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Feb 25, 2010

Viriya - the Pāramī of Proper Efforts

by Sayagyi U Goenka

Pāramīs are virtues—that is, good human qualities. By perfecting them, one crosses the ocean of misery and reaches the stage of full liberation, full enlightenment. Everyone working to liberate oneself from all impurities in the mind has to develop the ten pāramīs. They are needed to dissolve the ego and to reach the stage of egolessness. A student of Dhamma who aspires to attain the final stage of liberation joins a Vipassana course in order to develop these pāramīs.

The ten pāramīs are:  morality (sila), renunciation (nekkhamma), wisdom (pañña), effort (viriya), tolerance (khanti), truth (sacca), strong determination (adhitthana), compassionate goodwill (metta), equanimity (upekkha), donation (dana).

Little by little, one develops these pāramīs in every course. They should be developed in daily living as well. However, in a meditation course environment, the perfection of the pāramī can be greatly accelerated.

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 of Vipassana 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.

In a Vipassana course, a meditator makes best use of energy and of the time at disposal by developing the faculties of sati (awareness) and of paññā (insight). The student strives to become aware of everything that is happening within, from the grossest to the subtlest level - striving to observe dispassionately whatever reality may manifest at this moment, with the understanding that this experience is impermanent, this will also change. These two faculties, in proper combination, will lead the meditator along the path to full liberation, full enlightenment.

From time to time, because of the ingrained habit pattern of the mind, the meditator is inundated by waves of craving, aversion, sloth and torpor, mental agitation, and doubt. These are nothing but the reaction of one’s own mental defilements trying to stop the process of purification that has begun. The wise student persists in the struggle, using all his or her energy to oppose these enemies. Through persistent efforts, the meditator gets strengthened in pāramī of viriya and is successful.
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 * Vipassana meditation courses worldwide, course venues, online application for Vipassana courses
* Rare opportunities to earn and share merits in participating in Global Vipassana Pagoda projects
* How to reach Global Pagoda, Gorai / Borivili, Mumbai

Viriya, The Pāramī of Proper Efforts

by Sayagyi U S.N.Goenka

Pāramīs are virtues—that is, good human qualities. By perfecting them, one crosses the ocean of misery and reaches the stage of full liberation, full enlightenment. Everyone who is working to liberate oneself has to develop the ten pāramīs. They are needed to dissolve the ego and to reach the stage of egolessness. A student of Dhamma who aspires to attain the final stage of liberation joins a Vipassana course in order to develop these pāramīs.

Little by little, one develops these pāramīs in every course. They should be developed in daily living as well. However, in a meditation course environment, the perfection of the pāramī can be greatly accelerated.

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.

In a Vipassana course, a meditator makes best use of his energy and of the time at his disposal by developing the faculties of sati (awareness) and of paññā (insight). The student strives to become conscious of everything that is happening within himself, from the grossest to the subtlest level. At the same time, one strives to observe dispassionately whatever reality may manifest at this moment, with the understanding that this experience is impermanent, this will also change. These two faculties, in proper combination, will lead the meditator along the path to full liberation, full enlightenment.

From time to time, because of the ingrained habit pattern of the mind, the meditator is inundated by waves of craving, aversion, sloth and torpor, mental agitation, and scepticism. These are nothing but the reaction of one’s own mental defilements, trying to stop the process of purification one has begun. The wise student persists in the struggle, using all his or her energy to oppose these enemies. One thereby strengthens oneself in the pāramī of viriya.


(from original article: Vipassana Newsletter, Dhamma Giri Edition, Vol 1. No2, Oct, 1990.)
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* Ten paramis: nekkhamma (renunciation), sila (morality), viriya (effort), panna (experiential wisdom), sacca (truth), khanti (tolerance), metta (unconditional compassion for all beings), upekkha (equanimity), adhitthana (strong determination), dana (donation).
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* Directions to reach the Global Pagoda
* Vipassana meditation courses worldwide, course venues, online application for beginners' 10-day residential Vipassana courses
* Global Pagoda Developmental Projects - Phase Two

Feb 24, 2010

Strong determination: Adhitthana parami

Adhitthana, meaning strong determination, is the backbone of the ten paramis* (qualities to be perfected for full enlightenment. Please see note below). All ten paramis are needed and developed by Vipassana practice to fully purify the mind, and to share with all beings benefits thereby gained.

Adhitthana must be strongly developed to gain strength of mind to fulfill all  paramis.

Greater benefits from a most beneficial Dhamma service undertaking, greater could be hurdles, obstacles, fears, distractions, storms and temptations to pause, postpone or give up the work. But the parami of adhitthana gained through Vipassana practice gives strength to stay the course, and continue undeterred in endless Dhamma service to all beings.

Attending the course after one's application has been confirmed is one adhitthana (strong determination) undertaking fulfilled. Steadfast, unshakeable, iron-will to undertake, complete the Vipassana course. No weak mind of surrendering to negative forces within, and postponing by saying "I will do it later, I"m too busy now." Time is now. 

During a Vipassana course, students develop adhitthana parami at various levels. The student follows the necessary beneficial rules and code of discipline for the course duration. At a much deeper level, three one-hour group meditations daily during a course (8.00 am to 9.00 am, 2.30 pm to 3.30 pm and 6.00 pm to 7.00 pm) with strong adhitthana purifies the mind and develops adhitthana.

For this one hour, the student resolves not to change posture, not to make any movement of the body and observe objectively impermanent, changing sensations that arise and pass away within one's physical structure. For instance, the sensation of pain could feel like hot daggers driven into the body. The earlier habit pattern was to react blindly with aversion, thereby multiplying the suffering. Now one observes the biochemical flow of sensations as it is, with balance of mind, without any evaluation or past conditioning. Developing in determination, a Vipassana student trains oneself to objectively observe this changing phenomena within. Whatever sensation manifesting in the body is used as a tool to develop equanimity. This equanimity purifies the mind at its root level, and strengthens the parami of adhitthana.

Without adhitthana, no Dhamma commitment can be fulfilled.

Strong, resolute determination is root of success in every undertaking. Fully steady the mind. All wandering, wavering of the mind, weakness and temptations must be overcome in steadfast progress towards the Dhamma goal, however long it takes, however hard the path may be.

Developing his paramis in lives across countless aeons, the ascetic Gotama had reached the last night before attaining full enlightenment. On that full moon night on  banks of Neranjara river, he took adhitthana not to arise from his seat of meditation - not even if his bones were scattered - until he reached his final goal of total purification of the mind . This fixed determination, accumulated purity, and unshakeable will-power enabled him to steadfastly overcome all negative, anti-Dhamma forces trying to distract, stop him from reaching the final goal.

Even after attaining the final goal of full enlightenment, the Sammasambuddha continued living the life of an ascetic. He could have spent the remainder of his life in the luxury of his father's place. Or he could have taught Vipassana living in palaces of the kings who were dedicated Vipassana students. But out of infinite compassion for all beings, he lived the life of a homeless ascetic - to show the world what is real, most superior happiness. Not luxuries and physical comforts, but the deep peace, happiness and mental comfort of a pure mind with non-attachment to anything.

(Above picture is from exhibition gallery of Global Vipassana Pagoda, Bombay, India.)
"Adhitthana literally means determination, resolution or fixedness of purpose. Adhitthana can be regarded as a foundation for all the perfections, because without a firm determination one cannot fulfill the other Paramitas. Although one’s determination can be extended to either desirable or undesirable way; it should be clearly understood that the determination for the line of unwholesome deeds cannot be regarded as a perfection.
A person with a wavering mind or who sits on the fence cannot succeed in any undertaking. One must have an iron-will, an unshakable determination to overcome any difficulties of hardship in order to achieve success. He who has no determinative mind would easily give up his work before it is successful. Such a person with weak and unsteady mind should get disappointed easily and disheartened quickly. Even a word of criticism would be adequate to put an end to his projects.
A Bodhisatta, who has an unshakable resolution and who is a man of principles, will never give up his noble effort even at the point of death. He is capable of setting aside any obstacles in his way and going forward, turning his eyes towards his goal.
Our Bodhisatta, when he was Sumedha Pandit, made a firm determination at the feet of the Buddha Dipankara in this way: “O Sumedha, from now onwards you must fulfil the perfection of strong determination as well. Be steadfast in whatever resolution you make.As a rock, even while the wind beats upon it on every side, does not tremble nor quake but remains in its own place, you must likewise be unshaken in your resolution until you become a Sammasambuddha.
* Ten paramis:
nekkhamma (renunciation), sila (morality), viriya (effort), panna (experiential wisdom), sacca (truth), khanti (tolerance), metta (unconditional compassion for all beings), upekkha (equanimity), adhitthana (strong determination), dana (donation).
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* Directions to reach the Global Pagoda
* Online application for beginners' 10-day residential Vipassana courses
*
Global Pagoda Developmental Projects - Phase Two

Feb 19, 2010

Dhamma and Priceless Human Life

Why is a human life so rare, so precious, so valuable? Why is it even more rare, more precious, more valuable, more infinitely necessary to practice Vipassana, with correct and tireless effort? How does the Vipassana practice - to purify the mind - helps not only to live a wholesome, happy day-to-day daily life, but also immeasurably helps in the last moment of this life?
The Venerable Ledi Sayadaw explains in the Manuals of Dhamma:
"The simile of the blind turtle should be remembered by everyone.

The Simile of the Blind Turtle


The Buddha: "O monks, I will give you an example. A man makes a hole in a log and sets it adrift in the ocean. When the wind comes from the east the log drifts westwards. When the wind blows from the west, it drifts eastward. Similarly, north winds push it to the south, and south winds push it to the north. In the ocean is a blind turtle who surfaces only once every hundred years. Is it possible that the blind turtle would put his head up through the hole in the log?”

The monks replied that normally it would be impossible, but in the infinite duration of samsāra a chance might occur. Yet it would be very difficult for the blind turtle to meet up with the drifting log. Then the Buddha explained.

“Monks this rare chance, this freak occurrence is possible, but for a bad man who is reborn as an animal or in hell to become a human being again is rarer and more difficult.”

Rarest is the human status. Once this rare status is gone one finds greatest difficulty to be reborn again as a human being. Why? In the lower realms such as hell, no opportunities exist for the performance of wholesome deeds. So, lacking good conduct, a person in hell has to suffer for countless aeons. Those who are reborn in the animal kingdom have to struggle for existence, preying upon each other. Animals do mostly harmful deeds with their low intelligence, and the strong persecute the weak. So there is little chance for them to be reborn in the human world. The lowest probability exists for them to upgrade themselves.

For a blind turtle wandering in the ocean to encounter the hole in the log is possible only if the log never rots, and only if he lives for millions of years. Yet a much smaller chance exists for a sufferer in hell to achieve human status again, for very few wholesome kammas are possible in the lower abodes. This is explained in the commentary.

Indeed, this is true. When close to death, a human being urgently needs good thoughts to achieve a good status in the next existence. During one’s last thought moments, previous wholesome kammas produce good mental objects, enabling one to be reborn in the fortunate realms of existence. Otherwise bad kammas will predominate at this crucial moment, and bad mental objects will send one to hell. In the four lower realms of existence a sentient being knows nothing of the value of almsgiving, keeping moral precepts, or practising meditation. Lower beings who find themselves lacking wholesome kamma are further hampered by the lack of opportunities to do good."

What happens in the last moment of this life? What happens at death?
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* Directions to reach the Global Pagoda
* Vipassana meditation courses worldwide, course venues, online application for beginners' 10-day residential Vipassana courses
* Global Pagoda Developmental Projects - Phase Two

Feb 17, 2010

Corruption and ancient India's reality check

India's Tata group,  one of the world's credible industrial houses, launched an nationwide anti-corruption campaign last December. It points to good volition - but it's not enough. Turning intention to reality takes hard work. That's where an ancient, timeless reality check called Vipassana works, by helping individuals, the country and the world change for the better. Change starts at the individual level.

A Tata group company Tata Tea, and its creative agency Lowe Lintas, set off a 38-day bus journey 'Jaago Re Vrath Yatra' to connect young people with an anti-corruption campaign. It's part of the change for truth and honesty slowly but surely sweeping India.

India is experiencing a robust anti-corruption wave - from busy Right to Information Act petitioners, push for greater accountability and transparency from political leaders, government officials, even Supreme court judges, to anti-bribery cell phone text messages that government vigilance departments are flooding the public. Credible corporate houses have to be part of this clean-up. The Tata Tea 'Jaage Re' (meaning 'to awaken') was on its second edition. The first edition urged young people to vote.

But mere anti-corruption publicity campaigns would be sermons entering an ear and exiting the other. The mind must be made strong to resist temptation, weakness and delusions that breed corruption. Vipassana strengthens the mind by cleaning it. People of all religions practice this universal, non-sectarian, purification process in over 100 countries. Residential courses - from beginners 10-days to advanced 60-days - are taught free of cost in over 150 Vipassana centres worldwide, and in many temporary locations.

One such Vipassana centre is Dhamma Pattana (meaning 'the Harbour of Dhamma') in Mumbai, where 10-day courses are held for business executives and government officials - the two crucial focus groups at the epicentre of corruption. Many government departments and leading corporate houses like Mahindra and Mahindra offer paid leave to employees to take a 10-day Vipassana course.

Vipassana is the best investment in time. Dhamma Pattana in Mumbai is usually fully booked two months in advance. The wide acceptance of Vipassana in India's financial capital is no coincidence. It's the wiser rich who understand that life is not about merely accumulating wealth. Business leaders who try Vipassana experience the difference.

Mumbai, India's financial capital, has six Vipassana centres in its vicinity. Dhamma Pattana is in the Global Pagoda complex in Gorai island in suburban Mumbai. As the largest pillar-less stone dome in the world, the Global Pagoda enables over 8,000 Vipassana practitioners to meditate together in one-day courses inside a structure that has never before existed in human history.

Since 1969, when Sayagyi U Goenka arrived from Burma and began teaching Vipassana in what was then Bombay, Vipassana has reached all sections of Indian society - students, government administrators, corporate leaders,  teachers, scientists, priests and nuns from all religions, movie stars, house wives etc.

The connecting need is to be master of a wandering, wavering, weak mind. Greater the purity of the mind, steadier and happier it becomes. 

Effective, anti-corruption efforts must start with taking a 10-day Vipassana course, to acquire the practical know-how to strengthen, steady, purify the mind.

Vipassana opens our eyes to a fundamental, life-changing realization: that the outside world is not actually responsible for our misery or happiness. The real cause of suffering lies within. 

The deeper reality is that we are constantly reacting to an unpleasant or pleasant bio-chemical flow within the body, the pleasant or irritating sensations caused by reactions to our sense doors coming in contact with a taste, touch, sight, sound, smell and thought.

Vipassana trains the mind to objectively observe this changing biochemical flow of physical sensations, as it happens from moment to moment. The earlier habit pattern was to blindly react to these sensations, without even being aware of the sensations - such as burning sensations in the stomach caused by an angry argument. 

The resulting blind reaction of hasty words, actions or decisions lead to a ugly mess, and then regret, repentance. Vipassana is the best practical cure for anger - the most self-destructive of all human emotions.

Conventional meditation practices work only at the surface of the mind, giving a certain superficial calm and concentration. But Vipassana is strictly not a 'meditation' practice; Vipassana is a continuous self-observation of the constantly changing truth within. With equanimity to the changing bio-chemical flow of bodily sensations, one gradually changes impure habit patterns and negative thought processes of the mind.

Vipassana is garbage cleaning of the mind, at the deepest level.

Fruits of a purer mind are wisdom, happiness, and a compassionate volition to share this happiness with all beings. A pure, compassionate mind cannot be corrupt.

Vipassana, though, involves very hard work and crossing pain barriers. Negative habit patterns in the mind rebel and kick back at this purification process. Yet the committed Vipassana practitioner works with determination, patience and courage to conquer the biggest inner enemy - the ego. 

More one's ego dissolves, more one's problems dissolve.

Slips and falls will happen in the long journey, the prolonged battle -  but the Dhamma warrior learns from mistakes and continues walking the path of Dhamma, or true laws of nature.

One enters, or re-enters, the inner world of pure, true happiness by first taking a ten-day Vipasasana course. Then with determined discipline, Vipassana practice is continued daily every morning and evening, for minimum one hour. Daily Vipassana practice is utmost importance. Otherwise, the old dangerous habit patterns of the mind resurface again, like weeds whose roots have not been plucked out.

The serious Vipassana student takes least one 10-day Vipassana retreat is every year. After three Vipassana courses, the meditator wishing to progress offers voluntary Dhamma service in courses, to dissolve the ego, and serve others selflessly. Then go deeper with taking long Vipassana courses of 20-days, 30/45 days and 60-days. Every step in this Dhamma journey brings both immediate and long-term benefits. 

Vipassana practice enables seeing how much our best friend and worst enemy is within, not outside. And just as the greatest enemies (the impurities in the mind) are within, a country's biggest threat does not merely come from any foreign terrorist group, a neighboring country or an alien super power. The biggest danger is the corruption within that external enemies use.

More individuals undertaking the practical reality check of Vipassana can defeat the enemy. Then the purity of Dhamma provides the safest security of all, to all.
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* Directions to reach the Global Pagoda
* Vipassana meditation courses worldwide, course venues, online application for beginners' 10-day residential Vipassana courses
*
Global Pagoda Developmental Projects - Phase Two

Feb 12, 2010

Anicca (impermanence)

Impermanence is the central fact that we must realize in order to emerge from our suffering, and the most immediate way to experience impermanence is by observing our sensations."

The Global Pagoda, Mumbai, India, shares the immeasurable benefits of Vipassana. Vipassana is the universal, non-sectarian process of purifying the mind by directly experiencing anicca (impermanence) within oneself, at the level of bodily sensations.

Anicca


Change is inherent in all phenomenal existence. There is nothing animate or inanimate, organic or inorganic that we can label as permanent, since even as we affixed that label on something it would undergo metamorphosis.

Realizing this central fact of life by direct experience within himself, the Buddha declared, "Whether a fully Enlightened One has arisen in the world or not, it still remains a firm condition, an immutable fact and fixed law that all formations are impermanent, subject to suffering, and devoid of substance." Anicca (impermanence), dukkha (suffering), and anatta (insubstantiality) are the three characteristics common to all sentient existence.

Of these, the most important in the practice of Vipassana is anicca. As meditators, we come face to face with the impermanence of ourselves. This enables us to realize that we have no control over this phenomenon, and that any attempt to manipulate it creates suffering. We thus learn to develop detachment, an acceptance of anicca, an openness to change, enabling us to live happily amid all the vicissitudes of life.

Hence the Buddha said that:
To one who perceives the impermanence, O meditators, the perception of insubstantiality manifests itself. And in one who perceives insubstantiality, egotism is destroyed. And (as a result) even in this present life one attains liberation. The comprehending of anicca leads automatically to a grasp of anatta and dukkha, and whosoever realizes these facts naturally turns to the path that leads out of suffering.

Given the crucial importance of anicca, it is not surprising the Buddha repeatedly stressed its significance for the seekers of liberation. In the Mahā Satipatthāna Sutta, the principal text in which he explained the technique of Vipassana, he described the stages in the practice, which must in every case lead to the following experience
The meditator) abides observing the phenomenon of arising . . . abides observing the phenomenon of passing away . . . abides observing the phenomenon of arising and passing away.


This above could again be state of the Global Pagoda in March, 5005 A.D...... decay and impermanence are inherent in all things.... Nothing lasts forever...... Vipassana helps us cope with this reality of change, in the path to true happiness and total liberation from all suffering.


We must recognize the fact of impermanence not merely in its readily apparent aspect around and within us. Beyond that, we must learn to see the subtle reality that every moment we ourselves are changing, that the "I" with which we are infatuated is a phenomenon in constant flux. With this experience we can easily emerge from egotism and so from suffering.

The Buddha said: The eye, O meditators, is impermanent. What is impermanent is unsatisfactory. What is unsatisfactory is substanceless. What is substanceless is not mine, is not I, is not my self. This is how to regard eye with wisdom as it really is.The same formula is for the ear, nose, tongue, body and mind—for all the bases of sensory experience, every aspect of a human being.

Then the Buddha continued: Seeing this, O meditators, the well-instructed noble disciple becomes satiated with the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind (i.e., with sensory existence altogether). Being satiated he does not have the passion for them. Being passionless he is set free. In this freedom arises the realization that he is freed.

In this passage the Buddha makes a sharp distinction between knowing by hearsay and by personal insight. One may be a sutavā, that is, someone who has heard about the Dhamma and accepts it on faith or perhaps intellectually. That acceptance, however, is insufficient to liberate anyone from the cycle of suffering. To attain liberation one must see truth for oneself, must experience it directly within oneself. That is what Vipassana meditation enables us to do.

If we are to understand the unique contribution of the Buddha, we must keep this distinction firmly in mind. The truth of which he spoke was not unknown before him and was current in India in his time. He did not invent the concepts of impermanence, suffering and insubstantiality. His uniqueness lies in having found a way to advance from hearing truth to experiencing it.

One text that shows this special emphasis of the teaching of the Buddha is the Bāhiya Sutta, found in the Samyutta Nikāya. In it is recorded an encounter of the Buddha with Bāhiya, a wanderer in search of a spiritual path. Although not a disciple of the Buddha, Bāhiya asked him for guidance in his search. The Buddha responded by questioning him as follows:

What do you think, Bāhiya: is the eye permanent or impermanent?
Impermanent, sir.
That which is impermanent, is it a cause of suffering or happiness?
Of suffering, sir.
Now, is it fitting to regard what is impermanent, a cause of suffering, and by nature changeable, as being "mine," being "I," being one's "self?
"Surely not, sir.

The Buddha further questioned Bāhiya about visual objects, eye consciousness and eye contact. In every case, this man agreed that these were impermanent, unsatisfactory, not-self. He did not claim to be a follower of the teaching of the Buddha, and yet he accepted the facts of anicca, dukkha and anatta. The Sutta thus documents that, among at least some of the contemporaries of the Buddha, ideas were current that we might now regard as having being unknown outside his teaching.

The explanation, of course, is that for Bāhiya and others like him the concepts of impermanence, suffering and egolessness were simply opinions that they held—in Pāli, mañña. To such people the Buddha showed a way to go beyond beliefs or philosophies, and to experience directly their own nature as impermanent, suffering, insubstantial.

What, then, is the way he showed? In the Brahmajāla Suttanta the Buddha provides an answer. There he lists all the beliefs, opinions and views of his time, and then states that he knows something far beyond all views:

For having experienced as they really are the arising of sensations and their passing away, the relishing of them, the danger in them, and the release in them, the Enlightened One, O monks, has become detached and liberated.

Here the Buddha states quite simply that he became enlightened by objectively observing sensations as the manifestation of impermanence. It behoves anyone who aspires to follow the teachings of the Buddha to do likewise.

Impermanence is the central fact that we must realize in order to emerge from our suffering, and the most immediate way to experience impermanence is by observing our sensations.

Again the Buddha said:There are three types of sensations, O meditators (all being) impermanent, compounded, arising owing to a cause, perishable, by nature passing away, fading and ceasing.

The sensations within ourselves are the most palpable expressions of the characteristic of anicca. By observing them we become able to accept the reality, not merely out of faith or intellectual conviction, but out of our direct experience. In this way we advance from merely hearing about the truth to seeing it within ourselves.

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Feb 11, 2010

Dhamma Giri: The Early Days (Origins of the Global Pagoda)

The Global Vipassana Pagoda owes its immediate history to the early days of spread of Vipassana in India, establishing of first Dhamma centres such as Dhamma Giri and Dhamma Thali. Pioneering Dhamma workers paved the way for future generations to gain immense benefits of pure Dhamma service.

The first 10-day course was held in Dhamma Giri in October, 1976. Currently, over 12,000 students annually participate in twice-monthly ten-days and longer courses, in the world's largest Vipassana meditation centre. 

Over 150 Vipassana centres function independently worldwide; thousands of Vipassana centres will serve beings in coming centuries.

How much Vipassana benefits all beings depends on how much each individual meditator develops his or her practice of Vipassana -  grows in purity, and shares merits gained.

The most crucial Dhamma service is to "Be Happy ! Meditate. meditate, meditate!" 



Pagoda with meditation cells, Dhamma Giri. The exterior design of the Global Pagoda and the Dhamma Giri Pagoda are based on the Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon, Burma.

Dhamma Giri: The Early Days

By Dr. Geo Poland

I remember the first time I heard about Dhamma Giri. It was at the end of the course in Khandala, when Goenkaji announced that they had been looking for a centre near Bombay; they had found a piece of land and purchased this land in a town named Igatpuri, about three hours north of Bombay. As it happened, our train to Bombay stopped at Igatpuri for about twenty minutes to change engines. And so a friend and I got off the train and looked around at the beautiful landscape; we were so inspired and excited about the possibility of a centre coming up, that then and there we decided to go and see Goenkaji at his office in Bombay the next day and ask his permission to return to the land to sit and meditate for a few days.

Dhamma Giri Pagoda in 1982

In those days I was a hippy with long hair and long beard, as was my friend. But it also so happened that at the end of that course I decided to leave those hippy days behind. So I went to the local barber's shop and had my haircut and beard shaved off. Then we went on down to Bombay. The next day we went to Goenkaji's office and requested the secretary if we could have a few words with him and we were told to wait in the waiting room. I must admit I was a bit nervous as I'd never had any contact with Goenkaji, other than as a student sitting at his feet. After a short period of waiting, I was told I could go in and see him and so I walked into his office. As soon as he saw me, he burst out laughing. I couldn't understand what was going on and I reached nervously for my beard, which was my habit whenever I got nervous. Then I realized that my beard had been shaved off and that he didn't recognize me. I asked if we could go and meditate at the land. He was happy to let us do so and he was also happy that we had cut our hair short and shaved off our beards, because he felt that it was very important that the first few people that went to Dhamma Giri would be viewed by the townspeople as representing Goenkaji and the technique of Vipassana meditation.

Myanmar Gate: The main entrance to Dhamma Giri, in gratitude to Burma that preserved Vipassana in its purity for millennia


So the next day we took the train up to Dhamma Giri and contacted Mr Bhojraj who showed us up to the land. At that time there were only three buildings on the property. There was an old farmhouse where some resident farmers were staying and a large warehouse. And then there was a three- room bungalow, which is still in existence at Dhamma Giri today. So Mr Bhojraj showed us up to the bungalow and opened the door and told us this was where we could stay. That night he came back with a few other meditators from the town and we had a small group sitting outside, under the stars. We stayed to meditate for a few days and then we had to leave, due to previous commitments.

When I returned to Dhamma Giri about two weeks later, Graham Gambie from Australia, who had been living up in Darjeeling, had heard about the land being purchased and had immediately come down. We were both very excited about the new centre and we wrote a letter to Goenkaji, requesting his advice as to what we should do: should we start digging gardens and planting flowers; what should we do to improve the site and begin the work on the centre?

We very soon received his inspiring reply: "Dear Geo and Graham, Be happy! Meditate! Meditate! Meditate! Clean yourselves and clean the atmosphere of the centre." So this became our goal.

For full article : Dhamma Giri - the Early Days

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* Directions to reach the Global Pagoda
* Directions to reach Dhamma Giri* Vipassana meditation courses worldwide, course venues, online application for beginners' 10-day residential Vipassana courses
* Global Pagoda Developmental Projects - Phase Two

Feb 2, 2010

Directions to the Global Vipassana Pagoda, India

Global Pagoda Timings: 9.00 am to 7.00 pm. Open all days of the week.

(The last ferry leaves Gorai jetty to the Global Pagoda at 5.25 pm)

Visiting the Global Pagoda is free of charge. There is no entry fee.

* Vipassana students - those who have taken one or more 10-day Vipassana courses as taught by Sayagyi U S.N.Goenka - are permitted to meditate inside the main dome Dhamma Hall of the Global Pagoda.

How to reach Global Vipassana Pagoda, Gorai / Borivali, Mumbai, India:
The Global Pagoda can be reached overland by car, as well by ferry. Pre-paid taxi services are available at the Mumbai domestic and international airports. Ask for "Esselworld", if "Global Vipassana Pagoda" draws a blank stare. The Global Pagoda is within the Esselworld Park premises.

Reaching Global Vipassana Pagoda by Road from Mumbai City / Domestic Airport / International Airport / Railway Stations in Mumbai
  1. Reach Western Express Highway and go North towards Dahisar/Borivali/Ahmedabad.
  2. Cross the Dahisar Toll Booth and keep going straight.
  3. When you reach the Mira-Bhayandar crossing, turn Left towards Mira-Bhayandar. The crossing has a statue of Shivaji Maharaj positioned at the centre.
  4. Keep going straight till you reach Golden Nest Circle. At the Golden Nest Circle, take a left turn and stay on the main road.
  5. Keep going straight till you take a hard right turn at the end of the road. This point will come after Maxus Mall, which comes on your right. After the hard right turn, take a left at the T point junction.
  6. Keep following directions to Esselworld or Global Vipassana Pagoda from this point forward.
  7. When you reach the Esselworld Parking Lot, go ahead a few metres and take a right turn towards Esselworld. Tell the guard at the security post that you want to go to the Pagoda.
  8. Keep going straight till you reach the Helipad. At the Helipad, take a right turn to the Global Pagoda Road through the Sanchi Arch.

The Pagoda is about 42 km from the Domestic Airport Terminal.

Please click here For more detailed directions and maps

Hiring a car for airport pick-up to Global Vipassana Pagoda:

Private taxis and vehicles can also be hired from many car rentals in Mumbai, besides the airport pre-paid taxi service. Rates may vary. Many Vipassana students make use of the services of private taxi operator Mr Jagdish Maniyar. Contact : Tel (Res): 91-22-26391010 or cell phone 09869255079. As of February 2011, Mr Maniyar charges Rs 800 ( approx US $17, 13 Euros) for airport pickup to Global Pagoda (inclusive of road taxes). From Mumbai airport to Dhamma Giri Vipassana centre, Igatpuri, he charges Rs 2,550 (approx US $56).

From Borivali Railway station:
From Borivali Station (Western Railway, Mumbai) please use the western exit gates of the station (for the train from Churchgate, the exit is on the left). One can take Bus number 294 or hire an auto rickshaw (tuk-tuk) to Gorai Creek. The bus fare is Rs. 6 and auto rickshaw fare is approx Rs. 25 (approx US $0.50) to Rs 35.
For the auto-rickshaw, please take one heading to your right, after crossing the road from the western exit of the railway station. The Gorai jetty is approximately 10-15 minutes-ride from Borivili station. Please take the ferry for Esselworld from Gorai Jetty. The return fare for the ferry is Rs. 35/- per person.
On arrival at Esselworld, you will see signs guiding to take you to Global Pagoda (which anyway is too big to be missed !).
The Dhamma Pattana Vipassana Centre is less than five minutes walking distance from the Esselworld Jetty gate.

Prefer a shorter sea trip? One can take the more frequent (and humbler) ferry to Gorai Village (Rs 5 one way - actually it's only a jetty, the village is not in visible distance). From there, shared autorickshaws (Rs 15 a seat, or Rs 40 for 3 passengers) and the more quaint horse-drawn carriages (Rs 10 a seat) are available for a nice ride to the Essel World entrance through the flat landscape of marshlands. The Global Pagoda, a brief walk from the gates, is of course visible throughout the 10-minute ride from the Gorai Village jetty.

Other Bus Numbers to Gorai: From Kurla railway station (West) - 309 L; From Mulund station (West) - 460 L;From Ghatkopar Bus Depot - 488 L (please re-confirm before boarding bus)

Wishing you a very happy and most beneficial visit to the Global Pagoda.

For any further details and assistance, please contact:

Global Vipassana Pagoda
Telephone: 91 22 33747501 (30 lines)
Email: pr@globalpagoda.org

Pagoda Address:
Global Vipassana Pagoda
Next to Esselworld, Gorai Village,
Borivali (West), Mumbai 400091

For sending any post/courier, please use this address:

Head Office Global Vipassana Foundation
2nd Floor, Green House, Green Street, Fort
Mumbai – 400 023

Telephone: +91 22 22665926 / 22664039
Fax: +91 22 22664607

Dhamma Pattana Vipassana Centre
Inside Global Vipassana Pagoda Campus
Next to Esselworld, Gorai Village,
Borivali (West), Mumbai 400091
Tel: [91] (22) 3374 7519
Fax: [91] (22) 3374 7518
Email: info@pattana.dhamma.org

* Vipassana meditation courses worldwide, course venues, online application for beginners' 10-day residential Vipassana courses

* One-day Vipassana courses at Global Pagoda (for those who have completed a 10-day Vipassana course)

New website of Global Vipassana Pagoda