Friday, October 10, 2008

Group Meditation in Dhamma Hall


Establishing Awareness Course as taught by S.N. Goenka

Battambang Vipassana Center

Namo tassa bhagavato arahato

Samma sambuddhassa

In Cambodia, there are over 3900 monasteries. Wherever there is a Buddhist temple, there is always a school. Theravada Buddhism significantly contributes to social, spiritual and educational development in the country. Since Buddhism is deeply rooted in the daily lives of all Cambodians, I decided to learn more about the practical teachings of Buddha by serving Satipatthana, establishing awareness Course at Vipassana Center of Cambodia in Battambang. The main prerequisite for the Satipatthana course is the completion of three ten-day Vipassana courses. The word Vipassana means seeing and experiencing things as they really are (no imagination). It is the process of self-purification by self-observation. This 10 days course from September 1st, 2008 through September 10th, 2008 introduced and exposed me to core Buddhism introspection of Pariyetti (theoretical knowledge), Patipatti (practicing Dhamma), and Pativedha (penetrating knowledge into the nature of Dhamma). I have gained valuable and practical knowledge to help myself so I help others. After all, the real core of teaching is learning more about myself and finding ways to give that to others. Below are the highlights of my memorable learning experience.

All eighty-five students and Dhamma workers committed themselves to staying for the full ten days, observing a rigorous timetable (from 4:30 AM through 9:30 PM with 11 hours of daily sitting meditation), maintaining complete silence among themselves for the first eight days. At the beginning of the course, they took the five precepts as given by Buddha to households: to refrain from killing, to refrain from stealing, to refrain from lying, to refrain from talking any intoxicants, and to refrain from sexual misconduct. They started with the practice of Anapana meditation, the observation of natural breath, as it is, coming and going, deep or shallow. They tried to maintain awareness of the reality of the sensation in this area of the body, below the nostrils above the upper lips, as it manifest from moment to moment. On day two, the copy of Sutta (discourse) was given. In this way, the theoretical knowledge (Pariyetti) and the actual practice (Patipatti) were most beneficially combined to gain penetrating knowledge of Dhamma (Pativedha). On the third day, when some piercing concentration has been gained through Anapana, they switched to the deeper level practice of Vipassana, the systematic of the entire mind-matter phenomenon through vedana (sensation). They worked on the insight which purifies their mind; specifically insight into the impermanent, suffering and the egoless nature of the mental and physical structure. On the last day, they practiced Metta, loving-kindness, by sharing merits and Dhamma they have gained with others.

Having discovered the ultimate truth (Abhidhamma) at the deepest level, Buddha teaches this natural law to help people understand reality to end their misery through Satipatthana. Sati means awareness, the witnessing of every reality pertaining to mind and matter within the framework of the body. Patthana means getting established in a proper way and only with proper understanding and wisdom. Establishing awareness through Satiphatthana can purify the mind from defilements so as to achieve lasting peace and happiness. In this course, I learned real understanding, clear and free from any doubt or skepticism, comes with my own experiences by practicing Vipassana. I directly experienced the three characteristics of all phenomenon: anicca (impermanence), dukka (suffering), and anatta (selflessness, no “I”) within myself. Manifesting in the mind and body, the experience of anicca, arising and passing away, plays a crucial role. Every moment, there must be awareness of sensation of arising and passing away. Reaction is full of negativity. What ever happens pleasant sensations (sukka vedana), unpleasant sensations (dukka vedana), pleasant mental feeling (somanassa vedana), unpleasant mental feeling and neither pleasant nor pleasant sensations (adukkahamasukha vedana), I observed the reality of sensations inside and remains equanimous based on the experience impermanence (anicca), then all the decisions and actions will be healthy-not reaction, but positive action, good for me and good for others. I learned this wonderful technique to free myself from suffering. As I practice, I understand more and more what Buddha meant. “Liberation can only be gained by practice, never by mere discussion” S.N. Goenka.

I am most grateful for my respectful father for introducing Vipassana, the authentic practice teaching of Buddha to Cambodia in the early 1993. I finally want to thank my Dhamma teacher Jugen Stowassser, and all the Dhamma students and workers for the wonderful experience. May all beings be liberated and be happy.

1 comment:

Phy said...

Sounds interesting, bong. My grandma went into meditation in Battambang too but i'm not sure if its the same place. She told me she felt so wonderful, so calm after. Besides, she now is physically stronger.

By the way, bong, “Liberation can only be gained by practice, never by mere discussion”. "By practice" here, does it mean by meditation?