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Dec 31, 2010

Every Moment A Beneficial New Year, with Anicca

" Dhamma eradicates suffering and gives happiness. Who gives this happiness? It is not the Buddha but the Dhamma, the knowledge of anicca within the body, which gives the happiness. That is why you must meditate and be aware of anicca continually. "
- Sayagyi U Ba Khin, an inspiration for the Global Vipassana Pagoda, and benevolent Dhamma teacher of Sayagyi U S.N.Goenka

by the Vipassana Research Institute

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.

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.

Elsewhere 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.

Dec 22, 2010

The Practical Way Out of Suffering

by Sayagyi U S.N.Goenka
"How the lives of all living beings are infused with dukkha (suffering)! We cannot even imagine how great is the suffering of all sentient beings. In this tiny span of time while I am engaged in speaking these sentences, on this earth countless smaller beings are being devoured and crushed in bloody jaws; they are being ruthlessly swallowed without any pity. Can we ever measure their agony, their pain, their dukkha?
Even if we leave aside the suffering of the sentient beings of the animal kingdom, how immeasurable and limitless is the dukkha of man alone? In this one moment of existence, how many sick people in the hospitals of the world are groaning in agony? How many, having sensed impending death, are crying in vain, in fear and anguish? How many, at the loss of their wealth, prestige, their position, their power, are beset at this moment with pain? Who can have any reason for not accepting the truth of suffering while living in this universe where there is suffering everywhere?
We certainly do not wish to say that in life there is only dukkha and not a vestige of any pleasure. But are the pleasures of the senses really something that can be called happiness? Does not that glitter of happiness contain within it the shadow of pain? There is no sensual pleasure which is permanent, unchanging, everlasting. There is not a single pleasure in the sensual sphere which one can enjoy with satisfaction forever. All pleasures are impermanent, are changing, must come to an end. Whatever is impermanent is unsatisfactory, after all. When we get attached to something because it seems pleasurable to us, how great is the sorrow when that pleasure is no more; the pain becomes intense.
In the eyes of the world, a person may be considered very happy or even consider himself very happy. How long do people enjoy such pleasures? How quickly does the momentary brightness turn to darkness! As much as a person gets involved in and attached to these pleasures, to the same degree he involves himself in inevitable suffering. But one who enjoys pleasantness with detachment-clearly understanding its impermanent nature-is always safe from the suffering when pleasure ends. Therefore, while enjoying these pleasures, if we are aware of their changing, impermanent nature, if we are aware of the inherent dukkha in them, then we remain free of the pain that comes along when these pleasures end. To see dukkha in our pleasures is to see the truth which destroys dukkha; this is a righteous way of life which ensures our well-being.
The purpose of seeing the truth of dukkha is that as soon as the dukkha raises its head, we see it, we apprehend it, and at once extinguish the fire of this dukkha so it cannot spread. If we are aware of the dukkha involved in attachment to pleasure, then we will not allow the fire to spread. While enjoying the pleasure, we will tend not to get tense or excited, and when the pleasure ends, even then we won't become miserable, because all along we have understood the ephemeral nature of pleasure. So, the ceasing of the pleasure does not necessarily become a cause for suffering.
Everyone, without any exception, experiences some of the truth of suffering, but it is only when the suffering is experienced and observed objectively, rather than indulged in, that the truth of it becomes beneficial. Then it becomes a Noble Truth. To cry, to whimper, to writhe in pain because of some physical suffering is, no doubt, seeing the truth of suffering, but to observe and understand the suffering underlying the apparent enjoyment of boisterous laughter, wine and song is to really see the Noble Truth of suffering.
As long as we are unable to observe the real nature of sense pleasures, we shall continue to cling to them, we shall continue to yearn for them-and this is, after all, the main cause of all our suffering.
So, if we are to fully understand, fully comprehend dukkha, then we have to understand and consider the subtle reality. At the level of experience, within the framework of one's own body, one observes the transitory, impermanent nature of reality and thus realizes the nature of the entire mind-matter universe. The world of the senses is impermanent, and whatever is impermanent is suffering.
To understand and to observe this reality is to comprehend, to appreciate the First Noble Truth; and it is this understanding of the Noble Truth of suffering which can take us toward freedom from all suffering."
- For full article 'The Practical Way Out of Suffering' http://www.vridhamma.org/en2003-11
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Dec 15, 2010

Global Pagoda one-day course on January 16

A one-day Vipassana course * has been arranged within the main dome of the Global Vipassana Pagoda on 16 January 2011, Sunday, from 11 am to 4 pm (instead of 19 January). Principal teacher Sayagyi U S.N. Goenka will be present during this course.
Registration for this course is compulsory. (One-day courses are only for students who have already taken a 10-day Vipassana course as taught by Sayagyi U S.N.Goenka *)
For online registration for Global Pagoda one-day course:
Or, Contact: Mobile: 98928-55692, 98928-55945;
Tel: (022) 2845-1182, 2845-1170 (11 am to 5 pm). Or, Registration email: global.oneday@gmail.com
May all beings sitting and serving this Vipassana course experience all the infinite benefits of Dhamma, be happy, peaceful and be liberated from all suffering.
* Please Note: [One-day courses are only for students who have already taken a 10-day Vipassana course as taught by Sayagyi U S.N.Goenka in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin. New students may kindly contact a convenient Vipassana meditation centre worldwide to register for a residential 10-day Vipassana beginner's course.]
* One-day course is also held every Sunday in the main dome Dhamma hall of the Global Pagoda, for Vipassana students.
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Dec 14, 2010

Global Pagoda and Freedom from Fear

With correct, careful and constant practice of Vipassana, all fears gradually go away - including the biggest fear of all, the fear of death.

The Global Pagoda, with its largest meditation hall in the world for Vipassana students, is an inspiring battleground to courageously fight and remove one's impurities in the mind - the cause of all fears and insecurities.

With Vipassana, one realizes that the present moment, now, is the seed for the future. If one carefully ensures the present moment is wholesome - no matter what happened in the past - the future fruit will be only wholesome and sweet. Which is why Vipassana practice, and all forms of Dhamma dana, is the best investment for the future.

Sammasambuddha Gotama being offered Dhamma dana of rice cakes and honey from Tapassu and Bhallika, two merchants from Ukkala, Burma. (this is one of the vast collection of paintings in the Global Pagoda Art Gallery on the Life of the Buddha, the largest of collection of its kind in the world)

To live life wisely, knowing what happens at death becomes the most important knowledge of all. And Vipassana practice, with base of metta, the most important activity of all.

What Happens at Death?

- by Sayagyi U S. N. Goenka

(The following was originally published in the Sayagyi U Ba Khin Journal.)

To understand what happens at death, let us first understand what death is. Death is like a bend in a continuous river of becoming. It appears that death is the end of a process of becoming, and certainly it may be so in the case of an arahant (a fully liberated being) or a Buddha; but with an ordinary person this flow of becoming continues even after death. Death puts an end to the activities of one life, and the very next moment starts the play of a new life. On the one side is the last moment of this life and on the other side is the first moment of the next life. It is as though the sun rises as soon as it sets with no interval of darkness in between, or as if the moment of death is the end of one chapter in the book of becoming, and another chapter of life begins the very next moment.
Although no simile can convey the exact process, still one might say that this flow of becoming is like a train running on a track. It reaches the station of death and there, slightly decreasing speed for a moment, carries on again with the same speed. It does not stop at the station even for a moment. For one who is not an arahant, the station of death is not a terminus but a junction from where thirty-one different tracks diverge. The train, as soon as it arrives at the station, moves onto one or another of these tracks and continues. This speeding "train of becoming," fuelled by the electricity of the kammic reactions of the past, keeps on running from one station to the next, on one track or the other, a continuous journey that goes on without ceasing.
This changing of "tracks" happens automatically. As the melting of ice into water and the cooling of water to form ice happens according to laws of nature, so the transition from life to life is controlled by set laws of nature. According to these laws, the train not only changes tracks by itself, it also lays the next tracks itself. For this train of becoming the junction of death, where the change of tracks takes place, is of great importance. Here the present life is abandoned (this is called cuti-disappearance, death). The demise of the body takes place, and immediately the next life starts (a process which is called patisandhi - conception or taking up of the next birth). The moment of patisandhi is the result of the moment of death; the moment of death creates the moment of conception. Since every death moment creates the next birth moment, death is not only death, but birth as well. At this junction, life changes into death and death into birth.
Thus every life is a preparation for the next death. If someone is wise, he or she will use this life to the best advantage and prepare for a good death. The best death is the one that is the last, that is not a junction but a terminus: the death of an arahant. Here there will be no track on which the train can run further; but until such a terminus is reached, one can at least ensure that the next death gives rise to a good birth and that the terminus will be reached in due course. It all depends on us, on our own efforts. We are makers of our own future, we create our own welfare or misery as well as our own liberation.

for full article : What happens at death?

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Dec 9, 2010

Global Pagoda - The Monument of Truth

Dhamma is the truth.
Vipassana is the univeral, practical path to experience the truth of nature, the reality within.
The Global Pagoda is a messenger of Vipassana, to inform and enable thousands of truth warriors to practice Vipassana together, in the courageous, constant, determined battle to destroy the impurities-enemies within. And most necessarily, to share the infinite benefits of Vipassana with all beings.
With Vipassana, one undertands what really happens in the universe within oneself, within the constantly changing mind-matter phenomenon we call 'I'. Delusions and mis-understandings gradually fade away, along with ignorance of the reality within fading away.

Excerpt from 'Sampajañña: The Fullness of Understanding - by Sayagyi U S. N. Goenka':
" So long as one sees from only one angle, one has only a partial truth. Without a general understanding, this partial truth is bound to be misleading, bound to create misconceptions. When one observes a phenomenon in different ways from different viewpoints, the full truth is revealed.
This is real wisdom: to see things from different angles-in Pāli, Pakārena jānātīti paññā. As one proceeds from a narrow, partial view to an understanding of truth in all aspects, automatically illusions and confusions disappear.
By remaining extroverted we see only one aspect of reality, and inevitably are misled by partial truths. Through the practice of introspection, however, we begin to see from another perspective. Thus we emerge from illusions and start awakening to the entire truth.
How does the process of introspection actually awaken in us a comprehensive grasp of truth?
To understand this we must recall that every sensory phenomenon-whether a person, a thing, or an event-exists for us only when it comes into contact with our sense organs. Without this contact, the sensory object in fact is nothing for us. If we remain extroverted, we attach importance to external objects and ignore the essential internal base of their existence for us, because we never examine ourselves. Thus deluded by a partial truth, we are led into folly.
But if we remain aware of external reality and also observe ourselves, the entire situation changes. Now external objects help to throw light on our inner experiences, and inner experiences help us to understand the whole truth. And with this all embracing view we come out of the habit of wallowing in sensory experiences and start instead to observe them objectively.
As the meditator begins moving from a partial and fragmentary vision to an understanding of truth in its totality, he sees more clearly how the phenomenon of mind and matter actually works. As soon as a sensory object comes into contact with one of the sense doors, instantaneously the mental faculty of cognition, recognition and evaluation, sensation and reaction all follow. For this process to occur there must first be a contact between a sensory object and the mental-physical structure; otherwise the object has no reality for us. And this law applies not only to the five physical senses, but also to the mind. As much as eyes or ears, the mind exists within the structure of the body.

Therefore mental objects, just as much as sights or sounds, have their real existence for us within this physical structure, not outside. If we forget this important fact we can never attain an understanding of the entire truth.
By observing sensations throughout the body dispassionately, the meditator experiences sensory objects, both external and internal, as they actually affect the mental-physical structure within. In this way he advances towards a comprehensive view of reality. He realizes by experience that whether gross or subtle, whether pleasant or unpleasant, every sensation is ephemeral, having the nature of arising and passing away; this is the fundamental fact of impermanence-anicca.

Whatever is ephemeral is liable to be a source of misery if we become attached to it; this is the fundamental fact of suffering-dukkha.
Over an ephemeral phenomenon we can have no control, no mastery. If we seek to change its nature from transitory to permanent, we are bound to fail. If we seek to make it productive of happiness instead of sorrow, we are bound to fail. This is the fundamental fact of egolessness-anattā.
Thus the wisdom of anicca, dukhha, and anattā arises in the meditator as he continues observing sensations objectively. And the more this wisdom grows, the more the mirage of "I, mine" fades. Now the meditator will give primary importance not to the sensory object, but to its manifestation within the mental-physical structure. By doing so he achieves a fuller understanding of the reality of this mental-physical phenomenon, and so emerges from illusions and from suffering.
This is the real purpose of Vipassana meditation: to awaken an understanding of truth in all its aspects, and to maintain this understanding in every situation. Whether sitting, standing, lying down, or walking, whether eating or drinking, whether bathing or washing, whether speaking or remaining silent, whether listening, seeing, tasting, smelling or touching, the meditator must maintain sampajañña, and understanding of the entire truth."

for full article : Sampajañña: The Fullness of Understanding - by Sayagyi U S. N. Goenka

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Dec 3, 2010

The Vehicle of Liberation

Dhammam Saranam Gachchami.
One's actual surrender is to Dhamma, and only Dhamma - the truth, the universal law of nature.
Dhamma is the Law of Cause and Effect.
Vipassana practice enables living with Dhamma, with the truth, every moment.

The Global Pagoda is a vehicle for sharing the infinite benefits of Vipassana, for the happiness and liberation of all beings, from all suffering and misery:
" The law of Patticca Samuppāda (Dependent Origination) is the universal law of cause and effect: As the action is, so the result will be. Mental volition is the driving force for action at the vocal or physical level. If this driving force is unwholesome, the resultant vocal and physical actions will also be unwholesome. If the seeds are unwholesome, the fruits are bound to be unwholesome. But if this driving force is wholesome, the resultant actions are bound to be wholesome.
For a Vipassana meditator who develops the ability to observe this law at the level of direct experience, the answer to the question “Who am I?” becomes very clear. You are nothing but the sum total of your kamma, your sankhārā (mental conditionings). All your accumulated actions together equal “I” at the conventional level." 

(for full article http://www.vridhamma.org/en2007-07)

* Vipassana meditation courses worldwide, course venues, online application for Vipassana courses
* Directions to reach Global Pagoda, Gorai / Borivili, Mumbai
* Earning boundless merits through Dhamma dana for Global Pagoda