Born in Burma (now Myanmar) in 1924 to Indian parents and raised in a devout Hindu household, Goenka was a successful businessman. In 1955 he met the Vipassana teacher Sayagyi U Ba Khin who he studied and trained under for the next fourteen years.
I've begun teaching my course on Mindfulness at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (now called Sofia University) this week (September 25,2012), and think that some remarks and diagrams I created for my students to help clarify some things about two kinds of concentration and their use in meditation would be of general interest. While “progress” in spiritual development calls for profoundly more than better words, I do note that physical science has made enormous progress in the last few hundred years, but it’s not clear that spiritual knowledge and development have made much, if any, “progress.” One element allowing progress in basic science has been precise definition and usage of key terms, which allows for clear communication of observations and understandings.
THANK YOU SPEECH TO SOGYAL RINPOCHE FOR HIS AWESOMENESS
When I first got here to Lerab Ling, I thought this retreat would be a cakewalk. I mean, so easy. I’d walk around in the sunshine, enjoy the beauty of the hills, get some meditation tips, slide into that peaceful zone, it’d be great.
I’d done a retreat that was really hard, a 10 day vipassana course in Pune, India. 10 days of silence, 10 hours per day of meditation, no airconditioning … that was hard. Compared to that, I thought this one would be Club Med.
But then I got here… and it wasn’t Club Med at all. I was having a really hard time! I was distracted, I was itchy, I didn’t feel happy, there was no peaceful zone … and I couldn’t understand what was going on.
Recently, I watched an extraordinary documentary called Doing Time, Doing Vipassana. Vipassana is a simple, non-sectarian meditation technique.
This film moved me deeply. It illustrates so vividly how anyone can change and the powerful transformation that can arise through simply looking at your own mind.
It might sound crazy, but Doing Time, Doing Vipassana actually renewed my faith in humanity and our inherent potential for goodness. It gave me hope. We can avert the environmental destruction of the planet. We can dispel violence and terror. We can create a harmonious world. If only we can learn to look within and abandon our own negative tendencies, thoughts, and emotions.
Sure, we need to take practical steps too. But without collectively changing the inner landscape of our minds, there is no hope for permanent, positive change in the world.
It's funny because I avoided watching the DVD for a number of months. The idea of watching a film about prison seemed depressing. But in the end, this is one of the most inspiring and motivational films I've ever seen.
If you feel like it's impossible to change yourself - or the world - don't give up. Watch this film instead. And even if you are not discouraged, I think you may find amazing inspiration here.