peace and harmony.
In the words of Goenka himself, "Vipassana is an art of living, a way of life." And indeed, for those who walk this path, it becomes not just a meditation technique, but a compass guiding every aspect of life toward wisdom, compassion, and inner peace.
The mind is everything. What you think, you become. – This emphasizes the role of the mind in shaping our reality, a fundamental concept in Vipassana practice.
Feedback and comments of some of the thousands of old students of Vipassana Meditation
Eilona Ariel is a documentary filmmaker whose work was deeply inspired by her life in Asia and her practice of the ancient meditation technique called Vipassana. She moved to New York City in 1978 and spent nine years studying and working as a musician and a photographer. In 1980, she received a diploma from the Germain School of Photography. She left the USA in 1987 to spend several years living in Asia. In 1995 she returned to Israel and established the Karuna Films Production Company together with Ayelet Menahemi. Let's watch her journey of self mind, body, and life purification:
We often keep running in life after success only to realize much later down the line that success and happiness lie inside and not outside. "Vipassana" is a mindfulness meditation technique that was originally practiced by The Buddha which teaches you to start looking inside yourself and observe the truth scientifically to understand the key to happiness. Personal development is as important as material achievement, and understanding your own true nature is the primary key to a life of joy. After running her family’s business for 5 years, Divya aimed to equip herself with further analytical skills through the Bentley master’s program so that she can develop progressive socio-economic business models. Divya believes in fighting the odds and rising up; personal development occupies center stage in her life and has made her into a stronger person. Her story is not one about the “Art of Living,” instead she wants to share the “Art of Fighting” with her audience. Let's watch her journey of self mind, body, and life purification:
Step-by-step guide on how to register for a 10-day Vipassana course as taught by S.N. Goenka:
Find a Course: Visit the official website of Vipassana Meditation as taught by S.N. Goenka at https://www.dhamma.org/. Here, you can find a worldwide directory of Vipassana centers. Choose the center that is most convenient for you.
Check Course Schedule: Each center has its own schedule of upcoming courses. You can view this schedule on the center's website. Ensure that you can commit to the full duration of the course, typically 10 days for beginners.
Understand the Rules: Before registering, make sure to read the Code of Discipline (https://www.dhamma.org/en-US/about/code). This will give you a clear idea of what to expect during the course and what will be expected of you.
Register Online: Once you have decided on a course, you can apply online through the center's website. This typically involves filling out a detailed application form with your personal information and any relevant health information. Some centers may also ask about your past meditation experience and reasons for wanting to attend the course.
Wait for Confirmation: After you submit your application, it will be reviewed by the course management. If your application is accepted, you will receive a confirmation email with further instructions. This process can take a few days or even weeks, depending on the center and the demand for the course.
Prepare for the Course: Once you receive your confirmation, start preparing for the course. This could involve arranging time off work, preparing yourself mentally for the course, and packing the necessary items for your stay. The center will usually provide a list of what to bring.
Arrive on the Course Start Date: Arrive at the center on the start date of the course. Most courses require you to check in during a specific time window. Make sure to arrive during this time to ensure a smooth start to your course.
Remember, the demand for these courses can be high, and places are often allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. It's also important to note that these courses operate on a donation basis, meaning you only pay what you can afford, and only at the end of the course if you found it beneficial. Finally, be aware that Vipassana courses are intensive and demanding, both physically and mentally, and may not be suitable for everyone.
The food and accommodation facilities you might find in a Vipassana course as taught by S.N. Goenka. Please note that specifics can vary depending on the location and the center:
- The course centers provide vegetarian meals throughout the 10-day course. The diet is simple and nutritious, designed to support the practice of meditation.
- Breakfast and lunch are usually the main meals of the day. In the evening, new students are offered fruit and tea, while old students (those who have already completed a 10-day course) are usually only offered tea.
- Special dietary needs, such as vegan and gluten-free options, are often catered for. If you have specific dietary restrictions or allergies, it's best to communicate this to the center before the course begins.
- The meal times are fixed and are a part of the daily schedule. Students are expected to adhere to this schedule.
- Accommodations are generally simple and modest. The primary purpose is to provide a quiet, comfortable place for meditation.
- In most centers, students are given individual rooms or dormitory-style rooms shared with a few other students of the same gender. Rooms typically include basic necessities like a bed, blanket, and pillow.
- Bathrooms may be private or shared, depending on the center and the type of accommodation.
- The centers are located in a variety of settings, ranging from urban areas to secluded countryside. They all offer a peaceful environment conducive to meditation.
- All centers maintain a strict separation between men and women for accommodation, meditation, and meal times.
Remember, the aim of the course is to learn the art of self-realization through meditation. The simplicity of the facilities helps minimize distractions and fosters an environment conducive to introspection and self-observation.
The Vipassana meditation centers, as taught by S.N. Goenka, are designed to provide a conducive environment for learning and practicing meditation. The surrounding environment and the rules followed in the centers play a crucial role in creating a supportive atmosphere for the students. Here is some essential information regarding the surrounding environment, Noble Silence, and gender segregation:
- Vipassana centers are typically situated in peaceful locations, away from the hustle and bustle of urban life. They can be found in serene countryside settings, amidst forests, or in quiet suburban areas, all chosen for their tranquility.
- The centers often feature natural elements, such as gardens, walking paths, and green spaces, allowing students to connect with nature during breaks from meditation practice.
- The meditation halls are designed to be comfortable and quiet, providing an optimal space for meditation practice.
- Noble Silence is a crucial aspect of the Vipassana meditation course. It is observed from the beginning of the course until the morning of the last full day.
- Noble Silence means silence of body, speech, and mind. Students are expected to refrain from any form of communication with fellow students, whether verbal, written, or through gestures.
- The purpose of maintaining Noble Silence is to minimize distractions and allow students to focus entirely on their meditation practice and personal introspection.
- In case of any practical difficulties or concerns regarding the meditation technique, students can speak to the assistant teachers during designated interview times.
- To minimize distractions and maintain a conducive atmosphere for meditation, Vipassana centers maintain strict gender segregation throughout the course.
- Separate living quarters, meditation halls, and dining areas are assigned for men and women. Interaction between genders is discouraged during the course.
- Even during the periods when Noble Silence is lifted, students should maintain respectful boundaries and avoid engaging in unnecessary conversations with members of the opposite gender.
The surrounding environment, Noble Silence, and gender segregation all contribute to creating a supportive atmosphere that allows students to focus on their inner journey of self-discovery and self-realization through Vipassana meditation.
Dhamma Servers play a crucial role in the smooth functioning of Vipassana meditation courses as taught by S.N. Goenka. They are individuals who have previously completed at least one 10-day Vipassana course and volunteer their time to serve others. Here are some of their primary responsibilities:
Before a course begins, Dhamma Servers help prepare the center. This can involve a wide range of tasks, from cleaning the meditation hall, dormitories, and dining areas, to setting up necessary materials for the course.
Food and Accommodation:
Dhamma Servers assist in the kitchen, preparing wholesome vegetarian meals for the students. They also help serve meals during designated dining times. Additionally, they ensure that accommodations are kept clean and comfortable for all students.
Dhamma Servers help maintain the discipline of Noble Silence in the center. They do not participate in the course as meditators but maintain silence to support the meditators’ practice.
Support to Meditators:
Dhamma Servers provide the necessary support to the meditators during the course. They can answer practical questions, help with accommodation-related issues, or direct students to the assistant teachers for any meditation-related queries.
Maintaining the Center:
Throughout the course, Dhamma Servers ensure the center remains clean and conducive for meditation. They may perform tasks such as cleaning common areas, maintaining the garden or grounds, and restocking necessary supplies.
After the course ends, Dhamma Servers help clean up the center and prepare it for the next course or daily activities.
The role of a Dhamma Server, while voluntary, is highly rewarding. It allows individuals to practice selfless service (Dana), one of the virtues highly emphasized in the teachings of the Buddha. The service of Dhamma Servers significantly contributes to the overall experience of students attending the course. Their selfless service not only supports others in their meditation practice but also deepens their understanding and experience of the Dhamma.
Assistant teachers play a vital role in guiding students through the 10-day Vipassana meditation course as taught by S.N. Goenka. They have been personally trained by S.N. Goenka or his senior assistant teachers and have gained extensive experience in practicing and understanding the Vipassana technique. Here are some of their primary responsibilities during the course:
Guidance and Instruction:
Assistant teachers provide step-by-step guidance and instruction throughout the course. They ensure that students understand the meditation technique and follow the schedule diligently.
Conducting Meditation Sessions:
Assistant teachers lead meditation sessions in the meditation hall. They ensure that students maintain proper posture and adhere to the discipline required for successful practice.
Playing Audio/Video Discourses:
Every evening, students watch a video discourse by S.N. Goenka, where he explains various aspects of the technique and offers insights into the teachings of the Buddha. Assistant teachers are responsible for playing these discourses and ensuring that the audio and video equipment functions properly.
Group and Individual Interviews:
Assistant teachers are available for group and individual interviews at designated times to address students' questions or concerns related to the meditation technique. They offer personalized guidance and support to help students overcome any obstacles they may encounter during the course.
Observation and Assistance:
Assistant teachers continuously observe students during meditation sessions to ensure they are practicing the technique correctly. They offer gentle reminders or corrections when needed to help students maintain proper focus and avoid developing incorrect habits.
Assistant teachers help maintain the code of discipline during the course, ensuring that all students follow the guidelines, including observing Noble Silence and adhering to the daily schedule.
On the last day of the course, assistant teachers guide students in practicing Metta Bhavana, or loving-kindness meditation, helping them cultivate goodwill and compassion for all beings.
After the course ends, assistant teachers continue to offer support to students, encouraging them to maintain their practice and attend group sittings or refresher courses.
Assistant teachers dedicate their time and energy to help others learn the Vipassana technique and progress on the path of Dhamma. Their guidance, experience, and commitment to the practice are essential for the success of each course and the personal growth of every student.
The management of Vipassana meditation centers is a crucial element of the smooth and successful execution of the 10-day courses. These centers are usually run by volunteers who have previously completed a Vipassana course and wish to serve others on their journey. Here are some of their key responsibilities during the course:
The management team handles all administrative tasks, including registration, assigning accommodations, managing course schedules, and coordinating with the kitchen staff for meal preparations.
Maintaining the Facility:
The center management is responsible for maintaining the cleanliness, safety, and functionality of the center. This includes ensuring clean and comfortable accommodations, maintaining meditation halls, dining areas, and other facilities, as well as managing any necessary repairs or improvements.
Providing Necessary Supplies:
Management ensures the provision of necessary supplies such as bedding, toiletries, and other essentials. They also arrange for necessary meditation supplies, such as cushions or mats, for the participants.
Coordinating with Assistant Teachers:
The management team coordinates closely with the assistant teachers, facilitating smooth communication between them and the students. They assist in organizing group sittings, individual interviews, and other course-related activities.
Managing Meal Arrangements:
The center management works with the kitchen staff to ensure timely and nutritious meals for the participants. They also accommodate any specific dietary needs of the students, wherever possible.
Enforcing the Code of Discipline:
The management team helps enforce the Code of Discipline, ensuring all participants adhere to the rules and regulations of the course, including observing noble silence, maintaining segregation of genders, and adhering to the schedule.
In case of any medical or other emergencies, the center management is responsible for coordinating appropriate responses, including arranging for medical assistance or contacting family members, if necessary.
After the course, the management team assists in the smooth departure of the students and follows up with them regarding their continued practice and any additional support they may require.
The center management's dedication and service contribute significantly to creating an environment conducive to learning and practicing Vipassana, allowing students to focus solely on their meditation practice during the course.
The board members of a Vipassana center play a pivotal role in overseeing the overall functioning of the center and ensuring the smooth execution of the courses. Board members typically are experienced Vipassana practitioners who have completed numerous courses and have a deep understanding of the practice and its requirements. Here are some of their key responsibilities:
Board members set the strategic direction for the center, including long-term planning and development. They ensure that the center operates in alignment with the principles and teachings of Vipassana as taught by S.N. Goenka.
They are responsible for developing and implementing policies related to the functioning of the center, including rules and guidelines for course conduct, student behavior, and facility use.
Board members oversee the financial management of the center, ensuring that funds are used appropriately and that the center remains financially sustainable. They may also be involved in fundraising activities.
They ensure that the quality of the courses offered is maintained at a high standard. This includes ensuring that the assistant teachers are well-trained and that the center's facilities and services meet the necessary standards.
Staffing and Volunteer Management:
Board members may be involved in hiring and overseeing the center's permanent staff, as well as coordinating the efforts of volunteers who serve during the courses.
Liaison with the Global Vipassana Organization:
As representatives of their local center, board members liaise with the global Vipassana organization, participating in meetings and discussions to share experiences, challenges, and best practices.
Should any disputes or conflicts arise, either during a course or within the staff or volunteer team, board members are often involved in resolving these issues in line with the principles of Vipassana.
They ensure that the center adheres to all relevant laws and regulations, and they manage any risks associated with running the center and the courses.
It's worth noting that board members typically do not involve themselves in the day-to-day running of the courses, which is handled by the center management and the assistant teachers. Their role is more strategic and oversight-based, ensuring that the center functions effectively and in alignment with the teachings of Vipassana.
The kitchen staff in a Vipassana center play a crucial role in the overall smooth functioning of a 10-day course. Their primary responsibility is to prepare and serve nutritious vegetarian meals to the participants and staff. Here are some of the key responsibilities of the kitchen staff during a course:
Meal Planning and Preparation:
The kitchen staff is in charge of planning and preparing all meals for the duration of the course. The meals are vegetarian, often based on local cuisine, and are designed to be balanced and nutritious to support the intensive meditation practice. This includes breakfast, lunch, and a light evening snack for new students, and only fruit and tea in the evening for old students (those who have completed at least one 10-day course).
They are responsible for ensuring food safety standards are met. This includes proper storage of food items, maintaining cleanliness in the kitchen, and ensuring all dishes are thoroughly cleaned after each meal.
Meals are usually served in a dining hall at specific times each day. The kitchen staff serves the meals and ensures that there is sufficient food for all participants. They also manage the clean-up after each meal.
Accommodating Special Dietary Needs:
If participants have specific dietary needs or allergies, the kitchen staff does their best to accommodate these needs. Participants are usually asked about dietary restrictions before the course begins.
Even though the kitchen staff is not participating in the course, they are expected to respect the noble silence observed by the participants by minimizing noise in the kitchen and dining areas.
The kitchen staff's role is incredibly important. Good, nutritious food not only nourishes the body but also supports the mind during this period of intensive meditation. Their service contributes significantly to the overall positive experience of participants in the course.
Maintenance officers at a Vipassana center play an integral role in ensuring the smooth functioning of a 10-day course. Their duties and responsibilities are vast and varied, aimed at facilitating an environment conducive to the practice of Vipassana meditation. Here are some of the key responsibilities of the maintenance officers during a course:
General Upkeep and Repair:
Maintenance officers are responsible for the overall upkeep of the center. This includes regular cleaning and maintenance of the meditation hall, dormitories, dining hall, and other common areas. They also handle any necessary repairs that might arise during the course, such as plumbing or electrical issues.
Safety and Security:
Ensuring the safety and security of the center and its participants is a critical responsibility of the maintenance officers. This includes regular checks of the premises, ensuring doors and gates are locked when needed, and handling any emergency situations that may arise.
The center's outdoor spaces are also under the care of the maintenance officers. They maintain the cleanliness and beauty of the gardens, paths, and sitting areas, providing a peaceful and serene environment for the participants.
Managing Supplies and Inventory:
Maintenance officers are in charge of managing the center's supplies and inventory, including cleaning supplies, tools, and any other materials required for the smooth running of the center.
Facilitating Comfort for Participants:
Maintenance officers play a vital role in facilitating a comfortable environment for the participants. This may include adjusting room temperatures, ensuring adequate bedding and bathroom facilities, and addressing any other issues related to the comfort and well-being of the participants.
While not directly participating in the course, maintenance officers respect the noble silence observed by the participants. They carry out their tasks quietly and efficiently, causing minimal disturbance to the participants.
In essence, the maintenance officers ensure that the center operates smoothly and efficiently, allowing the participants to focus entirely on their practice without worrying about their surroundings. Their dedication and service contribute significantly to the successful running of each course.
Course participants, often referred to as yogis or meditators, play the most crucial role in a 10-day Vipassana course. They are the ones undertaking the challenging journey of self-observation and self-transformation. Here are the key responsibilities of course participants during a Vipassana course:
Observing the Five Precepts:
All course participants are required to observe the five precepts for the duration of the course. These are abstaining from killing any being, stealing, all sexual activity, telling lies, and using intoxicants. These ethical guidelines provide a moral basis for the practice and help maintain a harmonious atmosphere.
Following the Schedule:
Participants are expected to follow the rigorous daily schedule, which includes about 10 hours of meditation a day, punctuated by meals, rest periods, and evening discourses. Adherence to the schedule is essential for the continuity of practice and maximum benefit.
Maintaining Noble Silence:
From the start of the course until the morning of the last full day, participants maintain Noble Silence. This means silence of body, speech, and mind. Any form of communication with fellow meditators, whether by gestures, sign language, written notes, etc., is prohibited. This silence enables participants to focus all their energy on their inner work.
Practicing According to the Instructions:
Participants must practice exactly as the instructions are given, without adding other practices or techniques. The instructions are the result of centuries of experiential wisdom and are designed to lead the meditator to the goals of the practice: increased awareness, self-understanding, and inner peace.
Men and women are accommodated separately and have separate areas for meditation and meals. Participants must respect this segregation to avoid distractions and maintain the purity of the practice.
Commitment to the Entire Course:
Participants make a commitment to stay for the entire duration of the course. Leaving partway through can be detrimental to the meditator's mental state and is disruptive to others.
Vipassana is a self-work. Participants are responsible for their own practice and progress. They need to work diligently, patiently, and persistently, and make use of the opportunity to practice seriously.
By fulfilling these responsibilities, participants can make the most of the course, experiencing the profound benefits that Vipassana meditation offers. It is indeed a serious commitment, but the rewards – a clearer mind, a purified mind, and a better understanding of oneself and one's reality – are invaluable.
While Vipassana meditation is largely an individual journey of self-discovery and self-transformation, the group setting of a 10-day course necessitates certain responsibilities towards fellow meditators. Here are some key relational responsibilities of participants during a Vipassana course:
Respect for Others' Space:
Given the introspective nature of Vipassana, participants must respect the space of others. This includes being quiet in shared spaces, moving mindfully to not disturb others, and generally behaving in a way that supports everyone's meditation practice.
Maintaining Noble Silence:
Noble Silence, observed from the start of the course until the morning of the last full day, extends to all forms of communication with fellow meditators. This silence is not just physical; it is also mental and emotional. Participants should avoid engaging in non-verbal communication, including gestures or expressions, that could distract others.
To minimize distractions and maintain the purity of the practice, men and women are accommodated separately and have separate areas for meditation and meals. Participants must respect this segregation throughout the course.
Supporting a Harmonious Environment:
Participants should conduct themselves in a way that supports a harmonious atmosphere in the meditation center. This includes showing kindness and consideration towards others, following the rules and guidelines of the center, and avoiding any actions that could disturb others.
Participants come from diverse cultural, religious, and personal backgrounds. It's important to respect this diversity and refrain from judgment or bias. The shared goal is self-improvement through the practice of Vipassana, regardless of one's background or beliefs.
Commitment to the Group:
By registering for the course, participants make a commitment not only to themselves but also to the group. Leaving the course early can disrupt the group's energy and the progress of others. Participants should thus commit to staying for the entire duration of the course.
By fulfilling these relational responsibilities, participants can contribute to a supportive and conducive environment for all meditators. The journey within is made easier when the external environment is peaceful and harmonious.
Family members and friends of meditators attending a Vipassana course have a crucial role in facilitating a successful experience. While they may not be directly involved in the course, their understanding and cooperation can greatly contribute to the participant's journey. Here are some responsibilities of external related people during the course:
Respect the Participant's Commitment:
Understand that the participant has committed to a rigorous 10-day silent retreat. During this time, they will be out of contact and focusing entirely on their meditation practice. Respect their commitment and avoid trying to contact them unless it's an emergency.
Provide Emotional Support:
Before the course, acknowledge the courage it takes to embark on such an intensive journey. After the course, be supportive as the participant may need some time to integrate their experiences. Listen if they want to share, but avoid probing if they prefer not to discuss it.
Arrange for Their Absence:
If the participant has responsibilities at home or work, assist in managing these during their absence. This could include childcare, pet care, or covering for them at work. This will allow the participant to attend the course without worrying about their regular duties.
Respect the Post-Retreat Transition:
After the retreat, participants will require some time to adjust to their normal routine. Respect this transition period and provide a supportive and peaceful environment. Avoid planning demanding activities immediately after their return.
Encourage Continued Practice:
Post-course, encourage the participant to continue their meditation practice. This could mean respecting their need for a quiet space at home to meditate or understanding if they choose to wake up early or adjust their schedule to accommodate their practice.
By understanding the nature and demands of the Vipassana course, family members and friends can play a supportive role in the participant's journey of self-discovery and transformation. The benefits of the practice often extend beyond the individual meditator, positively impacting their relationships and surroundings.
Neighboring people and organizations around a Vipassana meditation center can play a significant role in supporting the peaceful and conducive atmosphere necessary for the course. Their understanding and cooperation can contribute to the overall success of the meditation retreats held at the center. Here are some responsibilities of the neighboring people and organizations during the course:
Respect the Peaceful Environment:
Vipassana meditation requires a quiet and peaceful environment. Neighbors should respect this and try to minimize noise and disturbances, especially during the early morning and late evening hours when meditation sessions are usually held.
Maintain a Respectful Distance:
It's crucial to maintain a respectful distance from the center during course periods. Avoid entering the center's premises without prior permission, as this could disturb the participants who are observing noble silence.
Cooperate with Center's Regulations:
The meditation center may have certain rules regarding the use of the surrounding area, such as restrictions on loud music, construction work, or other disruptive activities during course times. Neighbors should cooperate with these regulations to support the meditators' practice.
Support the Center's Activities:
Neighboring organizations and individuals can support the center's activities by offering assistance when needed, for instance, during large courses or special events. This could involve providing extra parking space, lending equipment, or helping with waste management.
Promote awareness about the meditation center and its activities within the local community. This could involve sharing information about upcoming courses, the benefits of meditation, or opportunities for volunteering at the center.
By supporting the Vipassana meditation center, neighboring people and organizations contribute to a harmonious community environment where individuals can explore the path of self-purification through meditation. The center, in turn, often serves as a source of peace and positivity, benefiting the larger community.
Old students, or those who have already completed at least one 10-day Vipassana course, have a unique role and set of responsibilities when participating in subsequent courses. These responsibilities stem from their prior experience and understanding of the course's demands and expectations. Here are some of their responsibilities during a Vipassana course:
Adherence to the Code of Discipline:
Old students are expected to strictly follow the code of discipline, including observing Noble Silence, abstaining from any form of communication with fellow students, and maintaining the daily meditation schedule.
Leading by Example:
As experienced meditators, old students should lead by example. Their conduct, discipline, and commitment to the practice can inspire and influence new students.
Old students should aim to deepen their practice during each course. This involves cultivating greater awareness, equanimity, and understanding of the impermanent nature of sensations.
Assisting New Students:
While direct communication is not allowed, old students can indirectly assist new students by being patient, respectful, and understanding, especially considering that the course can be challenging for those experiencing it for the first time.
Old students are often invited to serve in subsequent courses. As Dhamma servers, they can support the smooth running of a course by helping with tasks such as meal preparation, cleaning, and organizing.
Maintaining the Sanctity of the Course:
Old students should respect the sanctity of the Vipassana course by not bringing any reading or writing materials, music, or other distractions. They should also abstain from any form of religious or ritualistic practices during the course.
By upholding these responsibilities, old students can contribute significantly to the success of a Vipassana course, benefitting not only themselves but also the new students and the entire meditation community.
Donors play a significant role in the functioning of Vipassana Meditation Centers. Vipassana courses are run purely on a donation basis. There is no charge for the courses, not even to cover the cost of food and accommodation. All expenses are met by donations from those who have completed a course, experienced the benefits of Vipassana, and wish to give others the same opportunity.
Here are some responsibilities of donors during a Vipassana course:
The primary responsibility of donors is to provide the financial support necessary for the operation of the course. This includes costs for food, accommodation, maintenance, and other operational expenses.
In the spirit of Vipassana, giving a donation is considered an act of Dāna, or generosity, which is one of the ten paramis (perfections) in Buddhism. Donors are encouraged to give selflessly, without expecting anything in return.
Supporting Voluntary Service:
Donors also play a part in supporting the voluntary service of others. The funds donated to ensure that those who serve (like Dhamma servers and assistant teachers) can continue to offer their time and skills without financial burden.
It's important that donations are given with the right intention - not for recognition or prestige, but out of a pure desire to help others. Therefore, donations are usually given anonymously.
Sustaining the Center for Future Courses:
Donors are responsible for helping sustain the center for future courses. Their contributions ensure that more and more people can benefit from the teaching of Vipassana.
Remember, it's not the amount that matters, but the volition behind the donation. Even a small contribution made with a pure mind can have a significant impact. The act of giving not only supports the center and the students but also benefits the donors themselves by cultivating qualities of generosity and detachment.
Vipassana meditation courses are conducted in various parts of the world and cater to people from different linguistic backgrounds. Language barriers can make it challenging for some individuals to fully participate and benefit from the course. However, the organizers of Vipassana meditation courses are aware of this challenge and have put measures in place to ensure everyone has access to the teachings and guidance, irrespective of their language proficiency.
Here are some ways to overcome language barriers during the course:
- Translation services: In some cases, Vipassana meditation courses are offered in multiple languages. The courses have designated translators who help participants follow the instructions and understand the teachings. If you require translation services, make sure to check with the organizers before the course begins.
- Subtitles and written materials: For video and audio teachings, subtitles and written materials may be available in multiple languages. This makes it easier for participants to follow along and understand the teachings.
- Communication with teachers: During the course, participants are encouraged to communicate with their teachers. If you are facing language barriers, you can seek guidance and clarification from your teacher. The teachers are trained to provide guidance in a clear and concise manner that is accessible to all.
- Group discussion: During the course, there are opportunities for group discussions. These discussions are facilitated by a teacher and allow participants to share their experiences and ask questions. Group discussions can help clarify any misunderstandings and allow for a deeper understanding of the teachings.
- Self-study: If you are proficient in a language other than the one used in the course, you can bring materials in that language for self-study during your free time. This can help you deepen your understanding of the teachings and overcome any language barriers.
In conclusion, language barriers should not discourage anyone from attending a Vipassana meditation course. With the above measures in place, everyone can participate and benefit from the teachings and guidance provided during the course.
The Vipassana course is open to anyone who is sincerely interested in learning the technique and willing to undertake the challenges of the course. It is not necessary to have any prior experience in meditation, and people from all backgrounds, cultures, religions, and nationalities are welcome to attend. However, there are certain eligibility criteria that need to be met:
1. Age: Participants must be at least 18 years of age, or 16 years with written parental consent.
2. Physical and mental health: The course involves long hours of sitting meditation, so participants should be physically and mentally fit to undertake the practice. Those with serious physical or mental health conditions should consult with their physician before applying.
3. Drug and alcohol use: Participants should abstain from all intoxicants, including drugs and alcohol, for the duration of the course.
4. Willingness to follow the code of discipline: The course has a strict code of discipline, which includes noble silence, abstaining from sexual activity, and following a vegetarian diet. Participants must be willing to abide by these rules for the entire duration of the course.
It is important to note that the course is not intended as a substitute for medical or psychological treatment. People with serious mental health conditions, such as severe depression or anxiety, should consult with their healthcare provider before considering attending the course.
In conclusion, Vipassana meditation as taught by S.N. Goenka is a transformative practice rooted in ancient wisdom, yet it remains relevant to the challenges of modern life. Its principles transcend cultural and religious boundaries, making it accessible and beneficial to all who wish to pursue a path of self-realization. It's more than just a meditation technique; it's a tool for introspection, self-purification, and the development of a balanced, compassionate mind. As we delve into this practice, we not only gain deeper insights into our inner workings but also cultivate a broader understanding of the universal truths of impermanence and suffering. Through the rigorous yet rewarding structure of a 10-day Vipassana retreat, one can begin to see things 'as they really are', just as the Buddha intended. The journey may be challenging, but the fruits of this labor extend beyond the meditation cushion, promoting a more harmonious existence both for oneself and for the world at large.
To distribute more awareness and test your knowledge about this great Vipassana Meditation technique, I have developed an interactive online and mobile game using the "Kahoot!" online teaching and learning platform. If you would like to give it a try, here is the link to do that in your spare time: https://create.kahoot.it/share/basics-of-vipassana-meditation/36336b23-7848-4a73-a978-28f32f5826f2
Please note that this game work very well with the Firefox Open Source web browser.
Our Invitation to you all
From the left: Mr. K. Dinesh Kumara - Educator and Mr. Shantha - Businessmen from Sri Lanka, Miss. Lea - Graduate Student from Germany, and Prof. Razeem Salley - a professor from the United Kindom.
So, Dear readers,
As an old student of the Vipassana meditation course, I would like to extend a warm invitation to all of you to experience this life-changing practice. Vipassana is a universal technique that has been taught for thousands of years and is applicable to anyone, regardless of their background or beliefs.
This course offers an incredible opportunity for self-discovery and personal transformation. Through observing the breath and bodily sensations, you can learn to develop a peaceful and balanced mind, free from the burden of negative emotions and stress.
Not only does this course benefit individuals, but it also has a profound impact on our world. As we cultivate inner peace and happiness, we contribute to the collective well-being of society and the environment. I invite you to join us in spreading this message of love, compassion, and unity to all corners of the globe.
"May all beings be happy and secure." - Buddha
"Que todos sejam felizes." - Portuguese
"Que tous soient heureux." - French
"सभी सुखी हों।" - Hindi
"모든 사람이 행복하기를 바랍니다." - Korean
"Semua orang bahagia." - Malay
"Все будуть щасливі." - Ukrainian
"Tutti siano felici." - Italian
"Todos sejam felizes." - Brazilian Portuguese
"Alle Menschen sollen glücklich sein." - German
"Todos sean felices." - Spanish
"Todos serão felizes." - Brazilian Portuguese
"Να είναι όλοι ευτυχισμένοι." - Greek
"Tous les êtres sont égaux dans la joie et la douleur." - Tibetan
"모든 것이 행복하기를 바랍니다." - Korean
"Kila mtu awe na furaha." - Swahili
"ทุกคนมีความสุข" - Thai
"Καλή ημέρα για εσάς" - Greek
- "What is Vipassana Meditation?" Vipassana Meditation. Available at: https://www.dhamma.org/en-US/about/vipassana
- "About S.N. Goenka." Vipassana Meditation. Available at: https://www.dhamma.org/en-US/about/goenkaji
- "Siddhartha Gautama." Encyclopædia Britannica. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Gautama-Buddha
- Mark, Joshua J. "Ashoka the Great." Ancient History Encyclopedia. Available at: https://www.ancient.eu/ashoka-the-great/
- "Code of Discipline." Vipassana Meditation. Available at: https://www.dhamma.org/en-US/about/code
Please note that these URLs are active as of my last update in May 2023, and the content of these pages may have changed or moved since then.
Just as a snake sheds its skin, we must shed our past over and over again. – This quote speaks to the concept of impermanence, which is a key insight developed through Vipassana practice.