"It is natural for misconceptions to arise in the minds of uninformed people about this Pagoda. They may feel that the symbol of some sectarian religion is being created. But when they see that no other religious ritual is being performed, there is no sign of incense, lamps, offerings, bells or idol worship, and only Vipassana meditation is practised - this misconception will be dispelled."
The Global Vipassana Pagoda, the Lighthouse of Dhamma, is facing threat of mismanagement by some misguided elements. The happenings of January 14, 2018, serve a warning for taking necessary steps to protect the purity of the Global Pagoda.
January 14, 2018, was scheduled as a special one-day course in commemoration of the passing-away anniversary of Sayagyi U Ba Khin and our Dhamma Mother Mataji (Mrs Illaichi Devi Goenka). Instead, the Dhamma Hall for meditation was filled with chairs, no meditation cushions, and the main Pagoda dome turned into a publicity function to receive the President of India and other local dignitaries. Instead of serious meditation, there were speeches.
The Global Vipassana Pagoda is a place for serious meditation for Vipassana meditators, and to share accurate knowledge about the most beneficial practice of Vipassana for yet-to-be students. It is not a venue to pander to so-called VIPs, nor a self-serving platform for non-seriousness meditators as trustees - some of whom appear to be misguided businessmen who forget the core purpose of the Global Vipassana Pagoda.
Good that the President of India visited the Global Pagoda. Not good that he did not invest any time meditating, but instead placed some flowers as 'tribute' before the two large photo frames of the Principal Teachers of Vipassana, Sayagyi U Goenka and Mataji, at the center of the Global Pagoda dome meditation hall.
People may ask: why make a big fuss over a few flowers as offerings? Meditators coming to offer flowers as tribute, and not meditate in the Dhamma Hall, is the starting road to ruining the purity of the Pagoda, and turning it into another sectarian house of blind worship. The President of India set a dangerous precedent.
The largest dam needs the smallest crack for the beginning of its end, and so too the fortress of Dhamma.
Photographs of Principal Teachers at center of Global Pagoda Dome and Meditation Hall
The Global Vipassana Pagoda was built as gratitude to Sayagyi U Goenka's Vipassana teacher Sayagyi U Ba Khin, to commemorate his birth centenary year.
Sayagyi U Goenka first announced the Global Vipassana Pagoda project (the other two commemorative projects being Dhamma Tapovana, and the Sayagyi U Ba Khin Village) when he conducted the Metta session of the 45-day course in 1999, in Dhamma Hall 1 of Dhamma Giri.
He attributed his revolutionary, most beneficial Vipassana service as grateful commemoration of his teacher Sayagyi U Ba Khin. When the infinitely grateful Sayagyi U Goenka himself during his lifetime did not place any photograph of his teacher Sayagyi U Ba Khin (in his whose very honor the Global Pagoda was built) at the center of the main meditation hall / dome of the Pagoda - then who are we to place any photograph of our Principal Teachers at the centre of the main Pagoda meditation hall?
Evident are the dangers of having any images (even worse any statue of the Buddha etc) at the centre of the inner dome meditation hall of the Global Vipassana Pagoda.
Non-meditator visitors may have this impression seeing people sitting closed-eyed around the large portrait: "oh, these people are praying to their guru".
Besides, these two large portraits diminish the dimension and natural grandeur of the inner dome of the Global Pagoda, deemed as one of the wonders of the world. Now entering the Pagoda dome, the eyes automatically first get drawn to the very large, lit-up photo frames at the center of the world's largest Vipassana meditation hall.
Lost is the earlier awe-inspiring, majestic grandeur of the pillar-less, world's largest hollow stone dome. This is not what Sayagyi U Goenka wished. This is not the wish of all those who served ardently and selflessly for years in building the Global Pagoda.
Sayagyi U Goenka would never have permitted his or anyone's portraits to be placed here, and hinder the silent Dhamma work of the Global Pagoda, ruin its sharing the liberating message of Vipassana for at least another thousand years.
Even worse, now comes the warning of January 14 - of a meditator who enters the inner dome meditation hall of the Global Pagoda, and finds no time to meditate, but has been allowed to offer flowers as deluded 'tribute' to the photographs of Sayagyi U Goenka and Mataji - inside the main meditation hall of the Global Vipassana Pagoda, on the day of a designated Special One-day Course.
This is how the Samassambuddha's practical teaching of Vipassana was lost in the country of its origin: of meditators offering hollow floral and ritual tributes, instead of the tribute of purity through Vipassana practice. Meditation was forgotten. Then sila was forgotten. Monks and nuns live immoral lives. They lose the protection of Dhamma that protects those who protect the Dhamma - by Vipassana practice. And Vipassana was lost to India. Sayagyi U Goenka's Dhamma work is to ensure this never happens again.
No one in the true lineage of the Samsassambuddhas will sit by silently seeing the seeds of impurity being sown again, and so soon at the start of the second cycle of revival of Vipassana - at the very meditation heart of the Global Vipassana Pagoda.
Dhamma administrators to protect purity of the Global Vipassana Pagoda
On the special meditation day of January 14, the main Dome meditation hall of the Global Pagoda had been turned into venue of a public function for the President of India and local dignitaries. Was this mistimed, misplaced 'tamasha' necessary? Could not the dignitaries be respectfully offered hospitality outside the meditation hall, elsewhere in the vast premises of the Global Vipassana Pagoda?
The Global Vipassana Pagoda (or any Vipassana Centre) has no room for any deluded 'VIP culture' that is the curse of India - this weakness of 'VIP' madness that the Prime Minister of India is trying to eradicate.
Dangers always lurk of having non-serious meditators 'serving' as trustees of any Vipassana centre, most particularly the Global Vipassana Pagoda. Wrong decisions tend to get taken, whatever their good intentions.
- To ensure more wholesome Dhamma decisions, only meditators who have taken long courses - and take at least the 20-day course a year - should be permitted to serve in any senior capacity in the Global Vipassana Pagoda, under the guidance of the concerned Vipassana acharya (teacher).
- First find time for your own serious meditation to purify your mind, and then find time to serve in the Global Vipassana Pagoda.
A biological son or Dhamma son of Sayagyi U Goenka who does not meditate is no longer a Vipassana student, and has no right to take decisions or interfere with any Dhamma administration - most particularly administration of the Global Vipassana Pagoda.
Sayagyi U Goenka only wished to share Vipassana and preserve its purity for millennia. He was not interested in personal publicity and self-glorification. Otherwise he could have easily become world famous had he publicly exhibited certain mental faculties that get naturally opened up in a very pure mind - his powers experientially evident only to one or very few (advanced meditators) serving closely under him. But he chose to live a life of purity and humility, in accordance with the teaching of the Fully Enlightened Ones.
Allow no none to turn the Global Vipassana Pagoda as base for a new 'Goenka cult', and destroy his priceless legacy of Dhamma.
Global responsibility to protect purity of Global Vipassana Pagoda
The Global Vipassana Pagoda belongs to all humanity, all sentient beings who serve visibly or less visibly in Dhamma - from any plane of existence.
Built with dana received worldwide, this is a global Dhamma project of historic and far-reaching significance. And therefore, there is a global responsibility to ensure proper administration of the Global Pagoda - in line with purity of Dhamma.
- One deserving Dhamma service representative from North America, Europe and East Asia / Pacific etc can be included in the core administration of the Global Vipassana Pagoda - whether as trustee, or in consultative capacity. This one-year-term, rotating representative may be an assistant teacher or not, but he has to be a senior Dhamma worker who sits one annual long course.
- This is to ensure more universal wisdom to protect the purity of the Global Vipassana Pagoda.