Vol.9 No.12 December, 1999
Words of Dhamma
Yogā ve jāyati bhūri,
Verily, from meditation wisdom arises,
Dhammapada - 282
The Munificent Nature of Dhamma
- by S. N. Goenka
(The following article was originally published in the Vipassana Journal, second edition, September 1985. It has been slightly adapted.)
Man is a social being. It is neither possible nor profitable for him to live separate from society. His contribution to make the social fabric more peaceful and harmonious is the true yardstick of his merit as a useful member of society. The basis of any healthy, harmonious society is always the healthy and harmonious individuals who populate it. Disharmonious people not only remain tense and unhappy themselves, but also make others around them unhappy because of their tension and disharmony. Therefore, it is obvious that a society can be happy, healthy and harmonious only when each individual in it is happy, healthy and harmonious. Only if each individual has a pure, peaceful mind can we expect peace in the society. Dhamma is a unique way for attaining peace for the individual, and hence a way to attain peace and harmony for the society and the world.
Dhamma does not mean a particular sect. Sects, dogmas and creeds always build barriers and divisions, and create differences between people. Dhamma, on the other hand, breaks all such barriers and differences and removes these divisions between people. Otherwise, it no longer qualifies to be called Dhamma.
True Dhamma uproots the sense of superiority as well as the sense of inferiority from different sections of society; it eliminates the impurities of the mind and establishes it on a sound foundation of equality where neither of these unhealthy complexes can exist. This purity of mind imparts the quality of equanimity. One gains the ability to view every situation, every individual and every state of existence in its true nature, in its true colour; one is able to see things as they really are. Such purity also frees the mind of false exaggeration and blind dependence, which is often characteristic of individuals, steeped in emotional devotion to some supernatural power. The ability to see things as they really are, without clouding one’s vision with the conditioning of the mind, imparts insight, wisdom and understanding of the Truth. One is able to become an objective witness of the truth within; one’s insight is freed from the veil of ignorance.
The conditioning of the mind, which is a result of our past experiences, becomes a barrier to our ability to see things in their true nature. Our traditional beliefs and convictions colour our vision so thoroughly that we see objects and situations in a distorted light and fail to see their untarnished reality. In the name of Dhamma, we have bound ourselves with these golden chains of dogma and blind belief, which in ignorance we begin to regard with pride as ornamental achievements and erudite understanding. However, to be totally liberated from all our ignorance and suffering, we will have to break asunder all emotional and intellectual bondages of dogma and creed.
If we wish to be liberated from hate, greed, delusion, antagonism, envy, fear and other negativities that defile the mind, it is necessary to set aside all our philosophical beliefs, delusions, and emotional devotion and learn to live in the present moment, as it is. To live in the present moment means to live in the reality of the present moment. Those moments that have passed are no longer real; there can only be the memory of those moments. Similarly, the moments that are yet to come are not real, as we can only have expectations, hopes and fears about them. Living in the present moment means to be totally aware of whatever is being experienced at this very moment. The pleasant and unpleasant memories of the past as well as the pleasant and unpleasant hopes and fears about the future take us away from the reality of the present moment and do not allow us to live a life of reality. A life that is not lived in the present moment is a life of delusion, which leads to all kinds of difficult situations in life causing defilements in the mind and resulting in anxiety, tension, dissatisfaction, frustration and suffering. However, as we learn to live and observe the truth of the present moment, we automatically begin to experience freedom from these negativities.
The Supreme Enlightenment attained by the Buddha revealed a path that enables one to learn to live in the present moment. It purifies the mind by eliminating all past conditioning and eradicating the defilements of aversion, craving and delusion, thus leading to full liberation from all suffering. After liberating himself completely by this method, the Buddha taught this way of liberation for the rest of his life. He called this liberating technique Vipassana.
A student of this technique learns to be completely aware of whatever he experiences at this very moment. He develops mindfulness and awareness about his physical structure and thus practises kāyānupassanā. He develops awareness of bodily sensations that he experiences pleasant, unpleasant or neutral and thus practises vedanānupassanā. He develops awareness of the mind, and thus practises cittānupassanā. Similarly, he is mindful of all the wholesome and unwholesome states of his mind, their origin, their cause and their nature and thus practises dhammānupassanā. Transcending the entire field of physical and mental experiences, the entire sensual field, the field of relativity, he experiences the ultimate reality, nibbāna. The practice of such mindfulness eradicates all the deep-rooted conditioning, which is caused by unwholesome states of mind. With the reduction and elimination of past conditioning, the mind slowly becomes free from attachment, from lust for sensual pleasures, and from loss of equanimity towards the pain inflicted by the memories of the past as well as anxieties about the future. Gradually, the mind becomes calm, peaceful and pure.
This technique of Vipassana which frees mankind from all negativities, which calms the mind filled with tension and anxiety, and teaches one how to be free from all suffering, is beneficial for one and all, irrespective of one’s caste, community, nationality, language or religion. One is not required to declare oneself a Buddhist before one can practise it or benefit from it. One need not burn incense and prostrate oneself before the image of the Buddha or perform any traditional rite or ritual. One is not required to meditate on the form or the name of this great teacher who gave us this technique.
When one takes refuge in Buddha, one must be careful that this devotion does not turn into blind devotion. Such madness may lead us to believe that the Buddha will end all our suffering. On the other hand, after witnessing the process of purification taking place in oneself and in others with the practice of this technique, if one’s sense of gratitude towards the compassionate Enlightened Teacher begins to overflow, any expression of respect and gratitude would certainly not be out of place. When our devotion is inspired by wholesome qualities that liberate and purify us, such devotion inspires us to acquire these qualities. Devotion of this nature does not become a blind belief and turn into bondage; it becomes a factor of enlightenment. This factor of enlightenment makes the mind tender, which is of great assistance in the process of purification through the practice of Vipassana.
The object of Vipassana meditation is not the Buddha; it is the awareness of the moment-to-moment changing nature of one’s own body and mind. Vipassana teaches us to be constantly aware and mindful of the real nature of things every moment. Such a practice that trains us to live in and to be aware of the present moment, to see and experience things as they really are, can be accepted and practised by all. One learns to observe oneself and to study one’s own nature. One examines one’s own body and mind and observes the manifestation of the conditioning of the mind in the course of life at each moment. One sees the arising of craving and aversion. By the practice of such awareness one can liberate oneself from all mental defilements and get established in true Dhamma. Such a pure being is respected and esteemed regardless of his sect. Such a person, with mind free from all fetters, is not only happy and peaceful himself; he becomes an instrument for enhancing the happiness and peace of others.
May the munificent, all-embracing, benevolent, universal nature of Dhamma reach all suffering beings and be the cause of their peace, happiness and liberation.
May all beings be happy!
Sayagyi Centenary Seminar
A seminar has been organised from 9 to 11 January 2000 at Yangon, Myanmar (Burma) to pay tribute to the memory of Sayagyi U Ba Khin.
The seminar will include group sittings with Goenkaji at Dhamma Joti, Shwedagon Pagoda and Saya Thetgyi’s meditation centre. Those who wish to stay longer in Myanmar may join a tour to visit places in north Myanmar where Ven. Dhammadassi and Ledi Sayadaw used to meditate along with other places of Dhamma significance. For more information about the seminar, please contact: Mrs Bina Agarwal, Tel: (022) 6340193 or Shri Premji Savla, Dhamma Giri or <sayagyiseminar@ usa.net>
Sayagyi U Ba Khin Memorial Courses
All Vipassana centres will be organising three-day courses from 9 to 11 January 2000 in homage of Sayagyi U Ba Khin except at centres where ten-day courses covering this period are already scheduled. Vipassana meditators who are unable to attend the Sayagyi Centenary Seminar may take part in these Sayagyi Memorial Courses.
Changes In Schedule Of Dhamma Giri
In view of the Sayagyi Centenary Seminar, the following changes have been made in the schedule of courses at Dhamma Giri.
Teacher’s Self-Course: from 1 to 27 December 1999. Goenkaji's Meeting of Teachers and ATs: from 29 to 31 December 1999. Goenkaji will address the meeting of assistant teachers and teachers. The meeting is restricted to assistant teachers and teachers only. Assistant teachers and teachers who do not join the TSC and who wish to participate in this meeting should arrive at Dhamma Giri on 28 December. The meeting will consist of answers by Goenkaji to the questions of teachers and assistant teachers and will be recorded so that those who are not able to attend this meeting can listen to them later.
New Millennium mettā: Group sitting and mettā by Goenkaji for the new millennium on 1 January 2000 from 5:30 to 6.30 a.m.
All Vipassana centres should organize a group sitting during this time and receive mettā. The meditators around the world who are not close to a centre can meditate at their residences individually or in groups during this time instead of coming to Dhamma Giri.
Satipaṭṭhāna course: from 2 to 10 January 2000. Those who are booked for TSC or long courses, and who have planned to stay at Dhamma Giri during this period, can join the Satipaṭṭhāna course, or stay at Dhamma Giri and meditate on their own.
30-day and 45-day courses: will start on 15 January and end on 15 February and 29 February respectively. However, those who have made travel plans in advance and have booked their tickets may leave the course one or two days earlier, if necessary.
There will be no Annual Conference in the year 2000. Centre managers and organisers of non-centre courses are requested to send written reports of Dhamma activities in their respective areas in 1999 to Dhamma Giri by 31 December 1999.
Developments in Dhamma Giri
To help cope with the increasing demand for courses in Dhamma Giri (over 2000 applications are received for each ten-day course), work is in progress to improve and expand existing facilities.
For female students: 12 single rooms and 3 rooms with attached bathrooms are ready. An asbestos-cement structure for accommodation of 27 female students has been completed, replacing the tents that earlier served this purpose. 26 single rooms with attached bathrooms are being built on newly purchased land. In addition, 20 new rooms with attached bathrooms are being planned, subject to availability of dāna.
For male students: 12 new single rooms are ready and 12 new single rooms with attached bathrooms are being built adjacent to the male AT residences.
For female Dhamma workers: five rooms with attached bathrooms have been built above the female course office.
For male Dhamma workers: New rooms are being built above the existing block near the car park.
Three new Dhamma Halls
Two new Dhamma Halls, with capacity of 100 students each, are being built above the new male accommodation blocks. These halls will be used for multi-lingual evening discourses. Another Dhamma Hall is being built above Dhamma Hall No. 5. This will bring the total number of Dhamma Halls in Dhamma Giri to eight.
Increase in Capacity of Dining Halls
The seating capacity of both the male and female dining halls has been nearly doubled to reduce the long queues of students for meals. The dining hall furniture has also been upgraded, including new plastic chairs and glazed tabletops. A new dining hall for assistant teachers is also ready.
Improvement of existing accommodation
Major improvements such as raising the height of the ceiling for better ventilation and additional toilets have been carried out in ‘A’ and ‘D’ blocks. ‘B’ and ‘C’ blocks will be similarly improved.
Meditators are welcome to earn merits by contributing to the development work on this Dhamma land. Donations may be sent in the name of ‘Sayagyi U Ba Khin Memorial Trust’ and are exempt from income tax under Section 80G.
For more information, please contact:
Mr.Premji Savla, Dhamma Giri, Igatpuri-422403
Tel:  (02553) 84076; Fax: 84176;
An intensive 6-week Pāli Training Workshop exclusively for non-Indian English-speaking students has been organised at Dhamma Salila, Dehradun Vipassana Centre from 15 February 2000 to 30 March, 2000. Admission is restricted to twenty male and five female students. Preference will be given to non-Indian ATs. For registration, please contact Centre Manager, Dehradun Vipassana Centre (see course schedule for contact details).
Manuals Of Dhamma
Venerable Ledi Sayadaw is an invaluable link in the chain of teachers that preserved Vipassana in its pristine purity in Myamnar. Hence it is natural that Vipassana students should be eager to read the books written by the Venerable Sayadaw, probably the most illustrious Abhidhamma scholar of the last two centuries.
However, the writings of this great meditation master are not easily available today. Therefore, Vipassana Research Institute has published The Manuals of Dhamma, a collection of the Venerable Ledi Sayadaw’s writings translated into English. The reader will find a great treasure of information as well as inspiring guidance for the practice of Dhamma in these texts. The Manuals of Dhamma will be of immense benefit to students of Vipassana as well as to research scholars
Price: India and Nepal: Rs 160/- (plus Rs 32/- for registered book post postage charges).
Outside India: $4.00 (plus $4.00 for handling and airmail postage)
Gujarati Vipassana Newsletter
The Registrar of News Papers (Govt. of India), New Delhi, has granted permission to the Saurashtra Vipassana Research Centre, Rajkot to publish Vipassana Gujarati newsletter every month.
The newsletter will include articles published by VRI translated into Gujarati and information about Vipassana Courses conducted in Gujarat.
The annual subscription is Rs 50/-.
For subscription, please contact:
Mr Rajesh Mehta,
Bhabha Guest House,
Panchnath Road, Rajkot-360001.
Tel: 0281-220861, 220862; Fax: 221384.
Vipassana in Prisons
Ratlam: The first prison course in the town of Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh, was conducted from 19 to 30 September with 70 participants. The preparations for this Vipassana course have been going on for months and the Jail Superintendent and Assistant Superintendents are Vipassana meditators.
Bhopal: 39 inmates, all new students, are taking part in the first course in Bhopal Central Jail which is being conducted from 11 to 22 November.
Public Talk By Goenkaji in Mumbai
A Dhamma discourse by Goenkaji followed by a question-answer session has been organised on 28 November 1999 (Sunday) from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. by the Borivali Educational Society and Rotary Club of Borivali at M. K. High School Compound, Factory Lane, Borivali (W), Mumbai-400092. Contact: 1) Mr Veenubhai Valiya, President, B.A.S., Tel: 8990984. 2) Mr Bharat Joshi, President, Rotary Club of Borivali, Tel: Off. 2014357; Res. 6145720. 3) Mr Paresh Shah,Tel: Off. 8933876; Res. 8988525.
Vipassana In Goa
In 1996, a ten-day Vipassana course for priests and students of the Pilar Seminary was conducted followed by two ten-day courses in 1997 and 1998.
The first children's courses in Goa was organised for the students of Lourdes Convent High School in Saligao village, from 25 to 27 October 1999. Some children of meditators from other parts of Goa also participated. A total of 61 students participated in the courses. This was possible because the Principal of the school and a few villagers are meditators. The courses ended with a talk for the parents of the students to explain to them what their children had learnt.
Work for the first jail Course in Goa is also in progress.
For more information, please contact:
Gomant Vipassana Kendra
C/o B-1 Sita Apartments, Alto Porvorim,
Tel: (0832) 213556, 278276;
Vipassana In South Africa
Seventeen students participated in the Vipassana course from 1 to 11 October in South Africa in a lush ten-acre garden at Clivia Close, Kwazula, Natal (about 60 kms from the city of Durban). The second South African ten-day course will take place from the 12th to 23rd November in the Western Cape at the Habonim Jewish boys' camp-site on the road between Cape Town and Hermanus. A third ten-day course in South Africa is projected to take place in the Western or Eastern Cape in January or February 2000.
For more information, please contact:
Vipassana in South Africa
NCWSTI UNIN, Private Bag X1106,
Sovenga 0727, South Africa
Tel: (015) 268 3308; Fax: (015) 268 3263