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Jul 27, 2011

Protecting what is More Valuable

(from the article ' The Peacemaker ', Vipassana Newsletter archives, Winter, 1982) 

Two kingdoms were on the verge of war for the possession of a certain embankment in dispute between the two countries. And the SammasamBuddha Gotama, seeing the kings and their armies ready to fight, requested them to tell him the cause of their quarrels.

Having heard both sides of the situation, the Buddha asked the kings: “I understand that the embankment has value for some of your people; has it any intrinsic value aside from its service to your men?”

“It has no intrinsic value whatever, O Lord,” was the reply.

The Buddha continued: “Now when you go to battle, is it not sure that many of your men will be slain and that you yourselves, O kings, are liable to lose your lives?”

They said: “Verily. O Lord, it is sure that many will be slain and our own lives be jeopardized.”

“The blood of men, however,” said Buddha, “has it less intrinsic value than a mound of earth?”

“No, O Lord,” the kings said, “the lives of men and above all the lives of kings, are priceless.”

Then the Buddha concluded: “Are going to stake that which is priceless against that which has no intrinsic value whatsoever?”

The wrath of the two monarchs abated, and they came to a peaceful agreement.


The Buddha helping Bharadwaja conquer anger, by maintaining his own composure and generating compassion in the face of abuse. 
(The painting is part of the Buddha Life Art Gallery of the Global Vipassana Pagoda)
* How to Give up Anger

* Vipassana meditation courses worldwide, course venues, online application for Vipassana courses

* Directions to reach Global Pagoda, Gorai / Borivili, Mumbai

*
Benefits of Pure Volition of Dāna

Jul 19, 2011

Benefits of Pure Volition of Dāna

by Sayagyi U S.N.Goenka


Dāna
, when given with pure volition, is highly beneficial. When one unselfishly and humbly gives dāna with Dhamma volition for the benefit of all beings, one’s mind is free from greed, harshness, enmity, selfishness, miserliness, and dullness. One's mind becomes noble, gentle, tender, tranquil, generous, virtuous and alert.

To give dāna is the fundamental duty of householders.

In the ancient spiritual tradition of India, dāna has always had special importance.

In ancient times, virtuous and wealthy householders and sages used to organise great ceremonies of dāna.

Noble donors like Emperor Vessantara in ancient times and Emperor Harsha established the illustrious ideal of donating all their possessions. Their volition behind giving dāna was truly selfless.

The wealth of the community tends to accumulate with the rulers and wealthy men. If this wealth remains with them, it begins to rot and makes the whole community unhealthy. If wealth is re-distributed, its purity is maintained.

Having understood this, a wise donor, considered his wealth as the wealth of the community. To save himself from the improper hoarding of wealth, he gave dāna so that others could share and enjoy this wealth.

This wise policy of equitable distribution of wealth preserved the equilibrium of social prosperity and prevented it from becoming an unbalanced destructive force.

Global Pagoda at sunset on the Arabian Sea. Gorai Creek, Mumbai, India. Photograph by Bhavin Kothari

The Global Vipassana Pagoda was built with selfless Dhamma service and voluntary donations from people worldwide, for the benefit and happiness of many.


The wealthy donor distributed his wealth equitably from time to time. He did not give his wealth with the desire to obtain something in return nor to boost his ego.

Viceyya dānaṃ dātabbaṃ,

yattha dinnaṃ mahapphalaṃ.”

Dāna given with wisdom is highly beneficial.

There are two kinds of dāna:

1. Vaṭṭamūlaka dāna: the dāna that keeps one entangled in the cycle of existence(bhavacakka).

2. Vivaṭṭamūlaka dāna: meaning the dāna that takes one out of the cycle of existence.

A wise person gives dāna such that it frees him from the cycle of existence.

As with all other kamma, so too the kamma of dāna is good or bad according to the volition of one’s mind. The vivaṭṭamūlaka mind that cuts the cycle of existence is free of craving, free of aversion, and free of ignorance. Only the dāna given with this kind of mind is called vivaṭṭamūlaka dāna, which destroys the cycle of existence.

While giving such dāna, we do not consider our own benefit. Instead, we are delighted to see the happiness and welfare of the person receiving our dāna. When we take delight in the happiness of others, our minds become pure and tender and is freed from the limitations of narrow self-interest.

However, if while giving dāna we wish for any personal benefit, our mind is stained with craving, vaṭṭamūlaka. Dāna given with such volition of mind will only prolong the cycle of existence. If, as a result of giving dāna, we wish for worldly happiness, fame, respect, profit, or rebirth in heaven—our minds remains in bondage instead of becoming free from bondage.

Therefore, giving dāna with a mind stained with craving is wrong but even worse is to give dāna with the mind defiled with aversion. That becomes a cause of even greater harm to us; it becomes a process of earning demerits in the name of Dhamma. Not only do we lose the donated wealth, but simultaneously, the kamma done with a defiled mind becomes the cause of great sorrow and misfortune.

Let us understand by examples how we give dāna with the mind defiled with aversion:

A beggar standing outside my door is calling out, “Sir! Give alms, sir! Give alms!” Becoming enraged at his repeated pleas, I throw a coin at him to get rid of him. At that time, my mind is filled with anger and irritation.

Some people collecting donations for some school, or hospital have come to my shop. As soon as I see them, I fly into a rage and start grumbling, “Donation, donation! All the time, people are asking for donations! Accountant, give them five rupees and get rid of them.” While giving them the money, my mind is filled with resentment towards these undesirable donation-seekers.

Some minister or political leader orders me to give a donation for some cause. I do not have the slightest interest in it but I am afraid to refuse so I give dāna out of fear.

My Dhamma-teacher (kalyāna mitta) has sent a message to give a donation for some project. I do not wish to give this dāna but do so out of deference and diffidence.

The rest of the people in my community have given dāna for some work. I do not have the slightest desire to give any dāna for it. However, if I do not donate, others will criticize me. So I give dāna to protect my reputation.

My rival has become famous because he has given a large donation. I give a bigger donation than him out of egotism.

In this way, I give dāna with the unwholesome volition of anger, resentment, irritation, fear, deference, diffidence, rivalry, jealousy, hostility, pride, and conceit. And after giving such dāna, I regret it whenever I remember it and defile my mind.

All actions done with wholesome Dhamma-volition are beneficial; all actions done with unwholesome volition are non-beneficial. For all benefits of Dhamma, dāna should always be given with wholesome volition.

When dāna is given with wholesome volition, the mind is filled with a feeling of renunciation and with delight at the happiness and benefit of others. It is filled with contentment before giving dāna, while giving dāna and after giving dāna.

Before giving dāna, such joyful thoughts arise in the mind, “I shall give dāna. Others will benefit from my dāna and gain happiness.”

While giving dāna also, my mind is suffused with these joyful thoughts, “I am giving dāna. I am fulfilling the duty of a householder! By this dāna, the recipients will benefit and gain happiness.”

After giving dāna, my mind is repeatedly filled with these auspicious thoughts, “I have given the dāna of food or clothes or medicines so that the recipients will be healthy and strong in mind and body and practising sīla, samādhi, and paññā, will attain their own welfare and will become the cause of the welfare of many. I have given the dāna of this cottage staying in which the meditator will practise sīla, samādhi and paññā. By practising Anapana and Vipassana, he will experience the peace and happiness of nibbāna and will become the cause of the peace and happiness of many.”

Whether the recipient of my dāna is a fully liberated arahant or any virtuous saintly person who is a follower of the path of arahants, my mind will be filled with boundless joy, “It is my good fortune that, by my dāna, such a saintly person will remain healthy and strong for some time, and through him, many others will gain happiness! By accepting my dāna he has bestowed boundless compassion on me.”

Pubbeva dānā sumano, dadaṃ cittaṃ pasādaye;

datvā attamano hoti, esā yaññassa sampadā.

(AN 2.6.37, Chaḷaṅgadānasuttaṃ)

The donor is happy before giving dāna, while giving dāna, and after giving dāna. Such is the abundance of happiness of dāna offered with wholesome volition.

In this way before giving dāna, while giving dāna, as well as after giving dāna, the donor fills his mind with pure contentment
May all beings be happy, be fully liberated from all suffering.
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( original article: Right Volition of Dāna, Vipassana Newsletter, December, 2009)
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Rare opportunities to earn and share invaluable merits in participating in Global Vipassana Pagoda development projects:

* Designs on the Pagoda, decorating the canopy, canopy pillar, and Dhamma verses on the Pagoda walls. The Parikrama path will be laid with a special marble from Burma (to ease walking barefoot even on hot days). Estimated cost of completion of these projects: US $260,000; INR 1,25,00,000
* Landscaping the outer areas of the Pagoda, building parks and roads, laying water lines etc. Estimated cost: US$ 530,000, INR 2,50,00,000
*Gong Tower : $25,000, INR 12,50,000
*Cell Pagoda Dome: $80,000, INR 40,00,000
* Two auditoriums: $180,000, INR 90,00,000
* Dhamma Library: $60,000, INR 30,00,000
* Security and Information Centre: $445,000, INR 2,22,50,000
* Maintenance: Estimated cost $900 (Per day) $324,000, INR 1,62,00,000
* Boundary Wall: $335,000, INR 1,67,50,000
* Pagoda Parikrama Flooring: $670,000, INR 3,35,00,000
* Landscaping: $670,000, INR 3,35,00,000
* Estimated Total Funds needed: $3,579,000, INR 17,89,50,000

How to donate to the Global Vipassana Pagoda

  1. Donation through Cheque/Draft
    Donation Cheque/Draft favoring “Global Vipassana Foundation” payable at Mumbai can be sent to the following address:
    Kamlesh Vikamsey
    Khimji Kunverji & Co.
    Sir P. M. Road , Fort,
    Mumbai 400 001.
    India
    Tel: +91 (022) 2266-2550

  2. Donations through Core Banking (within India )
    Donations to “Global Vipassana Foundation” can now be remitted from anywhere in India through any branch of the Bank of India under core banking system.

    Global Vipassana Foundation
    Axis Bank India
    A/C. NO: 911010032397802
    SWIFT CODE: AXISINBB062
    IFSC CODE: UTIB0000062
    MICR CODE: 400211011
    BRANCH: Malad west branch
    ADDRESS:
    Sonimur Apartment,
    1st Floor, Malad Timber Estate,
    Malad West, Near BATA Showroom ,
    SV Road, Malad (West)
    Mumbai 400064

  3. Donations from Outside India can be remitted through SWIFT transfer to Bank of India
    SWIFT Transfer details are as follows:

    Name of the Bank : J P Morgan Chase Bank
    Address :
    New York, US
    A/c. No. : 0011407376
    Swift: CHASUS33

Copy of communication may please be enclosed to kamlesh@kkc.in.

For donation made through option 2 & 3 Please Inform
Kamlesh Vikamsey
Global Vipassana Foundation
Khimji Kunverji & Co.
Suite 52, Bombay Mutual Bldg.,
Sir P. M. Road, Fort,
Mumbai 400 001.
India
Tel: +91 22 22662550
OR
Email to: Kamlesh@kkc.in

Please inform all relevant details such as Name, Address & No of Vipassana Courses done, so that the receipt of your donation can be sent to you.

http://www.globalpagoda.org/donation
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* Vipassana meditation courses worldwide, course venues, online application for Vipassana courses

* Directions to reach Global Pagoda, Gorai / Borivili, Mumbai
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Jul 7, 2011

Vipassana and Freedom from Suffering

by Sayagyi U S.N. Goenka

(from Vipassana Newsletter Archives, summer issue 1983)

A Vipassana meditator soon realizes the difference between apparent and actual truth: that what appears solid, hard, and impenetrable at the gross level is actually nothing but wavelets and vibrations at the subtler level.

By simply observing objectively and feeling equanimously the sensations in one’s own body in a systematic way, part by part, piece by piece, bit by bit, one can easily reach a stage where even the most solid parts of the body are experienced as they really are: nothing but the oscillations of sub-atomic particles (kalapas).

With this same awareness, one can observe and realize that even the four parts of the mind, Vinana (cognition), sanna (biased evaluation), vedana (sensation), and sankharas (mental reaction, conditioning) are also nothing but vibrations arising and vanishing with even greater rapidity. Nothing but wavelets, wavelets.

The entire phenomena (papanca) of mind and matter has this fixed nature of arising and instantly passing away. This is the ultimate truth (paramattha sacca) of mind and matter permanently impermanent, nothing but a mass of tiny little bubbles or ripples, disintegrating as soon as they arise.


Global Vipassana Pagoda, Mumbai - a global light house of Dhamma
(View from the ferry. Photograph by Paul Sonnnenblick, Jan 1, 2011)


This experiential realization of the basic characteristic of all phenomena as anicca (changing / impermanence) leads one to the realization of the characteristic of anatta (Not I, not me, not my soul) as obviously one has no control over them. This in turn makes one realize the nature of dukkha (suffering), as by experience one understands that identifying oneself with the changing impersonal phenomena is nothing but suffering.

The more one is established at this level of Ultimate Truth, the stronger and more steadfast will one be established in real wisdom, the highest state of which is called variously Vijja-Sampanno, Purito Panno in Pali or Sthit-Pragya in Sanskrit.

In contrast, anyone entangled in ignorance of the actual mind-matter reality will imagine that any sensation becomes the cause for generating craving for their continuation, and unpleasant sensations produce craving for their cessation. This reaction of the mind or conditioning based on craving and aversion is the strongest bondage.

Initially the Vipassana practitioner will be caught in a tug-of-war between his knowledge of mind-matter phenomena as impermanent and transitory, and the pull of the old attachments toward the flow of sankharas.

But with practice he can learn the fine art of differentiating between what is real and what is illusory, what is known and what is imagined and what is true knowledge and what is not. For longer and longer periods truth will predominate. Each sensation felt is known as impermanent; hence the perception that accompanies each cognition is free from the “Self-consciousness” of “I” and ‘Mine”. The Sanna (ignorant evaluation) turns into Panna (experiential wisdom).

The truth that the sensation immediately passes away predominates, not the craving for it to continue, nor the craving for it to cease. There can be no liking or disliking sensations which pass away as fast as they arise. It is this liking and disliking which turns into the very strong attachments that condition the mind and produce the kamma, pushing individuals into the endless rounds of becoming (Kammabhava).

A non-reacting mind produces no new conditioning or sankhara. The law of nature is such that the old accumulation of sankharas in the flow of the consciousness (Bhavanga-citta) will automatically rise to the surface and ripen when no new sankharas are given as input.

Here again it is the practice of Vipassana which enables the student silently and attentively to observe these old bondages of the past as they arise in their true impermanent nature. With heightened equanimity the cravings and aversions lose their grip.

In a non-reacting mind thefruit of the past kammas cannot spread like cancer. This “Khinam Puranam” which means that each old sankhara or conditioning is eradicated as soon as it arises without being allowed to multiply. It is the purifying fire of panna which burns the new seed accompanying the fruits of all these old accumulated sankharas.

Sometimes, however, the fruition of the old kamma is so intense that one loses all balance of the mind. Wisdom fades away and the true perspective is blurred. He loses his impersonal attitude towards the pain and begins to identify with the sensations. He may try intellectually to come out of his reactions, but actually he begins treating his pain as if it will never end, and the reaction continues.

To fully realize the impermanent nature of all phenomena and to break the apparent solidity of perceptions, a Vipassana meditator must reach the stage of “uppadavaya dhammino”
- the instantaneous arising and passing of the fundamental vibrations or wavelets of nama-rupa (mind and matter).

This stage can be reached only by the practice of Vipassana meditation, the sure way to break
these intense bondages.

In fact, Vipassana meditation is for the purpose of “dhunamanassa pure katam rajam” - a process of combing out all the old defilements from the fabric of consciousness.

The vibrating string of the pure mind beats out all the impurities of the past.

This combing process cannot be said to be complete while even the smallest knot remains unopened. In the same way, the practice of Vipassana must continue until all impressions
of solidity anywhere in the framework of the physical and mental structure have been removed.

How to achieve this stage?

Let us see: As it is written: “Puran kamma vipakajam dukkham tibbam katukam vedanam adhivasento,” which means that the meditator endures the fruition of his past actions, no matter how severe. How is this possible? Not enduring by becoming agitated or crying over the past - this would be completely opposite to the process of purification.

The Vipassana meditator can only endure such intense sensations by developing awareness with equanimity. It is because he knows perfectly well the true nature of the situation that he is able to bear these fruits of the past without strong reactions. He becomes an impartial observer of the suffering rather than being the sufferer.

This detachment allows the old stock of sankharas to get eradicated, and very soon there will be no observer, but mere observation. And so also there is no sufferer but mere detached observation of impermanent sensations. Anatta! Anatta!

May all beings be liberated !

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* Significance of the Pali Term Dhuna in the Practice of Vipassana Meditation

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* Vipassana meditation courses worldwide, course venues, online application for Vipassana courses

* Directions to reach Global Pagoda, Gorai / Borivili, Mumbai

Jul 1, 2011

A Dhamma Heaven from Hell Within

(original title ' Twenty in, Twenty Out, Twenty Strong' , from Vipassana Newsletter February 16, 2003.)

Along with two other men, old students, I had the good fortune to serve on the recent ten-day Vipassana course at the Donaldson maximum-security prison in Alabama (USA). It was one of the most moving and inspiring events of my life. It was certainly a challenge for the twenty students and everyone involved. But at the end of the course, an inmate commented, "Twenty in, twenty out, twenty strong!"

Donaldson is the end of the line in the Alabama State Department of Corrections, a system in the news last summer as underfunded, understaffed and overcrowded. That a ten-day Vipassana course was held at this facility, in the buckle of the Bible belt, is astonishing in itself. Donaldson is a very dangerous place, a dumping ground for the most troublesome prisoners. Before the course started we had a security briefing during which we were instructed on how to handle ourselves should we be taken hostage. During our stay we were repeatedly reminded, "Always remember where you are; they're nice guys but they'll kill you." Not a comforting thought; however, we naively felt safe in our meditation haven. At times, the dichotomy of the situation seemed almost surreal: three of us, locked down in the middle of this hell realm, assisting in bringing the lofty teaching of Dhamma to these needy and deeply suffering human beings. We sometimes laughed at the irony of the situation, yet we were keenly aware of its serious nature.

We were also aware that this was perhaps the first time ever that "free civilians" had entered a maximum-security prison and been locked down with the inmates for such a long period of time. It was a commendable and courageous decision on the part of the warden that allowed this to happen.

Our sleeping quarters were in a guard tower directly above the gym where the course was held. We slept on mattresses on the concrete floor. There was an open toilet and sink, which provided the basic requirements but little privacy. Each night the correctional officer (the CO or guard) locked us down, separating us from the inmate-students.

On day one, during the routine afternoon head count, which occurred in the middle of the 2:30 to 3:30 group sitting, an announcement crackled over the COs' radios: "West gym reporting. Head count 20 and all meditating." One can imagine the speculation and interest this created in the rough prison environment. We learned that bets had been made about how many would complete these ten arduous days. Very few, if any, would have predicted "twenty in, twenty out, twenty strong." Our students, certainly not inmates in our eyes, were an inspiration not only to us but also to the COs and the administration of the prison. The COs especially were dumbfounded by what was going on before them. Their respect and admiration for their captives soared as the days passed, and they soon became protective allies. On several occasions, they reprimanded inmates and fellow officers also, for intruding into our students' silent Dhamma bubble. They were also intrigued by the delicious vegetarian food we were serving the inmates-this prison serves no milk, bread, fresh vegetables or fruit, and breakfast is from 2:00 to 3:00 a.m. The first indication of the effect of the course came when the COs began to serve themselves food and sit down at the same tables and eat with the inmates-an unheard-of situation in such a hostile environment. When the weather turned cold, COs scrambled to find cardboard to block a drafty vent close to the students' beds. These bulky men, who had no doubt in the past used force on some of these inmates, were now serving them with such touching thoughtfulness. Other effects of the course must have rippled throughout the facility in ways that we shall never know.

As the course settled down and gained momentum, the strong and positive vibrations being created became powerfully tangible. Our students bravely faced their personal demons. For ten to twelve hours each day, Vipassana took these earnest meditators deep into their subconscious minds where all inherent misery lies. One can only guess how difficult it was for them to face their past and present predicaments. We were unsure whether one student, who concerned us deeply, would stick with it for the duration. He was clearly "shut down", his face stiff and expressionless, his surly body language mimicking a caged animal. Our numerous efforts to encourage him and win his confidence were rebuffed with almost inaudible murmurs. This went on for days and finally, as often happens, the breakthrough came: a smile-the acknowledgment that he was now working deeply within-and a change in his posture. We felt relieved and joyous at his progress. Soon after silence was broken, this student spoke openly of his disturbed and violent past. It was a significant step in turning the tide of misery that had haunted him for so many years.

The efforts of these men were truly amazing as they battled the storms that inevitably arise during this deep process. Some correction officials have called Vipassana courses a mental boot camp; others have likened them to a mental detoxification. It is no small feat to complete the full ten days. Yet, in spite of enormous difficulties, caused partly by the inadequate conditions-one shower, two toilets, and a sink-the students hung in with determination and tenacity. It was obvious that suffering is a silent and constant companion in these men's lives and clearly their awareness of it was a strong motivating factor. Sometimes we urged them to back off and work less intensely. One of the more seemingly unlikely students had spent 31 of his last 35 years in prison and had endured numerous stabbings and beatings during his violent life. Yet this man took to meditation like the proverbial duck to water. Even during break periods he could be seen sitting in the makeshift meditation hall, moment by moment observing the realties that arose within. Part way through the course he grinned his toothless grin and proclaimed: "If it gets any better, I won't be able to stand it!"

At last, when it came time for the graduation ceremony (done only in prison and jail courses), there was apprehension about what these student-inmates might say. By now they were extremely joyous and excited at their own achievement. These are men who are much more familiar with the gloom of failure than the dizzy elation of success. Our concern was that, in their excitement, they would be inappropriately "over the top." But once again these guys came through. Each one of them rose to his feet and articulately told his story with heartfelt respect and thankfulness. Among the students were three imams (prayer leaders) of various Muslim traditions, as well as two devoted Gospel and Baptist followers. All spoke of how Vipassana had helped them gain a deeper and more meaningful perspective of their own religion. One man, who for much of the course had struggled with a deep fear that his anger would one day again overpower him and land him back in prison, turned to us with tears pouring down his face. His words were few, but the sense of remorse for his past actions, hope for the future, and gratitude for this teaching of Dhamma, were infinitely moving.

Just as ehi-passiko (come and see) works in the "free world," it also works in the prison environment. As the (now old) students moved back into the prison population, word of this transforming experience soon spread. As a result, 24 inmates have now signed up for the next course. The prison administration made it clear that they had made no announcements nor coaxed anyone into applying. COs and the warden have also indicated their desire to participate in a course.

The Donaldson administration has continued to support these men's efforts by setting aside two times each day when the students can go to a designated room for group sittings. Every Sunday, when the prison is quiet, they meditate continuously for three hours, starting at 5:30 a.m.

(Goenkaji visited the facility on 16th May 2002 on the last day of the second course there, during his Meditation Now-Inner Peace through Inner Wisdom tour of North America.)

Original article : http://www.vridhamma.org/en2003-02

Dhamma Brothers

Vipassana Meditation Courses for Correctional Facilities

Liberation from the Prison Within

Doing Time, Doing Vipassana

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* Vipassana meditation courses worldwide, course venues, online application for Vipassana courses
*Global Pagoda One-Day Vipassana course on July 17, 2011 (those who have completed a 10-dy Vipassan course)
* Dhamma service opportunities at Global Pagoda
* Directions to reach Global Pagoda, Gorai / Borivili, Mumbai

* Earning boundless merits through Dhamma dana for Global Pagoda