IntroductionThe technique of Vipassana is a simple, practical way to achieve real peace of mind and to lead a happy, useful life. Vipassana means "to see things as they really are". It is a logical process of mental purification through self-observation.
From time to time, we all experience agitation, frustration and disharmony. When we suffer, we do not keep our misery limited to ourselves; instead, we keep distributing it to others as well. Enlightened people have therefore advised 'Know thyself', which means not merely knowing yourself at the intellectual level, or accepting at the emotional or devotional level, but to experience the truth about yourself, within yourself, at the experiential level. To achieve this, a technique of Vipassana meditation was taught in India more than 2500 years ago as a universal remedy for universal problems.
Vipassana enables us to experience peace and harmony by purifying the mind, freeing it from suffering and the deep-seated causes of suffering. Step by step, the practice leads to the highest spiritual goal of full liberation from all mental defilements.
The entire path (Dhamma) is an Art of Living 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.
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Historical BackgroundVipassana is one of India’s most ancient meditation techniques. It was rediscovered 2500 years ago by Gotama the Buddha, and is the essence of what he practiced and taught during his forty-five year ministry. During the Buddha's time, large number of people in northern India were freed from the bonds of suffering by practicing Vipassana, allowing them to attain high levels of achievement in all spheres of life. Over time, the technique spread to the neighbouring countries of Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka, Thailand and others, where it had the same ennobling effect.
Five centuries after the Buddha, the noble heritage of Vipassana had disappeared from India. The purity of the teaching was lost elsewhere as well. In the country of Myanmar, however, it was preserved by a chain of devoted teachers. From generation to generation, over two thousand years, this dedicated lineage transmitted the technique in its pristine purity. Venerable Ledi Sayadaw reintroduced the technique of Vipassana meditation to the lay people, which was accessible only to the monks before. He taught Saya Thetgyi, a layman, who in turn taught Sayagyi U Ba Khin.
In our time, Vipassana has been reintroduced to India, as well as to citizens from more than eighty other countries, by Mr. S. N. Goenka. He was authorized to teach Vipassana by the renowned Burmese Vipassana teacher, Sayagyi U Ba Khin. Before he died in 1971, Sayagyi was able to see one of his most cherished dreams realized. He had the strong wish that Vipassana should return to India, the land of its origin, to help it come out of its manifold problems. He felt that it would spread throughout the world from India, for the benefit of all mankind.
In the past, India had the distinction of being regarded as a World Teacher. In our time, the Ganges of Truth is once again flowing out from India to a thirsty world.