Vol.10 No.10 Ocotober 13, 2000
Words of Dhamma
Vivādaṃ bhayato disvā,
Seeing danger in dispute,
Khuddaka-nikāya, Apadāna 1.79
The Sweetness of Dhamma
(The following is the opening address by S. N. Goenka at the Annual Conference at Dhamma Giri on 9 January 1997.)
Reverend Bhikkhu Saṅgha and my Dhamma children:
In the work you are going to accomplish here sweetness is important. If there is Dhamma, there is bound to be sweetness. This is the yardstick: sweetness must come in life. You have come here to exchange your views and experiences, but if you are attached to your views and argue that whatever you say is correct, you will lose all the sweetness.
The Enlightened One’s words should keep ringing in your ears: be like milk and water mixed together, inseparable, full of sweetness. The whole Dhamma field must always be full of sweetness.
By mistake you might use certain harsh words to justify your view. If you know that you have hurt somebody but think, "What else could I do? I was correct and that fellow couldn’t understand it," then your thoughts are still full of aversion. Don’t try to justify your mistakes, accept them: "I made a mistake, either from ignorance or my weakness which allowed anti-Dhamma forces to overpower me. I will be careful not to do this in future." Give the balm of mettā now.
How quickly do you realize your mistake and start generating mettā? How long do you work on mettā, and how deeply? That is the yardstick of your progress. Understand this and see that the atmosphere always remains full of Dhamma, full of sweetness.
You are all gathering here now because you want Dhamma to spread. Why do you want Dhamma to spread? Not to establish a sect. If a sect is established and more people start calling themselves Buddhists what would anyone gain by that? Let people keep calling themselves Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist or Jewish, what difference will it make? The human mind keeps on generating impurity, negativity and misery. If one calls oneself by this name or that, does the mind change? No, the mind remains the same with the same habit pattern. Names won’t help. Change the habit pattern of the mind, and here is a wonderful technique which will do this. By practising Vipassana one realizes: "Yes, it works! It has purified my mind, if only a little, and whatever impurities have gone, that much misery has gone. Oh, this is such a wonderful technique! Everyone, all around the world is miserable. May more and more people get this wonderful technique and come out of their misery!"
When you see others really enjoying happiness, peace and harmony, then sympathetic joy arises. Seeing others joyful makes you feel joyful, and this joy multiplies. You smile seeing so many people smiling. You are serving others for this purpose, not to develop ego. There should be no status, no power, no position. You serve whether you have this or that responsibility. You are serving to make yourself happier and to make others happier. This is Dhamma.
Keep this in mind and work. Distribute this wonderful Dhamma for your good and for the good of so many suffering people around the world. May pure Dhamma spread. May more and more people start practising Dhamma to enjoy real peace, harmony, happiness.
Bhavatu sabba maṅgalaṃ.
(May all beings be happy!)
Goenkaji's Tour of UK and USA
In August and September 2000, Goenkaji visited United Kingdom and United States after a gap of many years. Naturally, there was a lot of enthusiasm among meditators about his visit. Goenkaji undertook this tour to participate in the Millennium World Peace Summit at the United Nations and to visit various centres and cities in UK and USA for the spread of Dhamma. It was a difficult tour because of Goenkaji’s age and health. However, he did not want to spare any effort for the spread of Vipassana. In this landmark Dhamma tour he reached out to meditators and Dhamma workers from Europe, USA and Canada to understand their difficulties, to give them guidance and to inspire them on the path of Dhamma. Vipassana has struck deep roots in these regions due to Goenkaji’s efforts in the eighties when he used to visit these areas almost every year. However, advancing age and increasing demand on his time in South and South-east Asia had made it increasingly difficult for him to travel to the West in the nineties. When he undertook this tour ignoring the difficulties of extensive travel and his health problems, the meditators in the West were overjoyed. They worked hard to make best use of his time.
He first went to UK on 11 August. From the airport Goenkaji went straight to Dhamma Dīpa, the Vipassana centre in Hereford. Hundreds of meditators had gathered there for the opportunity to meet him and to meditate with him. About 500 students from all over Europe attended the one-day course at the centre, which was held in a marquee on 12 August. Goenkaji gave Anapana and Vipassana to the students many of whom were meditating with him for the first time. He met the members of various trusts, Dhamma workers and teachers from many countries in Europe, heard their report and gave them guidance on development of Vipassana activity in their areas. He was also interviewed by BBC World Service Radio and a German Weekly at Dhamma Dīpa.
On Sunday, 13 August, Goenkaji gave dāna to the Venerable Bhikkhu Saṅgha. Apart from the venerable monks, many distinguished expatriate Burmese came to visit the centre and participate in the Saṅgha dāna. The occasion epitomized the feeling of gratitude from meditators of this tradition to the Saṅgha who had preserved Vipassana through the millennia. Ven. Dr Rewata Dhamma, who has been of much support to Goenkaji from the beginning of his efforts in the spread of Vipassana, gave words of blessings. On this occasion, the Venerable Mahāthera praised Goenkaji’s work of teaching the Dhamma as the Buddha taught it and bringing the Triple Gem to so many people all over the world.
After travelling to London on the evening of 13 August, Goenkaji continued his busy schedule. He was interviewed by journalists from the Times and Asian Age. He also gave a short interview on BBC World Service Television. On 14 and 15 August he gave two public talks on "Vipassana Meditation and its Relevance in the 21st Century". The first talk was given at Kadwa Patidar Centre, Harrow, Middlesex. About 900 people attended and listened attentively to the Dhamma talk, which was covered by Zee TV. Press interviews followed after the talk. The second public talk at Friends’ House, Euston Road, London was also attended by about 900 people, including venerable bhikkhus, many prominent citizens, and His Excellency, the Ambassador of Myanmar to UK. It was followed by private interviews with the media covering the event.
Goenkaji left UK on Wednesday, 16 August for the USA. He first went to Dhamma Sīri, Vipassana centre in Dallas, Texas. On 17 August, he meditated with the students of the ten-day course, met assistant teachers and Dhamma workers in the morning and gave a public talk at the Garland Centre for Performing Arts in the evening. He was interviewed by a reporter from the Dallas Morning News. After the public talk he met many meditators who had come from cities such as Houston and Oklahoma.
On Friday, 18 August he travelled to Chicago and gave a public talk on the same day on "Practical Spirituality, Vipassana Meditation in Secular Society" at Unity in Chicago Hall. After the talk he met various Vipassana students in the area. He also met Lucia Meijer, a serious meditator and a key Prison official who has been the force behind Vipassana courses in North Rehabilitation Facility, Seattle.
From Chicago he went to Dhamma Mahāvana, California Vipassana Centre (CVC) on Saturday, 19 August. On Sunday, 20 August he met hundreds of meditators, Dhamma workers and assistant teachers at CVC. He continued to meet meditators till 11:00 in the night. On Monday, 21 August, he gave Anapana and Vipassana at a one-day course at CVC in which more than three hundred meditators took part. The same evening he travelled to Fresno, a nearby city, to give a public talk on Vipassana. After the talk he travelled to Los Angeles and continued his tireless activity.
On 22 August, he was interviewed by Michael Jackson, a popular host of a radio programme, in the morning. In the evening he gave a public talk at Wilshire-Ebell Theater in Los Angeles. Like most of his talks, this talk was attended by people from diverse religious, racial, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds.
Goenkaji travelled to San Francisco on Wednesday, 23 August to speak at the prestigious Commonwealth Club Radio Programme. He continued to meet Vipassana meditators throughout his stay in San Francisco. He was interviewed for the "Shambhala Sun" in the evening. The next day, 24 August, he was interviewed on KPFA Radio Programme. In the afternoon, he gave an interview for the "India West" magazine. In the evening, he gave a public talk at Scottish Rite Center, Oakland, California. On Friday, 25 August he travelled to Silicon Valley from San Francisco to address a select group of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. To this small group of successful Indians in Silicon Valley, Goenkaji explained how Vipassana is a gift from India to the world, an ancient technique that is as relevant today as in the past and how it could be practised by one and all without any need for conversion from one organized religion to another. In the afternoon, he was interviewed by "Inquiring Mind" magazine.
The same day in the evening he gave a public talk at Stanford Memorial Auditorium on the Stanford University Campus in Palo Alto, California to a crowd of about 900 people. After the talk and questions and answers, he met individual meditators as well as groups of meditators. While speaking at the Stanford university that has given so many prominent scientists and major scientific discoveries to the world, Goenkaji explained that the Buddha was a super-scientist, who discovered the truth about mind and matter and their interaction, the truth of suffering and the truth of happiness. He said that Buddha was not a founder of religion but a scientist who investigated the reality inside to find out the root cause of suffering and the way to happiness; and with infinite compassion gave the technique of Vipassana of investigating reality inside and finding eternal happiness within to humanity.
During his stay in California, he also met with trust-members and assistant teachers from Seattle, Colorado, Mendocino, Canada and many other regions.
On Saturday, 26 August Goenkaji travelled to New York. On Sunday, in spite of the tiring journey, he went to give Anapana and Vipassana at the one-day course in Manhattan, New York where about 400 meditators had gathered. Before giving Anapana to the course, he met about 60 expatriate Cambodians and a few other meditators from Philadelphia and encouraged their plan to have a Vipassana centre in their area in the near future. In the evening, he was interviewed by the editor of "Tricycle" magazine.
The Millennium World Peace Summit began on Monday, 28 August at the United Nations General Assembly Hall. On 29 August, the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan gave the inaugural address to this first ever gathering of religious and spiritual leaders in the UN. On the same day Goenkaji was among the pre-eminent religious leaders who were invited to meet Kofi Annan.
Goenkaji addressed an audience of about a thousand delegates plus hundreds of observers in the session entitled "Conflict Transformation" that focused on the themes of religious harmony, tolerance and peaceful coexistence. "Rather than converting people from one organised religion to another organised religion," said Goenkaji, "we should try to convert people from misery to happiness, from bondage to liberation and from cruelty to compassion."
In keeping with the Summit’s theme of seeking world peace, Goenkaji stressed in his speech that peace in the world cannot be achieved unless there is peace within individuals. "There cannot be peace in the world when people have anger and hatred in their hearts. Only with love and compassion in the heart is world peace attainable." An important aspect of the Summit is the effort to reduce sectarian conflict and tension. Regarding this Goenkaji said, "When there is anger and hatred within, one becomes miserable irrespective of whether one is a Christian or a Hindu or a Muslim." Similarly he said to a thunderous applause, "One who has love and compassion with a pure heart experiences the Kingdom of Heaven within. This is the Law of Nature, or if one would rather, God’s will."
In summing up, Goenkaji quoted Emperor Ashoka who in one of his Rock Edicts said, "One should not honor only one’s own religion and condemn other religions. Instead, one should honor other religions for various reasons. By so doing one helps one’s own religion to grow and also renders service to the religions of others. In acting otherwise one digs the grave of one’s own religion and harms other religions as well…. Concord is good. Let all listen and be willing to listen to the doctrines professed by others."
On the same day in the evening, he addressed the Harvard Business School Club of Greater New York to explain, based on his own personal experience, as to how Vipassana helps a businessman both in business and personal life.
During the summit programme Goenkaji met many religious leaders. He also spoke during the reception of the Indian delegation at the Waldorf Astoria and also at an informal meeting of Hindu and Buddhist leaders at the Waldorf Astoria.
On Friday, 1 September he went to the Dhamma House in Flushing, New York to meet the meditators from New York region. A big group of expatriate Chinese meditators had the opportunity to seek his guidance on various issues as he spent more than three hours with them. On Saturday, 2 September his public talk at Sheraton Hotel in Flushing, New York was attended by a capacity crowd that included many expatriate Chinese and Indians along with Caucasian and African-American people. During his stay in New York, he was interviewed by the "Voice of America" for their Hindi programme and by TV Asia.
After the talk Goenkaji travelled to Dhamma Dharā, Vipassana Meditation Centre, Massachusetts (VMC). On Sunday and Monday, 3 and 4 September, Goenkaji met many meditators and participants of the Conference on "Medicine, Science and Spirituality in the light of Vipassana Meditation" that was held at VMC. He met a group of scholars from Harvard Divinity School to discuss various aspects of theory and practice of the Buddha’s teaching and its non-sectarian nature. He also met the Sheriff and staff of a prominent local prison and inspired them to start a Vipassana programme for the prisoners in their jail. He gave the closing address to the conference on the topic "Vipassana, Science of Mind and Body".
The centre was filled to capacity and many meditators were staying outside the centre as they came from far-off regions including Canada to meet Goenkaji and listen to him. On Tuesday, 5 September he gave a public talk in Northampton at Smith College Chapel. He explained the practical, pragmatic, scientific, result-oriented, non-sectarian and here-and-now nature of Vipassana meditation. Similar to his previous talks, he said, "Let us focus on the commonalties of all religions, on the inner core of all religions, which is purity of heart. We should all give importance to this aspect of religion and avoid conflict over the outer shell of the religions, which is various rites, rituals, festivals and dogmas."
On the morning of Thursday, 6 September Goenkaji gave a talk to a huge gathering of old students at VMC in which he told them, "You all are the torch-bearers of Dhamma! Your peaceful behavior and happy life alone will attract others to Vipassana." Many meditators from different areas were profoundly inspired by their meeting with Goenkaji. A big group of meditators from Canada also met him. He gave permission to meditators from Toronto to purchase land near Toronto, Canada for a new Vipassana centre.
In the evening he gave an hour-long interview to the University of Massachusetts radio. Afterwards, he gave Anapana to ten-day course students. Goenkaji left the centre on the morning of Friday, 7 September to go to New York city where he met a group of Global Leaders of Tomorrow (of the World Economic Forum) and a few staff-members of Fortune magazine. In this informal meeting, Goenkaji explained the importance of spirituality in business and business leadership; and how Vipassana due to its secular, non-sectarian, practical and result-oriented nature could be a tool to introduce spirituality in the business world.
On 8 and 9 September, he had meetings with senior teachers of Vipassana about various aspects of Vipassana activity in USA. He also continued to meet meditators and assistant teachers on these days.
Goenkaji left USA on 10 September after giving a new and historic impetus to the Vipassana activities in USA and Canada.
Vipassana for Income Tax Officers
National Academy of Direct Taxes (N.A.D.T.), Nagpur is the apex Training Institute of the Income Tax Department in India. It organises various training programmes for the officers of Income Tax department. Last year, the Academy conducted a ten-day Vipassana course in their premises for the first time under "Project for Self Development" from 2 to 13 August 1999. Twenty-two senior IRS officers including members of Central Board of Direct Taxes, Chief Commissioner and Commissioners completed the course with highly satisfying results. All the participants made a strong recommendation to organise such courses regularly.
As a result, the second course at N.A.D.T. was organized from 31 July to 11 August 2000. Thirty senior IRS officers participated in the course. All of them worked seriously and were satisfied with the experience. The management of the Academy has decided to conduct at least one ten-day Vipassana course every year.
Goenkaji's Discourses on Zee TV
Goenkaji’s series of 44 discourses in Hindi are being broadcast on Zee TV every Monday from 7:00 to 7:30 a.m.
Senior Assistant Teachers:
Mr Ram Sahai Nim
Mr Om Shankar Srivastava
Mrs Sharda Ranjitkar, Nepal
Mrs. Tara Shakya, Nepal
Mr German Cano & Mrs Martha Molina, Mexico
Mrs Virginia Gil del Real, Panama
Translation into South Indian Languages
Because of the increasing demand for Vipassana courses in South India, there is an urgent need for meditators who can translate VRI books like ‘The Art of Living’ and ‘Discourse Summaries’ into Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. Those wanting to help in this Dhamma project may contact Shri S. Adaviyappaji at Dhamma Giri, Igatpuri-422 402, Tel: (02553) 84076, Fax: 84176; e-mail: <firstname.lastname@example.org> giving details such as their age, address, occupation, education, number of courses completed etc. One translated chapter of ‘The Art of Living’ or ‘Discourse Summaries’ may be sent as sample.