*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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Jun 13, 2017

Mind Matters - Answers of Life

During the course of his Dhamma work in India, beginning 1969, Principal Teacher of  Vipassana Sayagyi U Goenka (1924 - 2013) had been asked thousands of questions, by Vipassana students and others all over the world. The questions range a fascinating spectrum from what is Dhamma, Vipassana meditation, aim of life, human misery, God, rebirth to insomnia....

Sayagyi's answers - with penetrating insight - were based on the person sitting in front of him, state of mind of that person at that moment, and capacity to understand the subtleties of Dhamma.

Thousands of letters also came each year from across the world, from Vipassana students, teachers, Dhamma workers, discussing personal issues or seeking clarification on Vipassana practice or on Dhamma service.

However, he emphasized that the real benefits, self-dependent answers free from any doubt, can only come from correct practice of Vipassana.

Some questions and answers:

Question: What is mind? Where is it?

Sayagyi U Goenka: The mind is there in every atom of your body. This is what you will understand by practising Vipassana. With it, you will make an analytical study of your mind, an analytical study of your matter, and the interaction of the two.

Q: You spoke about taking out the bad qualities from the mind. What does that mean?

SNG: Like you have emotions in you- feelings of depression in you-feelings of animosity towards others. All those are bad qualities. They keep you unhappy. With these you harm yourself and you harm others. Little by little you have to take them out. And you will enjoy great peace of mind.

 Q: What is the connection between the mind and the brain?

SNG: The brain itself is just a physical organ. As you deal with other parts of the body, you deal with the brain in the same way, that's all. Nothing special to do with the brain. But the mind is totally different. In the West, all importance is given to the brain as if the mind is located here. Nothing doing, it is everywhere. The mind is in the whole body. So give attention to the whole body.

 Q: If you purify the body, you purify the mind?

SNG: No. Even though you purify the body, the mind may remain dirty and it will again make the body impure. So the root is the mind, not the body. The body is just the base. With the help of the body, the mind is working, but the mind has to be purified. You keep on washing your body as much as you can, but the mind is not washed. Mind remains still impure. Mind has to be pure. But if you purify the mind, the body gets purified. It has an effect. The aim of Vipassana is to purify the mind.

Q: How can the mind remain balanced when we are in pain?

SNG: Whenever something happens in the external world that we do not like, there are unpleasant sensations in the body. A Vipassana meditator focuses the entire attention on these sensations without reacting, just observing them very objectively. It is very difficult in the beginning, but slowly it becomes easier to observe the gross unpleasant sensations - what we call pain - with a balanced, calm mind. Pleasant, unpleasant, makes no difference. Every sensation arises only to pass away. Why react to something that is so ephemeral.

Q: If one does something wrong, then one is bound to suffer in the future?

SNG: No, not just in the future, but also here and now ! The law of nature punishes immediately, at the very moment one starts generating a defilement in the mind. One cannot generate a defilement and feel peaceful. The misery is instant. Only when you realize that suffering is here and now that you will change the habit pattern of generating defilements that lead to wrong verbal or physical action. If you think, 'Oh, I'll be punished only in future lives, and I'm not bothered now', it won't help.

Q: Isn't it selfish to forget about the world, and just to sit and meditate all day?

SNG: Meditation as a means to acquiring a healthy mind is not at all selfish. When your body is sick, you enter a hospital to recover health. One doesn't say, 'Oh, I'm being selfish'. One knows that it is not possible to live a proper life with a sick, wounded body. Or one goes to a gymnasium to make one's body stronger. Similarly, one doesn't go to a meditation center for the whole life, but simply to make the mind more healthy. And a healthy mind is most necessary to live one's day to day life in a way that is good for oneself and others.

Q: How can professionals, who have less time, practice meditation?

SNG: Meditation is all the more important for professionals! Those who are householders, who have responsibilities in life, need Vipassana much more, because they have to face situations in life where there are so many vicissitudes. They become agitated because of these ups and downs. If they learn Vipassana, they can face life much better. They can make good decisions, correct decisions, which will be very helpful to them and others.

Q: Can one learn Vipassana from a book?

SNG: No. It can be very dangerous. Vipassana is a very delicate and deep operation of the mind. One must take a 10-day course, to make a beginning.

Q: What are the charges / fee for a Vipassana course?

SNG: Charges?! Dhamma is priceless! There is no fee and there can never be a fee charged for teaching Vipassana. Vipassana courses are completely free of charge. Earlier, for a short time, some small actuals were charged for boarding and lodging expenses. Fortunately, that has been removed. So one does not have to pay anything to attend a Vipassana course.

 Q: Why are there no fees charged for doing a Vipassana course?

SNG: One reason, as I said, is that Dhamma is priceless. It cannot be valued in money. Another reason is that a student taking a Vipassana course practices renunciation from the householders' responsibilities, for the duration of the course. He or she lives like a monk or a nun, on the charity of others. This is to reduce the ego, a big cause of one's misery. If one even pays a small token fee, then the ego gets built up, and one may say, " Oh, I want this. This facility is not to my liking", " I can do whatever I want here", and so on. This ego becomes a big hindrance in progressing on the path of Dhamma. This is another reason why no fee is charged. This has been the Dhamma tradition for millennia. The Buddha did not charge any fee for distributing this invaluable gem of Vipassana!

Q: How are expenses met for a Vipassana course, since no fee is charged from students?

SNG: The expenses are met from voluntary donations (dana) from students who have completed at least one Vipassana course. The donation, in money or services, is given with the Dhamma volition that, "as I benefited by getting this wonderful technique due to the generous dana of others, may others also benefit ". Most important is the volition with which the dana is given. Even a handful of fertile soil given with a pure Dhamma volition, is far more beneficial than a bag of gold given with ego, or with no Dhamma volition. The dana given with a pure mind gives benefits to the giver.

However, this does not mean that somebody will go around at the end of the course, asking every student if he wants to give a donation. A table is put in a quiet corner, and whoever wishes to give dana goes there and gives it, that's all.

Q: Why is there segregation of sexes during a course (and in Vipassana centres)?

SNG: This would not have been necessary if we were working with other types of meditation which impose a good layer at the surface of the mind, making you forget everything that is deep inside.

But the practice of Vipassana is totally different. From the very beginning it starts an operation of the mind, taking out the impurities from the deepest level. When you operate on a wound, only pus will come out; you can't expect rose water to come out. What is the pus of the mind? Now the worst pus that you have is sexual passion.

The entire loka in which you are living is called kama-loka, the loka where sexual passion is predominant. Even at the apparent level your birth is because of the sexual contact of your parents. The base of sexual passion is deep inside. And if sexual passion comes on the surface, it becomes stronger for a male when he is in contact with the vibration of a female. When a female develops passion, it is strengthened by contact with the vibrations of a male. And if you remain intermingled while you are doing this operation, it is dangerous. It will harm you. Instead of your coming out of passion, there is every possibility that you will multiply passion. So better remain separated as much as possible. It is essential.

Q: What about sex within the framework of Vipassana?

SNG: For a new Vipassana student, we don't say that you have to have suppressed celibacy, forced celibacy. It is not healthy. It creates more difficulty, more tensions, more knots. So that is why the advise for a Vipassana student (who wishes to be married) is have relations with one spouse, one man-one woman, and disciplined sex. And if both are Vipassana meditators, a time will come that they will naturally come out of the need for sex...by nature, they are contented, so happy, the bodily relations have no meaning. But that should happen naturally, not forcefully. So as one starts practicing Vipassana, it is not necessary one should be celibate. But at the same time, there must be relations with only one person; otherwise, this madness will continue. Then the passion (lust) keeps on multiplying, one cannot come out of it.....

...at times a couple will have sexual relations, but gradually they develop towards the stage in which physical relations has no meaning at all. This is the stage of real, natural celibacy, when not even a thought of passion arises in the mind. This celibacy gives a joy far greater than any sexual satisfaction. Always one feels so contended, so harmonious. One must learn to experience this real happiness.

Q: In the West, many think that sexual relations between any two consenting adults are permissible.

SNG: That view is far away from Dhamma. Someone who has sex with one person, then another, and then someone else, is multiplying his passion, his misery. You must be either committed to one person or be living in complete celibacy.

Q:What is the difference between Vipassana and concentration?

SNG: Vipassana is not merely concentration. Vipassana is observation of the truth within, from moment to moment. You develop your faculty of awareness, your mindfulness. Things keep changing, but you remain aware - this is Vipassana. But if you concentrate only on one object, which may be an imaginary object, then nothing will change. When you are with this imagination, and your mind remains concentrated on it, you are not observing the truth. When you are observing the truth, it is bound to change. It keeps constantly changing, and yet you are aware of it. This is Vipassana.

Q:You talk about conditioning of the mind. But isn't this training also a kind of conditioning of the mind, even if a positive one?

SNG: On the contrary, Vipassana is a process of de-conditioning. Instead of imposing anything on the mind, it automatically removes unwholesome qualities so that only positive, wholesome qualities remain. By eliminating negativities, it uncovers the positivity which is the basic nature of the pure mind.

Q: Are there Dhamma forces that support us as we develop on the Path?

SNG: Certainly – visible as well as invisible ones. For example, people tend to associate with those of similar interest, background and character. When we develop good qualities in us, we naturally attract people who have such good qualities. When we come in contact with such good people, naturally we get support from them.

If we develop love, compassion and goodwill, we will get tuned up with all beings, visible or invisible, that have these positive vibrations, and we will start getting support from them. It is like tuning a radio to receive waves of a certain meter band from a distant broadcasting station. Similarly, we tune ourselves to vibrations of the type we generate; and so we receive the benefit of those vibrations. But all this happens only if we work hard and correctly.

Q: Isn't anger, aversion, sadness etc all natural human emotions?

SNG: You call them 'natural' human emotions, but the mind by nature is very pure. This is a very common mistake (to call harmful habit patterns as 'natural'). The true, pure nature of the mind is so much lost that the impure nature of the mind is often called 'natural'! The true natural mind is so pure, full of compassion, goodwill.

Q: I will give you an example. Suppose somebody close to me dies. It is natural for me to...

SNG: Again you are saying the same thing! It is the wrong nature in which you are involved. If somebody dies, no crying. Crying doesn't solve any problem. All those moments when you have been crying you are sowing seeds of crying. Nature wouldn't see why you are crying, nature only sees what seed you have sowed and the seed of crying will only bring more crying.

Q:  I am always full of anxiety. Can Vipassana help me?

SNG: Certainly. This is the purpose of Vipassana - to liberate you from all miseries. Anxiety and worry are the biggest miseries, and they are there because of certain impurities deep within you. With practise of Vipassana, these impurities will come on the surface and gradually pass away. Of course, it takes time. There is no magic, no miracle, no gurudom involved. Somebody will just show you the correct Path. You have to walk on the Path, work out your own liberation from all miseries.

Q: What is wrong with wanting material things to make life more comfortable?

SNG: If it is a real requirement, there is nothing wrong, provided you do not become attached to it. For example, you are thirsty, you need water-so you work, get it, and quench your thirst. But if it becomes an obsession, that does not help at all; it harms you. Whatever necessities you require, work to get them. If you fail to get something, then smile and try again in a different way. If you succeed, then enjoy what you get, but without attachment.

Q: You spoke about non-attachment to things. What about persons?

SNG: Yes, persons also. You have true love for the person, compassionate love for this person, this is totally different. But when you have attachment, then you don't have love, you only love yourself, because you expect something -material, emotional etc - from this person. With whomever you have attachment, you are expecting something in return. When you start truly loving this person, then you only give, a one-way traffic. You don't expect anything in return, then the (ego-based) attachment goes. The tension goes. You are so happy.

Q: How can the world function without attachment? If parents were detached then they would not even care for their children. How is it possible to love or be involved in life without attachment? 

SNG: Detachment does not mean indifference; it is correctly called "holy indifference". Detachment means equanimity, detachment from one's ego. As a parent, you must meet your responsibility to care for your child with all your love, but without clinging. Out of pure, selfless love you do your duty. Suppose you tend a sick person, and despite your care, he does not recover. You don't start crying; that would be useless. With a balanced mind, you try to find another way to help him. This is holy indifference : neither inaction or reaction, but real, positive action with a balanced mind.

Q: Isn't performing a right action a kind of attachment?

SNG: No. It is simply doing your best, understanding that the results are beyond your control. You do your job and leave the results to nature, to Dhamma.

Q: .....then it is being willing to make a mistake?

SNG: If you make a mistake you accept it, and try not to repeat it the next time. Again you may fail; again you smile and try a different way. If you can smile in the face of failure, you are not attached. If failure depresses you and success makes you elated, you are certainly attached.

Q: Can you describe in practical terms what is happening in the body and in the mind, how this law of cause and effect works, and how this change can help us?

SNG: The Buddha said that understanding the Dhamma is nothing other than understanding the law of cause and effect. You have to realize this truth within yourself. In a ten-day Vipassana course you have the opportunity to learn how to do this. This investigation of truth pertaining to matter, pertaining to mind and pertaining to the mental concomitants, the mental contents, is not merely for the sake of curiosity, but to change your mental habit pattern at the deepest level of the mind. As you keep proceeding you will realize how the mind influences matter, and how matter influences the mind.

(For the answer in more detail: 'The Law of Cause and Effect' )

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

SNG: 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.

Q: Is everything in this life predetermined?

SNG: 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 that mastery, we can change our future.

May all beings be happy, be liberated.

for more Question and Answers on Vipassana and life 

Clarifications on Vipassana practice for old students (those who have completed at least one 10-day Vipassana course)

Jun 8, 2017

Work out your own freedom, happiness

by Sayagyi U Goenka

(from a discourse given on the second day of a three-day Vipassana course for old students)

At the surface, the mind plays so many games thinking, imagining, dreaming, giving suggestions. But deep inside, the mind remains a prisoner of its own habit pattern, and the habit pattern of the deepest level of the mind is to feel sensations and react. If the sensations are pleasant, the mind reacts with craving; if they are unpleasant, it reacts with aversion.

The enlightenment of the Buddha was to go to the root of the problem. Unless we work at the root level, we will be dealing only with the intellect and only this part of the mind will be purified. As long as the roots of a tree are healthy they will provide healthy sap for the entire tree. So start working with the roots. This was the enlightenment of the Buddha.

When he gave Dhamma, the Noble Eightfold Path the path of sīla (morality), samādhi (mastery over the mind) and paññā (experiential wisdom) it was not to establish a cult, a dogma or a belief. Dhamma is a practical path (through Vipassana practice). Those who walk on it can go to the deepest level and eradicate all their miseries.

Those who have really liberated themselves will understand that going to the depth of the mind, making a surgical operation of the mind has to be done by oneself, by each individual. Someone can guide you with love and compassion; someone can help you in your journey on the path, but nobody can carry you on their shoulders and say: "I will take you to the final goal, just surrender to me; I will do everything."

You are responsible for your own bondage. You are responsible for making your mind impure, no one else. You are responsible for purifying your mind by breaking all the bondages. No one else can do that for you.

Continuity of practice is the secret of success. When it is said that you should be continuously aware, this means that you must be aware with wisdom of the sensations on the body, where you really experience things arising and passing away. The awareness of anicca is what purifies your mind, the awareness of the arising and passing away of these sensations.

Intellectualising this truth will not help. You may understand: "Everything that arises sooner or later passes away. Anyone who takes birth sooner or later dies. This is anicca." You may understand this correctly but you are not experiencing it. Only your own personal experience will help you to purify your mind and liberate you from your miseries. The word for "experience" used in India at the time of Buddha was vedanā, feeling by experiencing, not just intellectualisation. And this is possible only when a sensation is felt on the body.

Anicca must be experienced. If you are not experiencing it, it is merely a theory. And the Buddha was not interested in theories. Even before the Buddha, and at the time of the Buddha, there were teachers who taught that the entire universe is anicca; this was not new. What was new from the Buddha was the experience of anicca; and when you experience it within the framework of your own body, you have started working at the deepest level of your mind.

Two things are very important for those who walk on the path. The first is breaking the barrier that divides the conscious and the unconscious mind. But even if your conscious mind can now feel those sensations that were previously felt only by the deep unconscious part of your mind, that alone will not help you. The Buddha wanted you to take a second step: change the mind’s habit of reacting at the deepest level.

Coming to the stage where you have started feeling sensations is a good first step, yet the habit pattern of reaction remains. When you feel an unpleasant sensation, if you keep reacting, "Oh, I must get rid of this," that will not help. If you start feeling a pleasant flow of very subtle vibrations throughout the body, and you react, "Ah, wonderful! This is what I was looking for. Now I’ve got it!" you have not understood Vipassana at all.

Vipassana is not a game of pleasure and pain. You have been reacting this way for your entire life, for countless lifetimes. Now in the name of Vipassana you have started making this habit pattern stronger. Every time you feel an unpleasant sensation you react with aversion; every time you feel a pleasant sensation you react with craving, in the same way as before. Vipassana has not helped you, because you have not practised Vipassana in the right way.

Whenever you again make the mistake of reacting because of the old habit, see how quickly you can become aware of it: "Look, an unpleasant sensation and I am reacting with aversion; look, a pleasant sensation and I am reacting with craving. This is not Vipassana. This will not help me."

Understand that this is what you have to do. If you are not one hundred per cent successful, it does not matter. This will not harm you as long as you keep understanding and keep trying to change the old habit pattern. If you have started coming out of your prison for even a few moments, you are progressing.

This is what the Buddha wanted you to do: practise the Noble Eightfold Path. Practise sīla so that you can have the right type of samādhi. For those who keep breaking sīla there is little hope that they will go to the deepest levels of reality. Sīla develops after you have some control over your mind, after you start understanding with paññā that breaking sīla is very harmful. Your paññā at the experiential level will help your samādhi. Your samādhi at the experiential level will help your sīla. Strong sīla will help your samādhi become strong. Strong samādhi will help your paññā become strong. Each of the three will start helping the other two and you will keep progressing, progressing on the path.

There were many techniques in India in those days, and also later on, practising which meditators started feeling subtle vibrations throughout the body, when the solidity of the body had dissolved. The truth is that even the subtlest vibration one can experience is still a phenomenon in the field of mind and matter. It is arising, passing, arising, passing; still in the field of anicca, a field of constant change.

Some meditators of old tried to impose a philosophy on this subtle experience. Having reached the stage where they experienced nothing but vibrations, they postulated: "Throughout the universe, there is this subtle energy. This is God Almighty. I am experiencing this; I am with God Almighty. The entire universe is one. Every being is God. Why should I have any kind of preference or prejudice?" It is a very positive mental suggestion but it only helps at a superficial level.

The reality is that even this very subtle experience is still in the field of mind and matter; it is not the ultimate truth that is beyond mind and matter. All these suggestions, however positive they may be, cannot liberate anyone. You must be with reality: all vibrations are nothing but a flux, a flow. This realisation removes the deep-rooted habit pattern of reacting to the sensations.

Whatever sensations you experience pleasant, unpleasant or neutral you should use them as tools. These sensations can become tools to liberate you from your misery, provided you understand the truth as it is. But these same sensations can also become tools that multiply your misery. Likes and dislikes should not cloud the issue. The reality is: sensations are arising and passing away; they are anicca. Pleasant, unpleasant or neutral it makes no difference. When you start realising the fact that even the most pleasant sensations you experience are dukkha (suffering), then you are coming nearer to liberation.

Understand why pleasant sensations are dukkha. Every time a pleasant sensation arises, you start relishing it. This habit of clinging to pleasant sensations has persisted for countless lifetimes, and it is because of this that you have aversion. Craving and aversion are two sides of the same coin. The stronger the craving, the stronger aversion is bound to be. Sooner or later every pleasant sensation turns into an unpleasant one, and every unpleasant sensation will turn into a pleasant one; this is the law of nature. If you start craving pleasant sensations, you are inviting misery.

The Buddha’s teaching helps us to disintegrate the solidified intensity that keeps us from seeing the real truth. At the actual level, there are mere vibrations, nothing else. At the same time, there is solidity. For example, this wall is solid. This is a truth, an apparent truth. The ultimate truth is that what you call a wall is nothing but a mass of vibrating subatomic particles. We have to integrate both these truths through proper understanding.

Practicing Vipassana correctly develops our understanding, so that we free ourselves from the habit of reacting and understand that craving is harming us, aversion is harming us. And then we become more realistic: "See, there is ultimate truth, but there is also apparent truth, which is also a truth."

The process of going to the depth of the mind to liberate yourself is done by you alone; but you must also be prepared to work with your family, with society as a whole. The yardstick to measure whether love, compassion and goodwill are truly developing within you is whether these qualities are being exhibited toward the people around you.

The Buddha wanted us to be liberated at the deepest level of our minds. And that is possible only when three characteristics are realised:anicca (impermanence), dukkha (suffering) and anattā (egolessness). When the mind starts to become deconditioned, layer after layer becomes purified until the mind is totally unconditioned. Then purity becomes a way of life. You will not have to practise mettā(compassionate love) as you do now at the end of your one-hour sitting. Later, mettā just becomes a part of your life. All the time you will remain suffused with love, compassion and good will. This is the aim, the goal.

The path of liberation is the path of working at the deepest level of the mind. There is nothing wrong with giving good mental suggestions, but unless you change the blind habit of reacting at the deepest level, you are not liberated. Nobody is liberated unless the deepest level of the mind is changed. And the deepest level of the mind is constantly in contact with bodily sensations.

We have to divide, dissect and disintegrate the entire structure to understand how mind and matter are interrelated. If you work only with the mind and forget the body, you are not practising the Buddha’s teaching. If you work only with the body and forget the mind, again you are not understanding the Buddha properly.

Anything that arises in the mind turns into matter, into a sensation in the material field. This was the Buddha’s discovery. People forgot this truth, which can only be understood through proper Vipassana practice. The Buddha said, "Sabbe dhammā vedanā samosara
ā:, anything that arises in the mind starts flowing as a sensation on the body.

The Buddha used the word asava, which means flow or intoxication. Suppose you have generated anger. A biochemical flow starts, which generates very unpleasant sensations. Because of these unpleasant sensations, you start reacting with anger. As you generate anger, the flow becomes stronger. There are unpleasant sensations and, with them, a biochemical secretion. As you generate more anger, the flow becomes stronger.

In the same way, when passion or fear arises, a particular type of biochemical substance starts flowing in the blood. A vicious circle starts, which keeps repeating itself. There is a flow, an intoxication, at the depth of the mind. Out of ignorance, we become intoxicated by this particular biochemical flow. Although it makes us miserable, yet we become intoxicated: we want it again and again. So we keep on generating more anger, more passion (lust / sexual impurities), more and more fear. We become intoxicated by whatever impurity we generate in the mind. When we say that someone is addicted to alcohol or drugs, this is untrue. No one is addicted to alcohol or drugs. The actual truth is that one is addicted to the sensations that are produced by the alcohol or drugs.

Buddha teaches us to observe reality. Every addiction will be undone if we observe the truth of the sensations on the body with this understanding: "Aniccaanicca. This is impermanent." Gradually we will learn to stop reacting.

Dhamma experienced through Vipassana practice is so simple, so scientific, so true a law of nature applicable to everyone. Whether one is Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Christian; whether one is American, Indian, Burmese, Russian or Italian it makes no difference; a human being is a human being. Vipassana is pure science of mind, matter, and the interaction between the two. Do not allow it to become a sectarian or philosophical belief. This will be of no help.

The greatest scientist produced by the world worked to find the truth about the relationship between mind and matter. And discovering this truth, he found a way to go beyond mind and matter. He explored reality not just for the sake of satisfying his curiosity but to find a way to be free of suffering. So much misery in every family, in every society, in every nation, in the entire world. The Enlightened One found a way to come out of this misery.

There is no other solution: each one must come out of misery oneself. When every member of a family comes out of misery, the family will become happy, peaceful and harmonious. When every member of society comes out of misery, when every member of a nation comes out of misery, when every citizen of the world comes out of misery only then will there be world peace.

There cannot be world peace just because we want world peace: "There should be peace in the world because I am agitating for it." This does not happen. We cannot agitate for peace. When we become agitated, we lose our peacefulness. Let there be no agitation. Purify your mind. Then every action you take will add peace to the universe.

Purify your mind: this is how you can stop harming others and start helping them. When you work for your own liberation, you will find that you have also started helping others come out of their misery. One individual becomes several individuals there is a slow widening of the circle. But there is no magic, no miracle. Work for your own peace, and you will find that you have started helping the atmosphere around you to become more peaceful, but only when you work properly.

The biggest miracle is changing the habit pattern of the mind from rolling in misery to freedom from misery. There is no bigger miracle than this. Every step that is taken toward this kind of miracle is a healthy step, a helpful step. Every other apparent miracle is only bondage.

May you all come out of your misery, come out of your bondage. May you all enjoy real peace, real harmony, real happiness.

From Vipassana Research Institute newsletter article: Work out your own salvation

Question and Answers on Vipassana and life 

Mar 4, 2017

Be self-dependent, preserve purity of Vipassana

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. 

"Attā hi attano nātho
You are your own master and no one else. 
"Attā hi attano gati
You make your own future, both wholesome and unwholesome and also the state of full liberation beyond all conditioned states. 

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. 

Global Vipassana Pagoda -serving for the liberating light of Vipassana to shine through darkness of suffering

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

* Work out your own Freedom, Happiness, VRI newsletter, Aug 7, 1998

Jan 3, 2017

Mettā - the Most Beneficial Force in the Universe