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.
Acceptance of the Teacher and the Technique
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.
Other Techniques, Rites, and Forms of Worship
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.
Interviews 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.
Separation of Men and Women
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.
Yoga and Physical Exercise
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.
Religious Objects, Rosaries, Crystals, Talismans, etc.
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.
Intoxicants and Drugs
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.
Laundry and Bathing
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
Music, Reading and Writing
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.
Recording Devices and Cameras
These may not be used except with the express permission of the teacher.