*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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Nov 3, 2011

What is Purpose and Benefits of the Global Vipassana Pagoda?

(Updated and based on the Dhamma article Why the Grand Vipassana Pagoda? Vipassana Newsletter, October 1997)

The Global Vipassana Pagoda has been built to share the benefits of Vipassana - the universal, practical quintessence of the Buddha's teachings. Vipassana practice is to purify the mind and achieve true happiness.
The Global Pagoda is a commemorative symbol of gratitude to my benevolent teacher Sayagyi U Ba Khin. He had wished and predicted that Vipassana will again return to India, and from India spread around the world.

Through Vipassana practice and information displays, the Global Pagoda serves to dispel many myths, misconceptions and delusions about the Buddha and the timeless Dhamma teaching of Vipassana.

The historical truth is that the Buddha neither taught ‘Buddhism’ nor converted anyone as ‘Buddhist’. The Buddha taught the universal, practical Dhamma to live a wholesome, happy life.

The Vipassana Research Institute Chaṭṭha Saṅgāyana CD , with the entire teaching of the Buddha and related literature in Pali, contains 146 volumes with 52,602 pages and 7,448,248 words. The word "Buddhism" or "Buddhist" is not found in it.

'Dhamma' is the word used for the teaching of the Buddha, not "Buddhist Dhamma". Prefixes to the word "Dhamma" are qualitative, not sectarian: for eg, saddhamma (true Dhamma), ariyo dhammo (noble Dhamma), dhammo sanātano (eternal Dhamma), and so on.

In the Buddha's lifetime, those who practiced his Dhamma teaching were never called 'Buddhists' . These six words were used to describe them: dhammim, dhammiko, dhammattho, dhammacarim, dhammavihari, dhammanusari.

This word 'Buddhist' may have come into use after India lost Vipassana, the practical essence of the true teaching of the Buddha. Instead. rites and rituals were practiced in the delusion that such blind beliefs were the Buddha's teaching.

The Buddha's true teaching of Vipassana gives immense benefits to all, shattering artificial barriers of caste, race, class and religion. The universal acceptance of Vipassana is proof that the Buddha's teaching is for all, not just to people of any particular sect.
After all, morality, mastery of the mind, purifying the mind and compassion is the essence of all religions. Vipassana is the practical quintessence of all religions.

The Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon (Rangoon)

The Global Vipassana Pagoda is modeled on the Shwedagon as mark of gratitude to Myanmar (Burma), for preserving the teaching of Vipassana in pristine purity for over 2000 years.

The Global Vipassana Pagoda has been built only from voluntary donations and services from thousands worldwide - from all religions - who wish to share the benefits of Vipassana with others. The completion of the Global Pagoda is proof of the gratitude of the many to Dhamma; it reflects the deep wish of the many for the true welfare and happiness of all beings.

Historically, such pagodas are solid. But with innovative techniques of architecture, a vast meditation hall has been built as a hollow stone dome of the pagoda. This enables thousands of Vipassana students to meditate together. One gains strength from combined purity of practice in such group sittings. Mumbai has tens of thousands of Vipassana practitioners, and the number is increasing.
At the top of the stone dome, in its centre, bone relics of the Buddha have been enshrined. These relics of the Buddha were generously donated by the Mahabodhi Society of India and the government of Sri Lanka. Many millions in coming centuries will visit the Global Pagoda to pay respects and gratitude to Dhamma, and the Buddha.

The Buddha said the best way to show one's gratitude and respect to Dhamma and the Buddha is to purify the mind - by sitting cross-legged, upright and ardently practicing insight meditation of Vipassana. The Global Pagoda, as the world's largest meditation hall, provides this practical facility.
The Global Pagoda dome Dhamma hall enables one to benefit from group meditation of Vipassana. It is very inspiring to see many thousands of people from diverse backgrounds and communities silently and ardently practicing together pure scientific path to true happiness.
The adjacent Dhamma Pattana Vipassana centre conducts residential 10-day Vipassana courses for beginners, and longer courses for experienced students. Dhamma Pattana is one of over 160 Vipassana centres worldwide where people can take a deep dip in Dhamma.
The nearby exhibition gallery of the Global Pagoda has traditional paintings depicting important events of the Buddha's life and teachings. Visitors learn that Sakyamuni Gotama Buddha was neither a god, nor an incarnation of any god. nor a prophet of any god. He did not become the Buddha because of divine grace. Perfecting his paramitās (wholesome mental qualities that help to dissolve egoism and thus lead to liberation), by exerting strenuous efforts for innumerable lives, he attained supreme enlightenment in his final life. He was therefore called a sammāsambuddha (one who becomes a Buddha by his own efforts). He was not a mythological being, but a completely historical person.

He was called superhuman because he attained the highest state that can be attained by a human being. For 45 years, until he passed away at age of 80, he compassionately taught the technique of Vipassana to suffering humanity. Having completely eradicated craving, aversion and ignorance, he was called Bhagavā. Having rediscovered and taught nature's laws of kamma (volitional action), the law of cause and effect, he was called a supreme theist. In ancient India of those days, this was the only acceptable definition of theism.

The Buddha said the Dhamma truths, and the practical path of Vipassana to experience the Dhamma truths, already existed before him, and will do so after him. With supreme effort, a sammāsambuddha rediscovers the lost teaching, and shares the teaching out of compassion for all beings.

With the loss of Vipassana, India forgot the universal and practical nature of the Buddha's beneficial teaching. As long as it was "Dhamma", people did not hesitate to practice it. But as soon as it began to be called "Buddhism", the delusion spread,"This is the dhamma for 'Buddhists', not for us".

Fortunately, a few wise people in the neighbouring country of Myanmar preserved this universal technique of Vipassana in its pure form for centuries, from generation to generation. It has arisen again. It has returned to India. It has arisen again in the world.

The Buddha did not establish any religious sect. He never had any intention of converting anyone. He taught the pure Dhamma with only one objective, "bahujana hitāya, bahujana sukhāya" (for the good of many, for the happiness of many) and not merely for the good of any single religious sect.

Gullible people blindly believed that purification of the mind and liberation from the cycle of existence could be attained through meaningless rituals. With infinite mettā and compassion, the Buddha made strong efforts to bring such deluded people to the path of Dhamma, the path of sīla (morality), samādhi (mastery of the mind) and paññā (wisdom).

He taught the way to make pure Dhamma an integral part of daily life through the practice of Vipassana. It enabled people to come out of delusions that merely reading and recitation of their scriptures, or praying to some invisible power, might save them from suffering. Vipassana practice enables one to experience the benefits, the urgency and importance of purifying the mind, how the law and cause and effect is supreme, and how one reaps what one sows.

The question is often asked: Why is this pagoda built in a Burmese and not India architectural style? Why is it a replica of the Swedagon pagoda in Yangon (Rangoon)?
In the ancient pure tradition of India, two important yardsticks measure one's progress in Dhamma: 1) pubbakari, serving others selflessly without expecting anything in return; 2) kataññu katavedi, gratitude.
We have regained this priceless technique of Vipassana, which had been lost for over 2,000 years, from Myanmar (Burma) which preserved it in its pristine purity. About 2,500 years ago, when the pure Dhamma teaching went from here to different countries - primarily through efforts of Emperor Asoka - they expressed their gratitude to India by building stupas in an Indian architectural style. So, when devoted people there saw these stupas, they would remember their gratitude to India.

As centuries passed, the original Indian architectural style was influenced by local architecture, and the stupas of these different countries assumed characteristic differences. We have now received this technique from Myanmar. It is our duty to express our gratitude towards Myanmar.The Global Vipassana Pagoda is a symbol of this gratitude.
For centuries, those seeing this pagoda will remember the debt of gratitude to Myanmar. With the arising of this feeling of gratitude, their Dhamma volition will be strengthened. One becomes more happy, peaceful.
In the over four decades after Vipassana practice is again spreading throughout India and the world, it has completely proved that the original teaching of the Buddha is not meant to be confined within the bounds of a religion. It is universal. People of all religions, races, castes and communities of the world are benefiting.
Vipassana enables the self-realization that one's problems are within. It provides a pure, proven, scientific method to work hard to purify one's mind. One changes oneself for the better, instead of expecting others to change. The purer mind has nothing but compassion and goodwill for all beings.
One can believe with conviction that with the widespread practice of Vipassana, aversion and ill-will between individuals, and sectarian strife between different religions and communities will end. Peace, harmony and goodwill will grow among people of India and around the world.
May all beings be happy, be peaceful, be liberated from all suffering.