*The Buddha did not teach 'Buddhism' * Why no fees charged for Vipassana *Application for Vipassana courses *Beneficial power of Metta *Anapana for children
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Aug 20, 2014

Serve in Dhamma without Expectations

Message from Principal Vipassana Teacher Sayagyi U Goenka
Annual Dhamma service meeting, Dhamma Giri, India, January 13, 1991

Dear Dhamma sons and Dhamma daughters:
We have undertaken very serious work. It is a very serious responsibility to serve others in Dhamma. If there is any impurity in our intentions, even a trace of desire that, "I must get something in return for all this service that I am giving," then our whole purpose will be lost. People who expect some material gain for the teaching of Dhamma can never teach Vipassana; they are totally unfit. 

On the other hand, there are those who understand they are not serving people in Dhamma for any material gain, and yet there will be some expectation of getting respect from others. "Well look, I am doing such a good service. I am giving such an invaluable jewel of Vipassana, so I have every right to be respected." If even a trace of expecting appreciation or recognition, respect from others remains, understand that one is not yet fit to serve others. First serve oneself - that is, first dissolve one's ego - and only then one is fit to serve others in Dhamma. 

The Enlightened One exhorted all those he sent for Dhamma service:
Caratha bhikkhave cārikam—Go forth, O monks
 Go forth for what?
Bahujana-hitāya—for the good of many; bahujana-sukhaya—for the happiness of many;
lokānu-kampāya—out of compassion for all beings.

Beginning of Vipassana journey in this life. Meditation Hall, Dhamma Thali, (Jaipur), Rajasthan, India.

There is suffering all around us, rich or poor, young or old. More people should come out of their suffering. That is the aim of sharing Vipassana - to serve others. Your gain is automatically involved. To reach the final stage of full enlightenment you have to develop your paramīs, and everything that you do for the good of others helps to develop your pāramīs.

If someone thinks even for a moment, "Let more and more people start calling themselves Buddhists, let there be a strong Buddhist sect, let people who are in the courtyard of other sects come into my courtyard so I have a larger number of followers," then one has not understood Buddha, has not understood Vipassana. The Buddha's teachings are universal; he did not start a sect or a religion in his name.

An incident in the Buddha's life: he went to a place where he gave a discourse to large numbers of recluses and followers of a particular sect. They were hesitant, thinking, "This fellow may convert us away from our sect."

The Buddha explained, "I have not come here to gather students for myself. I am not interested in making you my disciples. Don’t become frightened of that. I am not here to break your relationship with your teachers; may that continue. You have received something from your teachers, and you have respect for them as you should have. You give donations to these teachers; keep on giving to them. I am not here to stop you from achieving your goal of coming out of suffering and reaching full liberation. Whatever I will teach you to practice will help you to reach that goal. Give me seven days of your life, just try this."  

This should be our attitude in sharing the Buddha's teaching of Vipassana: "Just try this universal, non-sectarian practice to remove impurities in the mind, to change the habit pattern of generating negativity. We are not interested in converting you from this or that religion. Give just ten days of your life to learn Vipassana, and after that if you find it good, accept it. Otherwise, leave it." Then we are not expecting anything in return. We are just on the giving end. 

My teacher Sayagyi U Ba Khin used to say, "I am on the giving end, never on the receiving end. If people want to take, they take. If they don’t want to take, they don’t take. With all my compassion, I just humbly give."

This should be the ego-less attitude of everyone who takes the most beneficial responsibility of giving Dhamma service. We are simply giving, without any kind of expectation. 

There is only only one motive—compassion, with the wish that more people benefit from practicing Vipassana in its purity. We benefited when we sat Vipassana courses through the Dhamma service of many others. May others too benefit from our Dhamma service.

And if people do not benefit, what can we do? We serve, but sometimes there may be some who do not work correctly and do not get the benefits. Again compassion, again give Dhamma service, that’s all.  Never become disappointed when people do not work properly and do not get what they should. If we become irritated with students, then it shows we have expectations, attachment to one's efforts. When ego arises, the Dhamma service becomes impure. Nobody benefits from Dhamma service given with ego or wrong volition.

Of course we wish that all benefit from practicing Vipassana, this universal path taught by the Buddha, and so we do our best. We keep practicing Vipassana, give Dhamma service - without expecting anything. Certainly this gives its own good result. 

Initial difficulties are bound to occur (remember the difficulties, confusion in one's own first Vipassana course!), because beginners have their own mental conditioning. So a new student may see things through coloured lenses. I too was initially hesitant in taking my first Vipassana course in Burma, thinking, "I am a staunch Hindu, a leader of the Hindu community here, and these people might convert me to Buddhism." However, all such fears vanished when I actually took my first Vipassana course.

Later, when Sayagyi U Ba Khin instructed me to take the priceless jewel of Vipassana to the Dhamma land of its origin, I faced a lot of suspicion when I first started teaching Vipassana in India. Some thought, "Look, this person’s motive certainly is to convert people." If one has a sectarian mind one will always see everything as sectarian. There are people in this country who come and establish hospitals, schools and different social institutes, and then after a few years of service they start to convert the people who come there to their religion.

Since such things have happened, people started feeling, "Look! This fellow has come from Burma and says he is here to serve people. Yes, people get peace and happiness, they come out of drugs or alcohol or other problems. This is wonderful. But his ultimate aim is to convert everybody to Buddhism."

Well, one smiles. If this was really the intention, one would become agitated, thinking, "Look, my clever scheme has been discovered. Now how will I be successful?" But if the mind is pure one feels, "Let people talk. If not today, they will understand tomorrow." The pure teaching of Vipassana spreads only in this way.

Similarly in Western countries, there is some initial hesitation about accepting Vipassana. Some think, "Look, a foreign religion is coming to our country." The initial doubt is there. But our intentions are purely to serve, to share with people an universal practice to purify the mind, and be happy. And if this aim is not polluted, success will eventually come.

A time is bound to come for the wider sharing of Vipassana - despite initial difficulties, provided the practice of Vipassana is kept pure, and the intention of those giving Dhamma service is pure. The volition is very important. We are merely vehicles of Dhamma, and if the volition of the vehicle is good more people will benefit. But if somebody plays an ego game in the name of Dhamma service, naturally Dhamma will drive this person away.

Pure Vipassana is bound to benefit millions around the world. The time has ripened. There is so much suffering all around. In the name of religion and sects, people are fighting with each other, killing each other. People keep getting agitated about "my religion, my religion," without understanding at the actual level what their religion is. A universal, practical remedy such as Vipassana is the need of the day. Anger and hatred can be conquered only with metta, not by reacting with anger.

Animosity, violence and suffering increase when people do not experience the actual benefits of living a wholesome life - just as every religion teaches. People correctly practicing Vipassana experience the actual benefits of their own religion. This inner peace makes this a much better world. In spite of all the darkness, there is this light of Dhamma, this small, growing light of Vipassana. This pure light of Vipassana is bound to glow brighter in oneself, and around the world.

Just as it is essential to have schools, colleges, hospitals, gymnasiums etc, similarly a time is bound to come when there will be a Vipassana centre in every village in the world. More people worldwide will start understanding the necessity of Vipassana practice, to keep the mind healthy and free from impurities. As we learn physical exercise by going to a gymnasium, we learn this mental exercise of Vipassana at a meditation centre. This has nothing to do with any cult, or any sect. Vipassana is an exercise to keep the mind healthy, wholesome and pure so that we live a good life - and share the benefits of Vipassana with others. This is the purpose of Dhamma service.

If the aim of serving others without expectation remains clear, and the practice of Vipassana is kept very pure, the suffering within and all around is bound to be dispelled, eradicated. Real peace will come, real harmony, happiness - within oneself, and in one's world. 

May all enjoy real peace, real harmony, real happiness.
May all beings be happy. May you be happy.

Sayagyi U Ba Khin on Vipassana (26.5 min); followed by Sayagyi U Goenka answering questions on Vipassana

 Steps to meditation cells in the Pagoda, Dhamma Giri, Igatpuri, India.
May all beings be happy, be liberated from all suffering.