S. N. Goenka     22 posts


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In meditation you withdraw from others and focus your attention inside to gain purity of mind and Dhamma energy.

Then you must become extroverted and use this energy. When you take a long jump, you must first take some steps backward. Then you run, and make the jump.

Like this, you first withdraw, observe yourself inside and get the energy. Then you make a long jump into society, to serve society.

These two steps cannot be separated.

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Having appreciated and experienced the Buddha's teaching
to be deep like the ocean, broad like the vast earth and high
like the Himalayas, I feel very comfortable to accept, practice
and teach Buddha's teaching in its pristine purity. There can be no question of practicing or teaching anything but this
wonderful Dhamma. Dhamma is paripunna - it is complete,
there is nothing to add. And it is parisuddha - so pure, there
is nothing to be removed.

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From Hindi Dohas

Salutations to the Teacher,
what a wise and saintly man
Who with compassion overflowing
gave this gift of Dhamma.

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From Hindi dohas

May Vipassana thus arise,
may equanimity suffuse the mind.
One after another; may each layer
of dross be stripped away.

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From Hindi Dohas

Whatever arises passes away;
observe this through Vipassana.
What a pure path of happiness!
Not a trace of suffering remains.

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I do not wish to convert people from one organized religion to
another; I have no interest in any of these organized religions.
My interest is in Dhamma - the truth, the teachings of all
Enlightened Ones. If at all there is any conversion, it should
be from misery to happiness, from defilement to purity, from
bondage to liberation, from ignorance to Enlightenment.

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For me, one who is practicing sila, samadhi and panna is a true
follower of the teachings of all the Buddhas. It doesn't matter
by what name he calls himself. If one does not practise sila,
samadhi and panna and yet calls himself a Buddhist,
I feel sorry for him.

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The basis of any healthy harmonious society is always the
healthy and harmonious individuals who populate it.
Only if each individual has a pure, peaceful mind
can we expect peace in society.

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A Hindi who learns Vipassana continue to call himself a Hindu;
a Muslim a Muslim, and so on for a Jain, a Christian, a Buddhist.
The important point is to become a good person, living a happy
and harmonious life. Dhamma helps everyone to
become a good human being.

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From 'Hindi Dohas'

Whenever in the inner world
mental defilement arise,
I become agitated
and make the outer world agitated.

May I and may the world
be free from agitation.
This is the art of living,
this is the pure Dhamma.

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"A human life is of limited duration, with limited capabilities. It is important to use one's life to the best purpose. And there can be no higher purpose than to establish oneself in Dhamma, in the path which leads one out of defilements, out of the illusion of self, to the final goal of ultimate truth.

Therefore no effort is more worthwhile for a human being than the exertion of all one's faculties to take steps on this path."

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Vipassana involves making an analytical study of the mind-matter phenomenon and purifying the mind by breaking its unwholesome habit-pattern . Anyone practicing Vipassana can acquire the same beneficial results and develop feelings of pure love and compassion.

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May love forever arise
and reverberate through your being.
May the Dhamma flow like the Ganges,
washing away hatred and ill will.

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This is the law of nature,
which applies to one and all:
a defiled mind remains agitated,
an unstained mind is happy.

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Meeting Between Shri S N Goenka and K
(S. N. Goenka met K at KFI Rajghat in early 1970's.)

Question for Shri S. N. Goenka about his meeting with J Krishnamurti (K)
Location: Pune, India.
Date: 17 October 2000.
Occasion: public Q/A session after a public talk by Shri S N Goenka on Vipassana meditation.

Q. Krishnamurty did not believe in a technique or gurus. I believe you met him, did you discuss this?

Answer by S. N. Goenka:

Certainly, I met him. He was a very saintly person, and I very much understood why he is against technique and why he is against gurus. Because he observed the situation all over the country where gurus just exploit the people saying "Look I am your guru and you are my disciple, you are so weak, how can you liberate yourself ? Just surrender to me and I will liberate you. I will liberate you."

This is exploitation by gurus, this is against Dhamma and when you talk of technique that means you have got one object and you are just working with one object. It does not take you to the final goal.

Things are changing from moment to moment you are observing, you are observing. (This is Vipassana, this is not a technique, Vipassana is not a technique, it is a process of observation.)

So I discussed with him "Well in age you are an elderly person and in experience also you are an elderly person." It was 30 years ago when we met. "You are elderly so let me know if I am making any mistake. I am teaching Vipassana because I got benefit from it and I want to share my benefit with others. That is the only reason. If I am making any mistake please tell me''. then he (K) asked me "First day what you teach?''. (I replied and he said)

''Oh! This is not a technique''...second day... (K said) ''This is not a technique''.
....all the ten days I explained (and K said) "This is not a technique, you are observing the truth. The truth from moment to moment. Perfectly all right !''.

And guru? (I said) "I never say that I will liberate you, you have to work out your own liberation. A guru can only show the path then only sadguru. Otherwise if he tries to exploit then he is not a guru, he is harmful to the country." He said, "no this is not gurudom." He accepted both.

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Real wisdom is recognizing and accepting that every experience is impermanent. With this insight you will not be overwhelmed by ups and downs. And when you are able to maintain an inner balance, you can choose to act in ways that will create happiness for you and for others.
Living each moment happily with an equanimous mind, you will surely progress toward the ultimate goal of liberation from all suffering.

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What Happens at Death by S. N. Goenka

To understand what happens at death, let us first understand what death is. Death is like a bend in a continuous river of becoming. It appears that death is the end of a process of becoming, and certainly it may be so in the case of an arahant (a fully liberated being) or a Buddha; but with an ordinary person this flow of becoming continues even after death. Death puts an end to the activities of one life, and the very next moment starts the play of a new life. On the one side is the last moment of this life and on the other side is the first moment of the next life. It is as though the sun rises as soon as it sets with no interval of darkness in between, or as if the moment of death is the end of one chapter in the book of becoming, and another chapter of life begins the very next moment.

Although no simile can convey the exact process, still one might say that this flow of becoming is like a train running on a track. It reaches the station of death and there, slightly decreasing speed for a moment, carries on again with the same speed. It does not stop at the station even for a moment. For one who is not an arahant, the station of death is not a terminus but a junction from where thirty-one different tracks diverge. The train, as soon as it arrives at the station, moves onto one or another of these tracks and continues. This speeding "train of becoming," fuelled by the electricity of the kammic reactions of the past, keeps on running from one station to the next, on one track or the other, a continuous journey that goes on without ceasing.

This changing of "tracks" happens automatically. As the melting of ice into water and the cooling of water to form ice happens according to laws of nature, so the transition from life to life is controlled by set laws of nature. According to these laws, the train not only changes tracks by itself, it also lays the next tracks itself. For this train of becoming the junction of death, where the change of tracks takes place, is of great importance. Here the present life is abandoned (this is called cuti--disappearance, death). The demise of the body takes place, and immediately the next life starts (a process which is called patisandhi-conception or taking up of the next birth). The moment ofpatisandhi is the result of the moment of death; the moment of death creates the moment of conception. Since every death moment creates the next birth moment, death is not only death, but birth as well. At this junction, life changes into death and death into birth.

Thus every life is a preparation for the next death. If someone is wise, he or she will use this life to the best advantage and prepare for a good death. The best death is the one that is the last, that is not a junction but a terminus: the death of an arahant. Here there will be no track on which the train can run further; but until such a terminus is reached, one can at least ensure that the next death gives rise to a good birth and that the terminus will be reached in due course. It all depends on us, on our own efforts. We are makers of our own future, we create our own welfare or misery as well as our own liberation.

How is it that we are the creators of the tracks that receive the onrushing train of becoming? To answer this we must understand what kamma (action) is.

The healthy or unhealthy volition of our mind is kamma. Before performing any action at the mental, vocal, or physical level, whatever wholesome or unwholesome volition arises in the mind is the root of that action. The consciousness arises due to a contact at a sense door, then the sanna (perception and recognition) evaluates the experience, sensations (vedana) arise, then a kammic reaction (sankhara) takes place. These volitional reactions are of various kinds. How strong is the volition? How slow, deep, shallow, heavy or light? According to this the intensity of these reactions will vary. Some are like a line drawn on water, some like a line drawn on sand and some a line on rock. If the volition is wholesome, then the action will be the same and the fruits will be beneficial; and if the volition is unwholesome, then the action will be the same-it will give fruits of misery.

Not all of these reactions result in a new birth. Some are so shallow that they do not give any substantial fruits. Some are a bit heavier but will be used up in this lifetime. They do not carry over into the next life. Others being still heavier continue with the flow of life into the next birth, but they themselves do not give new birth. Nevertheless they can continue to multiply during this life and the next. Many kammas however, are bhava-kammas, or bhava-sankharas, those that give a new birth, a new life. Each one of thesebhava-kammas (actions that give rise to the process of becoming) carries a magnetic force that is in tune with the vibrations of a particular plane of existence. The vibrations of a particular bhava-kamma will unite with the vibrations of the bhava-loka (world, plane) that has the same intensity, and the two will attract each other according to the universal laws pertaining to forces of kamma.

As soon as one of these bhava-kammas is generated, this "railway train of becoming" gets attracted to one or the other of the thirty-one tracks at the station of death. Actually these thirty-one tracks are the thirty-one fields of existence. They are the eleven kama lokas (realms of sensuality: the four lower realms of existence, and the seven human and celestial realms); the sixteen rupa-brahma lokas (where fine material body remains), and the four arupa-brahma lokas (non-material realms, where only mind remains).

At the last moment of this life, a specific bhava-sankhara will arise. This sankhara capable of giving a new birth will get connected with the vibrations of the related realm of existence. At the moment of death the whole field of thirty-one realms is open, so it depends on which sankhara arises as to which track the train of existence runs on next. In the same way a train gets shunted onto a new track, the force of the bhava-kamma reaction provides the push to the flow of consciousness into the next existence. For example, thebhava-kamma of anger or malice, being of the nature of heat and agitation, will unite with some lower field of existence. Similarly, one with the nature of metta (compassionate love), having peaceful and cool vibrations can only unite with some brahma-loka. This is the law of nature, and these laws are so perfectly "computerized" that there is never any flaw in the operation.

At the moment of death, generally, some intense sankhara will arise; it may be either of a wholesome nature or an unwholesome nature. For example, if one has murdered one's father or mother, or perhaps some saintly person, in this lifetime, then the memory of this episode will arise at the moment referral_form.htmlLikewise if one has done some deep meditation practice, a similar state of mind will arise.

When there is no such dense bhava-kamma to arise, then a comparatively less dense kamma will arise. Whatever memory is awakened will manifest as the kamma. For example, one may remember a wholesome kamma of giving food to a saintly person, or one may remember killing someone. Reflections on such past kammas as these may arise. Otherwise, objects related to the particular kamma may arise. One may see the plate full of food that was offered as dana, or the gun that was used to kill another. These are called the kamma-nimittas(signs).

In another case, a sign or a symbol of the next life may appear. This is called gati-nimitta (departing sign). These nimmitas correspond to whichever bhava-loka the flow is being attracted towards, such as the scene of some celestial world, or perhaps of an animal world. The dying person will often experience one of these signs as a forewarning, just as the train's headlight illuminates the track ahead. The vibrations of these nimittas are identical to the vibrations of the plane of existence of the next birth.

A good Vipassana meditator has the capacity to avoid the tracks leading to the lower realms of existence. He clearly understands the laws of nature, and practises to keep himself ready for death at all times. If he has reached an advanced age, there is all the more reason to remain aware every moment. What preparations are undertaken? One practises Vipassana, remaining equanimous to whatever sensations arise on the body and thereby breaking the habit pattern of reacting to the unpleasant sensations. Thus the mind, which is usually generating new unwholesome sankharas, develops a new habit of remaining equanimous. Very often at the time of death, if there are no very heavy sankharas to arise, habitual reactions occur; and as the new sankhara is being made, an old one from the storehouse might get stirred up onto the surface, gaining in strength as it arises.

At the approach of death, it is very likely that one will experience very unpleasant sensations. Old age, disease and death are dukkha (misery). They produce unpleasant sensations of a grosser type. If one is not skilful in observing these sensations with equanimity, then one will be likely to react with feelings of anger, irritation, maybe malice, which provides an opportunity for a bhava-sankhara of like vibration to arise. However, as in the cases of some well developed meditators, one can work to avoid reacting to these i mmensely painful sensations by maintaining equanimity at the time of death. Then, even those related bhava-sankharas lying deep in the bhavanga (seat of birth-producing kamma) will not have an opportunity to arise. An ordinary person will usually remain apprehensive, even terror-stricken at the approach of death and thus will give occasion for a fearful bhava-sankhara to surface. In the same way, grief, sorrow, depression, and other feelings may arise at the thought of separation from loved ones, and the related sankhara will come up and dominate the mind.

A Vipassana meditator, by observing all his or her sensations with equanimity, weakens the sankhara and thus does not allow it to arise at the time of death. The real preparation for death is this: developing a habit pattern of repeatedly observing the sensations manifesting in the body and mind with equanimity and with the understanding of anicca.

At the time of death, this strong habit of equanimity will automatically appear and the train of existence will link up with a track on which it will be possible to practise Vipassana in the new life. In this way, one saves oneself from birth in a lower realm and attains one of the higher realms, which is very important because Vipassana cannot be practised in the lower realms.

A meditator who is on the point of death is fortunate to have close relatives or friends nearby who can help maintain a good Dhamma atmosphere, free from lamenting and gloom; people who can practise Vipassana and generate vibrations of metta, which are most favourable for a peaceful death.

At times a non-meditator will attain a favourable rebirth at the time of death due to the the manifestation of wholesome bhava-sankharas such as generosity, morality and other strong wholesome qualities. But the special achievement of an established Vipassana meditator is that he enables himself to attain an existence where he can continue to practise Vipassana. In this way, by slowly decreasing the stock of accumulated bhava-sankharas stored in the bhavanga of his flow of consciousness, one shortens one's journey of becoming and reaches the goal sooner.

One comes into contact with the Dhamma in this life because of great merits one has performed in the past. Make this human life successful by practising Vipassana. Then whenever death comes, it will come with the experience of an equanimous mind, bringing with it well-being for the future.

N.B.: The analogy of a running train changing tracks should not be mistaken for transmigration, as no entity goes from one life to the next. Nothing passes to the next life except the force of the accumulated kamma sankharas.

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Death is auspicious for Vipassi, not inauspicious. Its pleasant not unpleasant, Its congrtulatory and not humiliation. When time ripens and age ritual is complere, then disintegration of body is must (to happen). No one can postpone this unbreakable law of nature (destiny). Mature practitionar accepts (wears) this inevitable death moment with a smile. In his stream of thoughts (consciousness) there is not an iota of fear or sorrow or uneasiness. At the time of death even if there is pain, even then his consciousness is not perturbed. As one sitting in Adhishtan (sitting with determination practise) is not affected by physical pain, similarly he is not disturbed at time of death if there is physical pain. He keeps awake mind always aware of fact of impermanence. In such a state when the body disintegrates, then the synthesis with first moment of next life (transformation) is doubtlessly leading to a place of salvation (Sadgati or one who ends in truth/ peace).
The Vipassi practitionar who practises Vipassana from the time of initiation till whole life, he is traveller on path of Dharma. ' Oppnayike' stands for a person who moves forward step by step. Death cannot halt his progress. Death is unable to interrupt the dharma stream in his consciousness (river). The progress remains (Stays). For a committed practitonar the 'oppnayike' nature presents itself as a help at moment of death. Sublime (promoted) future is ensured, Salvation (Sadgati or one who ends in truth / peace) is ensured.
Thats why true practitionar is not afraid of death. He neither desires death out of hatred (loathing) of life nor he is scared of death because of attachment (obsessed with love) to life. He is completely assured (faith) that death is a promotion, elevation. Hence death is a cause of celebration and not lamentation or grief. Vipassi practitionar learns the art of living. The auspicious art of dying is hidden in the art of livng. Even then deathbound Vipassi should be helped by other Vipassi practitionars who are nearby (the dying). The whole environment should be kept overflowing (submerged) with equanimous consciousness of Dharma. Thats why if there is a person with unstable mind (Chitta/ heart/ consciousness) or weak heart who is shedding tears, he should be immediately moved away as he should not become the reason for contamination of important moment ( disintegrating & forming consciousness ----dying rebirthing moment). If the deathbound person is not completely ripe (matured in dharma), then he may spoil his afterlife (parlok -beyond this planet) on seeing lamenting member of his family. All the practitionars present are required to do Vipassana sitting around the deathbound. They should generate Dhamma vibrations of impermanence or do mangal maitri for patient (Mangal maitri - auspicious friendliness meditation) That time the whole environement should be cleaned (whitened) with electric energy waves of Dhamma consciousness.
After death no one should cry, no one should lament. On the contrary, that the dead has reached Sadgati (salvation), keep the psyche happy. Always keep on generating mangal maitri for the departed. Keep on distributing your merits to the departed. What is does is that wherever the departed has taken birth, in his psyche there is a result of touch of Dharma consciousness and resultant his psyche would be peaceful, happy and ecstatic. If we are sad and lament for the departed all we do is send sorrow vibes from our psyche to them making them unhappy and sad. Hence they become restless and ends his peace and happiness. Donot be sad and donot be reason for anyone else's sadness. Always be happy and always be reason for happiness of others. This is the auspicious law for auspicious death.
Mangal Mitra Satyanarayan Goenka With gratitude- Vipassana journal Year 9, Issue 12

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I do not wish to convert people from one organized religion to another; I have no interest in any of these organized religions. My interest is in Dhamma the truth, the teachings of all Enlightened Ones. If at all there is any conversion, it should be from misery to happiness, from defilement to purity, from bondage to liberation, from ignorance to enlightenment.

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Teacher, A testimony of teaching....

John Coleman, an American who recently passed away, came to Sayagyi U Ba Khin in the last years of his life & learned Vipassana from him. Here is how he describes Sayagyi in his 1971 book "The Quiet Mind" -

U Ba Khin was a short stocky man with a round face, crew cut, a twinkle in his eyes and an extremely sharp mind. His output of work in his government positions, I learned, could hardly be matched by twenty good men. Arriving at his office in the morning he would attack his duties with enormous vigor. When he found himself getting fatigued he would adopt the lotus attitude in a specially designed chair at his desk, meditate for a few minutes to purge his mind and body of accumulated toxins, developed from the strain of the pace he kept up, then immediately return to work. It was his practice to continue this procedure throughout the day, thus demonstrating at least to an uninitiated onlooker like me some of the practical applications of meditation in everyday life.

For an elderly man—and he was in his seventies when I met him—he was a powerhouse of dynamic energy, sleeping only a few hours each day and dividing his time between government duties and his work at the meditation center. Here indeed, I thought, was a man who set a clear example that the teachings of Buddhism had something extraordinary to offer….

Here was a good man in the real sense of the word. A gentle, quietly spoken and humorous teacher of a faith which possessed the means of solving some of humanity’s problems, but which above all was a personal faith which, followed devoutly and practiced assiduously, could arm its adherents against the difficulties which life presents to the individual.

In the short time I spent with him I came to know U Ba Khin as a simple teacher, a profound thinker, a lover of beauty. He was passionately fond of orchids and there were thousands of these graceful flowers in the gardens of the meditation center. I had found that, to him, beauty, compassion, spiritual peace, truth, morality and so on were not just words, nor were they an end in themselves. They were a way of life, part of his very existence.

Master of Goenka

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Nature takes no sides, nature is impartial. You receive fruits according to your deeds.

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Every sensation shares the same characteristic: it arises and passes away, arises and passes away. It is this arising and passing that we have to experience through practice, not just accept as truth because Buddha said so, not just accept because intellectually it seems logical enough to us. We must experience sensation’s nature, understand its flux, and learn not to react to it.

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