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Meditation in today's world- Vipassana

Meditation in today's world- Vipassana

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Meditation is introspection in a deep state of relaxation beyond the chagrins of mundane world. Many meditative techniques and disciplines have been available for practitioners within the realm of religion and outside it since antiquity.

 

Vipassana Meditation 1-Day Sitting
1-day sitting in NY © Vipassana Research Institute

 

Let us look closely at the meditation technique of Vipassana.

 

Thinking of meditation, the mind immediately conjures up images of 'sadhus' and hermits sitting cross-legged in the caves of Himalayas. There have been many meditation techniques available in India for several thousands of years for spiritual seekers with the goals of liberating themselves by renunciating the worldly life and attaining self-realisation. Around 2,500 years back, when Siddhartha Gautama, who was to be later known as Buddha, took to the prevailing spiritual disciplines in India and after years of various meditative practices, he finally found liberation, he wished to share it with others. He had discovered that the cause of our suffering lies in the way we relate to the world- our world. He found that often times, the reality is coloured by our subjective perception and judgement that, in turn, clouds our rational thinking, making us react in an ignorant manner. He taught the way of looking at reality as it is- free from any make-believe. He taught Vipassana- the way of moderation- or 'the middle path' that propagates neither sensual gratification nor self-abnegation but observation- of reality- as it is.

 

'Vipassana' literally means 'to see things as they really are'. The practitioners seek to observe the reality within the framework of their mind and body. This is free from any respiration, physical exercises, control, sounds, visualisation etc. However, like most meditation techniques, the seeker is supposed to practice in silence in order to reach a state of relaxation and calm detachment that is conducive to a step-by-step objective observation of one's own mind and body. Over a period of time, with continued practice, this process of detached observation helps in breaking the habit pattern- the way in which we react in our daily lives in face of favourable or unfavourable situations and in our relations with those around us. This leads to harmony within and about oneself making people lead a happy and peaceful life.

 

Vipassana meditation, as discovered by Buddha, has been practised and handed down over the centuries in a teacher-pupil tradition. Today, Vipassana is taught all over the world by S.N.Goenka in the tradition of his mentor Sayagi U Ba Khin. S.N.Goenka learnt the technique in Burma and started to teach it in India in 1969 from where it spread to the world because of its universal appeal and freedom from religious beliefs or dogmas. There are more than 100 centres in the world where every year, more than 100,000 persons follow a course of Vipassana meditation as taught by S.N. Goenka. In France, Vipassana courses are getting conducted for more than twenty years now.

 

All over the world, the courses follow a similar pattern and code of conduct. Anyone, with or without previous mediation experience, can learn and follow Vipassana meditation, by enrolling for a 10-day course, irrespective of their race, age, gender, religion, profession or social status. These residential courses are conducted for free as there is no course or boarding fees and are run entirely on donation by those who have already followed at least one course. The teachers and the centre staff are all volunteers and do not receive any remuneration.

 

S.N.Goenka

S.N. Goenka © Vipassana Research Institute


 

Suggested Reading:

'The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation as Taught by S.N. Goenka' by William Hart. Harper Collins, 1987. 168 pages.

The book is a full-length study of the teaching of Vipassana useful both for meditators and non-meditators alike. It includes illustrative stories as well as answers to students’ questions that convey a vivid sense of the teaching. It is available in 16 languages. Translation to more languages in currently in process.

 

 

Further Information

For more information on Vipassana, refer to Dhamma website

For information on Vipassana in France, refer to French Dhamma website

 

 

Related Events:

Conference on Vipassana Meditation

Vipassana- Open Door Day at the French Centre