by Sayagyi U Goenka
"Why was Vipassana lost in India? It was lost because it went into the hands of the priests. This happened in all sects and not just in any one sect. The tradition of the Buddha was no exception and the priests of this tradition also started doing the same thing: "Come, we will perform this ritual, we will give mettā to you, we will liberate you from all your sins."
Further, some of them said, "We don't ask you to do any ritual. We don't ask you for any offering. We will give you mettā for one hour and pull out your negativity." Why will anyone work if it is possible to get rid of all sins by sitting in front of a teacher and receiving mettā for one hour? Such teachers are enemies of Dhamma.
Dhamma is Dhamma only if it makes us self-reliant. So it is the duty of every Vipassana teacher to teach people to become self-reliant.
If you understand this properly, no teacher will be able to harm you in any way. Then if any teacher says, "Sit in front of me for one hour, I will give mettā and suck out all your sins," you will get up and walk away because you don't want this kind of mettā.
A student may sit in front of the teacher with folded hands and plead, "O teacher! Please wash away my sins." Today, such teachers may do it for the sake of the prestige and respect that they get from the students because they are sitting on the Dhamma seat. After one or two generations, such teachers will start asking for offerings. "We have removed all your defilements and you have not given us anything. Whatever you give will be of much merit, which will take you to heaven or to higher celestial planes." This practice will start.
So I am giving all of you this warning now. Whether I am here or not, do not allow Vipassana to get corrupted. Every meditator should learn to stand on his own feet. The duty of every teacher is to teach people to become self-dependent and to inspire them to become liberated. "You have defiled your mind, you will have to remove these defilements yourself. We are showing you the path that we have received. If you walk on this path, you will get rid of your defilements."
If this is followed, Vipassana will remain pure for centuries and lead to great benefit for all. But if there is priesthood - "I will liberate you or I will ask an invisible power to liberate you"- Vipassana will get corrupted just as it was corrupted in the past.
Therefore, those Vipassana teachers and students who are wise, must be alert. They must get rid of their ego and, with humility, they must preserve Vipassana in its pristine purity for the benefit of more and more people. If everyone understands this, it will lead to real happiness, real benefit. The path of liberation will be opened to all suffering humanity. Anyone who walks on the path of pure Vipassana will be benefited and the path will be preserved.
Otherwise, Vipassana will gradually be lost again if people develop the feeling: "Why should we exert ourselves if someone else is going to liberate us? Why should we go to a ten-day meditation course where we have to maintain silence and we don't get any dinner? We won't go. This person will give us mettā, so we are certain to get liberated." A few foolish people will do this in the future.
But those Vipassana meditators who are wise will not encourage such foolishness and instead will feel: "We have received such a priceless jewel! It has benefited us so much! May more and more people get the same benefit! There are so many suffering people in the world. May they get the right path! May they also find the way to come out of their suffering by their own efforts!" This feeling is very beneficial.
Vipassana must be re-established in its pristine purity. May this sentiment arise that Vipassana should be established in its pure form for a long time!
Let us serve to establish pure Vipassana, .i.e pure Dhamma, to the best of our ability. May it result in great happiness and harmony.
May all beings be peaceful, be happy, be liberated!' "
Excerpt from the article Be Self-Dependent, Vipassana Research Institute newsletter, April 5, 2004