Introduction to the Technique
Vipassana is an ancient meditation technique of India. Long lost to humanity, it was rediscovered by Gotama the Buddha more than 2,500 years ago. Vipassana means to see things as they really are. It is a process of objective scientific observation of one’s own body and mind, a powerful exercise in mental training.
One starts by observing the natural breath to concentrate the mind. With this sharpened awareness one proceeds to observe the changing nature of body and mind and experiences the universal truths of impermanence, suffering and egolessness. This direct experience of reality is the process of purification. The entire Path (Dhamma) is a universal remedy for universal problems. It has nothing to do with any organised religion or sectarianism. For this reason, it can be practiced freely by all without conflict with race, caste or religion.
Vipassana aims at the highest spiritual goal of total liberation—total freedom from mental defilements such as anger, fear, sadness, hatred, jealousy, ego, greed etc. As a byproduct of mental purification, many psychosomatic diseases get eradicated but that is not the main aim of Vipassana. Actually, it is an art of living which eliminates the three causes of all unhappiness: craving, aversion and ignorance. Vipassana develops positive creative energy for the betterment of the individual and society.
Training one’s mind is certainly never easy: one has to work really hard at it. By his own efforts the student arrives at his own realisations; no one else can work for him. Therefore, the meditation will suit only those willing to work seriously and observe the discipline especially the Noble Silence, which is actually for their own benefit and protection. The rules and regulations are an integral part of the meditation practice.
Code of Discipline
Seven days is certainly a very short period in which to penetrate to the deepest levels of the mind and learn how to eradicate harmful complexes. Continuity of practice in seclusion is the secret of success of this technique. The rules and regulations have been formulated keeping this practical aspect in view. The rules are not for the benefit of the management, nor are they negative expressions of blind faith in some organised religion. Rather, they are based on the practical experience of thousands of meditators over the years and are scientific and rational. Keeping the rules creates a very conducive atmosphere for meditation; breaking them pollutes it.
The first and foremost rule is that a student will have to stay on for the complete seven days. Besides this, the other rules should also be read and carefully considered. Only those who feel that they can honestly and scrupulously follow the discipline should apply for admission.
Those not prepared to make full-hearted efforts will only waste their time and worse still, cause a disturbance to those others who wish to work seriously. It may be that a student cannot understand the practical reasons for one or several of the above rules. Rather than allowing himself to develop negativity and doubt, he should immediately seek clarification from the Teacher or management.
All students will have to observe rigorously the following precepts:
- Abstention from killing.
- Abstention from stealing.
- Abstention from all sexual activities.
- Abstention from telling lies.
- Abstention from all intoxicants.
Acceptance of the Teacher and Technique
For the period of the course the student must surrender himself completely to the Teacher and the technique of Vipassana, and to all the rules, regulations, code of discipline and the course timetable. Only with the attitude of full cooperation can one work diligently and thoroughly. The surrender should be with discrimination and understanding, not with any blind faith. Such confidence in the Teacher and technique is essential for the student's proper guidance and protection.
Rites, Rituals and other Techniques
For the period of the course it is absolutely essential that all rites and rituals, such as counting beads, reciting mantras, singing and dancing, total fasting, praying etc. be totally suspended. All other meditation practices should also be suspended without condemning them. Only then the student can give a fair trial to the Vipassana technique in its pristine purity. Students are strongly warned against mixing any type of practice with Vipassana. Despite repeated warnings by the Teacher, there have been cases in the past where students have deliberately mixed Vipassana with some other ritual or practice and harmed themselves. Students joining a course will be expected to work exactly as they are instructed by the Teacher without missing any step or adding anything extra on their own. Any doubts or confusions which may arise can always be clarified by meeting the Teacher.
Yoga and Physical Exercise
Although Yogasanas and other exercises are compatible with Vipassana, they should also be suspended because, at present, proper secluded facilities are not available at the Academy. Students may exercise by walking in the areas set aside for this purpose. But one should not practice Pranayama.
Students must observe Noble Silence from the start of the course until 10.00 a.m. on Day-7. Noble Silence is silence of body, speech and mind. Any form of communication, whether by physical gestures, written notes, sign language, etc., is prohibited. The student may speak to the Teacher whenever necessary. He may also contact the Management regarding any problems concerning accommodation, food, etc.
Talismans, Rosaries, Sacred Threads etc
All such items should not be brought to the Academy. If they are brought inadvertently, they should be deposited with the Management for the duration of the course.
Students are also requested not to bring any jewellery or valuables with them as proper arrangements for their safe-keeping do not exist. If however these items have been brought, they may deposit them with the Management at
their own risk.
As there are no proper facilities for shopping, students should bring all their requirements such as soap, toothpaste, mosquito repellent, torch, etc. The Academy will provide mattresses and meditation cushions. Students should bring their own bedsheets.
Intoxicants and Drugs
The laws of this country prohibit the possession of hashish, marijuana, etc. These are strictly forbidden in the Academy. Those taking medicines or drugs on doctor's prescription should notify the Teacher.
Smoking or chewing tobacco is not allowed inside the Academy.
There should be modesty and decorum in dress within the Academy, suited to the serious nature of the work. Backs, chests, legs etc. should be kept covered, even during hot weather. Transparent and revealing dresses are not allowed and sun-bathing is forbidden.
Students will have to remain inside the Academy for the entire course. They may leave only with the specific consent of the Teacher. All telephone calls, letters and contacts with visitors will have to be suspended. In any emergency a visitor may contact the Management. Students are also requested not to communicate with the Academy staff (except the Management). During the course student should not keep mobile phone with him.
It is not possible to cater to the special food requirements of all the students, coming as they do from so many different countries and cultures. The students are kindly requested to make do with the Indian vegetarian menu provided. If a student has been prescribed a special diet because of ill-health, he should inform the Management in advance at the time of applying for the course.
Reading and Writing
No writing or reading materials, religious works and even books on Vipassana, should be brought into the Academy. Students should not distract themselves by taking notes. The restriction on reading and writing is to emphasise the strictly practical nature of this meditation.
Tape Recorders and Cameras
These can be used only with the specific permission of the Teacher.
Cost of Boarding and Lodging
There is absolutely no charge for the Dhamma Teaching. The cost of all boarding and lodging is met by donations of past students and these donations also cover all other expenses such as administration, salaries, postage, taxes, light, water, overheads etc. The Academy has no other source of income. The construction of the Academy was also made possible by the donations of students and the proposed new construction work will have to be financed in the same way. But according to the tradition of pure Dhamma, donations small or large are accepted only from such students who have actually benefited themselves by taking a Dhamma course and who have developed a strong wish that the Wheel of Dhamma may keep turning so that more and more people can be benefited by it with adequate facilities.
For this reason, no donation is accepted from a new student on his joining the course. However, at the end of the course, he is welcome to express his feeling of satisfaction and goodwill by offering donation in keeping with his volition.
May All Beings Be Happy!
The following timetable has been designed to maintain the continuity of practice. Students are advised to follow it as scrupulously as possible for best results.
|5.00 am||Wake up time|
|5.30 to 6.30 am||First Session|
|6.30 to 8.00 am||Breakfast break|
|8.00 to 8.45 am||Group Sitting|
|9.00 to 10.15 am||Meditation and Checking|
|10.30 to 11.15 am||Morning Discourse|
|11.15 to 11.45 am||Questions and Answers|
|11.45am to 1:45 pm||Lunch + Rest|
|1.45 to 2.15 pm||Meditation|
|2.30 to 3.15 pm||Group Sitting|
|3.30 to 4.30 pm||Meditation and Checking|
|4.30 to 5.00 pm||Tea/Milk and Snacks|
|5.20 to 5.50 pm||Walking|
|6.00 to 6.45 pm||Group Sitting|
|6.50 to 7.30 pm||Dinner|
|7.45 to 8.30 pm||Evening Discourse|
|8.45 to 9.00 pm||Meditation|
|9.00 to 9.30 pm||Evening Q & A|
Note: During group sittings, all students should stay in the hall.
May the above rules and regulations, code of discipline and timetable help you to obtain maximum benefit from your meditation course!