Vipassana is one of India's most ancient meditation techniques. Long lost to humanity,
it was rediscovered by Gotama the Buddha more than 2500 years ago. The word Vipassana means
seeing things as they really are. It is the process of self- purification by self-observation.
One begins by observing the natural breath to concentrate the mind. With a sharpened
awareness one proceeds to observe the changing nature of body and mind and experiences
the universal truths of impermanence, suffering and egolessness. This truth-realization
by direct experience is the process of purification. The entire path (Dhamma) is
a universal remedy for universal problems and has nothing to do with any organized
religion or sectarianism. For this reason, it can be freely practiced by everyone,
at any time, in any place, without conflict due to race, community or religion,
and will prove equally beneficial to one and all.
It is not a rite or ritual based on blind faith.
It is neither an intellectual nor a philosophical entertainment.
It is not a rest cure, a holiday, or an opportunity for socializing.
It is not an escape from the trials and tribulations of everyday life.
It is a technique that will eradicate suffering.
It is a method of mental purification which allows one to face life's tensions and
problems in a calm, balanced way.
It is an art of living that one can use to make positive contributions to society.
Vipassana meditation aims at the highest spiritual goals of total liberation and
full enlightenment. Its purpose is never simply to cure physical disease. However,
as a by-product of mental purification, many psychosomatic diseases are eradicated.
In fact, Vipassana eliminates the three causes of all unhappiness: craving, aversion
and ignorance. With continued practice, the meditation releases the tensions developed
in everyday life, opening the knots tied by the old habit of reacting in an unbalanced
way to pleasant and unpleasant situations.
Although Vipassana was developed as a technique by the Buddha, its practice is not
limited to Buddhists. There is absolutely no question of conversion. The technique
works on the simple basis that all human beings share the same problems and a technique
which can eradicate these problems will have a universal application. People from
many religious denominations have experienced the benefits of Vipassana meditation,
and have found no conflict with their profession of faith.
Meditation and Self-discipline
The process of self-purification by introspection is certainly never easy--students
have to work very hard at it. By their own efforts students arrive at their own
realizations; no one else can do this for them. Therefore, the meditation will suit
only those willing to work seriously and observe the discipline, which is there
for the benefit and protection of the meditators and is an integral part of the
Ten days is certainly a very short time in which to penetrate the deepest levels
of the unconscious mind and learn how to eradicate the complexes lying there. Continuity
of the practice in seclusion is the secret of this technique's success. Rules and
regulations have been developed keeping this practical aspect in mind. They are
not primarily for the benefit of the teacher or the course management, nor are they
negative expressions of tradition, orthodoxy or blind faith in some organized religion.
Rather, they are based on the practical experience of thousands of meditators over
the years and are both scientific and rational. Abiding by the rules creates a very
conducive atmosphere for meditation; breaking them pollutes it.
A student will have to stay for the entire period of the course. The other rules
should also be carefully read and considered. Only those who feel that they can
honestly and scrupulously follow the discipline should apply for admission.
Those not prepared to make a determined effort will waste their time and, moreover,
will disturb others who wish to work seriously. A prospective student should also
understand that it would be both disadvantageous and inadvisable to leave without
finishing the course upon finding the discipline too difficult. Likewise, it would
be most unfortunate if, in spite of repeated reminders, a student does not follow
the rules and has to be asked to leave.
Persons With Serious Mental Disorders
People with serious mental disorders have occasionally come to Vipassana courses
with the unrealistic expectation that the technique will cure or alleviate their
mental problems. Unstable interpersonal relationships and a history of various treatments
can be additional factors which make it difficult for such people to benefit from,
or even complete, a ten-day course. Our capacity as a nonprofessional volunteer
organization makes it impossible for us to properly care for people with these backgrounds.
Although Vipassana meditation is beneficial for most people, it is not a substitute
for medical or psychiatric treatment and we do not recommend it for people with
serious psychiatric disorders.
The Code of Discipline
The foundation of the practice is sīla — moral conduct. Sīla
provides a basis for the development of samādhi — concentration
of mind; and purification of the mind is achieved through paññā
— the wisdom of insight.
All who attend a Vipassana course must conscientiously undertake the following five
precepts for the duration of the course:
to abstain from killing any being;
to abstain from stealing;
to abstain from all sexual activity;
to abstain from telling lies;
to abstain from all intoxicants.
There are three additional precepts which old students (that is, those who have
completed a course with S.N. Goenka or one of his assistant teachers) are expected
to follow during the course:
to abstain from eating after midday;
to abstain from sensual entertainment and bodily decorations;
to abstain from using high or luxurious beds.
Old students will observe the sixth precept by having lemon water or jaggery water at the 5 p.m. break, whereas
new student may have tea with milk and some fruit.The teacher may excuse an old student from observing this
precept for health reasons.The seventh and eighth precept will be observed by all.
Students must declare themselves willing to comply fully and for the duration of
the course with the teacher's guidance and instructions; that is, to observe the
discipline and to meditate exactly as the teacher asks, without ignoring any part
of the instructions, nor adding anything to them. This acceptance should be one
of discrimination and understanding, not blind submission. Only with an attitude
of trust can a student work diligently and thoroughly. Such confidence in the teacher
and the technique is essential for success in meditation.
During the course it is absolutely essential that all forms of prayer, worship,
or religious ceremony — fasting, burning incense, counting beads, reciting mantras,
singing and dancing, etc. — be discontinued. All other meditation techniques and
healing or spiritual practices should also be suspended. This is not to condemn
any other technique or practice, but to give a fair trial to the technique of Vipassana
in its purity.
Students are strongly advised that deliberately mixing other techniques of meditation
with Vipassana will impede and even reverse their progress. Despite repeated warnings
by the teacher, there have been cases in the past where students have intentionally
mixed this technique with a ritual or another practice, and have done themselves
a great disservice. Any doubts or confusion which may arise should always be clarified
by meeting with the teacher.
The teacher is available to meet students privately between 12 Noon and 1:00 p.m.
Questions may also be asked in public between 9:00 and 9:30 p.m. in the meditation
hall. The interview and question times are for clarifying the technique and for
questions arising from the evening discourses.
All students must observe Noble Silence from the beginning of the course until the
morning of the last full day. Noble Silence means silence of body, speech, and mind.
Any form of communication with fellow student, whether by gestures, sign language,
written notes, etc., is prohibited.
Students may, however, speak with the teacher whenever necessary and they may approach
the management with any problems related to food, accommodation, health, etc. But
even these contacts should be kept to a minimum. Students should cultivate the feeling
that they are working in isolation.
Complete segregation of men and women is to be maintained. Couples, married or otherwise,
should not contact each other in any way during the course. The same applies to
friends, members of the same family, etc.
It is important that throughout the course there be no physical contact whatsoever
between persons of the same or opposite sex.
Although physical yoga and other exercises are compatible with Vipassana, they should
be suspended during the course because proper secluded facilities are not available
at the course site. Jogging is also not permitted. Students may exercise during
rest periods by walking in the designated areas.
No such items should be brought to the course site. If brought inadvertently they
should be deposited with the management for the duration of the course.
No drugs, alcohol, or other intoxicants should be brought to the site; this also
applies to tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and all other sedatives. Those taking
medicines or drugs on a doctor's prescription should notify the teacher.
For the health and comfort of all students, smoking, chewing tobacco, and taking
snuff are not permitted at the course.
It is not possible to satisfy the special food preferences and requirements of all
the meditators. Students are therefore kindly requested to make do with the simple
vegetarian meals provided. The course management endeavors to prepare a balanced,
wholesome menu suitable for meditation. If any students have been prescribed a special
diet because of ill-health, they should inform the management at the time of application.
Fasting is not permitted.
Dress should be simple, modest, and comfortable. Tight, transparent, revealing,
or otherwise striking clothing (such as shorts, short skirts, tights and leggings,
sleeveless or skimpy tops) should not be worn. Sunbathing and partial nudity are
not permitted. This is important in order to minimize distraction to others.
No washing machines or dryers are available, so students should bring sufficient
clothing. Small items can be hand-washed. Bathing and laundry may be done only in
the break periods and not during meditation hours.
Students must remain within the course boundaries throughout the course. They may
leave only with the specific consent of the teacher. No outside communications is
allowed before the course ends. This includes letters, phone calls and visitors.
Cell phones, pagers, and other electronic devices must be deposited with the management
until the course ends. In case of an emergency, a friend or relative may contact
The playing of musical instruments, radios, etc. is not permitted. No reading or
writing materials should be brought to the course. Students should not distract
themselves by taking notes. The restriction on reading and writing is to emphasize
the strictly practical nature of this meditation.
These may not be used except with the express permission of the teacher.
To clarify the spirit behind the discipline and rules, they may be summarized as
Take great care that your actions do not disturb anyone. Take no notice of distractions
caused by others.
It may be that a student cannot understand the practical reasons for one or several
of the above rules. Rather than allow negativity and doubt to develop, immediate
clarification should be sought from the teacher.
It is only by taking a disciplined approach and by making maximum effort that a
student can fully grasp the practice and benefit from it. The emphasis during the
course is on work. A golden rule is to meditate as if one were alone, with one's
mind turned inward, ignoring any inconveniences and distractions that one may encounter.
Finally, students should note that their progress in Vipassana depends solely on
their own good qualities and personal development and on five factors: earnest efforts,
confidence, sincerity, health and wisdom.
May the above information help you to obtain maximum benefit from your meditation
course. We are happy to have the opportunity to serve, and wish you peace and harmony
from your experience of Vipassana.
THE COURSE TIMETABLE
The following timetable for the course has been designed to maintain the continuity
of practice. For best results students are advised to follow it as closely as possible.
4:00 am: Morning wake-up bell
4:30-6:30 am: Meditate in the hall or in your room
6:30-8:00 am: Breakfast break
8:00-9:00 am: Group meditation in the hall
9:00-11:00 am: Meditate in the hall or in your room according to the teacher's instructions
11:00-12:00 noon: Lunch break
12noon-1:00 pm: Rest and interviews with the teacher
1:00-2:30 pm: Meditate in the hall or in your room
2:30-3:30 pm: Group meditation in the hall
3:30-5:00 pm: Meditate in the hall or in your own room according to the teacher's instructions
5:00-6:00 pm: Tea break
6:00-7:00 pm: Group meditation in the hall
7:00-8:15 pm: Teacher's Discourse in the hall
8:15-9:00 pm: Group meditation in the hall
9:00-9:30 pm: Question time in the hall
9:30 pm: Retire to your own room--Lights out
You may download a copy of the above Code of Discipline in Adobe Acrobat format
careful reading and review before you register for a course. You may apply for a
Vipassana meditation course by completing and submitting an application for a scheduled