How Dhamma Giri got its name

By | 5/17/2024
In mid March 1974, a Canadian meditator named Geo Poland moved, with Goenkaji's approval, into an old stone bungalow on the newly purchased hilltop property that was to become the first Vipassana meditation centre in India. A few weeks later, Graham Gambie, an Australian, arrived. The building that they chose to live in had for years been deserted and used by local herders as a stable. It required a thorough cleaning.

No Coincidences

By | 5/11/2024
Growing up in the land of superstitions and astrological readings, I have had my share of beliefs ranging from walking through a street crossed by a black cat can bring ill fortune to trying to change one’s destiny through the use of certain gemstones which hold the power to alter future life events. I even developed a pseudo-scientific theory to explain away why I would follow the practice of wearing multiple gemstones in specific fingers and set in rings made of suitably correlated metals to derive outcomes like “vanquish one’s adversaries” to more mundane ones like preserving good health and amassing a fortune. As I tasted the nectar of objectively observing my mind and body through Vipassana, I quickly concluded that my destiny wasn’t beholden to astrological charts or apparent omens that were simple and naturally occurring physical phenomena.

Manish Chopra

The Wheel of the Dhamma, Eight Spokes or Many?

By | 5/11/2024
A wheel (cakka) is a flat circular object that turns as it moves and is considered one of the most ground-breaking inventions in the history of technology. The ancient Indians used the wheel as a symbol for political sovereignty and dominion. The first Buddhists used it as a symbol for sovereignty too, but for spiritual rather than for worldly and political sovereignty. As most meditators will know, the Buddha’s first discourse is called ‘Setting in Motion the Wheel of the Dhamma’ and a wheel flanked on either side by a deer has long been a symbol of the Buddha’s teaching this first discourse in the Deer Park at Sarnath. The Buddha sometimes made allusions to the wheel in his discourses; for example, he said: “Generosity, kindly speech, doing good for others and treating them with impartiality are to the world what the linchpin (ani) is to the wheel, keeping it turning smoothly.”

Cultural Sensitivities and Awareness

By | 4/27/2024
In March 1974, about the same time that the first foreign meditators came to live at the new Vipassana centre in Igatpuri, Chandra Mohan Jain, calling himself Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, relocated from Mumbai to establish an ashram in Pune. He had already developed a reputation as a controversial guru by rejecting traditional religious and ascetic practices and expressing opinions on moral values that were opposed by most ordinary Indians. His young Western devotees, in their maroon or ochre robes, soon became a common sight in the city. Rumours circulated and began to appear in newspapers, containing allegations of drug use and sexual improprieties that tarnished his ashram's image.

Narayan Dasarwar

The Buddha You Never Knew

By | 4/14/2024
According to the most ancient sources, several months after the Buddha passed away, 500 monks, all of them Awakened, met together in Rājagaha and held what is usually called the First Council (sangīti pariyāya). The purpose of convening this council was to make sure that what the Buddha had taught during the previous forty five years would not be forgotten. The arahats and probably many others too, believed that the Buddha’s Dhamma was too precious, too important to be confused or forgotten. It had done so much for them, leading them to awakening (bodhi), that they wanted to make sure that others, at that time and forever after, would have the chance of attaining the freedom and peace of Nirvana too. It is likely that the arahats did not preserve everything the Buddha had said, because he had repeated some things many times, but they did preserve what they judged to be the essentials.

Goenkaji First Steps Foot on the Land

By | 3/29/2024
December 16, 1973, was the last day of my first meditation course at the Bhatia Sanatorium, a resort in nearby Deolali. That day, we new students learned that Goenkaji was looking for land, not too far from Mumbai, for a Vipassana centre. After breakfast, Bhojraj Sancheti and I met with him and suggested that there were some properties in nearby Igatpuri that might be suitable. We requested Guruji to pause on his way to Mumbai and visit them for a few minutes later that day. At first he declined, but then gave in to our entreaties. We were happy to hear this and broke the news to our fellow students. Most were heading elsewhere, but after learning of Guruji's intention, one of them, Rangil Mehta, a friend of Bhojraj, revised his plans and offered to give us a lift to Igatpuri since he too was headed to Mumbai.

Starting Again

By | 2/23/2024

A Reflection on Service

By | 2/23/2024
People typically come to meditation with a purpose. Whether or not we know of the First Noble Truth, suffering is an intrinsic part of our experience, and the desire to alleviate that suffering is powerful. In my own case, I took up Vipassana out of desperation, not really understanding what I was getting into. Difficulties at work and at home seemed insurmountable, so I turned to a technique that seemed – to a neophyte – esoteric but promising.

Dwelling in the Mettā-Verse

By | 1/19/2024
While it is likely that humankind will continue to pursue alternative or altered forms of reality through virtual or imposed means as a form of escape from their mundane existence and providers of such services will feed off of the dissatisfaction we experience in a real world, a different universe of positive energy is available to use if we can tune our inner antennas to the forces of Mettā.

Clarification of Mindfulness in the Context of Vipassana Meditation

By | 12/12/2023
For a person who chooses to practice Vipassana meditation in the tradition of S. N. Goenka and teachers of his lineage, mindfulness is a central component of an integrated, well-rounded practice. Mindfulness is not utilized as an isolated entity, but as a guiding feature of a full meditation that leads to wisdom and growth on the path to liberation.

Mountain Palace

By | 11/19/2023

Amor Saṅkhāras

By | 11/19/2023
I’m grateful for my saṅkhāras, especially the profound ones that occasionally disrupt my equanimity. These mental formations motivate me to sustain my meditation practice, helping me manage and ultimately dissolve my suffering.

Residing at Nan Oo Taik Monastery

By | 10/24/2023
[8] Back after an overnight break at Shwebo, the pagoda spire shines clearly from a kilometre away, a citadel. A burgeoning of the heart:

Transmitting the Dhamma in Word and in Deed: An Interview with Bhikkhu Bodhi

By | 9/17/2023
Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi is one of the most prolific translators and interpreters of the Pāli Canon. The American Buddhist monk’s translations include the Majjhima Nikāya (with Bhikkhu Ñaṇamoli), the Saṃyutta Nikāya, the Aṅguttara Nikāya, and the Suttanipāta. His influential anthologies such as In the Words of the Buddha and The Buddha’s Teachings on Social and Communal Harmony, as well as his collections of essays such as Investigating the Dhamma and Dhamma Reflections have guided seekers and scholars alike in their explorations of the Buddha’s teachings.

Four Noble Truths

By | 9/9/2023

The Non-Linearity of Life

By | 9/9/2023
Wouldn’t things be so much simpler if life progressed in a straight line and predictable manner? As everyone can attest, nothing could be further from that expectation. And yet despite these lived experiences, we continue hoping, praying, and wishing that things turn out the way we want them to (and when we want them to) manifest in a certain expected manner. How much fret and struggle when that turns out, often enough, to not be the case.

A Stupa Over India: The Renaissance of the Dhamma

By | 8/12/2023
A Stupa Over India: The Renaissance of the Dhamma

Fig.1 Rashtrapati Bhavan

Some 900 years ago, the Dhamma, the teachings of the Buddha, faced a profound challenge after being uprooted from India. But history has a penchant for surprises, and so it was that the Dhamma would rise again in the land of its origin.

Spoiler Alert: Serving a Vipassana Course Can Be Fun

By | 8/6/2023
Nobody told me that serving a Vipassana course could be fun. Or maybe they did, and I didn’t listen. I had faith that it would be fulfilling and deepen my practice but didn’t realize that I could have a good time along the way. So, if you don’t know, or someone told you and you didn’t listen, I’m here to tell you something. Serving a Vipassana course can be fun!

Discovering Dhamma: Helping My Son take Small Steps on His Own Path

By | 7/6/2023

Introducing children to the teachings of the Buddha and the practice of meditation is a topic that has increasingly occupied my thoughts, particularly as I consider my eight-year-old son.

Reflecting upon my own actions and their impact on him, I realize that being a positive role model is of utmost importance. Observing how he sees me as a person and perceives me during times of conflict, understanding the role that I play within our family, witnessing his reactions when I interact with strangers, discussing life's situations with him, all are crucial factors in shaping his understanding of the world.

Transmission of Gratitude

By | 6/20/2023
Transmission of Gratitude
Andrée François

True Heritage

By | 6/20/2023

Like an old friend,
a friend you may have forgotten momentarily,
but whom you remember with joy,
whom you greet with an expressive hug,
like this is one’s own purification
when a word of Dhamma is heard,
when a Blessed One’s image is seen.

The Importance of Friendship, Harmony, and Right Speech, Part 2 of 2

By | 6/20/2023
Many years ago, in the 1980s, when Goenkaji was first appointing Assistant Teachers, he was asked about the qualities needed for this position. His answer surprised me. He could have said, “The person must have deep meditation, must have a good understanding of Dhamma…”– all those kinds of things. But he didn’t. He said the single most important thing was for an AT to not develop or nurture a group of students around him who would admire him, support him whatever he does, and follow him everywhere. In other words, no groupism. If an AT is trying to do that, they are not practicing Dhamma.

Dhamma Willing

By | 6/8/2023
Dhamma willing as a notion is naturally a play on the more well-known and frequently used phrases like “God willing” or “Inshallah.” These and countless other similar legislates imply that instead of tossing and turning in times of great difficulty or dilemma, it’s optimal to surrender to some higher power that we trust or respect as a general maximum to living a stress-free life.

Meditation Atmosphere

By | 6/8/2023
Meditation Atmosphere
David Aron

I Know a Place

By | 6/8/2023
I know a place
Where the land is pure
And eagle soar,
Where the mountains surround you
And the silence astounds you,
Its like no place you’ve ever been before.
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