Tag Archives: Vipassana meditation

The Art of Living

S N Goenka vipassana meditation

“The only conversion involved in Vipassana is from misery to happiness, from bondage to liberation.”

“The first step toward emerging from suffering is to accept the reality of it, not as a philosophical concept or an article of faith, but as a fact of existence which affects each one of us in our lives.”

“Real wisdom is recognizing and accepting that every experience is impermanent. With this insight you will not be overwhelmed by ups and downs. And when you are able to maintain an inner balance, you can choose to act in ways that will create happiness for you and for others. Living each moment happily with an equanimous mind, you will surely progress toward the ultimate goal of liberation from all suffering.”

“Rather than converting people from one organized religion to another organized religion, we should try to convert people from misery to happiness, from bondage to liberation, and from cruelty to compassion.”

“Remaining in ignorance is harmful for everyone; developing wisdom is good for everyone… One must become a good human being; otherwise one can never be a good Christian, a good Jew, a good Muslim, a good Hindu, a good Buddhist. How to become a good human being —- that is most important.”

“To be truly religious we must develop the religious attitude: purity of heart, love and compassion for all. But our attachment to the external forms of religion leads us to give more importance to the letter of it than the spirit. We miss the essence of religion and therefore remain miserable.”

“Vipassana is the art of living. Not the art of escaping.”

“Learn to observe objectively whatever is happening. If someone is angry and tries to hide his anger, to swallow it, then it’s suppression. But by observing the anger, you will find that automatically it passes away. You become free from the anger if you learn how to observe it objectively.”

“When a problem arises in daily life, take a few moments to observe your sensations with a balanced mind. When the mind is calm and balanced, whatever decision you make will be a good one. When the mind is unbalanced, any decision you make will be a reaction. You must learn to change the pattern of life from negative reaction to positive action.”

“You must not allow people to do wrong to you. Whenever someone does something wrong, he harms others and at the same time he harms himself. If you allow him to do wrong, you are encouraging him to do wrong. You must use all your strength to stop him, but with only good will, compassion, and sympathy for that person. But you cannot have good will for such a person unless your mind is calm and peaceful.”

“If there is no peace in the minds of individuals, how can there be peace in the world? Make peace in your own mind first.”

“The whole point of Vipassana is to decondition the mind so that one can live a happy life. A life full of love, compassion and good will for all.”

All quotes by S. N. Goenka

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The Dhamma Brothers: How Vipassana Meditation Transforms Lives

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The Dhamma Brothers is a documentary film about the first maximum-security prison in the USA to use a Vipassana meditation program (Vipassana means insight or clear-seeing) to rehabilitate its prisoners. (There is also another prison documentary called Doing Time, Doing Vipassana that shows how this program works. The program is Indian in origin.)

In the film you learn about the 10 day Vipassana meditation program, as well as what its like to be part of the program. You will also witness the results. At the bottom of this blog post is a recent letter that one of the prisoners sent to the film’s director Jenny Phillips. The prisoners continue dhamma brothers meditationtheir meditation practice to this day (it’s been over 10 years). The program truly transformed their lives, it gave them a life long practice, a tool for not only understanding the self, but for greater awareness & peace.

I won’t say much more about the film, other than to see it. As far as Vipassana programs go — I recommend them. I’ve participated in several Vipassana programs over the years (at Spirit Rock & Insight Meditation Society). The basic program is outlined in the documentaries: 10 days of silence & meditation — no talking, no reading, no music, no phone, no entertainment, no vigorous exercise, no computer — just 10 hours of meditation daily (plus eating & sleeping & walking, of course) — while you learn to observe the sensations in the body (observing without a reaction). During that time, deep feelings that have been suppressed begin to surface. Not being able to mask or dull oneself with daily distractions (like entertainment, constant chit-chat or obsessive busy-ness) can become difficult. Many people have no idea what it’s like to just be with oneself. The 10 day Vipassana program provides the support & facility to do that.

Dear Jenny,

I once said of Vipassana meditation, “This feels like freedom”. I spoke only of what I was feeling at that time. I had no reason, not even the idea that has attached itself to me these last six weeks. During that time, I have been meditating in my cell four hours a day. It is all so very clear to me now. Vipassana is freedom. It is the freedom – I believe with all my being – that very few people attain.

I have none of those longings to be out of here. At the same time, I don’t have the desire to be here. Everything is just so right. All things are connected, and I am just a tiny part of the universal beauty. I am not always able to maintain this level of pure contentment. I sometimes become sad until I realize I’ve developed attachments, and I quickly find balance. It is so wonderful to be detached while at the same time to be a part of a stream that flows through everything.

Jenny, I don’t know that words could really communicate these feelings, but I simply have tried to tell you about them. I think that I am missing something, but even that is okay.

Much metta,
Johnny Mack

If you have a direct question about Vipassana programs or other meditation practices, you can email me (my address is above, in the blog header menu) or leave a comment below. I teach meditation & I practice it in various ways. Meditation is not only a big part of my life — it is my life. I realized that the most important thing I could do is be. You can read more of my thoughts on being in The Tao of Disasters & How I Practice Meditation, as well as my website www.AimeeLovesYou.com


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