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Sep 24, 2012

Time is Now

 by Sayagyi U Ba Khin 
 
"When you can grasp this Dhamma opportunity [to practise Vipassana, and share merits thereby gained with all beings], grasp it. If you don't take this opportunity and with life being as short as it is, you may die and not meet with such a chance again. You lost it."


The Buddha said:

You, to whom the truths I have experienced have been made known by me, make them your own; practice them, meditate upon them, share them; in order that the pure Dhamma may last long and spread for the good, the benefit, and welfare of all beings.


(Bimbisara, King of Magadha, offering half his powerful kingdom to the ascetic Gotama. "Kingdoms are not for me. I have already walked away from one," replied the former prince Siddhattha. He was steadfast against all temptations, unshakeable in his renunciation - in his urgency of supreme efforts to serve all beings, in the purest, most beneficial way. 

The ascetic Gotama worked on to re-discover Vipassana, and become a Sammasambuddha )

If you like something there is lobha; if you dislike something there is dosha; you live between the two.

In order to struggle yourselves free of these you have to concentrate in the way of the Buddha, and when you know anicca or when you have samādhi, you are free.

But this is quite difficult. The debts of akusala (unwholesome) kamma we have are very large, and because we can't pay them back, we keep turning round in sasāra (round of rebirth).

There is only one time period when it is possible to pay back these debts, and that is when the sāsana (era of teaching of the Buddha) shines and the emergence of a period of vimutti [liberation from all impurities of the mind].

When you can grasp this opportunity, grasp it. If you don't grasp this opportunity and with life being as short as it is, you may die and not meet with such a chance again. You lost it.

Therefore, you should use this opportunity as much as possible and understand the Dhamma according to your capabilities wherever you are. 

I want to give you a warning, however; sīla should be the sīla the Buddha taught, samādhi should be the samādhi the Buddha taught and paññā should be the paññā the Buddha taught.

Only then can you meditate to understand these three trainings clearly and develop in the Dhamma.

Whoever meditates developing in these three trainings of sīla, samādhi and paññā, understanding clearly their purpose, will in this time of patipatti (practice of the teaching) and vimutti attain the magga (path) and phala (fruition) states of nibbāna.

* * * 
The Buddha said in the Kālāma Sutta:

Do not believe what you have heard;
do not believe in the traditions, because they had been handed down for generations;
do not believe in anything because it is rumoured and spoken by many;
do not believe merely because a written statement of some old sage is produced;
do not believe in conjectures;
do not believe in that as truth to which you have become attached by habit;
do not believe merely the authority of your teachers and elders.
But after observation and analysis, when it agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and gain of one and all, only then accept it and live up to it.
Do not, therefore, blindly believe the theoretical issues until and unless you are convinced of the truth, either as a sequel to proper reasoning, or by means of a practical approach.

To abstain from evil;
To do good;
To purify the mind:
These are the teachings of all the Buddhas.

This extract taken from the Dhammapada gives in brief the essence of the Buddha’s teaching. 
It sounds simple but is so difficult to practise. 
One cannot be a true follower of the Buddha unless he practises the Dhamma doctrine of Buddha. 



(from Vipassana Research Institute Newsletter, March, 2011) 

---

* Rare opportunities to earn and share merits in participating in Global Vipassana Pagoda projects
****
Across countless aeons and endless time, may every moment of purity from Vipassana practice go for the benefit, happiness and liberation of all beings. 

Sep 8, 2012

How to reach Global Vipassana Pagoda, Mumbai, India

All are most welcome to visit the Global Vipassana Pagoda, to experience the immeasurable benefits from practice of Vipassana meditation - and in the process, understand the true purpose of human life.
 
Visiting the Global Pagoda is free of charge. There is no entry fee. No charges for the tour guide.
Timings: 9.00 am to 7.00 pm. The Global Vipassana Pagoda is open all days, including Sunday.
(The last ferry leaves Gorai jetty to the Global Pagoda at 5.25 pm)
* Vipassana students - those who have taken one or more 10-day Vipassana courses taught in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin - are permitted to meditate inside the main dome Dhamma Hall of the Global Pagoda.

* The Food Plaza in the Global Pagoda premises serves good quality food at economical prices.

* Drinking water and clean toilet / wash-room facilities are available.

* Non-commercial photography is permitted in the Global Pagoda. There can be no copyright to any image of the Global Vipassana Pagoda - visuals are to be made freely available to all for non-commercial use.

* For any clarification / questions, please contact Global Vipassana Foundation, Mumbai, India, Telephone: 91 - 22 - 33747501; Email: pr@globalpagoda.org

How to reach Global Vipassana Pagoda, Gorai / Borivali, Mumbai, India:


The Global Pagoda can be reached overland by car, as well by ferry. Pre-paid taxi services are available at the Mumbai domestic and international airports. Ask for "Esselworld" or "Global Vipassana Pagoda". The Global Pagoda is adjacent to Esselworld Park.
Reaching Global Vipassana Pagoda by Road from Mumbai City / Domestic Airport / International Airport / Railway Stations in Mumbai
  1. Reach Western Express Highway and go North towards Dahisar/Borivali/Ahmedabad.
  2. Cross the Dahisar Toll Booth and keep going straight.
  3. When you reach the Mira-Bhayandar crossing, turn Left towards Mira-Bhayandar. The crossing has a statue of Shivaji Maharaj positioned at the centre.
  4. Keep going straight till you reach Golden Nest Circle. At the Golden Nest Circle, take a left turn and stay on the main road.
  5. Keep going straight till you take a hard right turn at the end of the road. This point will come after Maxus Mall, which comes on your right. After the hard right turn, take a left at the T point junction.
  6. Keep following directions to Esselworld or Global Vipassana Pagoda from this point forward.
  7. When you reach the Esselworld Parking Lot, go ahead a few metres and take a right turn towards Esselworld. Tell the guard at the security post that you want to go to the Pagoda.
  8. Keep going straight till you reach the Helipad. At the Helipad, take a right turn to the Global Pagoda Road through the Sanchi Arch.
The Pagoda is about 42 km from the Domestic Airport Terminal.
Hiring a car for airport pick-up to Global Vipassana Pagoda:
Private taxis and vehicles can also be hired from many car rentals in Mumbai, besides the airport pre-paid taxi service. Rates may vary. Many Vipassana students make use of the services of private taxi operator Mr Jagdish Maniyar. Contact : Tel (Res): 91-22-26391010 or cell phone 09869255079. As of February 2011, Mr Maniyar charges Rs 800 ( approx US $17, 13 Euros) for airport pickup to Global Pagoda (inclusive of road taxes). From Mumbai airport to Dhamma Giri Vipassana centre, Igatpuri, he charges Rs 2,550 (approx US $56).

From Borivali Railway station:
From Borivali Station (Western Railway, Mumbai) please use the western exit gates of the station (for the train from Churchgate, the exit is on the left). One can take Bus number 294 or hire an auto rickshaw (tuk-tuk) to Gorai Creek. The bus fare is Rs. 6 and auto rickshaw fare is approx Rs. 25 (approx US $0.50) to Rs 35.
For the auto-rickshaw, please take one heading to your right, after crossing the road from the western exit of the railway station. The Gorai jetty is approximately 10-15 minutes-ride from Borivili station. Please take the ferry for Esselworld from Gorai Jetty. The return fare for the ferry is Rs. 35/- per person.
On arrival at Esselworld, you will see signs guiding to take you to Global Pagoda (which anyway is too big to be missed !).
The Dhamma Pattana Vipassana Centre is less than five minutes walking distance from the Esselworld Jetty gate.

Other Bus Numbers to Gorai: From Kurla railway station (West) - 309 L; From Mulund station (West) - 460 L;From Ghatkopar Bus Depot - 488 L (please re-confirm before boarding bus)

Wishing you a very happy and most beneficial visit to the Global Pagoda.
For any further details and assistance, please contact:
Global Vipassana Pagoda
Telephone: 91 22 33747501 (30 lines)
Email: pr@globalpagoda.org
Pagoda Address:
Global Vipassana Pagoda
Next to Esselworld, Gorai Village,
Borivali (West), Mumbai 400091
For sending any post/courier, please use this address:
Head Office Global Vipassana Foundation
2nd Floor, Green House, Green Street, Fort
Mumbai – 400 023
Telephone: +91 22 22665926 / 22664039
Fax: +91 22 22664607
Dhamma Pattana Vipassana Centre
Inside Global Vipassana Pagoda Campus
Next to Esselworld, Gorai Village,
Borivali (West), Mumbai 400091
Tel: [91] (22) 3374 7519
Fax: [91] (22) 3374 7518
Email: info@pattana.dhamma.org

* Vipassana meditation courses worldwide, course venues, online application for beginners' 10-day residential Vipassana courses
* Dhamma reasons why there are no fees are charged for Vipassana courses - including for boarding and lodging

Aug 8, 2012

Time is Now

 
"When you can grasp this Dhamma opportunity [to practise Vipassana and serve in Dhamma], grasp it. If you don't take this opportunity and with life being as short as it is, you may die and not meet with such a chance again. You lost it."


Bimbisara, King of Magadha, offering half his kingdom to the ascetic Gotama. "Kingdoms are not for me. I have already walked away from one," replied the former prince Siddhattha. He was steadfast against all temptations, unshakeable in his renunciation - in his urgency of supreme efforts to serve all beings, in the purest, most beneficial way. The ascetic Gotama went on to re-discover Vipassana, and become a Sammasambuddha.

If you like something there is lobha; if you dislike something there is dosha; you live between the two.

In order to struggle yourselves free of these you have to concentrate in the way of the Buddha, and when you know anicca or when you have samādhi, you are free.

But this is quite difficult. The debts of akusala (unwholesome) kamma we have are very large, and because we can't pay them back, we keep turning round in sasāra (round of rebirth).

There is only one time period when it is possible to pay back these debts, and that is when the sāsana (era of teaching of the Buddha) shines and the emergence of a period of vimutti [liberation from all impurities of the mind].

When you can grasp this opportunity, grasp it. If you don't grasp this opportunity and with life being as short as it is, you may die and not meet with such a chance again. You lost it.

Therefore, you should use this opportunity as much as possible and understand the Dhamma according to your capabilities wherever you are. 

I want to give you a warning, however; sīla should be the sīla the Buddha taught, samādhi should be the samādhi the Buddha taught and paññā should be the paññā the Buddha taught.

Only then can you meditate to understand these three trainings clearly and develop in the Dhamma.

Whoever meditates developing in these three trainings of sīla, samādhi and paññā, understanding clearly their purpose, will in this time of patipatti (practice of the teaching) and vimutti attain the magga (path) and phala (fruition) states of nibbāna.

* * * 
The Buddha said in the Kālāma Sutta:

Do not believe what you have heard;
do not believe in the traditions, because they had been handed down for generations;
do not believe in anything because it is rumoured and spoken by many;
do not believe merely because a written statement of some old sage is produced;
do not believe in conjectures;
do not believe in that as truth to which you have become attached by habit;
do not believe merely the authority of your teachers and elders.
But after observation and analysis, when it agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and gain of one and all, only then accept it and live up to it.
Do not, therefore, blindly believe the theoretical issues until and unless you are convinced of the truth, either as a sequel to proper reasoning, or by means of a practical approach.

To abstain from evil;
To do good;
To purify the mind:
These are the teachings of all the Buddhas.

This extract taken from the Dhammapada gives in brief the essence of the Buddha’s teaching. 
It sounds simple but is so difficult to practise. 
One cannot be a true follower of the Buddha unless he practises the doctrine of Buddha.

The Buddha said:

You, to whom the truths I have experienced have been made known by me, make them your own; practise them, meditate upon them, share them; in order that the pure Dhamma may last long and spread for the good, the benefit, and welfare of all beings.


(from Vipassana Research Institute Newsletter, March, 2011) 

---

* Rare opportunities to earn and share merits in participating in Global Vipassana Pagoda projects
****

Across countless aeons and endless time, may every moment of benefit from Vipassana practice go for the liberation of all beings.  

Aug 5, 2012

Way to Global Vipassana Pagoda, Mumbai, India

All are most welcome to visit the Global Vipassana Pagoda, and to start experiencing the immeasurable benefits from accurate and ardent practice of Vipassana meditation - and to understand the true purpose of human life.
 
Visiting the Global Pagoda is free of charge. There is no entry fee. No charges for the tour guide.
Timings: 9.00 am to 7.00 pm. The Global Vipassana Pagoda is open all days, including Sunday.
(The last ferry leaves Gorai jetty to the Global Pagoda at 5.25 pm)
* Vipassana students - those who have taken one or more 10-day Vipassana courses taught in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin - are permitted to meditate inside the main dome Dhamma Hall of the Global Pagoda.

* Simple food facilities are available in the Global Pagoda premises.

* Safe drinking water and clean toilet / wash-room facilities are available in the Global Pagoda premises.

* Non-commercial photography is permitted in the Global Pagoda. There can be no copyright to any image of the Global Vipassana Pagoda - visuals are to be made freely available to all for non-commercial use.

* For any clarification / questions, please contact Global Vipassana Foundation, Mumbai, India, Telephone: 91 - 22 - 33747501; Email: pr@globalpagoda.org

How to reach Global Vipassana Pagoda, Gorai / Borivali, Mumbai, India:


The Global Pagoda can be reached overland by car, as well by ferry. Pre-paid taxi services are available at the Mumbai domestic and international airports. Ask for "Esselworld", if "Global Vipassana Pagoda" draws a blank stare. The Global Pagoda is adjacent to Esselworld Park.
Reaching Global Vipassana Pagoda by Road from Mumbai City / Domestic Airport / International Airport / Railway Stations in Mumbai
  1. Reach Western Express Highway and go North towards Dahisar/Borivali/Ahmedabad.
  2. Cross the Dahisar Toll Booth and keep going straight.
  3. When you reach the Mira-Bhayandar crossing, turn Left towards Mira-Bhayandar. The crossing has a statue of Shivaji Maharaj positioned at the centre.
  4. Keep going straight till you reach Golden Nest Circle. At the Golden Nest Circle, take a left turn and stay on the main road.
  5. Keep going straight till you take a hard right turn at the end of the road. This point will come after Maxus Mall, which comes on your right. After the hard right turn, take a left at the T point junction.
  6. Keep following directions to Esselworld or Global Vipassana Pagoda from this point forward.
  7. When you reach the Esselworld Parking Lot, go ahead a few metres and take a right turn towards Esselworld. Tell the guard at the security post that you want to go to the Pagoda.
  8. Keep going straight till you reach the Helipad. At the Helipad, take a right turn to the Global Pagoda Road through the Sanchi Arch.
The Pagoda is about 42 km from the Domestic Airport Terminal.
Hiring a car for airport pick-up to Global Vipassana Pagoda:
Private taxis and vehicles can also be hired from many car rentals in Mumbai, besides the airport pre-paid taxi service. Rates may vary. Many Vipassana students make use of the services of private taxi operator Mr Jagdish Maniyar. Contact : Tel (Res): 91-22-26391010 or cell phone 09869255079. As of February 2011, Mr Maniyar charges Rs 800 ( approx US $17, 13 Euros) for airport pickup to Global Pagoda (inclusive of road taxes). From Mumbai airport to Dhamma Giri Vipassana centre, Igatpuri, he charges Rs 2,550 (approx US $56).

From Borivali Railway station:
From Borivali Station (Western Railway, Mumbai) please use the western exit gates of the station (for the train from Churchgate, the exit is on the left). One can take Bus number 294 or hire an auto rickshaw (tuk-tuk) to Gorai Creek. The bus fare is Rs. 6 and auto rickshaw fare is approx Rs. 25 (approx US $0.50) to Rs 35.
For the auto-rickshaw, please take one heading to your right, after crossing the road from the western exit of the railway station. The Gorai jetty is approximately 10-15 minutes-ride from Borivili station. Please take the ferry for Esselworld from Gorai Jetty. The return fare for the ferry is Rs. 35/- per person.
On arrival at Esselworld, you will see signs guiding to take you to Global Pagoda (which anyway is too big to be missed !).
The Dhamma Pattana Vipassana Centre is less than five minutes walking distance from the Esselworld Jetty gate.

Other Bus Numbers to Gorai: From Kurla railway station (West) - 309 L; From Mulund station (West) - 460 L;From Ghatkopar Bus Depot - 488 L (please re-confirm before boarding bus)

Wishing you a very happy and most beneficial visit to the Global Pagoda.
For any further details and assistance, please contact:
Global Vipassana Pagoda
Telephone: 91 22 33747501 (30 lines)
Email: pr@globalpagoda.org
Pagoda Address:
Global Vipassana Pagoda
Next to Esselworld, Gorai Village,
Borivali (West), Mumbai 400091
For sending any post/courier, please use this address:
Head Office Global Vipassana Foundation
2nd Floor, Green House, Green Street, Fort
Mumbai – 400 023
Telephone: +91 22 22665926 / 22664039
Fax: +91 22 22664607
Dhamma Pattana Vipassana Centre
Inside Global Vipassana Pagoda Campus
Next to Esselworld, Gorai Village,
Borivali (West), Mumbai 400091
Tel: [91] (22) 3374 7519
Fax: [91] (22) 3374 7518
Email: info@pattana.dhamma.org

* Vipassana meditation courses worldwide, course venues, online application for beginners' 10-day residential Vipassana courses
* Dhamma reasons why there are no fees are charged for Vipassana courses - including for boarding and lodging
* One-day Vipassana courses at Global Pagoda (for those who have completed a 10-day Vipassana course)

Jul 25, 2012

The Most Important Work in Human Life - Proper, Strong Effort in Vipassana

(from the Vipassana Research Newsletter, dated October, 1990) 


Viriya, The Pāramī of Proper Efforts

From time to time, because of the ingrained habit pattern of the mind, the meditator is inundated by waves of craving, aversion, sloth and torpor, mental agitation, and scepticism. These are nothing but the reaction of one’s own mental defilements, trying to stop the process of purification one has begun. The wise student persists in the struggle, using all his or her energy to oppose these enemies. One thereby strengthens oneself in the pāramī of viriya.


 Pāramīs are virtues—that is, good human qualities. By perfecting them, one crosses the ocean of misery and reaches the stage of full liberation, full enlightenment. Everyone who is working to liberate oneself has to develop the ten pāramīs. They are needed to dissolve the ego and to reach the stage of egolessness. A student of Dhamma who aspires to attain the final stage of liberation joins a Vipassana course in order to develop these pāramīs.

Little by little, one develops these pāramīs in every course. They should be developed in daily living as well. However, in a meditation course environment, the perfection of the pāramī can be greatly accelerated.

The Venerable Webu Sayadaw (1896-1977)
His viriya, or great effort in meditation, was so strong that it is said he never slept lying down. He remained alert even at night by taking rest in a slightly reclining position.

A human life is of limited duration, with limited capabilities. It is important to use one’s life to the best purpose. And there can be no higher purpose than to establish oneself in Dhamma, in the path, which leads one out of defilements, out of the illusion of self, to the final goal of ultimate truth. Therefore no effort is more worthwhile for a human being than the exertion of all one’s faculties to take steps on this path.

In a Vipassana course, a meditator makes best use of his energy and of the time at his disposal by developing the faculties of sati (awareness) and of paññā (insight). The student strives to become conscious of everything that is happening within himself, from the grossest to the subtlest level. At the same time, one strives to observe dispassionately whatever reality may manifest at this moment, with the understanding that this experience is impermanent, this will also change. These two faculties, in proper combination, will lead the meditator along the path to full liberation, full enlightenment.

From time to time, because of the ingrained habit pattern of the mind, the meditator is inundated by waves of craving, aversion, sloth and torpor, mental agitation, and scepticism. These are nothing but the reaction of one’s own mental defilements, trying to stop the process of purification one has begun. The wise student persists in the struggle, using all his or her energy to oppose these enemies. One thereby strengthens oneself in the pāramī of viriya.
---

Questions and Answers


Student: Aren’t there any chance happenings, random occurrences without a cause?

Goenkaji: Nothing happens without a cause. It is not possible. Sometimes our limited senses and intellects cannot clearly find it, but that does not mean that there is no cause.

Student: Are you saying that everything in this life is predetermined?

Goenkaji: Well, certainly our past actions will give fruit, good or bad. They will determine the type of life we have, the general situation in which we find ourselves. But that does not mean that whatever happens to us is predestined, ordained by our past actions, and that nothing else can happen. That is not the case. Our past actions influence the flow of our life, directing them towards pleasant or unpleasant experiences. But present actions are equally important. Nature has given us the ability to become masters of our present actions. With the mastery we can change our future.

Student: But surely the actions of others also affect us?

Goenkaji: Of course. We are influenced by the people around us and by our environment, and we keep influencing them as well. If the majority of people, for example, are in favour of violence, then war and destruction occur, causing many to suffer. But if people start to purify their minds, then violence cannot happen. The root of the problem lies in the mind of each individual human being, because society is composed of individuals. If each person starts changing, then society will change, and war and destructions will become rare events.

Student: We’ve talked quite a bit about anicca, impermanence. What about the teaching of anattā, which is ordinarily understood as “no self” and “no abiding self?” Ordinarily we think that we need a self in order to function in the world. We have expressions like “self-esteem” and “self-confidence”, and we believe that “ego strength” is a measure of a person’s ability to cope with daily life. What does this “no-self” teaching mean?

Goenkaji: For those who haven’t experienced the stage of “no-self,” it is true that in the apparent world there must be an ego, and this ego must be stimulated. If I don’t crave anything, I won’t get the stimulation I need to function. In my courses, whenever I say that craving and attachment are harmful, people say that if there were no attachment, no craving, what would be the fun of living? There would be no life. We’d all be like vegetables.

Being a family man who has done business in the world, I can understand their concern. But I also understand that when you work with this technique and reach the stage where ego dissolves, the capacity to work increases many-fold. When you lead a very ego-centred life, your whole attitude is to do as much as possible for yourself. But this attitude makes you so tense that you feel miserable. When, as a result of doing Vipassana, the ego dissolves, then by nature the mind is full of love, compassion and goodwill. You feel like working, not only for your own benefit, but for the benefit of all. When the narrow-minded ego-stimulation goes away, you feel so much more relaxed, and so much more capable of working. This is my own experience, and the experience of so many people who have walked on the path.
This technique does not make you inactive. A responsible person in society is full of action. What goes away is the habit of blind reaction. When you work with reaction, you generate misery. When you work without reaction, you generate positive feeling.
----

Jul 17, 2012

Urgent Necessity of Daily Vipassana Practice

Sorrow is caused by defilements in the mind, not by external events...... Daily Vipassana practice brings happiness, by eradicating deep rooted defilements. 
(from the Vipassana Research Institute newsletter, February, 2001.) 

Every Vipassana meditator has to develop strength to face ups and downs in life. For this, it is necessary to practice Vipassana one hour in the morning and evening daily, to meditate together once a week, to take a ten-day course at least once a year. Then we keep progressing in Dhamma.

Householders face many difficulties, many obstacles. What to speak of householders, even those who have renounced household life tell me that they are not able to meditate regularly. But we must not give up in spite of all difficulties; we must meditate daily, morning and evening.

We do physical exercise - walking, yoga, jogging etc - to keep the body healthy and strong. Otherwise, the body becomes weak and diseased. In the same way, it is even more necessary to keep the mind healthy and strong. One should not allow the mind to become weak or diseased.

Vipassana is exercise of the mind. Meditating morning and evening makes the mind strong and healthy. It is not a waste of time. Vipassana practice makes the mind more efficient and strong. We live in a complex and stressful world. If the mind is not strong, we lose balance of mind and become miserable.

 Section of the Dhamma Hall of the Global Vipassana Pagoda that can seat 8,000 Vipassana meditators. This is the largest hollow structure in the world without supporting pillars. 

Those who have received this benevolent teaching of Vipassana but not using it are even more unfortunate than those yet to receive Vipassana. A great misfortune to receive this priceless gem but discard it as if a useless pebble.

Rare it is to be born a human being. A human has the special faculty to become introverted and eradicate mental defilements from the depth of the mind. This work cannot be done by animals, birds, reptiles, insects, or beings in lower planes of existence.

Even a human being cannot purify the mind at its depth if one does not know how to practice Vipassana. One gets a human birth, finds such a wonderful technique, learns to use it, benefits from it, and still discontinues the practice. What a misfortune! A bankrupt person finds a treasure. And he discards it and becomes bankrupt again. A sick person finds medicine, and discards it. A wise person does not make this very foolish mistake.

Sometimes meditators say: "I have stopped meditating. What to do, I am so busy." A poor excuse. We find time to give food to the body, three or four times a day. Or if we suffer some physical injury, we does not say, "Look, I am so busy, I have no time to attend to the wound, to stop the bleeding." Daily Vipassana practice every morning and evening is very necessary, most urgent, to heal the little wounds of blind reactions accumulated during the day. The most important work is to the make the mind healthy and strong. If we forget this, we harm ourselves. We should never make this mistake.

Even if there is too much work, it is all the more necessary to do this exercise of Vipassana. Vipassana practice helps one be free of work-related stress. Without regular daily practice of Vipassana (bare minimum of one hour each, morning and evening), the mind becomes weak. A weak mind makes us miserable because it reverts to its old behaviour pattern of blindly reacting to situations in a wrong way, reacting with craving or aversion.

Let us not be heedless. Let us not be lazy in lack of efforts in Vipassana practice. We are not doing anyone a favour by meditating twice a day. "Our teacher has told us, so we are doing it." You are not doing your teacher a favour; you are doing yourself a favour.

Vipassana is such a beneficial exercise for the mind. When one starts feeling impermanence of sensations in the body, understand the door of liberation has opened. And when one learns to remain equanimous to the impermanent, changing sensations, one has started walking on the path of liberation.

In Vipassana we experience different types of sensations in different parts of the body and maintain equanimity towards them. A wise meditator understands from experience how Vipassana practice benefits in daily life. Every step, each effort bears fruit.

Lack of awareness of sensations takes us on the path of misery. Blind reaction to them out of ignorance results in deep misery - dukkha samudaya gāminī paṭipadā. 

Awareness and equanimity to sensations takes us on the path that leads to liberation from all suffering - dukkha nirodha gāminī paṭipadā.

If we react with craving to pleasant sensations and with aversion to unpleasant sensations, we are on the path of suffering. By observing sensations with equanimity, we are on the path to real happiness. This is the teaching of the Buddha, the enlightenment of the Buddha.

At the time of death, some sensation will arise, and if we are not aware and equanimous, and instead react with aversion, we will go to lower planes of existence. But a good Vipassana meditator who remains equanimous to these sensations at the time of death will go to a favourable plane. This is how we make our own future. Death can come at any time. We do not have an agreement with death that it should come only when we are ready. We are ready whenever it comes.

Vipassana is not an ordinary technique. It is a priceless gem that can liberate us from the cycle of birth and death. Vipassana practice benefits us not only in this life but also in future lives, ultimately leading to full liberation, full enlightenment.

"But I do not have time. I have too much work" - by saying so to avoid daily Vipassana meditation, we delude ourselves making these invalid excuses. Whenever there is sorrow or despair or dullness in daily life due to any reason, Vipassana will help us. Just understand, "At this moment there is sorrow or despair or dullness in my mind," and start observing breath or sensations. The external reason is not important.

Vedanā samosaraṇā sabbe dhammā. Whatever arises in the mind is called Dhamma. A sensation arises in the body with whatever Dhamma arises in the mind: this is the law of nature. The mind and the body are interrelated. When a defilement arises in the mind, along with it some sensation will arise in the body. Whatever sensation arises in the body at that time is connected to the defilement in the mind. This is what the Buddha taught. One understands that there is a defilement in the mind and observes sensation in the body. One practices this thoroughly, not just once or twice, but again and again - every sensation is impermanent. So the defilement that is connected to it is also impermanent, how long will it last? We are observing sensations and also observing how long the defilement lasts. It becomes weak and ceases, like a thief who enters a house, and finding that the master of the house is awake, runs away.

For instance, when anger arises due to any reason, one understands, "At this moment there is anger in the mind. Now let me observe what sensation has arisen in the body." It does not matter what is the external, apparent cause of this anger. One is observing sensation and understanding that it is impermanent. This anger is also impermanent. It would have increased and overpowered one completely. Now it becomes weaker and weaker and passes away.

Vipassana practice brings great benefits. No matter what defilement arises - lust, ego, envy, fear or anything else - one does not get overpowered by it. Now that we have learned how to practice Vipassana, the art of living. All that we have to do is to accept, "this defilement has arisen. Let me face this enemy. Let me see what is happening in my body. It is impermanent, anicca, anicca." The enemy starts getting weaker and runs away.

Defilements will keep arising, for this or that reason. When you fully eradicate all defilements, you become a fully liberated person, an arahant.

Now in ordinary life, one has to face these difficulties of arising defilements. We have found a very effective weapon in the form of observing these sensations. With Vipassana practice, no enemy can overpower us in life, and at the moment of death. We are the master of this moment. Vipassana is the technique for becoming own master of one's life, by becoming master of this moment, from moment to moment.

With Vipassana, we have learned the art of living happily. Sorrow is caused by defilements in the mind. An external event has occurred, we generate a defilement and we become miserable. To the same event, we do not generate a defilement and we do not become miserable. We are responsible for our misery, and our happiness.

Unfavourable external events will continue to occur, and if we are strong and do not generate defilements, our lives will be filled with happiness and peace. We do not harm others; we help ourselves and help others. 

Practice Vipassana regularly, not just two hours a day but as often as possible, to be happy and peaceful the whole life. All who have received Vipassana should understand that we have received an invaluable jewel. It is our responsibility to make best use of it, for one's own welfare and welfare of all others.

May all beings be happy, be peaceful, be liberated.
----

Questions and Answers

My mind still remains immersed in lust, as a result of which the continuity of practice is not maintained. Kindly suggest a way out.

Goenkaji: Fight out your battle. Lust is something that keeps on following you from life to life. It is a very deep saṇkhāra. Whenever lust arises in the mind, don't get involved in the object of the lust. Just accept the fact: lust as lust. "At this moment my mind is full of lust." Accept this, and see what sensation you have. At that moment whatever sensation you are feeling predominantly anywhere in the body, start observing it-understanding anicca, anicca, this is not permanent, this is not permanent. This lust that has come is also not permanent, let me see how long it lasts. If you do this, the lust becomes weaker and weaker and passes away.

Question: Lack of will-power and laziness are obstructing my meditation. Could you kindly give me some advice.

Goenkaji: Develop will-power, strong will-power. If you are so weak that you keep on breaking your decision to meditate every day in the morning and evening, then decide that you won't take your breakfast without having sat for one hour. How many days will you miss your breakfast? You will start practicing daily. And so far as laziness or drowsiness is concerned, just examine yourself. If the laziness is because of lack of sleep, then sleep for some time. Get refreshed. But if you find this laziness is because of your mental impurity, which has become a barrier for you, then fight it out. Have hard breathing for some time, sprinkle some cold water on the eyes, stand up, walk. Somehow or the other, get rid of it.

Sunday Vipassana course, group sitting venues in Mumbai, and India (Please call and check for current status) 
-----

Jul 7, 2012

Sayagyi U Ba Khin and Emperor Asoka

(July 15 marks the 2,601st anniversary of  the Buddha's first discourse, the Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta. From Principal Vipassana Teacher Sayagyi U Goenka's article in Vipassana newsletter dated August 2011)

Two centuries after the Buddha breathed his last, Asoka became Emperor of Magadha. Driven by overweening ambition, he established a vast empire covering much of India and neighbouring countries. But one kingdom had not been brought under his sway: Kalinga, the modern-day Indian state of Orissa.

Furious at its resistance to him, Asoka attacked Kalinga and subjugated it in a bloody war. Then, after the fighting was over, he saw how many innocent people had been killed and how terrible was the suffering of this once-prosperous land. Heartsick at his own actions, he resolved to abjure the sword.

It was at this time that Asoka came to know about the teachings of the Buddha and was instantly attracted. He began by studying the words of the Enlightened One. Then someone told him that knowledge of the texts was not enough to give an understanding of the real meaning of the teachings; that can come only through the development of insight, that is, vipassanā-bhāvanā, or Vipassana meditation.

The best place then to learn Vipassana was at Bairath in the state of Rajasthan, where a bhikkhu named Upagupta taught. Handing over power to his subordinates, Asoka set out for Rajasthan. After 300 days he returned to his capital, a changed man. Now his volition was to share the teachings of the Buddha throughout his empire; he had been inspired by ehi passiko, the wholesome wish that others may come and see the Dhamma.

Printing then was unknown but Asoka was determined to spread the Buddha’s teachings among his subjects. He gave orders to inscribe the core teachings in stone, where everyone could see. This happened little more than two centuries after the Buddha, before his original words had been altered in any way. That is why we see the pure teachings of the Buddha in Asoka’s rock inscriptions.

 
Emperor Ashoka, (304-232 BC)
 
More than mere study of the texts or theory (pariyatti), the Buddha gave importance to practice (paṭipatti). That is why the Asoka inscriptions often mention the practice of Vipassana.

The Buddha took no account of religious differences, giving his teaching to all. In many cases, people who started as his staunch opponents became his most fervent supporters once they learned what he taught.

In ancient India there were two communities, the samaṇas and the brāhmaṇas. The Buddha tried to unite people of all sects in the practice of Dhamma. Similarly, Asoka made no distinction between samaṇas and brāhmaṇas. He gave donations to both and encouraged others to do the same.

In fact, with the practice of Vipassana, differences between the two communities began to fade and they lived together in harmony. Asoka’s reign saw no communal tension or fighting.

Asoka tried to interest all communities in Vipassana. Far from being the monopoly of any one group, he showed that Vipassana belongs to all. It is universal.

The Buddha sent forth his disciples, telling each to go in a different direction and offer his pure, non-sectarian teaching. The result was that the Dhamma began to spread far and wide through northern India, bringing happiness to many. People from every major system of belief came in contact with the Buddha’s teachings and changed for the better.

To bring people of all religious backgrounds to a righteous way of living, Asoka urged them to learn and develop in Vipassana. He appointed male and female teachers, both members of the Sangha and laypeople. All began to teach Vipassana throughout India. In modern times as well, my revered teacher Sayagyi U Ba Khin taught Vipassana to followers of the Buddha in Myanmar and also to other people of many different backgrounds.

Asoka decided to establish cetiyas, or memorials to the Buddha, the length and breadth of his empire. Afterwards bhikkhus came to reside at these calm and inspiring sites, which were ideal places for the teaching of the Dhamma.

Out of compassion, Asoka saw that Vipassana was taught to prison inmates so that they might be transformed. In modern times as well, prison inmates in India, Myanmar, the United States and other countries have the opportunity to change their lives through Vipassana.

Asoka was instrumental in spreading the pure teachings of the Buddha as far afield as Iran, Iraq, Egypt and Europe, although in those countries the memory of the Dhamma faded. The story was different in some Asian countries such as Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos: there the Dhamma took root with Asoka’s help and flourishes still today.

Asoka had the military strength to conquer neighbouring countries and extend the frontiers of his empire. Instead he chose to expand the kingdom of Dhamma, so that people would live a good life. In doing so, he won the hearts of all.

With the passage of centuries, in some countries the teachings of the Buddha did not remain in the original, authentic form as sent by Asoka. But in Myanmar, people preserved the words of the Buddha and the technique of Vipassana meditation in their pristine purity from generation to generation. At least among a few, the theory and practice were handed on from teacher to pupil in their pure form as sent by Asoka.

In modern times the Venerable Ledi Sayadaw decided to revive the ancient tradition of lay teachers of the Dhamma. There was a common belief that 2,500 years after the time of the Buddha, there would be a resurgence of the Dhamma for another 2,500 years. The time was approaching for that resurgence, when the Buddha’s teachings could be expected to spread rapidly and widely. To prepare for this moment, Ledi Sayadaw trained Saya Thet Gyi and appointed him the first lay teacher of Dhamma. Saya Thet Gyi in turn taught Vipassana to lay people as well as some bhikkhus.

After Saya Thet Gyi, the next link in the chain of teachers was my own teacher, Sayagyi U Ba Khin. In him we have a glimpse of both the Buddha and Asoka. In his discourses he spoke at length about pariyatti. But in his courses, the focus was on the practice of Vipassana from morning to evening.



Global Pagoda, Mumbai, India -  built as a mark of infinite gratitude to Sayagyi U Ba Khin

As a teacher, Sayagyi made no distinction between people whatever their background. He never spoke critically of any religious group. Instead he tried to understand the teaching of each group from the view point of Dhamma and to interpret it in light of the words of the Buddha.

Once a well-known writer from the United States, a Christian priest, joined a course with Sayagyi. As usual, the first step was to take refuge in the Triple Gem of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. The American resisted doing this, saying that he was willing instead to take refuge in Jesus.

Sayagyi smiled and said, “Very well, do that. After all, the Buddha is not sitting in the heavens, waiting to fulfil the wishes of those who take refuge in him. The refuge is really in his qualities. Jesus also had many wonderful qualities. Take inspiration from his example and try to emulate him in your life. If you take refuge in Jesus, take refuge in his qualities, not in Jesus as a person.”

This man agreed and began to work. When the course ended, he came to Sayagyi and begged forgiveness for his initial resistance. He had realized that the pure Dhamma transcends all distinctions between religions.

An important principle of this tradition is that no price can be put on the Dhamma because in fact it is priceless. To earn money by teaching the Dhamma is unethical and completely forbidden. If someone wants to earn money, there are endless business opportunities. But the Dhamma is not a commercial commodity, not something for sale. A businessman makes money by his work and becomes rich; but a teacher of the Dhamma must never amass wealth by charging fees for the teaching. Instead, this tradition strictly follows the Buddha’s injunction,

Dhammena na vanaṃ care
Do not make a business of Dhamma.

Anyone who ignores this injunction teaches not Dhamma but its opposite.

During Asoka’s reign, the Dhamma remained in its purest form. But a small number of priests of other traditions suffered financial losses as the Dhamma spread, and so they were motivated to introduce changes that would contaminate the teaching. As a consequence, the Dhamma lost its pristine purity 2,000 years ago. In truth it was only a small number who were responsible for this decline, and it would be totally wrong to blame an entire community. In every community there are people of pure heart.

My revered teacher fully lived the ideals of Dhamma. He was a senior member of the civil service, where it was commonplace to amass fortunes through fraudulent practices. But Sayagyi was ripened in Dhamma. He worked in this corrupt environment and emerged without any stain on his character.
---


Jul 1, 2012

Way to Global Vipassana Pagoda, Mumbai, India


All are most welcome to visit the Global Vipassana Pagoda, to experience the immeasurable benefits from practice of Vipassana meditation - and in the process, understand the true purpose of human life. 
Visiting the Global Pagoda is free of charge. There is no entry fee. No charges for the tour guide.
Timings: 9.00 am to 7.00 pm. The Global Vipassana Pagoda is open all days, including Sunday.
(The last ferry leaves Gorai jetty to the Global Pagoda at 5.25 pm)
* Vipassana students - those who have taken one or more 10-day Vipassana courses taught in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin - are permitted to meditate inside the main dome Dhamma Hall of the Global Pagoda.

* The Food Plaza in the Global Pagoda premises serves good quality food at economical prices.

* Drinking water and clean toilet / wash-room facilities are available.

* Non-commercial photography is permitted in the Global Pagoda. There can be no copyright to any image of the Global Vipassana Pagoda - visuals are to be made freely available to all for non-commercial use.

* For any clarification / questions, please contact Global Vipassana Foundation, Mumbai, India, Telephone: 91 - 22 - 33747501; Email: pr@globalpagoda.org

How to reach Global Vipassana Pagoda, Gorai / Borivali, Mumbai, India:


The Global Pagoda can be reached overland by car, as well by ferry. Pre-paid taxi services are available at the Mumbai domestic and international airports. Ask for "Esselworld", if "Global Vipassana Pagoda" draws a blank stare. The Global Pagoda is adjacent to Esselworld Park.
Reaching Global Vipassana Pagoda by Road from Mumbai City / Domestic Airport / International Airport / Railway Stations in Mumbai
  1. Reach Western Express Highway and go North towards Dahisar/Borivali/Ahmedabad.
  2. Cross the Dahisar Toll Booth and keep going straight.
  3. When you reach the Mira-Bhayandar crossing, turn Left towards Mira-Bhayandar. The crossing has a statue of Shivaji Maharaj positioned at the centre.
  4. Keep going straight till you reach Golden Nest Circle. At the Golden Nest Circle, take a left turn and stay on the main road.
  5. Keep going straight till you take a hard right turn at the end of the road. This point will come after Maxus Mall, which comes on your right. After the hard right turn, take a left at the T point junction.
  6. Keep following directions to Esselworld or Global Vipassana Pagoda from this point forward.
  7. When you reach the Esselworld Parking Lot, go ahead a few metres and take a right turn towards Esselworld. Tell the guard at the security post that you want to go to the Pagoda.
  8. Keep going straight till you reach the Helipad. At the Helipad, take a right turn to the Global Pagoda Road through the Sanchi Arch.
The Pagoda is about 42 km from the Domestic Airport Terminal.
Hiring a car for airport pick-up to Global Vipassana Pagoda:
Private taxis and vehicles can also be hired from many car rentals in Mumbai, besides the airport pre-paid taxi service. Rates may vary. Many Vipassana students make use of the services of private taxi operator Mr Jagdish Maniyar. Contact : Tel (Res): 91-22-26391010 or cell phone 09869255079. As of February 2011, Mr Maniyar charges Rs 800 ( approx US $17, 13 Euros) for airport pickup to Global Pagoda (inclusive of road taxes). From Mumbai airport to Dhamma Giri Vipassana centre, Igatpuri, he charges Rs 2,550 (approx US $56).

From Borivali Railway station:
From Borivali Station (Western Railway, Mumbai) please use the western exit gates of the station (for the train from Churchgate, the exit is on the left). One can take Bus number 294 or hire an auto rickshaw (tuk-tuk) to Gorai Creek. The bus fare is Rs. 6 and auto rickshaw fare is approx Rs. 25 (approx US $0.50) to Rs 35.
For the auto-rickshaw, please take one heading to your right, after crossing the road from the western exit of the railway station. The Gorai jetty is approximately 10-15 minutes-ride from Borivili station. Please take the ferry for Esselworld from Gorai Jetty. The return fare for the ferry is Rs. 35/- per person.
On arrival at Esselworld, you will see signs guiding to take you to Global Pagoda (which anyway is too big to be missed !).
The Dhamma Pattana Vipassana Centre is less than five minutes walking distance from the Esselworld Jetty gate.

Other Bus Numbers to Gorai: From Kurla railway station (West) - 309 L; From Mulund station (West) - 460 L;From Ghatkopar Bus Depot - 488 L (please re-confirm before boarding bus)

Wishing you a very happy and most beneficial visit to the Global Pagoda.
For any further details and assistance, please contact:
Global Vipassana Pagoda
Telephone: 91 22 33747501 (30 lines)
Email: pr@globalpagoda.org
Pagoda Address:
Global Vipassana Pagoda
Next to Esselworld, Gorai Village,
Borivali (West), Mumbai 400091
For sending any post/courier, please use this address:
Head Office Global Vipassana Foundation
2nd Floor, Green House, Green Street, Fort
Mumbai – 400 023
Telephone: +91 22 22665926 / 22664039
Fax: +91 22 22664607
Dhamma Pattana Vipassana Centre
Inside Global Vipassana Pagoda Campus
Next to Esselworld, Gorai Village,
Borivali (West), Mumbai 400091
Tel: [91] (22) 3374 7519
Fax: [91] (22) 3374 7518
Email: info@pattana.dhamma.org

* Vipassana meditation courses worldwide, course venues, online application for beginners' 10-day residential Vipassana courses
* Dhamma reasons why there are no fees are charged for Vipassana courses - including for boarding and lodging
* One-day Vipassana courses at Global Pagoda (for those who have completed a 10-day Vipassana course)

Jan 23, 2012

How to reach Global Vipassana Pagoda, Gorai / Borivali, Mumbai, India

Everyone is most welcome to visit the Global Vipassana Pagoda, to start experiencing the immeasurable benefits from accurate and ardent practice of Vipassana meditation.
Visiting the Global Pagoda is free of charge. There is no entry fee. No charges for the tour guide.
Timings: 9.00 am to 7.00 pm. The Global Vipassana Pagoda is open all days, including Sunday.
(The last ferry leaves Gorai jetty to the Global Pagoda at 5.25 pm)
* Vipassana students - those who have taken one or more 10-day Vipassana courses taught in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin - are permitted to meditate inside the main dome Dhamma Hall of the Global Pagoda.

* Simple food facilities are available in the Global Pagoda premises. Larger food stalls serve visitors in the adjacent Essel World complex.

* Safe drinking water and clean toilet / wash-room facilities are available in the Global Pagoda premises.

* Non-commercial photography is permitted in the Global Pagoda. There can be no copyright to any image of the Global Vipassana Pagoda - visuals are to be made freely available to all for non-commercial use.

* For any clarification / questions, please contact Global Vipassana Foundation, Mumbai, India, Telephone: 91 - 22 - 33747501; Email: pr@globalpagoda.org

How to reach Global Vipassana Pagoda, Gorai / Borivali, Mumbai, India:


The Global Pagoda can be reached overland by car, as well by ferry. Pre-paid taxi services are available at the Mumbai domestic and international airports. Ask for "Esselworld", if "Global Vipassana Pagoda" draws a blank stare. The Global Pagoda is adjacent to Esselworld Park.

Reaching Global Vipassana Pagoda by Road from Mumbai City / Domestic Airport / International Airport / Railway Stations in Mumbai
  1. Reach Western Express Highway and go North towards Dahisar/Borivali/Ahmedabad.
  2. Cross the Dahisar Toll Booth and keep going straight.
  3. When you reach the Mira-Bhayandar crossing, turn Left towards Mira-Bhayandar. The crossing has a statue of Shivaji Maharaj positioned at the centre.
  4. Keep going straight till you reach Golden Nest Circle. At the Golden Nest Circle, take a left turn and stay on the main road.
  5. Keep going straight till you take a hard right turn at the end of the road. This point will come after Maxus Mall, which comes on your right. After the hard right turn, take a left at the T point junction.
  6. Keep following directions to Esselworld or Global Vipassana Pagoda from this point forward.
  7. When you reach the Esselworld Parking Lot, go ahead a few metres and take a right turn towards Esselworld. Tell the guard at the security post that you want to go to the Pagoda.
  8. Keep going straight till you reach the Helipad. At the Helipad, take a right turn to the Global Pagoda Road through the Sanchi Arch.
The Pagoda is about 42 km from the Domestic Airport Terminal.
Hiring a car for airport pick-up to Global Vipassana Pagoda:
Private taxis and vehicles can also be hired from many car rentals in Mumbai, besides the airport pre-paid taxi service. Rates may vary. Many Vipassana students make use of the services of private taxi operator Mr Jagdish Maniyar. Contact : Tel (Res): 91-22-26391010 or cell phone 09869255079. As of February 2011, Mr Maniyar charges Rs 800 ( approx US $17, 13 Euros) for airport pickup to Global Pagoda (inclusive of road taxes). From Mumbai airport to Dhamma Giri Vipassana centre, Igatpuri, he charges Rs 2,550 (approx US $56).

From Borivali Railway station:
From Borivali Station (Western Railway, Mumbai) please use the western exit gates of the station (for the train from Churchgate, the exit is on the left). One can take Bus number 294 or hire an auto rickshaw (tuk-tuk) to Gorai Creek. The bus fare is Rs. 6 and auto rickshaw fare is approx Rs. 25 (approx US $0.50) to Rs 35.
For the auto-rickshaw, please take one heading to your right, after crossing the road from the western exit of the railway station. The Gorai jetty is approximately 10-15 minutes-ride from Borivili station. Please take the ferry for Esselworld from Gorai Jetty. The return fare for the ferry is Rs. 35/- per person.
On arrival at Esselworld, you will see signs guiding to take you to Global Pagoda (which anyway is too big to be missed !).
The Dhamma Pattana Vipassana Centre is less than five minutes walking distance from the Esselworld Jetty gate.

Other Bus Numbers to Gorai: From Kurla railway station (West) - 309 L; From Mulund station (West) - 460 L;From Ghatkopar Bus Depot - 488 L (please re-confirm before boarding bus)

Wishing you a very happy and most beneficial visit to the Global Pagoda.
For any further details and assistance, please contact:
Global Vipassana Pagoda
Telephone: 91 22 33747501 (30 lines)
Email: pr@globalpagoda.org
Pagoda Address:
Global Vipassana Pagoda
Next to Esselworld, Gorai Village,
Borivali (West), Mumbai 400091
For sending any post/courier, please use this address:
Head Office Global Vipassana Foundation
2nd Floor, Green House, Green Street, Fort
Mumbai – 400 023
Telephone: +91 22 22665926 / 22664039
Fax: +91 22 22664607
Dhamma Pattana Vipassana Centre
Inside Global Vipassana Pagoda Campus
Next to Esselworld, Gorai Village,
Borivali (West), Mumbai 400091
Tel: [91] (22) 3374 7519
Fax: [91] (22) 3374 7518
Email: info@pattana.dhamma.org

* Vipassana meditation courses worldwide, course venues, online application for beginners' 10-day residential Vipassana courses
* Dhamma reasons why there are no fees are charged for Vipassana courses - including for boarding and lodging
* One-day Vipassana courses at Global Pagoda (for those who have completed a 10-day Vipassana course)

Jan 14, 2012

Significance of Vedana (bodily sensations) in Vipassana, for True Happiness

(from 'The Importance of Vedana and Sampajanna', a milestone seminar held in Dhamma Giri in 1990)

Vedana (sensations) are of diverse types (vividha) [1], and are experienced every moment within the body. Broadly speaking, however, there are three kinds: pleasant (sukha), unpleasant (dukkha), and neutral (adukkhamasukha). The sensations arise within the body as a result of contact (phassa) and sooner or later pass away.[2]

The experience of painful contact within the body results in an unpleasant sensation that is unpalatable, distressful, painful, sorrowful, and an affliction. Faced with such an experience, an ordinary person becomes distressed, disturbed and unbalanced. When the pain is intense, he weeps, laments, cries, falls into despair and becomes deluded.[3]

Experiencing an unpleasant sensation, he desperately makes every possible effort to get rid of it, to pull himself out of it. He musters his will to free himself as quickly as possible. Because of this bodily pain and affliction, he becomes unhappy, restless, worried, disturbed and mentally distressed. He is thus miserable and troubled, both bodily and mentally, as if pierced by two arrows at the same time.[4]

This suffering is due to his attachment to the sensations.[5] He is ignorant, not knowing their true nature and hence is unable to have a dispassionate attitude towards them. He makes every effort to repel the cause of his pain. He does so because of the latent tendency of repugnance (patighanusaya) so deeply rooted in him. He fails to understand that this tendency (anusaya) of aversion is a defilement. Instead, he multiplies and perpetuates it. He is carried away by this anusaya and continues to flow with it.[6]

Even while striving to get over the unpleasant sensation, he indulges himself in craving for imaginary situations where there is no unpleasant sensation whatsoever. He starts enjoying this imaginary state and thereby develops lust for it.

This is suffering. A person ignorant of the reality within though distressed by his unpleasant sensation also delights in and craves for the sensual desire (kamasukha) that he has created in his mind.[7]

Why cannot one maintain a balanced, dispassionate state of mind when experiencing an unpleasant or pleasant sensation? One is unable to do so because of attachment to the sensation, and being overpowered by it.

Out of ignorance of the truth within, one does not comprehend the true impermanent nature (anicca) of the sensation. One does not realize its arising (samudaya), its passing away (atthangama), the habit pattern of relishing of it (assada), the danger in it (adinava) or the liberation from this misery (nissarana).

More dangerously, unaware of this anusaya (tendency of repugnance), the attachment to unwholesome thought patterns keeps multiplying. Such ignorance of inner reality causes not only attachment to pleasant sensations, but addiction to reacting to all types of sensations - and with it rolling endlessly in misery, such as the cycle of birth, decay and death, and so on.[8]


The Global Vipassana Pagoda, Mumbai, India is a Dhamma monument to share benefits of Vipassana - the timeless, universal practice to purify the mind, and thereby liberate oneself from all misery and attain true happiness.

When a pleasant contact arises in the body, one experiences it as pleasant, as it apparently is. But not comprehending its true nature of impermanence, one becomes involved and attached and starts taking pleasure in it.[9]

The pleasant sensation that has arisen due to bodily contact (with worldly objects) is transitory, ephemeral, impermanent, and sooner or later is bound to pass away. Being ignorant or forgetting this truth, one tends to develop craving for its continuance.

One also becomes unaware of the dormant tendency of lust (raganusaya), the deep-rooted defilement within. Because of this attachment,[10] one keeps increasing craving, continues to flow with it.[11] Not understanding the true nature of a pleasant sensation as it really is - the arising of it (samudaya), the passing away of it (atthangama), the relishing of it (assada), the danger in it (adinava) or escape from it (nissarana)- one becomes attached to it, and thus, cannot escape the attendant lamentation and sorrow.

There arise situations where one experiences neither pleasant nor unpleasant sensations (adukkhamasukha vedana) and becomes delighted and satisfied with this. Such relishing indicates avijja (ignorance), as one does not know, or forgets, that this experience is also transitory, ephemeral and still within the sphere of nama-rupa (mind and matter).

Being unaware or forgetful of the dormant tendency of ignorance (avijjanusaya) within, one acts in such a way as to multiply this avijja, and continues to flow with it. This is delusion [12], and it results in only despair and unhappiness.

Both an ordinary person and a well-trained Vipassana meditator, who has reached the stage of saintliness, can experience the same sensations in the body. But there is a vast difference in their comprehension and outlook. As stated above, since a puthujjana (person ignorant of truth within) is the victim of the anusayas (dormant tendencies), he immediately starts reacting blindly when he experiences any sensation arising in the body. Being unaware of the true nature of these sensations, he remains attached (samyutta) to them.

In contrast, an ariyasavaka (noble one) practices by minutely observing the impermanence of the sensations (aniccanupassi viharati), their passing away (vayanupassi viharati). He does not cling to these sensations (viraganupassi viharati), he observes the ceasing of them (nirodhanupassi viharati), and thus, emerges from the habit pattern of blindly reacting to them (patinissagganupassi viharati).[13]

In this way, he eradicates all the latent tendencies (anusaya) which can no longer defile him. When he experiences an unpleasant sensation, he is not disturbed by it. He observes it as a wound on his body, (sallato), with equanimity keeps a dispassionate attitude towards it and remains unattached to it.[14] He maintains a balanced state of mind and is not disturbed mentally.[15]

Further, if he experiences a pleasant sensation, he does not take any pleasure in it. He fully understands its true nature of anicca, and so develops no lust for it, which would eventually lead to misery. Thus he keeps himself detached from the sensations.[16] He knows correctly that sooner or later they will pass away. He has no tendency towards lust (raganusaya) in him.

When he experiences a neutral sensation of peace and tranquility of mind, he does not get deluded by it. Rather, he keeps himself detached. A developed Vipassana student fully understands that this tranquil and peaceful state of mind is not the final stage. It too is impermanent (anicca) and, like the other sensations, is in the field of nama-rupa. The meditator does not take any delight in it and keeps a balanced, dispassionate state of mind.

The Vipassana practitioner is always mindful and attentive (sato) and keeps a constant understanding of anicca (sampajano) towards bodily sensations. Since the avijjanusaya (tendency of ignorance) is destroyed, the meditator truly knows the arising (samudaya) and passing away of it (atthangama), the relishing of it (assada), danger in it (adinava) and the escape (nissarana) from the sensations, it is said-

Samahito sampajano, sato Buddhassa savako;
Vedana ca pajanati, vedanananca sambhavam.
Yattha ceta nirujjhanti, magganca khayagaminam;
Vedananam khaya bhikkhu, nicchatonicchato parinibbuto'ti.[17]

A follower of the Buddha, with concentration, awareness and constant thorough understanding of impermanence, knows with wisdom the sensations, their arising, their cessation and the path leading to their end. A meditator who has reached the end (has experienced the entire field) of sensations (and has gone beyond) is freed from craving, fully liberated.

This is the main aim of Vipassana and the ultimate purpose of this practice. This is the consummation of brahmacariya (The Path of Purity and Truth). The Buddha praises a well-trained practitioner who has perfectly understood the true nature of sensations and is not attached to them. He says-

Na vedanam vedayati sapanno, sukham pi dukkham pi bahussuto pi;
ayam ca dhirassa puthujjanena, maha viseso kusalassa hoti.
Sankhatadhammassa bahussutassa, vipassato lokamimam param ca;
itthassa dhamma na mathenti cittam, anitthato no patighatameti.[18]

A wise, well-trained practitioner is not afflicted (mentally) when either experiencing a pleasant or unpleasant sensation (or otherwise).

This is the vast difference between an ordinary person and a skillful, wise person (pandita). For he who has mastered the Truth, is well-trained and has correctly viewed this world and beyond, neither desirable things churn in his mind, nor do undesirable ones harm him.

The practice of Vipassana is fulfilled only when a practitioner comes to realize perfectly the true transitory nature of sensations at this moment, now, and remains ever mindful (sato) with continuous thorough understanding (sampajano) of them, every moment. Then the mind is progressively purified of all defilements.

With Vipassana practice, the mind reaches the state of ultra-purity, a state of mind infinitely beneficial to oneself and beneficial to all beings. This is the ultimate aim of Vipassana and this is the essence of the practice.

May all beings be liberated from all suffering, be happy.

Notes: (All references VRI edition of Tipitaka)
1. Samyutta Nikaya 2.4.260
2. Ibid. 2.4.252, Saririkaya vedanaya. Also Ibid. 2.4.258, Vedana phassaja phassamulaka, phassanidana, phassapaccaya.
3. Ibid. 2.4.254, Sammoham apajjati.
4. Ibid.2.4.254, So dvisallena vedanam vedayati... So dve vedana vedayati kayikam ca cetasikam ca.
5. Loc. cit., Sannutto hoti.
6. Loc. cit., Dukkhaya vedanaya patighavantam, yo dukkhaya vedanaya patighanusayo so anuseti.
7. Loc. cit., So dukkhaya vedanaya phuttho samano kamasukham abhinandati.
8. Loc. cit., Dukkham ce vedanam vedayati sannutto nam vedayati. Assutava puthujjano sannutto jatiya jaraya maranena sokehi...
9. Loc. cit., Sannutta hoti... abhinandati.
10. Loc. cit., Sukham ce vedanam, vedayati, sannutto nam vedayati.
11. Loc. cit., Yo sukhaya vedanaya raganusayo, so anuseti.
12. Ibid 2.4.252, Sammoham apajjati.
13. Samyutta Nikaya 2.4.255-256, Pathamagelanna-Sutta and Dutiyagelanna-Sutta.
14. Ibid. 2.4.254, visannutto nam vedayati.
15. Ibid. 2.4.254, vedayati, kayikam, na cetasikam.
16. Ibid. 2.4.254, visannutto nam vedayati.
17. Ibid. 2.4.249
18. Ibid. 2.4.254
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