Vipassana, which means to see things as they really are, is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. It was taught in India more than 2500 years ago as a universal remedy for universal ills, i.e., an Art of Living. For those who are not familiar with Vipassana Meditation, an Introduction to Vipassana by Mr. Goenka & related videos and Questions & Answers about Vipassana are available.

Locations

Courses are given in numerous Meditation Centers and at Non-Center course locations at rented sites. Each location has its own schedule of courses. In most cases, an application for admission to these courses can be completed online at this website. There are many Vipassana Centers throughout the world in India and elsewhere in Asia/Pacific, in North America, in Latin America, in Europe, in Australia/New Zealand, in the Middle East and in Africa. Ten day non-center courses are frequently held at many locations outside of Centers as they are arranged by local students of Vipassana in those areas. An alphabetical list of worldwide course locations is available as well as a graphical interface of course locations worldwide and in India and Nepal.

Special Courses and Resources

Vipassana Meditation courses are also being taught in prisons. A special 10-day Vipassana course especially for business executives and government officials is being held periodically at several centers around the world. For additional information visit the Executive Course Website. Information on Vipassana Meditation is also available in the other languages. Click on the globe on the top right of the page to select a language.

Course Type

Old Student Short Courses (1-3 days) are for any student who has completed the 10-day course with S.N. Goenka and his assistant teachers. All old students are welcome to apply to attend these courses, including those where it has been some time since their last course.

10-day Courses are an introductory course to Vipassana Meditation where the technique is taught step-by-step each day. The courses begin after a 2 – 4 pm registration period and orientation, followed by 10 full days of meditation, and end the morning of the 11th day by 7:30 am.

THE COURSE TIMETABLE

The following timetable for the course has been designed to maintain the continuity of practice. For best results students are advised to follow it as closely as possible.

4:00 am Morning wake-up bell
4:30-6:30 am Meditate in the hall or in your room
6:30-8:00 am Breakfast break
8:00-9:00 am Group meditation in the hall
9:00-11:00 am Meditate in the hall or in your room according to the teacher’s instructions
11:00-12:00 noon Lunch break
12 noon-1:00 pm Rest and interviews with the teacher
1:00-2:30 pm Meditate in the hall or in your room
2:30-3:30 pm Group meditation in the hall
3:30-5:00 pm Meditate in the hall or in your own room according to the teacher’s instructions
5:00-6:00 pm Tea break
6:00-7:00 pm Group meditation in the hall
7:00-8:15 pm Teacher’s Discourse in the hall
8:15-9:00 pm Group meditation in the hall
9:00-9:30 pm Question time in the hall
9:30 pm Retire to your own room–Lights out

You may download a copy of the above Code of Discipline in Adobe Acrobat format here for careful reading and review before you register for a course. You may apply for a Vipassana meditation course by completing and submitting an application for a scheduled course.

10-day Executive Courses are an introductory course to Vipassana Meditation especially for business executives and government officials where the technique is taught step-by-step each day. For more information please visit the Executive course website. The courses begin after a 2-4 pm registration period and orientation, followed by 10 full days of meditation, and end the morning of the 11th day by 7:30am.

10-day Courses for Old Students have the same timetable and discipline as 10-day courses. These courses are open to serious old students who have completed at least three 10-day courses and one Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta course, have not been practising any other meditation techniques since last 10-day course, have been practising this technique of Vipassana for at least one year, are trying to maintain the five precepts in their daily lives, and trying to maintain daily practice.

Special 10-day Courses are open only to serious Old Students committed to this technique who have completed a minimum of five 10-day courses, one Satipatthana Sutta course, given Dhamma Service at least one 10-day course, and have been practicing regularly for at least two years.

20-day Courses are open only to serious Old Students committed to this technique who have completed a minimum of five 10-day courses , one Satipatthana Sutta course, given Dhamma Service at least one 10-day course, and have been practicing regularly for at least two years.

30-day Courses are open only to serious Old Students committed to this technique who have completed a minimum of six 10-day courses (one since their first 20-day course), one 20-day course, one Satipatthana Sutta course, and have been practicing regularly for at least two years.

45-day Courses are open only to persons involved in Dhamma Service and Assistant Teachers who have completed a minimum of seven 10-day courses (one since their first 30-day course), two 30-day courses, one Satipatthana Sutta course, and have been practicing regularly for at least three years.

60-day Courses are open only to active Teachers and Assistant teachers who have completed two 45 Day courses and conduct at least 4 courses annually.

This is 7 Days Vipassana course for Teenagers of age group 15 to 19 years old.

9-day Courses are an introductory course to Vipassana Meditation where the technique is taught step-by-step each day. The courses begin after a 2 – 4 pm registration period and orientation, followed by 9 full days of meditation, and end the morning of the 10th day by 7:30 am.

Children’s Courses are open for all children aged 8-12 years old who wish to learn to meditate. Their parents/guardians do not have to be meditators.

Old Student Programs are similar to Service Periods where there is time to work on a variety of Centre maintenance, construction, household and gardening projects, but have a more full and structured program, an opportunity to meet with assistant teachers, and possibly committee and trust meetings. All Old Students are welcome to participate. The daily program will include three group sittings with morning and afternoon work periods and in the evening there will be tapes played of special discourses and talks that S.N. Goenka has given to Old Students.

Open Houses are held between meditation courses. All are welcome to attend and learn about Vipassana Meditation and the Center.

Satipatthana Sutta Courses have the same timetable and discipline as 10-day courses. The difference is that in the taped evening discourses the Satipatthana Sutta is carefully examined. This is the principal text in which the technique of Vipassana is systematically explained. These courses are open to serious old students who have sat (not including courses served) at least three 10-day courses, have not been practising any other meditation techniques since last 10-day course, have been practising this technique of Vipassana for at least one year, and who are trying to maintain their meditation practice and the five precepts in their daily lives, at the very minimum from the time of applying to the course.

Old Student Self Courses have the same timetable and discipline as a 10-day course. The difference is that there is no teacher in attendance. These courses are open to serious old students who have completed at least three 10-day courses, have not been practicing any other meditation techniques since their last 10-day course, have been practicing this technique of Vipassana for at least one year, and who are trying to maintain the five Precepts in their daily lives.

Service Periods have been set aside to work on a variety of Centre maintenance, construction, household and gardening projects. All Old Students are welcome to participate. The daily program will include three group sittings with morning and afternoon work periods. On selected evenings, there will be tapes played of special discourses and talks that S.N. Goenka has given to Old Students.

Teenagers’ Anapana Courses are available for teens in different age ranges from 13-18 years old. Their parents/guardians do not have to be Vipassana meditators.

Vipassana Meditation

Vipassana, which means to see things as they really are, is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. It was rediscovered by Gotama Buddha more than 2500 years ago and was taught by him as a universal remedy for universal ills, i.e., an Art Of Living. This non-sectarian technique aims for the total eradication of mental impurities and the resultant highest happiness of full liberation.

Vipassana is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body, and that continuously interconnect and condition the life of the mind. It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion.

The scientific laws that operate one’s thoughts, feelings, judgements and sensations become clear. Through direct experience, the nature of how one grows or regresses, how one produces suffering or frees oneself from suffering is understood. Life becomes characterized by increased awareness, non-delusion, self-control and peace.

The Tradition

Since the time of Buddha, Vipassana has been handed down, to the present day, by an unbroken chain of teachers. Although Indian by descent, the current teacher in this chain, Mr. S.N. Goenka, was born and raised in Burma (Myanmar). While living there he had the good fortune to learn Vipassana from his teacher, Sayagyi U Ba Khin who was at the time a high Government official. After receiving training from his teacher for fourteen years, Mr. Goenka settled in India and began teaching Vipassana in 1969. Since then he has taught tens of thousands of people of all races and all religions in both the East and West. In 1982 he began to appoint assistant teachers to help him meet the growing demand for Vipassana courses.

The Courses

The technique is taught at ten-day residential courses during which participants follow a prescribed Code of Discipline, learn the basics of the method, and practice sufficiently to experience its beneficial results.

The course requires hard, serious work. There are three steps to the training. The first step is, for the period of the course, to abstain from killing, stealing, sexual activity, speaking falsely, and intoxicants. This simple code of moral conduct serves to calm the mind, which otherwise would be too agitated to perform the task of self-observation. The next step is to develop some mastery over the mind by learning to fix one’s attention on the natural reality of the ever changing flow of breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils. By the fourth day the mind is calmer and more focused, better able to undertake the practice of Vipassana itself: observing sensations throughout the body, understanding their nature, and developing equanimity by learning not to react to them. Finally, on the last full day participants learn the meditation of loving kindness or goodwill towards all, in which the purity developed during the course is shared with all beings.

The entire practice is actually a mental training. Just as we use physical exercises to improve our bodily health, Vipassana can be used to develop a healthy mind.

Because it has been found to be genuinely helpful, great emphasis is put on preserving the technique in its original, authentic form. It is not taught commercially, but instead is offered freely. No person involved in its teaching receives any material remuneration. There are no charges for the courses – not even to cover the cost of food and accommodation. All expenses are met by donations from people who, having completed a course and experienced the benefits of Vipassana, wish to give others the opportunity to benefit from it also.

Of course, the results come gradually through continued practice. It is unrealistic to expect all problems to be solved in ten days. Within that time, however, the essentials of Vipassana can be learned so that it can be applied in daily life. The more the technique is practiced, the greater the freedom from misery, and the closer the approach to the ultimate goal of full liberation. Even ten days can provide results which are vivid and obviously beneficial in everyday life.

All sincere people are welcome to join a Vipassana course to see for themselves how the technique works and to measure the benefits. All those who try it will find Vipassana to be an invaluable tool with which to achieve and share real happiness with others.

 

Introduction to the Technique

Vipassana is one of India’s most ancient meditation techniques. Long lost to humanity, it was rediscovered by Gotama the Buddha more than 2500 years ago. The word Vipassana means seeing things as they really are. It is the process of self- purification by self-observation. One begins by observing the natural breath to concentrate the mind. With a sharpened awareness one proceeds to observe the changing nature of body and mind and experiences the universal truths of impermanence, suffering and egolessness. This truth-realization by direct experience is the process of purification. The entire path (Dhamma) is a universal remedy for universal problems and has nothing to do with any organized religion or sectarianism. For this reason, it can be freely practiced by everyone, at any time, in any place, without conflict due to race, community or religion, and will prove equally beneficial to one and all.

What Vipassana is not:

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 socializing.

It is not an escape from the trials and tribulations of everyday life.

What Vipassana is:

It is a technique that will eradicate suffering.

It is a method of mental purification which allows one to face life’s tensions and problems in a calm, balanced way.

It is an art of living that one can use to make positive contributions to society.

Vipassana meditation aims at the highest spiritual goals of total liberation and full enlightenment. Its purpose is never simply to cure physical disease. However, as a by-product of mental purification, many psychosomatic diseases are eradicated. In fact, Vipassana eliminates the three causes of all unhappiness: craving, aversion and ignorance. With continued practice, the meditation releases the tensions developed in everyday life, opening the knots tied by the old habit of reacting in an unbalanced way to pleasant and unpleasant situations.

Although Vipassana was developed as a technique by the Buddha, its practice is not limited to Buddhists. There is absolutely no question of conversion. The technique works on the simple basis that all human beings share the same problems and a technique which can eradicate these problems will have a universal application. People from many religious denominations have experienced the benefits of Vipassana meditation, and have found no conflict with their profession of faith.

Meditation and Self-discipline

The process of self-purification by introspection is certainly never easy–students have to work very hard at it. By their own efforts students arrive at their own realizations; no one else can do this for them. Therefore, the meditation will suit only those willing to work seriously and observe the discipline, which is there for the benefit and protection of the meditators and is an integral part of the meditation practice.

Ten days is certainly a very short time in which to penetrate the deepest levels of the unconscious mind and learn how to eradicate the complexes lying there. Continuity of the practice in seclusion is the secret of this technique’s success. Rules and regulations have been developed keeping this practical aspect in mind. They are not primarily for the benefit of the teacher or the course management, nor are they negative expressions of tradition, orthodoxy or blind faith in some organized religion. Rather, they are based on the practical experience of thousands of meditators over the years and are both scientific and rational. Abiding by the rules creates a very conducive atmosphere for meditation; breaking them pollutes it.

A student will have to stay for the entire period of the course. The other rules should also be carefully read and considered. Only those who feel that they can honestly and scrupulously follow the discipline should apply for admission. Those not prepared to make a determined effort will waste their time and, moreover, will disturb others who wish to work seriously. A prospective student should also understand that it would be both disadvantageous and inadvisable to leave without finishing the course upon finding the discipline too difficult. Likewise, it would be most unfortunate if, in spite of repeated reminders, a student does not follow the rules and has to be asked to leave.

Persons With Serious Mental Disorders

People with serious mental disorders have occasionally come to Vipassana courses with the unrealistic expectation that the technique will cure or alleviate their mental problems. Unstable interpersonal relationships and a history of various treatments can be additional factors which make it difficult for such people to benefit from, or even complete, a ten-day course. Our capacity as a nonprofessional volunteer organization makes it impossible for us to properly care for people with these backgrounds. Although Vipassana meditation is beneficial for most people, it is not a substitute for medical or psychiatric treatment and we do not recommend it for people with serious psychiatric disorders.

The Code of Discipline

The foundation of the practice is sīla — moral conduct. Sīla provides a basis for the development of samādhi — concentration of mind; and purification of the mind is achieved through paññā — the wisdom of insight.

The Precepts

All who attend a Vipassana course must conscientiously undertake the following five precepts for the duration of the course:

to abstain from killing any being;

to abstain from stealing;

to abstain from all sexual activity;

to abstain from telling lies;

to abstain from all intoxicants.

There are three additional precepts which old students (that is, those who have completed a course with S.N. Goenka or one of his assistant teachers) are expected to follow during the course:

to abstain from eating after midday;

to abstain from sensual entertainment and bodily decorations;

to abstain from using high or luxurious beds.

Old students will observe the sixth precept by having tea without milk or fruit juice at the 5 p.m. break, whereas new student may have tea with milk and some fruit. The teacher may excuse an old student from observing this precept for health reasons. The seventh and eighth precept will be observed by all.

Acceptance of the Teacher and the Technique

Students must declare themselves willing to comply fully and for the duration of the course with the teacher’s guidance and instructions; that is, to observe the discipline and to meditate exactly as the teacher asks, without ignoring any part of the instructions, nor adding anything to them. This acceptance should be one of discrimination and understanding, not blind submission. Only with an attitude of trust can a student work diligently and thoroughly. Such confidence in the teacher and the technique is essential for success in meditation.

Other Techniques, Rites, and Forms of Worship

During the course it is absolutely essential that all forms of prayer, worship, or religious ceremony — fasting, burning incense, counting beads, reciting mantras, singing and dancing, etc. — be discontinued. All other meditation techniques and healing or spiritual practices should also be suspended. This is not to condemn any other technique or practice, but to give a fair trial to the technique of Vipassana in its purity.

Students are strongly advised that deliberately mixing other techniques of meditation with Vipassana will impede and even reverse their progress. Despite repeated warnings by the teacher, there have been cases in the past where students have intentionally mixed this technique with a ritual or another practice, and have done themselves a great disservice. Any doubts or confusion which may arise should always be clarified by meeting with the teacher.

Interviews With the Teacher

The teacher is available to meet students privately between 12 Noon and 1:00 p.m. Questions may also be asked in public between 9:00 and 9:30 p.m. in the meditation hall. The interview and question times are for clarifying the technique and for questions arising from the evening discourses.

Noble Silence

All students must observe Noble Silence from the beginning of the course until the morning of the last full day. Noble Silence means silence of body, speech, and mind. Any form of communication with fellow student, whether by gestures, sign language, written notes, etc., is prohibited.

Students may, however, speak with the teacher whenever necessary and they may approach the management with any problems related to food, accommodation, health, etc. But even these contacts should be kept to a minimum. Students should cultivate the feeling that they are working in isolation.

Separation of Men and Women

Complete segregation of men and women is to be maintained. Couples, married or otherwise, should not contact each other in any way during the course. The same applies to friends, members of the same family, etc.

Physical Contact

It is important that throughout the course there be no physical contact whatsoever between persons of the same or opposite sex.

Yoga and Physical Exercise

Although physical yoga and other exercises are compatible with Vipassana, they should be suspended during the course because proper secluded facilities are not available at the course site. Jogging is also not permitted. Students may exercise during rest periods by walking in the designated areas.

Religious Objects, Rosaries, Crystals, Talismans, etc.

No such items should be brought to the course site. If brought inadvertently they should be deposited with the management for the duration of the course.

Intoxicants and Drugs

No drugs, alcohol, or other intoxicants should be brought to the site; this also applies to tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and all other sedatives. Those taking medicines or drugs on a doctor’s prescription should notify the teacher.

Tobacco

For the health and comfort of all students, smoking, chewing tobacco, and taking snuff are not permitted at the course.

Food

It is not possible to satisfy the special food preferences and requirements of all the meditators. Students are therefore kindly requested to make do with the simple vegetarian meals provided. The course management endeavors to prepare a balanced, wholesome menu suitable for meditation. If any students have been prescribed a special diet because of ill-health, they should inform the management at the time of application. Fasting is not permitted.

Clothing

Dress should be simple, modest, and comfortable. Tight, transparent, revealing, or otherwise striking clothing (such as shorts, short skirts, tights and leggings, sleeveless or skimpy tops) should not be worn. Sunbathing and partial nudity are not permitted. This is important in order to minimize distraction to others.

Laundry and Bathing

No washing machines or dryers are available, so students should bring sufficient clothing. Small items can be hand-washed. Bathing and laundry may be done only in the break periods and not during meditation hours.

Outside Contacts

Students must remain within the course boundaries throughout the course. They may leave only with the specific consent of the teacher. No outside communications is allowed before the course ends. This includes letters, phone calls and visitors. Cell phones, pagers, and other electronic devices must be deposited with the management until the course ends. In case of an emergency, a friend or relative may contact the management.

Music, Reading and Writing

The playing of musical instruments, radios, etc. is not permitted. No reading or writing materials should be brought to the course. Students should not distract themselves by taking notes. The restriction on reading and writing is to emphasize the strictly practical nature of this meditation.

Recording Devices and Cameras

These may not be used except with the express permission of the teacher.

Course Finances

According to the tradition of pure Vipassana, courses are run solely on a donation basis. Donations are accepted only from those who have completed at least one ten-day course with S.N. Goenka or one of his assisting teachers. Someone taking the course for the first time may give a donation on the last day of the course or any time thereafter.

In this way courses are supported by those who have realized for themselves the benefits of the practice. Wishing to share these benefits with others, one gives a donation according to one’s means and volition. Such donations are the only source of funding for course in this tradition around the world. There is no wealthy foundation or individual sponsoring them. Neither the teachers nor the organizers receive any kind of payment for their service. Thus, the spread of Vipassana is carried out with purity of purpose, free from any commercialism.

Whether a donation is large or small, it should be given with the wish to help others: ‘The course I have taken has been paid for through the generosity of past students; now let me give something towards the cost of a future course, so that others may also benefit by this technique.’

Take great care that your actions do not disturb anyone. Take no notice of distractions caused by others.

It may be that a student cannot understand the practical reasons for one or several of the above rules. Rather than allow negativity and doubt to develop, immediate clarification should be sought from the teacher.

It is only by taking a disciplined approach and by making maximum effort that a student can fully grasp the practice and benefit from it. The emphasis during the course is on work. A golden rule is to meditate as if one were alone, with one’s mind turned inward, ignoring any inconveniences and distractions that one may encounter.

Finally, students should note that their progress in Vipassana depends solely on their own good qualities and personal development and on five factors: earnest efforts, confidence, sincerity, health and wisdom.

May the above information help you to obtain maximum benefit from your meditation course. We are happy to have the opportunity to serve, and wish you peace and harmony from your experience of Vipassana.

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Vipassana Meditation in Mt. Abu
Sambhodi Upvan, Adhyatmika Shodh Sansthan,
Ahead of Gujarat Bhavan, Gomukh Road, Mt. Abu, Rajasthan, India

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