S. N. Goenka North
American tour 2002
Meditation Now: Inner Peace for Inner Wisdom
Historical Background —Vipassana meditation
is one of the world’s most ancient meditative techniques. It was
practiced 25 centuries ago by Gotama the Buddha, who said he had
rediscovered a much older practice. After his enlightenment in 528
BCE, the Buddha spent the remaining 45 years of his life teaching the
way out of suffering. Vipassana is the essence of what he taught. The
Buddha’s teaching is known by the general term Dhamma (Sanskrit: Dharma).
five centuries Vipassana helped millions of people in India, the
Buddha’s homeland. This era saw the matchless reign of the great
Emperor Asoka (273-236 BCE) who united India and initiated a golden
age of peace and prosperity. Asoka also sent ambassadors of Dhamma to
all the neighboring kingdoms (including what has become Myanmar in
modern times), thereby spreading both the practice and the words of
about 500 years the practice of Vipassana had disappeared from India.
Fortunately it was maintained by a continuous chain of meditation
teachers in the neighboring country of Myanmar (Burma) until the
our time, Vipassana has been reintroduced to India and to people from
all over the world by
Chronology of Vipassana Development in Recent Times
Ledi Sayadaw (1846-1923), was perhaps the outstanding Buddhist figure of
his age. This scholarly, saintly monk was instrumental in re-enlivening
the traditional practice of Vipassana, making it more available for
renunciates as well as the laity in Myanmar.
1915—Ven. Ledi Sayadaw appoints Saya Thetgyi
(1873-1945) as a lay teacher of Vipassana and charges him with the task
of teaching the technique to 6000 lay people.
1937—U Ba Khin (1899-1971), then a clerk in the
office of the Accountant General of British Burma, takes his first
ten-day Vipassana course with Saya Thetgyi.
1950—Sayagyi U Ba Khin, now the Accountant General of
independent Burma, founds the Vipassana Association of the Accountant
General’s Office in order to teach Vipassana to the employees of that
office. (“Sayagyi” means “respected teacher.”)
1952—The International Meditation Centre opens in
Yangon. Sayagyi U Ba Khin can now teach Vipassana to the public. Indians
and Westerners, as well as the Burmese laity, thus have the opportunity
to come into contact with the technique.
1955—S.N. Goenka takes his first ten-day course with
Sayagyi U Ba Khin.
1969—Mr. Goenka leaves Burma and goes to India. Prior
to his departure Sayagyi U Ba Khin appoints him a teacher and charges
him with the task of returning Vipassana
to the land of its origin. From there, Sayagyi predicted, it would
spread to the rest of the world. Goenka conducts his first ten-day
course in Mumbai, India, in July, 1969.
Goenka limits his teaching to India for ten years in order to build a
solid foundation of practice there. Many Westerner travelers meet him
and start their Vipassana practice during this time.
1974—Land is purchased for the first Vipassana center
in India, the Vipassana International Academy (VIA), Dhamma
Giri, at Igatpuri, Maharashtra. In October, 1976, Dhamma Giri opens its doors with its first ten-day course for the
Goenka travels outside India to teach in the West. The first Western
course is held in July, 1979, at Gaillon, France. This follows 161
courses conducted by Mr.
Goenka during the first ten years in India. For the next 12 years he
regularly travels to Western countries and Japan, teaching courses,
guiding the fledgling centers and training assistant teachers to conduct
courses in his absence.
1981—The first Vipassana meditation centers outside
India and Myanmar are established in Shelburne, Massachusetts, USA, and
Blackheath, NSW, Australia.
1985—The Vipassana Research Institute (VRI) is
founded in Igatpuri, India, for the purpose of conducting research into
the sources and applications of Vipassana.
Goenka focuses his travels and energy on the traditional Buddhist
countries of Asia. Vipassana centers arise in Thailand, Sri Lanka,
Cambodia, Taiwan, Indonesia, Mongolia. Mr. Goenka inaugurates centers in
Myanmar, the traditional home of Vipassana. Courses begin at non-center
sites in mainland China.
publishes the first books of the Pali Tipitaka
(the Buddhist scriptures) in Devanagari script, the script of the
northern Indian languages. The full publication (140 volumes) was
completed in 2000. In 1997 all volumes are published by VRI on one Tipitika
CD, with seven scripts and full search engine. These publications
are distributed to scholars and universities free of charge.
1997— Foundation laid for the Grand Pagoda, near
Mumbai, India, with 5000 guests from different parts of the world in
attendance. When completed it will be the largest clear-span structure
in the world and 375 feet high. It will seat 8,000 to 10,000
for meditation, offer the public informative exhibits about the
Buddha’s teaching, and likely become a world-famous landmark.
2000—Mr. Goenka addresses the World Economic Forum in
Davos, Switzerland in February, 2000, and spiritual leaders taking part
in the World Millennium Peace Summit at the United Nations, New York,
2002—Mr. Goenka embarks on a four month tour to teach
in the West, the most extensive since he began teaching 32 years ago.
further information visit www.MeditationNow.org
media contact: Josh Baran, 212.779.2666