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The clock of Vipassana has struck!

World renowned teacher of Vipassana meditation, Mr. Satya Narayan Goenka is visiting Sri Lanka from May 10 to 19. Mr. Goenka will be honoured and conferred with a title by the most Venerable Kotte Sri Kalyani Samagri Dharma Maha Sangha Sabha on May 15 for his untiring efforts in serving Dhamma around the world during the past 50 years.

Satya Narayan Goenka

There is a story that Mr. S. N. Goenka narrates to his students, a story of how he, one of the richest businessmen in Burma, came to be introduced to the practice of Vipassana. Although highly successful in terms of wealth and social prestige, Mr Goenka led a very stressful life, which gave rise to a psychosomatic disease - severe migraine.

Even the best doctors in Burma were unable to treat his sickness. They could only offer him an injection of morphine to relieve his pain. He travelled the world to consult the best doctors but they were unable to help him. A friend who realized that the basis of Mr. Goenka's disease was psychological advised him to sit a 10-day meditation course under a famous Burmese Vipassana teacher, Sayagyi U Ba Khin.

The teacher however rejected Mr. Goenka when he heard that the businessman had come to seek treatment for a migraine. "The purpose of the Dhamma is not to cure physical diseases," U Ba Khin explained compassionately.

"If that is what you seek, you better go to a hospital. The purpose of Dhamma is to cure the miseries of life. This disease of yours is really a very minor part of your suffering. It will pass away, but only as a by-product in the process of mental purification. If you make the by-product your primary goal, you devalue Dhamma. Come not for physical cures but to liberate the mind."

Coming from a staunchly conservative family, Mr. Goenka vacillated for months but once he sat a course, he immediately realized the benefits of the technique. For the next 14 years, he studied Vipassana under U Ba Khin. Mr. Goenka taught his first course, when he returned to India to visit his ailing mother in 1969. By then, the technique of Vipassana had been lost in India, the land of its birth, and even the name forgotten.

Mr. Goenka taught his first course to a group of 14 that included his parents. "By teaching them Dhamma, I was able to repay my deep debt of gratitude to them. I was ready to return to Burma, but those who had participated in the course pressed me to give another course for their family and friends. So the second, the third, the fourth, and in this way the teaching of Vipassana began to spread in India."

In 1971, while teaching a course in Buddha Gaya, Mr. Goenka - Goenkaji or Guruji to his students - heard that his beloved teacher Sayagyi U Ba Khin had passed away.

"Now I had to decide how to repay my debt of gratitude to this saintly person. My parents had given me birth, but one still enclosed in a shell of ignorance. It was only with the help of this wonderful person that I was able to break this shell, to discover the truth by observing the reality within.

The only way to repay my debt of gratitude was to live the life of the Dhamma, and with as much love and compassion as I could develop. I resolved to devote the rest of my life to serving others, since this is what he wished me to do.

"He often used to refer to the traditional belief in Burma that 25 centuries after the birth of the Buddha, the Dhamma would return to the country of its origin, and from there spread around the world.

It was his wish to help this prediction come to pass by going to India and teaching Vipassana meditation there. "Twenty five centuries are over," my teacher used to say, "the clock of Vipassana has struck!"



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