Introduction to Vipassana : An introduction
The technique of Vipassana meditation is a simple, practical way to achieve real peace of mind and to lead a happy, useful life. Vipassana means “to see things as they really are” and the technique is a logical process of mental purification through self-observation.
From time to time, we all experience agitation, frustration and disharmony. When we suffer, we do not keep our misery limited to ourselves; instead, we keep distributing it to others. Certainly this is not a proper way to live. We all wish to live at peace within ourselves, and with those around us. After all, human beings are social beings: we have to live and interact with others. How, then, can we live peacefully? How can we remain harmonious ourselves, and maintain peace and harmony around us?
Vipassana teaches us to observe the reality within ourselves. Through this impartial observation we gain insight into the causes of our agitation or dissatisfaction. Out of ignorance we keep reacting in a way which is harmful to ourselves and to others. But when wisdom arises and one comes out of this habit of blind reaction one is capable of real action – action proceeding with a balanced, equanimous mind, a mind which sees and understands the truth.
In this way, Vipassana meditation helps us to dissolve the tensions and unravel the knots within and lead a more positive, balanced and happy life – full of peace, harmony and goodwill for others.
Vipassana is one of the most ancient meditation techniques. It was discovered in India 2.500 years ago by Gotama the Buddha and is the essence of what he practised and taught during his forty-five years of teaching. During the Buddha’s time, large numbers of people in India were freed from the bonds of suffering by practising Vipassana, allowing them to attain high levels of achievement in all spheres of life. Over time, the technique spread to the neighbouring countries of Burma, Sri Lanka, Thailand and others, where it had the same positive effects.
Five centuries after the Buddha, Vipassana had disappeared from India. The purity of the teaching was lost elsewhere as well. In the country of Burma, however, it was preserved by a chain of devoted teachers. From generation to generation, for over two thousand years, this dedicated lineage transmitted the technique in its pure and original form.
In our time, Vipassana has been reintroduced by Mr. Satya Narayan Goenka. He was authorised to teach Vipassana by the renowned Burmese Vipassana teacher, Sayagyi U Ba Khin. S. N. Goenka began conducting Vipassana courses in India in 1969. Ten years later he began to teach in other countries also.
In order to learn Vipassana meditation it is necessary to take a ten-day residential course under the guidance of a qualified teacher. Ten days of sustained practice have been found to be the minimum amount of time in which the technique can be learned. During the retreat students remain within the course site, free from outside distractions.
A Universal Technique
Although Vipassana was practised and taught by the Buddha, it contains nothing of a sectarian or religious nature, and can be accepted and applied by people of any background.
The technique works on the basis that all human beings share the same problems, and that a pragmatic method which can eradicate these problems can be universally practised. Moreover, it involves no dependence on a teacher. Vipassana teaches those who practise it to be self- dependent.
Vipassana courses are open to anyone sincerely wishing to learn the technique, irrespective of race, faith or nationality. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and members of other religions have all successfully practised Vipassana, also those of no particular faith. And not only lay people practise Vipassana but also monks, nuns and priests.
All courses worldwide are run solely on a donation basis. There are no charges for the courses, not even to cover the cost of food and accommodation. All expenses are met by donations from those who, having completed a course and experienced the benefits of Vipassana, wish to give others the same opportunity.
Neither Mr. Goenka nor his assistant teachers receive remuneration. They and those who organise the courses volunteer their time. Thus Vipassana is offered free from commercialism.
What is Vipassana Meditation and what is it not?
(a) What Vipassana is:
- It is a method of mental purification which allows one to face life’s tensions and problems in a calm, balanced way.
- It is a mental training with great value for everyday life.
- It is an art of living that one can use to make positive contributions to society.
- It is a technique that will eradicate suffering.
(b) What Vipassana is not:
- It is not an escape from the trials and tribulations of everyday life.
- It is not a rite or ritual based on blind faith.
- It is neither an intellectual nor a philosophical entertainment.
- It is not a rest cure, a holiday, or an opportunity for socialising.
From : Vipassana Meditation, European Media Kit