Our gratitude to all the teachers of Dhamma from Sakyamuni Gotama the Buddha to Sayagyi U Ba Khin is boundless. Without the dissemination of the Dhamma by them and without their safeguarding it in its pristine purity for so many centuries, how could we have got this invaluable gem of Dhamma in our present life. We bow down to their memory to express our feelings of deep devotion and infinite gratitude.
-Dhamma Children of Sayagyi U Ba Khin
Experiences of Students after Vipassana Course
Vipassana-'know yourself by yourself for yourself'
Mr. Krishan from Delhi writes to the organiser:
"It was indeed a heavenly experience to have attended a 10 day Vipassana camp in the picturesque surroundings and serene atmosphere of Logicstat Van, New Delhi. The food was simple, nutritious; and accommodation excellent. The co-ordinator and Dhamma-workers tirelessly looked after the meditators during these ten days with great love and care. The assistant teachers were caring and pleasantly answered the doubts and questions which clouded in the minds of the meditators. I consider this nothing short of benediction of nature that is so visible that on the parting day, each meditator was radiating bliss.
A long way is to be covered on the path of Nirvāṇa and that too by each one oneself. Let us be aware and vigilant lest we get stuck up.
With Guruji's blessings and the good wishes of all my elders, I could successfully complete the meditation for ten days and hope I will continue to practice the same in all its seriousness. The course has belied all my fears and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it but for certain stray moments when my mind was clouded. I believe that Vipassana is the only science that enables one to search oneself in a very systematic and scientific manner. To me, Vipassana is to "know yourself by yourself for yourself."
The entire thrust of Vipassana, as I understand, is to achieve equanimity of mind, i.e. to observe things as they happen inside the body as a witness with an alert and aware mind. As a result of this one starts looking at things, events and persons more objectively which ultimately helps one to accept them as they are and to deal with them with a calm and quiet mind. The real test of one's equanimity is how one transacts in the outside world. With Vipassana, the whole attitude towards life changes.
I am writing to express my deep gratitude to you and to Guruji for the opportunity provided to me to attend the Vipassana course. I was deeply impressed by Guruji's discourse: one who does something for others without any expectation and feels grateful to another who does any little thing for him is a true Dhamma person. I shall try in my humble way to live by these principles . . ."
Vipassana - A Way to a Harmonious Life
Ramesh M. Ubale
Senior I.A.S. Officer
Due to over work and stress I started getting chest pain in the year 1984-85. I consulted various doctors, Dr. Dhananjay Gunde from Kolhapur introduced me to the Art of Vipassana and I attended my first course at Igatpuri in 1985, under the audacious guidance of Shri Satyanarayan Goenka. That was the turning point in my life. Initially I joined this course out of curiosity. After the completion of the course I realized that this is the only way of scientific meditation which will keep each and every one of us free from all complications of life and will bring harmony in our relations.
I am totally convinced that before going to any doctor for minor illness as well as psychosomatic disorders one should try this course which will definitely help to recover from such problems.
After 1985, I tried to convey this message to various groups of people. I was also practicing Vipassana in my daily life, but due to my preoccupied engagements I could not repeat the course till November ’96. I attended this course at Igatpuri in November ’97. I can assure any individual that this way of life does not propagate and challenge or any false promises. It is based on purely natural science, which helps a human being to "know thyself". It also helps to keep away diseases like blood pressure, diabetes, hypertension and heart problems. The persons who are engaged in all the sedimentary work are advised to do this course at least once to find out the truth of the life. I can also assure that one can practice Vipassana and at the same time be Hindu, Muslim or Christian or for that matter of any religion.
Human life of today is full of competition, stress and fatigue. Specially to cope up with this kind of life and to attend noble peace of mind one must attend this course and it does not interfere in the various religious life of the practicing student.
Vipassana: My Spiritual Pilgrimage
-By Mohammed Arif Joiya
In 1976 I went to Arogya Mandir, a nature cure institute at Gorakhpur, and benefited greatly from my stay there. In those days I also read many spiritual books and entered into religious discussions with various colleagues. All this awakened me but did not quench my thirst. On the contrary, it made me more agitated and spurred me on to a further search. I was looking for a teacher who would really make me experience the truth. I wanted to realize within myself the esoteric expressions in the form of living peace and energy. Not being satisfied with entertaining discourses, I wanted to realize and experience the truth for myself.
Temples, mosques, pagodas, and gurudwara [Sikh temples] along with all the scriptures could not hold my mind. I was still overwhelmed by an empty, unsatisfied life. In such a wounded state, I opened myself and expressed my spiritual aspirations before Dr. Vithaldas Modi, founder of Arogya Mandir, and demanded a way out. He advised me to attend a Vipassana meditation course and sent me a small pamphlet and application form for Vipassana. I read and understood it, but was frightened: "Oh ! This is the religion of Buddhists, atheists. These Buddhists don’t believe in Soul and God. What can they teach ? I am a Muslim. I cannot commit this crime.’’ But my heart within again said that the advice of Dr. Modi should be obeyed. "Why should he wish ill of me ? Whatever he advises is certainly for my benefit and welfare. Let me try and see.’’ So I went to the Vipassana International Meditation Centre near Hyderabad in February 1978 to attend a Vipassana course.
I arrived late but was pleased to find the place very quiet and peaceful. Mr Bachubhai Shah, who was an organizer, received me with great love and hospitality. He said, "Arifbhai, you have missed a day but I am sure that Goenkaji will accept you on the course. Don’t worry. You may take a bath and have breakfast while I go and speak to him about you.’’ I was pleased with this pure, affectionate reception and reassurance from Mr Bachubhai.
While I was waiting I started looking around at the students observing Noble Silence. And I was experiencing a slight fever which I had been feeling from the moment I had stepped onto this holy land. This was the fever of some unknown fear. I felt that my ego was going to be sacrificed, and I was ready for it.
Goenkaji sent for me. I went, bowed down and smiled. He and his wife were seated on chairs. He appeared to be a scientist, a doctor, or a literary person.
"Come and sit down.’’I sat on the border of the carpet and smiled."What is the nature of your work ?’’ "I am a physical training teacher in Udasar, Sir.’’ "Hmmm... What is the problem ?’’ "Stammering speech, Sir. A little difficulty.’’ "Okay. It will be alright. There will be instructions in the evening. Until then observe your breath and remain aware of it.’’ "Very good, Sir.’’ "Then go,’’ he said smilingly. I bowed down, paid respects, and smilingly came out of the hall.
I started thinking, ``What sort of Guru have I got ? He is a worldly person. Could there be a Guru like this ? Married ! Householder ! No beard, no mustache, clean shaven ? No marks on the forehead ? No long hair ? No ocher robes ? He had on a terylene half-sleeved shirt, and colourful checked lungi. At least he should have been wearing khadi (home -spun) cloth. Absolutely modern, very ordinary. How can he teach meditation ? Never mind, I have come, so let me try and see.’’
After a short while when I, along with hundreds of meditators, started following the instructions of Goenkaji of observing and remaining aware of the breath and feeling its touch, a silent voice within me arose and whispered, "Oh ! This is exactly what I was looking for. I’ve got it. I must work hard. I’m already one day late so I should not waste a single moment.’’ I started meditating with great enthusiasm.
In the evening the instructions were given. Goenkaji said: "Repeat what I say in Pāli.’’ I repeated that for the duration of the meditation course I would abstain from killing, theft, sexual misconduct, speaking lies and taking intoxicants. I liked the five precepts. But along with them I had to repeat, "I take refuge in Buddha. I take refuge in Dhamma. I take refuge in Sangha.’’ At that moment I refrained, but later there was a little discontentment in the mind. "Look, Modiji trapped me. He put me in a whole new position as if a snake has swallowed a rat. Oh ! Khan Saheb, these people have sunk your ship. Now go in your society as a Buddhist.’’
At any rate, I recovered and started to observe the breath. Again the same train of thought came. But when the awareness of breath steadied a little, this problem automatically and gradually resolved itself. Now I didn’t want to think of these problems. I started progressing. During the rest period, even after finishing lunch, etc., I continued meditation. The fact that I was a day late and other meditators must be farther advanced inspired me more. I continued meditation without any other thought.
A television screen started shining before my closed eyes. I very clearly perceived the shaping of dormant impurities of the mind starting to arise and pass away. It was like the dirtiest, wildest film I had ever seen. Such obnoxious prejudices appeared which made me feel like vomiting. But I understood at the same time that it was doing me good. Impurities were coming out. It was a good thing.
On the fourth day Vipassana was given. A new voice arose within my heart. "I have practised this technique some time in the past. It is very simple and familiar !’’ I continued to progress from the gross to the subtle.
By Day Seven I realized that this technique of meditation is so simple that any child or even an illiterate person can learn and effectively practice it. Just to observe the natural breath with closed eyes and continued awareness that it is coming in, going out, and it is touching somewhere. Continuing to observe the breath, the witnessing faculty of the mind establishes automatically. And then one has to observe objectively the sensations throughout the body from head to toe in a particular order. Sensations may be pleasant or painful. Both have to be observed with equanimity. By repeating the same process over and over again, quiet concentration of the mind and equanimity gradually increase.
As I slept that night, a terrible thing happened. It was almost midnight. I saw that a very ferocious demon had seized my neck with both hands and had started shaking my head around and around and said, "Oh evil soul ! You have brought me here in this ashram ! Just wait, I will show you.’’ And with enormous force he threw my body on the ground. Along with it the very sweet voice of Goenkaji came to my ears, "Son, do not worry.Come near me. Come, do not be frightened.’’ I awoke fearful and frightened, looked around with open eyes and saw the foreign meditators who were my room-mates fast asleep.
Immediately I understood that it was a nightmare. It was a play of my mind. It was a trick to force me to leave the course by any means. Impurities were being eradicated. All the torture was due to that. I came out of the room; saw the lights on and the trees standing with their branches and leaves swinging and singing, as if some quiet festival was being celebrated. I started listening and then realized, "Oh ! This is a conspiracy of the unconscious mind. I now understand. I am not leaving without completing the course.’’ I relaxed, smilingly returned to bed, and meditating while lying down, eventually went to sleep.
Dawn broke. There was meditation in the hall. After lunch I was overwhelmed with another experience. I felt that my head and hands were swinging as though they belonged to someone else. I was in a very tranquil, detached, equanimous witnessing state. "Oh Gotama Buddha ! How did you discover this unique meditation technique ? You kept on teaching people this sacred art. And once again this art has become available for people’s welfare. Salutations to you, my Lord. Again and again I prostrate before your compassionate feet. Endless prostrations.’’ I now understood the meaning of "I take refuge in Buddha’’ as refuge in one’s own bodhi or enlightenment, not the personality of Siddhartha Gotama. The meaning of "I take refuge in Dhamma’’ is that one has to be established in one’s own true nature, not in any sectarian religion. The meaning of "I take refuge in Sangha’’ is to take refuge in those noble ones who have become well - established in Dhamma, whatever their race, colour or nationality. From this sacred moment onwards, the word death, full of theories and tears, just melted from the book of my life and flowed away like melted snow. Oh, no ! No being dies. Death is impossible.
Everyone keeps on moving on the journey according to one’s own actions. And the final destination of the journey is nirvana. Now I understood what one’s own religion is and what the religion of others is. Without purifying the mind of impurities by Vipassana and realizing our own nature, life is lived in the religion of others. Living in one’s own nature is Svadharma, the true Dhamma.
On the ninth day a new meditation technique was taught -- the technique of metta bhavana whereby one shares one’s own merits with beings all around. This meditation filled me with love and compassion and made me cry.
When I came out of the course I felt that I had no enemies. All were my relatives. My mind was filled with love, compassion and sympathetic joy towards everyone. I thought that I must have performed some good action in a past life, and as a consequence of that I was born in the lap of the affectionate and compassionate Mother-India: salutations to you, Mother-India. Now I really understood why India is designated as the "world teacher." A sort of pride arose in me to be an Indian. I felt one with all created beings of the earth.
Now the only religion for me is to help miserable people to be free of their miseries: may all beings walk on the path of pure Dhamma; may all be religious in the true sense of the term. By adopting the practice of Vipassana I have found the right direction in life and this has made life worthwhile. The path is long but it becomes straight and easy.
Vipassana has naturally helped me to come out of bad habits. It has given me the strength to smile in desperate situations. It has also given me the strength to discharge my responsibilities. I feel less nervous. Day by day I am gaining strength to address bigger and bigger audiences. My life was incomplete without Vipassana.
I would like to tell my young educated Muslims that they should really try Vipassana and see the results. It is a necessity today that people of all different walks of life unite. By escaping from harmful sectarianism they can help establish a really strong national unity. Vipassana is the only solution to all the problems of mankind, because it is universal and it gives such positive fruits.
I bow my head down to my teacher Shri Satya Narayan Goenka and assistant teacher Dr Vithaldas Modi.
Salutations to Dhamma !
Salutations to Buddha !
Salutations to Sangha !
Vipassana and Cricket
As Mr. S. N. Goenka said in the morning, most of us sitting here are from the kindergarten. I would like to think myself a mere toddler as far as this technique of meditation is concerned.
So far as I can recollect, ever since I discovered myself, I have never done anything except playing cricket and even today my life revolves around cricket, and that in very simple words is Dharma for me.
Cricket is a way of life and I see so much similarity with Vipassana. Both involve applying a fairly consistent amount of concentration and effort over a period of time. When we say that someone is not playing cricket, it means that he is not being fair in life, he is not upright, he is not honest.
If I may cite an example, it is a quote from the late Prime Minister of Australia, Sir Robert Menzies, who once said: "If only America and Russia played cricket, this world would be a much happier place to live in."
I was talking to Mr Tandon, who first introduced me to this technique, and I said, whatever you are trying to teach us here—well I have already done a three-day course and I am going for a ten-day course in July—I call this a "psyching process", to peak up yourself at the right moment. I had many limitations with my own cricketing ability and I can tell you—people like Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev—how they psyched themselves up for their performance, and then had pride in their personal achievements. When I say "pride", that should not be taken in a sense of conceit or arrogance. This "pride" means satisfaction at your personal performance. If you are not proud of yourself, I am afraid, nobody else is going to be proud of you. And this personal pride should be followed by something called national pride.
Personally I have learnt life is a never- ending process of learning, and I have learnt from Vipassana that I can introduce this technique to little kids whom I am training from the age group of ten to fifteen years: to improve concentration, to inculcate some kind of belief in their own ability and some kind of discipline which cricket requires for the betterment of their own personality and for the betterment of society in which they are going to grow up. And also if I may say so, to eliminate the possibility of ball tampering, betting and bribery. I am sure, this technique would help to a great extent.
Mr Bishen Singh Bedi, Sportsman, Delhi
A Catholic Priest on Vipassana
Fr. Peter Lourdes
In February 1986, I attended a ten-day course in Vipassana offered by S. N. Goenka at the Vipassana International Academy (VIA) at Igatpuri. Igatpuri is about three hours by train from Bombay.
With me was a group of 4 Catholic priests, 2 brothers and 28 sisters. A priest and two sisters from my staff also joined me. I programme and direct a six-month course for Formators (church personnel in charge of the training of future brothers, sisters and priests). The Unit on spirituality calls for an experience of other forms of spirituality respected in this part of the world. All of us were part of this experience.
I am a religious priest with a degree in psychology from Rome and Ph. D from Loyola University of Chicago. My doctoral thesis was in The Implications of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) Programme for Counselling Psychology. In a course in Comparative Mysticism at Loyola, I was asked to present TM to the class. My background in psychotherapy, comparative mysticism, TM and my personal life in a religious order was a tremendous asset during my Vipassana days in VIA. I seem to have touched something I was looking for over the years. I returned to Pune and continued Vipassana together with a religious group whom I am Spiritual Director.
At Igatpuri I met Laurie Ross whose involvement in Vipassana impressed me. In the meditation hall one thing that struck me was the stillness with which she sat in an unchanged posture for hours. I could not do that much. She told me later that this was her thirteenth course in Vipassana.
People who know I am a priest sometimes wonder what a Catholic priest is doing in a Buddhist Centre! Roger Corless of Duke University reports that Thomas Merton remarked he felt more in tune with D. T. Suzuki (Zen Buddhist) than with the average Catholic mass-goer. I am no Merton, but I felt the same in Igatpuri and often feel so in my ministry. Spirituality has been a life-long quest for me. I have dared to search for it in waters outside the Bark of Peter.
How does that square with my Catholic affiliation ? I think Vipassana is one way of reaching the goals of the mystical spirituality of my Catholic tradition.
My Catholic tradition also has a theological side to it. That is the side, which is usually transmitted to us from conventional catechisms, church-going, family upbringing, preaching and so on. The theory (or theology if you will) of the Vipassana technique does not generally fit my Catholic theological world view. But I do not think that is very important.
The reason why I do not think it important is this: I consider my Christian theology just one way of interpreting and talking about transcendent experience. I think the experience is more important than the way of talking about it. In the experience, I feel closer to the mystics of our Christian tradition, to those of our Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist tradition, than to our theologians and mass-goers.
In my Christian tradition, I think, the "theological spirituality" was more dominant than the mystical one. I seem to find that in Goenka’s variety of spirituality, the mystical is all. It reaches out so heart-warmingly to the really Real and will not settle for anything less.
Does not the Christian tradition have the same heart-warming thrust? I believe it does, but it does not seem to have a simple and clear-cut method like Vipassana. Whatever methods it had may have died with the monasteries.
Where I am at present in my spiritual journey, I feel hungry for the ineffable God of our humanity rather than the talked-about God of our theology and Sunday School.
Although I do not wish to be Messianic, I often feel sad I cannot make all my fellow Christians interested in the mystical dimensions of our common human thirst for the Beyond.
I invite all of you to join all human beings and me in an attempt to hear and march to a different drum right within the rank and file of our own religious groups or outside.
Universal Vision of Learning
Though affected greatly by the ten-day course I did in 1984, sad to say, I did not pursue the practise. Fortunately in 95’ Madhusudan More revived my enthusiasm. I attended a four-day course with Dr Asha Kapadia followed by another ten-day course. Needless to say I am benefitting immensely. I am a much quieter, wiser, and more fulfilled person.
In my coaching in the Empowerment Programmes, I lead here and abroad, I am far more effective as I am able to bring sharper distinctions of the mind in focus from the insights I’ve had in my Vipassana practise. I recommend it as a most fruitful practice in all my courses.
Blessing in Disguise
We have all heard the saying: blessing in disguise, but may not have experienced its true meaning in our lives. In the year 1997, I found myself in circumstances that made me realize what truly is a blessing in disguise!
At that time I was not doing well in any aspect of life. I had been through different therapies and nothing seemed to work for me. The amount of restlessness and anxiety I carried with me made it impossible to have a moment of peace. I always had to be doing something; being by myself and doing nothing was terrifying. My relationships with others involved a lot of lying and anger and since that is all I had to give that is all I received in return. There were exceptions of course-people who were kind to me regardless of how I acted towards them. I used to feel a ball of burning fire inside of me that was constantly releasing toxins into the system and I lived with the fear of this fireball bursting one day and getting me and others into a lot of trouble. I also had a strong desire to search for a way out of this unhappiness and so I looked and searched everywhere for that way, but the way was nowhere to be found! I did come across a lot of intellectual advice, but I was just too miserable to derive any benefit from it.
It was in this frame of mind that one fine day I found myself on the inside of Tihar jail in New Delhi, India, a place not well known for bringing out the best in human beings. Now there was no end to my misery, my worst nightmare had come true. I was actually confined inside a physical boundary and could not move about as I pleased. Just when I thought things could not get any worse for me, they did and I landed in a ten-day Vipassana Meditation course, where not only was I confined to an even smaller physical boundary, but I also had to sit for hours without moving or speaking! Now my misery knew no bounds.
But there is a small story as to how I came to be in that meditation course. While living in jail I got this idea that I should teach others meditation. I had learned and read up on all kinds of meditation practices and used to consider myself an expert; and so I talked to the officials and impressed them with my knowledge of meditation and requested that I be allowed to teach others. One of the officials kindly suggested that there was already a place in the jail where they teach meditation and perhaps I should go and check it out first. And so I went to this place and was surprised to meet smiling and happy faces, which impressed me enough to try this meditation myself. I did not realize what I was getting myself into!
My desire to find peace and harmony got a big jolt as soon as I was introduced to the timetable of the course, and by Day Two whatever peace and harmony I had, slowly left me and I was left with pains of a type I had never experienced before. I wanted to run away but felt ashamed to do so, for I had impressed the jail officials regarding what a great meditator I was. If I ran away now they would laugh at me and I was not about to let that happen. So I was doomed to suffer and suffer I did. As the days passed, the object of my meditation changed from observing respiration to just managing to stick around the meditation hall. Any time I did not do so there were these people whose sole responsibility was to track down meditators like myself and bring them back to the hall of suffering. They never missed their target, which just happened to be me most of the time.
So there I was, suffering one day after another and hoping for the thing to be over for me so I could get on with my life and never come back to this place. I would go to the teacher and complain about the pain and he would encourage me to observe it with equanimity, which I thought I was doing anyway, but with a constant desire to be rid of it! To me awareness and observation were one and the same thing. I did not understand the possibility of being aware of pain without wishing for it to go away, which I later found out is called observation with equanimity-what the teacher meant.
Like this, nine days passed and nothing happened, or so I thought! On the ninth day during the last sitting before lunch, something happened that turned my world upside down-or rather right side up! All of a sudden the ball of fire I used to feel inside got punctured and lava started pouring out of it and it got so heavy that the whole place could hear my loud breathing. It was unbelievable-the stuff that was coming out of it and how I was relaxing as it emptied out. I opened my eyes several times during the sitting to see if it was really happening, and every time I opened them, the world seemed less and less threatening, as if everything has been okay all this time and only I perceived it to be bad. I cried like a baby out of joy, but mostly out of relief, my body and mind had never felt so light and at peace. Then the whole thing started to make sense and I understood the reason why I had come to Tihar Jail.
It has been a journey since that day and everything has changed for the better. Life finally has a sense of purpose and direction. What I experienced in my first course seemed at that time to be a one-shot deal, an end of sorts for suffering, but actually it was just the first small step, for suffering has very deep roots. The good part is that every step brings an extra bit of relief, which one clearly feels in one's life, motivating one to continue. Finally, I have found something that actually works for me-slowly, but surely!
One reason why I feel I have benefited from Vipassana is that I have always been open to learning things that make sense to me, regardless of who is teaching them. I feel that a true searcher should be open to accepting Truth for Truth's sake alone, and not allowing any personal baggage to come in the way. With this thought may all who read these words find happiness in life. May all beings be happy.
My Vipassana Experience: Peace Within a Prison
(Kelvin Thompson is an inmate of Yerwada Central Jail, Pune. A 32-year old chemist from London, Kelvin sat his first Vipassana course in March 97 the second Vipassana course conducted in Yerwada prison. This interview was on Day 10, the Mettā Day).
"I left London in September 1993. I reached India and this problem started (alleged possesion of drugs). I was in Arthur Road Jail, Mumbai, until my case came up for hearing in July 1995. Then I was put in Yerwada here.
The DIG (Deputy Inspector General, Mr. D. N. Dawne) here told me about this Vipassana course. 'Do this course and you will get peace of mind,' he said.
I am looking for peace of mind. The situation here is getting desperate, real bad. I'm here stuck inside this prison. I may be here for how long, who knows. I want to see my parents, my wife Adeline, my daughter. I can't do that.
I took the 10-day Vipassana course. I thought a miracle will happen. But now I know what happens is according to the laws of nature. This is a wonderful technique. I am more happy now. But miracles have nothing to do with it. It's hard work.
At first I thought, 'What have these sensations got to do with my problems? What's it got to do with my miseries, to being locked up inside this prison?'
Then I began realizing how what was happening. Any sensation that arose in my body with my thoughts - pain, heat, itching - I would just observe it without reacting. It would arise, it would pass away. Why should I be reacting to something that was so impermanent? No sensation lasts forever.
Now when thoughts of anger arise, I could see what was happening to my body - my breath became hot, for instance. Earlier I used to hit out, rage for hours. Now I become calm in about 20 minutes. I am becoming calmer.
Now I can see that my problems are not caused by other people. The problems are within me.
Vipassana is a very different technique, you know. It strikes at the root of our problems and cuts it out. It's very practical. My friends and I first thought, 'What's this? No God? No religion?.' We suspected we were being converted to Buddhism. Then we realized it was nothing of that kind. My brother, this is essence of all the goodness in all the religions. And this is not just preaching or blind belief. This is a technique anyone can practice.
I could understand Vipassana much more easily because of my scientific background. In the lab, we purify chemicals from its impure state to a refined, ultra pure state. I think this is what I have been through. I have been through a mental purification. I don't think all my problems have gone. It cannot happen in just ten days. But what has gone has left me feeling much lighter. I am not the same person I was ten days ago. I am at peace."
(At a press conference, a few hours later, Kelvin Thompson and fellow inmates again spoke about their experience with their first Vipassana course. The Inspector General of prisons, Mr. Narawane, announced that Yerwada Jail will have regular Vipassana courses from now. The Maharashtra Government has already ordered that every prison in the state organize Vipassana courses for its inmates).
Way of Life
"I have to say first that taking part in a Vipassana course was the most painful thing I've ever done to myself, but the most amazing. The feeling I had when I left was one of empowerment. I had an overwhelming feeling of being able to deal with ANYTHING that came my way-be it good or bad. Even though there are times when you are on a high, and you think nothing can touch you, never does that feeling sustain itself. But now I feel that everything is insignificant compared to my ability to recognise the situation, accept it, and learn from it. Most of all, I feel light and glowing.
It was a treacherous process, however. Day 1 and 2 were the worst. I wanted to run away. I couldn't find a reason to be there. There was a flipchart that alerts you to the course day number, and it felt like Day 2 went on for months! I was hallucinating for 3 days, and then the emotional roller coaster started: depression, happiness, fear, agitation, bliss, excitement. Once I was able to watch my emotions objectively, I balanced out and that's when the good feelings started. But the first four days were heart wrenching to say the least. The discourses at night kept me going, as did the advice of a Vipassana teacher before the course who told me that when I felt like running away, I should just say to myself, "Let's see what happens tomorrow." So in the end, curiosity got the better of me! Day 10 was a very love-filled day. The anticipation of being able to talk, the knowledge that the morning meditation was going to be your last chance to develop in the technique, the bonding of spirits after silence was broken, the sharing of experiences and thoughts-it was truly wonderful. On that day, I made friends with people from all over, people that I continue to keep in touch with. Then there was the beauty of Day 11. Knowing that we would not feel the energy of the Dhamma Hall in the near future caused us to linger there, something we would not have done in the first week! And the final mettā was filled with such compassion, men and women alike couldn't help but weep. Naturally, I thought of many people who might benefit from the technique. Although I recommend this to everyone, I feel that one cannot go to a Vipassana course thinking it's going to be a remedy for a specific loss or pain or sickness. You can only get full benefit if you feel that you can accept the technique as a way of life, as a method to improve your general happiness. Also, you have to be fully committed to it-this commitment can only come from somewhere inside you. No one can convince you to do it. I cannot believe how internally happy I am, how much energy I feel, and how motivated I am."
A Special Experience
"My lower limbs are lifeless below the knees because of childhood polio and I have to use artificial boots and crutches. With the support of my parents, I have been able to live a fairly independent life and am presently studying in T.Y.B.A. In spite of my best efforts, including intensive physiotherapy, there has not been much improvement in the condition of my legs.
"I sat for a ten-day Vipassana course from 18th February to 1st March 2001 at Dhamma Giri. My goal was to gain strength of mind. Initially it was very painful but on the sixth day, I started to experience a sensation of 'free flow' in my legs. It was a priceless moment for me to feel this slow-moving flow of sensations in my apparently lifeless legs. I will be forever grateful to revered Goenkaji for bringing this invaluable technique back to India."
My Ten Days with Vipassana
- By Dr. V. B. Athavale
The first time I heard of Vipassana was in December 1986. When Dr Chokhani phoned me, I agreed immediately to attend the conference and the course for 2 reasons:
1) Having knowledge of Sanskrit, the word "Vipasyana" appeared to be meaningful and attractive-to observe in a special way.
2) Jidnasa: curiosity to know and learn something new also attracted me to join the course.
All of you who were present at the Inauguration of the International Conference will remember the following incident. While Goenkaji was delivering his inaugural address, a person came rushing to the dias with intention of attacking him with blows. However, he remained undisturbed, kept quiet for a few seconds and then started chanting Tera Mangal, Tera Mangal, Tera Mangal Hoya Re (May You Be Happy, May You Be Happy...).
Later on, we learned that this person was insane and was brought by his father with the idea that he might get cured by the spiritual powers of Goenkaji. We have all heard similar stories about Buddha and other saints like Tukaram; however it is a rare opportunity to witness such episodes-one has to experience it to believe it.
Diet: Most of us have the habit of munching frequently throughout the day. Before joining the course, I was aware that we would be having our lunch as usual, but that the evening food would be light. Like many others I tended to overeat during lunch so that I could compensate for the light evening meal. After 2 days I realised that after having lunch I felt sleepy, while an alert mind was essential for proper meditation. Thus I was convinced that the dietary regime followed during the course was ideal for both physical and mental health.
Silence: Though I was apprehensive initially about my ability to control my tongue, within 24 hours I was convinced that the number of thoughts encroaching on the mind are drastically reduced by maintaining silence. This in turn helps one to follow the instructions in a more effective manner.
Posture: Though no particular posture was prescribed, on the first day itself I realised that sitting with knees flexed in one posture, even for five minutes, was a difficult task as my knees started aching. I continued my practice with extended knees. After a few days of practice, I realised that I could sit with knees flexed for longer and longer periods. The only trick which worked was to ignore the aching knees and a determination that if others could sit in a similar posture, why should I not be able to achieve it for longer periods.
Concentration On Natural Breathing: In different types of meditation, different targets are set for fixing the mind: for example pictures of gods, or chanting a mantra like om. As breathing is a natural process and is a constant companion, one does not have to depend on external objects for focusing one's mind. One can continue one's meditation while walking or carrying on one's routine work; for example, while driving one can easily focus on breathing instead of keeping one's mind occupied in useless thoughts.
Concentrating On Body Sensations: Focusing one's mind on small areas of different parts of the body with awareness of the natural body sensations is again convenient because, like respiration, our body is a constant companion. The human body is composed of the same basic constituents as all objects in the universe. Hence, by focusing the mind on any part of the body, realising its intricacies would naturally reveal the mysteries of the Law of Nature. In addition, directing one's mental energy to different organs of the body is one of the ways of improving the health of these organs.
Goenkaji's Discourses: By giving examples from day to day life and stories of saints like the Buddha, the principles of philosophy are imprinted on everyone's mind.
Universal Friendship Meditation: The course ends with a short session on the importance of universal friendship. During this meeting I was reminded of the Inaugural Session. The practical demonstration was given by Goenkaji himself. He considered his attacker as his friend and blessed him.
The entire course was conducted in the peaceful and serene atmosphere of Dhamma Giri. At the end of the course, everyone emerged as a better person and with a changed outlook of life.
When I joined the course, I only knew the literal meaning of the word Vipasyana. At the end of the course, I realised that rather than having tons of theoretical knowledge, it is better to have a pinch of experience. The sweet memories still linger on in my mind and have dragged me to the present course. So I am here with you all today.
On the Path
Life prior to Vipassana was difficult for me.
I was angry, anxious, self-pitying, unforgiving. I had spent many years living with an alcoholic on whom I blamed all my problems. And although to all outward appearances I seemed to be coping, my mind was filled with despair. I wanted what I couldn't have and was angry at the way my life had turned out. I was "suffering."
I came to Vipassana through my son. At 59 years of age, I didn't think there was much my children could teach me. Little did I know that my son was to give me such a great gift. I thought that I had given him the gift of life and now, here he was, giving it to me. He had traveled to India and done some volunteer work for the summer, and afterward did a ten-day Vipassana course before returning home. He spoke frequently and fervently of his time meditating at DehraDun and gave me the book The Art of Living to read. I decided that I needed a copy for myself and wrote to order one. With the book came a list of reading material and, as I became more intrigued, I wrote to Dhamma Dipa for more information,
eventually taking the giant step of registering for a ten-day course. I think my son became a little concerned at this point and reminded me over and over again of the 4:00 a.m. wake-up time, the ten hours of meditation a day, and most of all the necessity to keep silent for nine days. I must admit this last point caused me a little concern, as I am someone who loves to chatter.
I was very hesitant when the big day arrived. I had visions of being encamped with a group of hippies, New Age travelers and young people. The smiling young girl who greeted me on arrival soon dispelled all my silly preconceived notions, and in looking around the registration hall I saw people of all ages and descriptions. I felt comfortable from the first day.
My "cellmate," as I liked to refer to the woman who shared my room, was as intent as I on getting the most out of those ten days so there was no problem with rule-breaking chatter. In fact, this was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the ten days ... no need to converse unnecessarily.
It wasn't easy. I never thought I'd be able to sit comfortably, no matter which position I adopted or however many cushions I used. I experienced a lot of pain in my legs, and standing up after one hour was pure agony. The period when we had to sit for two hours almost finished me off. But then, after several difficult days of trying to meditate, something happened. I woke one morning eager to get to the meditation hall. I was the first to arrive. I sat absorbing all the energy, all the mett, all the peace. It was the start of some of the happiest days of my life. Some mornings, during rest periods, I watched the sunrise over the hills, and in the evenings I marveled at the sunsets. Every moment became special and even as these moments passed, as I learned to live in the present, accepting that everything changes, my peace grew. I have never experienced such joy as on the tenth day of the course. It was the beginning, and although stepping back into the modern world has subdued my joy somewhat, I still experience peace whenever I sit to meditate.
When my children were young and asked me what I wanted for my birthday present, I always said, "Just a little peace and quiet." In those ten days at Dhamma Dipa, that is what I received.
I am only a beginner; I have much to learn. In my day-to-day life it is not always easy to practice living in the present, to detach, to meditate. I am just now preparing to register for another ten-day course; I hope to go once a year. I am looking for a group to meditate with in my area on a weekly basis.
Each day as I sit to meditate, whether successfully or not, I feel as if my life is changing, I am changing. I am learning and Vipassana is my teacher.
I read a quotation once which begins, "Place yourself in the middle of the stream of power and wisdom which flows into your life." Vipassana meditation is my stream.
What have I gained from practicing Vipassana? The truth about myself and the beginning of liberation from suffering (and I don't chatter nearly as much).'
Letters from Students
Respected S. N. Goenka,
I am happy, at long last I found the time and determination to attend the 10-day Vipassana course at Dhamma Khetta, Hyderabad. I am totally convinced by the potential of the technique, though as you have been rightly emphasising that this is only the first step in a long, long and difficult path.
But certainly, even now, I am able to realise the great potential this path has for humanity, particularly in this country where many conflicts, miseries and tensions are growing day by day. As you have rightly said, "What is necessary at the moment is the mastery of the mind and not only mastery of the matter."
I was also highly impressed by the dedication, commitment and sincerity of the persons in charge of the Centre, as well as the competence, commitment and compassion of the teachers.
I have no hesitation in expressing my appreciation and admiration for the efforts to bring solace, happiness, peace, harmony and liberation to millions of people.
In fact, I have already written a report to the Director, CBI, and Director General, CRPF, that we should explore ways of either sending our own officers to your centres or introducing it in our own training institutions.
My family too is planning to sit Vipassana courses.
With kind regards,
I.P.S., Special Director Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)
Govt. of India
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Vipassana in Iran
These are excerpts from letters faxed to S. N. Goenka from Vipassana meditators in Iran (a large group of Iranian male and female students did a 10-day course in Dhamma Giri in the winter of 1996).
Your students are grateful for the valuable technique of Vipassana. They have regular groups sittings in Tehran, and at the end of every session send mettā to you and all Vipassana meditators. - Dr. Abbas Rouhbachsh
Being in Dhamma Giri for ten days made me face my inner hell for a few days, and then made me find my little heaven inside. - Mrs. Ravan Kahriz
Do you remember the bird in your (Teacher's Residence) garden singing anicca ? a..n..i..c..c..a..!! - Homa Arzhangi
I will never forget this valuable sentence : "Be your own master." - Fatemeh Rahshenas
We hope that, as soon as possible, we have a Vipassana centre in Iran. - Ramin Aminian
The ten-day course in Dhamma Giri was the most peaceful days of my life. - Mohammad Eyvazi
(Messages also came from Kamran Abbasi, Fatemeh Nejad, Farzaneh Edalatmanesh, Mahsa Binazir, Nazila Garousian, Zohre Pour-Miraghaiy, Abdolah Esmail-Nasab, Mohammad Eyvazi, Maryam Nowghan, Kiandokt Nowghan, Farzaneh Toossi, Fariba Shams, Fariba Namazi, Shahrzad Pakzad, Maryam Ghatrifi, Mehsa Binazir).
Every life is a preparation for the next death. If someone is wise, he or she will use this life to the best advantage and prepare for a good death... Make this human life successful by practicing Vipassana. Then whenever death comes, it will come with the experience of an equanimous mind, bringing with it well-being for the future.
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A dream has come true. The first Vipassana course in Ireland has finally happened. It was wonderful and a privilege to serve the Irish people as they received the wonderful Dhamma on their own soil.
Ireland was once known as the Island of Saints and scholars. But in the past thirty years it is best known for sectarian violence and bombs and terrorist activity. We so badly need Dhamma. Thank you for sending teachers who have been such an inspiration to us.
There is so much goodwill for us to get established here. Members of the Dhamma community in England have been so supportive.
May the Dhamma continue to spread throughout the world. May all beings be happy !
Una Ferguson Dublin, Ireland.
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Justice Surendra Nath Bhargava
Chairperson Assam Human Rights Commission, Guwahati, Former Chief Justice of Sikkim High Court, Former Justice of Rajasthan High Court.
When I was a judge of the Rajasthan High Court at Jaipur I had an occasion to hear the discourse of Respected Shri Satya Narayan Goenka. I was very much impressed by his simplicity, humility, devotion, dedication and depth and clarity of thoughts.
I decided that I must go for a course of Vipassana for ten days at the earliest. I was lucky to get the opportunity of doing the course at Jaipur in the presence of Shri Satya Narayan Goenka.
I was very much impressed by the discipline which was to be maintained in the course at Jaipur when one has to maintain silence for nine days continuously without having any excess to T. V., Radio, Newspaper, Telephone-call or even talking amongst the participants of the camp. We were given very healthy and nourishing food and I thoroughly enjoyed my camp. The daily routine in the camp was also very strict and everything punctual.
Initially, I thought that I will not be able to complete the course and follow the strict discipline. But I am glad, I could complete the course and also observe the discipline strictly. It is unique experience and cannot be described in words. One will not believe unless he himself takes the course.
After completing the course I found myself very healthy not only physically but mentally as well. It gave me lot of peace of mind and also the occasion to know self. The whole method is very simple and one is introvert throughout the period without any disturbance from outside.
The boarding and lodging are all free during the camp and one can donate whatever he likes after completing the course. It gives lots of peace to mind and new thinking and approach and develops the new way to life and feeling towards others. If every one goes through this training and course the whole society can be changed and the present ills in the society regarding hatred towards each other, fear, disrespect, distrust will all vanish. The cancerous growth of corruption everywhere will also be controlled automatically.
I wish Vipassana spreads all over the world for the benefit of the individual, society, Nation and humanity.
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Thank you very much for teaching me the technique of Vipassana. It has had an immediate effect on my life, and deals piercingly with so many things that had surfaced before, but I was then unaware of what to do. Now with Vipassana, it feels like you can be your own doctor, and get to the deepest roots of anything that caused your unhappiness.
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Senior advocate, Supreme Court of India
Former Judge, High Court of Bombay
In May 1991, I was lucky to participate in the ten-day Vipassana course in Dhamma Giri, Igatpuri, with the help of my friend Shri Madhusudan More. I was much impressed by the doctrine of Vipassana and the principles underlying the same. Accordingly, I found observance of silence is effective and more powerful than speech. Meditation and concentration should become a way of life. I was benefited. I believe that it is highly useful and worthwhile to learn the Vipassana technique. We have to march ahead towards experiencing a good life under the guidance of Shri Goenkaji and his colleagues.
I am happy to record my view and impressions in brief. I shall be very willing to join the Vipassana course in future, whenever I get the chance.
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K. G. Shah
Retd. Judge, Bombay High Court
On the recommendation of my yoga Guru Dr. Dhananjay Gunde of Kolhapur, my wife and I attended the Vipassana meditation course at Dhamma Giri, Igatpuri, Maharashtra between Janurary 17 - 28, 1997.
Without any hesitation, I would say that the experience we both had during the course was invigorating and exhilarating. At the end of the course, we came out of the serene atmosphere of Dhamma Giri with almost ever lasting sense of well being. We really felt that we have changed, certainly not the same people we were when we entered the course. There is perceptible change in us throughout the body, mind and spirit.
The management of the course under the able guidance and supervision of Shri, Satyanarayan Goenkaji was flawless. The volunteers meticulously took care of the smallest needs of the participants of the course.
I am looking forward to attending such a course once again on an opportune occasion. I am sure Vipassana, which so far has helped thousands of people in mind, body and spirit will progress in this country and ameliorate the sufferings of many, many more people.
I would take this opportunity of thanking Shri. Satyanarayan Goenkaji for having started this movement in this country, as also the volunteers of the course, who untiring and ungrudgingly catered to the needs of the participants.
Of course, Guruji’s lectures in person as also on the video cassettes and the guidance given by the assistant teachers during the course was of immense help to one and all who participated in the course in understanding what is Vipassana and putting it into practice.
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Principal Secretary (services)
Government of Maharashtra
I attended a ten-day programme of Vipassana Meditation at the Vipassana International Academy, Dhamma Giri, Igatpuri, District Nasik. I found this programme to be extremely useful and the meditation technique goes a long way in helping the participants get a better knowledge of the way their own mind functions. It is an art of living and can help one to eliminate tensions in every day life and develop positive creative energy. The beauty is that it can be availed of by all irrespective of their caste, creed or religion. It is totally and absolutely non-sectarian.
Realizing the importance of Vipassana for its officers, the Government of Maharashtra issued a Resolution No. 2496 / 3 / SER-9 dated 15th May 1996, allowing officers of the rank of Deputy Secretary and above with a minimum age of 45 years to avail of 14 days commuted leave (with medical certificate) as also, to and fro passage. The facility can be availed of once in three years and for a maximum of six times during total service.
Besides, Vipassana has demonstrated positive results even in prisons. Recognizing this, Government of Maharashtra has encouraged its jail administration to conduct regular programmes for inmates at Pune, Nagpur, Nasik, Kolhapur, etc. with very encouraging results.
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S. M. Gavai
Director of Social Welfare
My first brush with the philosophy of Vipassana was when an old acquaintance met me and urged me to undertake a 10-day Vipassana course at the Vipassana Centre at Igatpuri. At that time, I did not express more than a passing interest in the method. But I do believe that the seeds of my ultimate initiation into the technique were sown then.
More than half a decade later, I finally had the opportunity to undertake the course along with my brother. Even this time, in a manner of speaking, I went along with him to keep him company. Each individual life, however insignificant, has its milestones with birth and death as the most significant ones. Having completed the course last year, I have realized that there is an even more significant one- that of an individual’s initiation into and final attainment of Vipassana.
Although I am but a novice, I am convinced that this is indeed the surest path to peace and salvation. The path that was untrodden for many millennia has been rediscovered in the land of its birth.
It is fitting indeed that the Pagoda of Peace will be located in this nation. The Pagoda will go a long way in establishing more solidly, the philosophy and traditions of this secular practice.
I, on my part am profoundly grateful to Vipassana International Academy for affording me in this lifetime, an opportunity to make a small beginning towards absolute liberty.
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D.R. Karthikeyan, I.p.s.
Special Director, Central Bureau of Investigation
I have undergone the ten days meditation course at Hyderabad Centre only recently. I should confess that I have not been strictly following the prescribed schedule of meditation every day, as I am constantly on the move, being in charge of three different full-time jobs with headquarters at Delhi, Hyderabad and Chennai.
Yet, one can say with certainty that the results are perceptible. One realizes the truism, life is not a problem but a reality to be experienced. We are prisoners of our behaviour patterns. The mind is the cause of misery and the individual is the key to transform the society.
Vipassana is a practical method for emotional and spiritual education on a non-sectarian basis. It reduces hostility and helplessness and enhances hope and a sense of well-being. While reducing stress, it fosters positive attitude. While instilling the right values, it purifies the mind, physical well-being becoming a valuable by-product.
The unique technique results in self-transformation by self-observation. It is healing by observation and in accordance with the universal law of nature.
When one realizes by experience, the concept of impermanence, the entire attitude towards life, day-to-day situations and relationships with others becomes more positive.
The Vipassana technique of meditation brings out all unnecessary and accumulated mental load that one carries all the time. One develops detachment and equanimity. We do become observers of ourselves. One is amazed to realize how our body and mind have become the storehouse of innumerable and unwanted impressions.
Even in the very short time that I have been exposed to Vipassana I am able to increasingly accept people as they are instead of trying to change them all the time, to fit them in my own standard `frame’. To that extent life has become calmer, healthier, peaceful and positive.
My wife Kala who underwent the 10 days course at Hyderabad centre later than me also shares the same experience.
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Rajasthan State Party Spokesperson of C.P.I. (M-L) and National President of the All India Progressive Women’s Association ( AIPWA )
I did my first ten-day course of Vipassana in 1995. Since then I have done two more ten-day courses and one Satipatthana course. I realize that, this makes me a beginner with a very long way to go but even then the benefits and potential of Vipassana are apparent.
What I find most appealing about this technique is its simple, pure scientific rationality - no religiosity of any kind, no gods, no mumbo-jumbo, no false promises of a great here-after, no form of escapism into some blissful never-never-land! Buddha’s emphasis on practice and an ethical life and not just theorizing or intellectualizing make the whole method intensely practical and keeps one’s feet solidly on the ground. In fact, Buddha’s definition of Dharma, or religion, is the understanding of the laws of nature, understanding the world of mind and matter and then living according to those laws. Vipassana helps you to do just that.
Vipassana is a form of meditation which, more than anything else I have ever known or tried, helps you to understand yourself. As you go deeper and deeper into the practice, the more you understand and see how your mind and matter function, how they interact and influence each other, you are gradually able to observe the patterns of your own behaviour, your own reactions, your aversions and cravings - in other words you can see how you tick. It is a very good way of learning self-awareness and gaining self-knowledge, even of the deepest levels of one’s sub-conscious mind.
You also learn how to re-programme yourself with total awareness and understanding. There is neither suppression or rejection of ones deepest and, often, ugliest drives. I had come across the word "stitha pragya’’ in the Gita and in many Upanishads as the way to come out of suffering but it is only Vipassana which teaches you, step by step, how you can actually achieve that, how to achieve the equanimity to become a "stitha pragya’’.
The other things which appeal to me are that you are constantly aware and in the present, in possession of all your faculties and not asked to surrender yourself or your mind to some great guru or teacher who will do your thinking for you. Instead, the technique constantly emphasizes how one is responsible for one’s own life, one’s own actions and their consequences. As one’s present actions and behaviour will determine what one becomes in the future, I find it tremendously attractive that I can be in control and responsible for my own future. What more can one ask for!
The whole concept of Karma is sworn of all the superstition and rubbish that some religious sect has smothered it with and one is able to experience it and understand it as mere cause and effect, action and reaction. The universality of the method, its total lack of any kind of sectarianism makes it truly scientific and acceptable to any human being irrespective of caste, colour, creed or sex.
One anxiety that I did have for quite some time was would Vipassana make me want to leave the problems, tensions and frustrations of daily life and work and make me want to escape to a more peaceful and secluded world, would it make me go more and more inwards at the expense of my work? But what I am discovering is that the inward journey complements the outward life and, in fact, is helping my work.
Nothing has given me the hope and confidence that this technique has given me. To know that I can understand myself and then be able to change myself and that I do not have to rely on anything or anyone else except myself to achieve this, is at once the greatest gift and the greatest responsibility that I have been given. I am the scientist, I am the laboratory and I am the specimen! A whole new universe, that I was totally oblivious of, has opened up to me and I am on a new and meaningful journey.
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The following are excerpts from letters written by students to Goenkaji.
Although I have not been able to go to Dhammagiri this winter, there have been plenty of occasions to grow in the Dhamma. Our own mind and body is a wonderful meditation cell!
...It is amazing how much the Dhamma has helped me to change for the better. From a proud, passionate and selfish person, I have changed to a much less passionate, more moderate, more compassionate individual.
In law there is a sacred principle that says: “Not only must justice be rendered, it must appear to be rendered.”
In my appreciation of Vipassana I strongly believe that: “Not only must peace be achieved, it must appear to be achieved in daily life.”
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Feedback from the Course Participants
...One of the reasons I chose Nepal for my Peace Corps work is that I had hoped I would find a good meditation way in India during my service in Nepal. A ten-year search in America had brought nothing that satisfied me. Only a person like yourself, who has received the Dhamma, can understand how very grateful and joyful I feel at finally having found what I know is right for me.
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Dear Goenkaji, Thank you very much for teaching me the technique of Vipassana. It has had an immediate effect on my life, and deals piercingly with so many things that had surfaced before, but I was then unaware of what to do. Now with Vipassana, it feels like you can be your own doctor, and get to the deepest roots of anything that caused your unhappiness.
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We would like to thank you again for starting us on the path to enlightenment. In return we will continue to develop the technique, the only sufficient form of thanks we can render.
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Former Speaker of Assembly, Maharashtra
Vipassana is of immense importance for the development of a human being. Lord Buddha received enlightenment by following the path of Vipassana. Acharya Goenka who is a living master of Vipassana, is endeavouring very hard to spread the message of this great art of life to. I am a humble practitioner of Vipassana and I have been immensely benefited in my life.
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I am an industrialist and has lot of tension & work-load. In 1994 I was in great tension due to workers unrest. I was advised by Mr. Ravi Dewang to visit Dhamma Giri at Igatpuri. I have undergone ten days Vipassana and I was really relaxed and was recharged. I felt confident and got great boosting. Since then I do Vipassana and I sent my workers & officers regularly to Dhamma Giri at Igatpuri who are greatly benefited. I feel Vipassana is the need of today.
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I am very glad that I’ll share with you my experience, maybe some other human beings will get out of the addiction misery.
I had addicted to use opium more than 20 years. I had given up at least ten times but it didn’t last more than two or three months. Finally I think that according to my good karma I found out about Vipassana in 1995 and I participated in a ten-day course in November 1995 and it was my privilege that my teacher was the kind and dear Mr Goenkaji. Now after two years there is nothing about craving to use opium and more than that I’ve got too many more benefits out of this technique. I do my meditation every day morning and evening and I’ve sent my wife and my daughter to do this course for their benefits.
I want to thank again Guruji, Management, Assistants and the kind workers in the Igatpuri Vipassana centre.
May all beings be happy
Mohd Reza Gharib
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The programme was very self improving and peaceful. However if the number of participants could be increased then many more could be benefited.
An advantage of participating in the programme was that a lot of my unanswered questions were clarified. If we can use this mental clarity in our area of responsibility successfully, then it will definitely go a long way in resolving a lot of our problems.
After undergoing this course there will be more ......., honesty and dedication towards our work.
I have learnt the art of living, its truth and advantages.
I have become free from various superstitions, religious beliefs and .......
D.D. Tripathi, (Police) Saver, Indore
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In this entire programme one learns about oneself and develops dedication towards
One learns to develop his inner strengths and gets confidence to live in today's tension filled world. One is cured of various internal illnesses automatically. Your inner energy and capacity for work increases. The entire programme is beneficial for administrators, govt. and public servants. In my opinion we should have more of such programs. By this not only will government officials be benefited but as a result the entire department will be benefited.
I K Bhalavi
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Vipassana is an important tool for self development. It is not any particular religion, it is humanism which is the basis of every religion. It helps in self development and awakens in you a feeling of good towards everyone. It increases one's capacity and efficiency at work. Every person should attend a Vipassana course. Let people from all religions take part in this camp together and be benefited. Let more such camps be organized in the future so that other officials may get the benefit.
N. P. Barkede
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This course has been very good for reducing tension and self improvement and the mind becomes very peaceful as a result. It is a very complete and practical technique which no science had discovered till date. It inspires one to lead a pure life and one feels that it will increase one's dakshata. We are grateful those officials who arranged this programme so that we could end our mental tension. We hope there will be more such programs in the future.
Dr Dinesh Kumar Gupta, Ayurveda Treatment officer, Sahaya, Bhopal
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In 1984, I was introduced to this immortal and highly beneficial technique. Since then I have been associated with it. In this camp I have had a few spiritual experiences. With the help of Anapana meditation my concentration has increased, the period of concentration also has increased.
By observing my bodily sensations with greater awareness, equanimity and continuity, I managed to remove my negativities to a deeper extent.
Concentration was increased
Proper awareness was established
Dr. N.K. Prasad, P. Kushiram Ayurvedic Institution, Bhopal
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I was quite surprised when on reaching the Academy I was told that I would have to remain silent for 10 days and live within a limited area. I would have to observe silence quite diligently as the instructions mentioned about a stress course. So I followed the instructions of the academy having decided to undergo the course and observe all the rules .
I liked the Vipassana course very much, I feel it will change a person's nature. However it should be restricted to a few persons but should be conducted on a large scale. It should especially be conducted for those in high posts and important officials so that those below them will be inspired to join the course and improve their thoughts.
Uttam Singh Thakur. 16V
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The program on reducing tensions and self improvement was very good. It is my good fortune that I got an opportunity to take part in the program, for this I am grateful to my department. This program will help me a lot in the future in improving myself. It will definitely help me progress on the path to good. It will also help me be a better official.
The tensions which arise during executing our daily official duties will get reduced by this program and we can perform those duties in a better way. Initially for the first 3 days I was a bit upset and tense but as the course progressed, I found some inner strength. Now after doing the course I feel grateful for being sent here against my wishes. I hope I will get a chance to do a refresher course at least once a year. I am very grateful to my department for the apparent benefits I have got from this course. I am sure I will derive many more benefits in future from this course.
R. S. Gupta
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I am at a loss for words to describe the benefits i have received from the Vipassana course held at the Academy of Administration, Bhopal from 15/2/97 to 26/2/97. From this course I learnt the true meaning of humanity. Apart from my personal improvement it will benefit my official duties by increasing tolerance, capacity for work, efficiency and equanimity.
The high officials of the department should participate in this course and get benefited. My diabetes has been controlled to a large extent by this course. If more such courses are organized then others will also get benefited. A refresher course should be organized at least once in a year.
K. M. Dube, Homegaurds, Gwalior
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The training programme organized by the Academy of Administration from 15/2/97 to 26/2/97 on Vipassana shivir appears to me very much useful for future working in the department. The course develops concentration of mind, self confidence and to take decision in the right direction. It will also increase the efficiency and discipline in day to day working with physical fitness.
A S Dighe, Chief Engineer (D) NVDA.
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Shri M S Choudhary
E-1/94, Arera Colony
Sub :Vipassana Camp
With your kind help our Academy recently held for the first time, a 11 day Vipassana camp with the objective to "Reducing Tensions and Self Improvement" at the academy premises. Enclosed is a copy of the feedback received from the participants in this course. The Academy would like to conduct a similar camp in May 97. We request you to finalize the date to suit your convenience and inform us so that we may make the necessary arrangements.
Academy of Administration
Madhya Pradesh, Bhopal
Comments of the participants in the course on "Reducing Tension and Self Improvement" held at the Academy of Administration, Bhopal from 7/6/97 to 18/6/97
Vipassana Meditation puts an end to negativities and lets you experience equanimity. I recommend that every government official and politician should make it a point to attend at least one course in his life. I experienced an inner joy by attending this course.
Dr A N Rao, Deputy Collector, Betul, M.P.
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By attending this Vipassana Course I got to learn this valuable Dharma knowledge of Vipassana . Through Vipassana I got to know myself and have found a new way to live my life. I have found the path of self improvement and in future I can realize my mistakes and work towards rectifying them.
Kishan Singh Rathor, Company Commandant, Bhopal
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It is a technique to identify truth and falsehood, a technique which prevents one from going astray so that he may proceed on the path to experience the Ultimate truth. It keeps one away from selfishness and towards humanity. Every person should undergo this technique in order to be a better human being.
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In this 11 day Vipassana course, I have Understood True Dharma and the difference between Dharma and religion
Learnt the way to lead a peaceful life as a householder.
Practiced an easy and beautiful method by which one can be free from this cycle of birth and death
Freed myself from the long time enslavement of tobacco.
Vipassana is truly priceless.
N.P. Panthi, Dept of social welfare and panchayat. M.P.
Experiences published in other media
Yuval Harari, author of Sapiens, on how meditation made him a better historian
- Interview by Ezra Klein
In this interview, Yuval Harari, renowned historian and author, discuss his practice of Vipassana meditation and how it helps him see the stories humanity tells itself.
To read the article, please click here.
Published on Vox website dated February 28, 2017
How Vipassana meditation breathes life into Anirban Lahiri's golf game
-By Aishwarya Kumar, ESPN.com
To read the article, please click here.
Published on Espn website dated August 29, 2017
A 10-Day Silent Meditation Retreat Was the Hardcore Mental Detox I Needed
- By Marina Zarya
To read the article, please click here.
In this article, an author shares her experience of her first 10-day Vipassana course and its impact on her life, including changes in her behaviour.
Published on health.com dated April 21, 2017.
How silent meditation helped me succeed at work
-by Payal Sheth
To read the article, please click here .
Payal Sheth, global marketing manager at the Boston Consulting Group, explains how Vipassana meditation helped change the way she thinks and engages with people.
Published under knowledge and leadership section of wharton university of pennsylvania website dated July 18, 2017.
- By Jeremy Vandermeij
To read the article, please click here.
In this article, an author describes experience of his first 10-day Vipassana courses, memories of traumas he faced in his childhood and how Vipassana helped him in coming out of his anxiety and panic attacks.
Published on torontolife.com.
An accidental journey into insight meditation
-By Michelle Schaner
An American meditator’s personal experience and tribute to Goenkaji
Myanmar Times, Myanmar dated October 14, 2013
Surviving Vipassana: busting myth about 10 day self awareness course
-By Amrita Ganguly-Salian
DNA India dated August 17, 2014
The 10-day course of the ancient self-awareness practice is notorious for scaring people courtesy half-baked perceptions and notions. The author busts some myths.
The C and M words
-By Róisín Ingle
An Irish meditator’s tribute to Goenkaji and description of a Vipassana course
Irish Times, Ireland, dated October 19, 2013
-by Matthew Green
A writer for a major British newspaper takes time from covering armed conflicts to sit a 10-day course at Dhamma Sikhara in the Indian Himalayas.
Financial Times, UK dated January 6, 2012
At End-Of-The Line Prison, An Unlikely Escape
-By Debbie Elliott
Account of the course program at Donaldson Correctional Facility in Alabama, USA.
7-minute audio clip and text transcript
National Public Radio, USA dated February 8, 2011
Back to Jail in Burma
-By SWE WIN
Click here to download Article
The New York Times dated July 24, 2013
Rivers Cuomo and Meditation
Interview with a well-known rock musician and Vipassana meditator about his practice
4-minute video clip
Interview by Dan Harris
ABC television news, USA dated September 9, 2010
Ten days without talking
-By Judith Soal
First-hand report of a 10-day course in India
Guardian, UK dated March 9, 2011
Meditation with the Financial Times
-By Tim Parks
Article by a best-selling British author about his experience of Vipassana courses
Financial Times, London, UK dated February 11, 2011
Christmas in Java: Meditation in Klaten
-By Johnny Langenheim
A personal account of a 10-day course at Dhamma Java during the end-of-year holiday season.
The Guardian, UK dated December 20, 2014
Turn off, tune out: Clearing the garbage in my head
-By John Lui
Light-hearted description of a 10-day course at Dhamma Java, by a well-known Singapore journalist.
The Straits Times, Singapore dated January 11, 2015
My exhausting meditation retreat: 10 days of Vipassana, silence and spiders
-By Jodi Ettenberg
An insomniac, suffering from chronic pain, attends a 10-day Vipassana retreat at Dhamma Medini in New Zealand.
The Guardian, UK, dated March 31, 2016
Mind Surgery: Changing the Habit of a Lifetime
-By Claudia Bicen
A personal account of a 10-day Vipassana course
Huffington Post, UK dated February 7, 2013
Vipassana meditation retreat in Maryland
-By Jummy Olabanji
Visit to a three-day old students’ course
Text and video clip (2 minutes)
WJLA-ABC7 television, Washington, D.C., USA dated May 17, 2013
A silent voyage
-By Nisha Samson
Vipassana meditation often considered as a means to end a particular problem. In this article, the author explains why Vipassana is not just that, but a way of life, an ongoing process of self-discovery.
Click here to download Article
Experience of Sixteen pregnant women during a 10-day course at the Pune city Vipassana Center
Indian Express dated June 13, 2012
Click here to download Article
Breathing in, sorting out
Reliance Broadcast Network CEO Tarun Katial explains why an ancient meditation technique offers him conveniet catharsis.
Outlook Business dated November 28, 2014
Vipassana meditation retreats: enjoy the silence
-By Lavanya Sankaran
Experience of an old student of Vipassana meditation who sees 10 days of monastic living, deep meditation and not uttering a word to anyone as the ultimate in emotional cleansing.
The Guardian, UK, dated June 9, 2013
My vipassana experience
-By Nandita Das
A personal account of 10-day Vipassana course by an Indian film actress and director
dated November 29, 2015
How Acharya S.N. Goenka Changed My Life—and the Lives of Millions More
-By Sharon Salzberg
Tribute from an early Western student of S.N.Goenka, now a well-known teacher in another tradition
The Daily Beast, USA dated October 2, 2013
-By Wes Nisker
Reminiscences of an early student of Acharya S.N. Goenka
Wes Nisker blog, USA dated October 10, 2013
Experiences of Course Participants
Following short film contain experiences of students participated in 10-day Vipassana course across the world.
Islands of Dhamma-Miracles of Faith
In this video, recorded at Dhamma Dipa meditation center, UK, course participants share their experinences after 10-day Vipassana course.
For more videos related to Vipassana Meditation and its impact on different aspects of society, please click here.