A ten-day course in Vipassana meditation is the practice of the Eightfold Noble Path, as taught by the Buddha. The Path can be divided into three parts, namely: higher training in morality, higher training in concentration and higher training in wisdom.
Morality: Morality is the common denominator of all religions. At the Centre, students observe the five/eight precepts of refraining from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying and the use of drugs or intoxicants/refraining from untimely eating (i.e. after noon); dancing, singing, playing music, wearing cosmetics, perfumes, jewellery and using luxurious beds, seats. By diligently observing this morality, one develops purity of physical and verbal actions.
Concentration: Beginning with the base of morality, training in concentration is taught using Anapana meditation (mindfulness of breathing). Through learning to calm and control the mind during the first five days, the student quickly appreciates the advantages of a steady and balanced mind.
Wisdom: The third training is wisdom (or insight). This is introduced through Vipassana meditation, which is practised throughout the remainder of the period.
Vipassana is a process that enables the student to develop awareness of the natural characteristics of impermanence, suffering and non-self through personal experience. Practised with diligence the gradual process of mental purification will lead to the end of suffering and to full Enlightenment or Nibbana.
The teaching is through experience. If what you experience is for your wellbeing, you can accept it; if it is not for your wellbeing, you will not accept it.
Noble Silence (no unnecessary talk) provides a conducive atmosphere. Discourses given in the morning and evening by a teacher help to clarify the practice.
Ten-day courses are usually held once a month, beginning on a Friday evening and ending early on a Monday morning.
In this meditation course, one has to take refuge in the Triple Gem (ti-ratana).
Buddhaṃ śaraṇaṃ gacchāmi. I take refuge in the (Buddha), the Awakened One Dharmaṃ śaraṇaṃ gacchāmi. I take refuge in the (Dharma), the Teachings Saṃghaṃ śaraṇaṃ gacchāmi. I take refuge in the (Sangha), the Community
The Buddha is like a Physician.
The Dhamma is like a medicine.
The Sangha is like the cured ones.
Also, one must (at minimum) take five moral precepts (new students) or eight moral precepts (old students).
- Pāṇātipātā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi. (I undertake the training precept of abstention from killing breathing beings.)
- Adinnādānā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi. (I undertake the training precept of abstention from taking what is not given)
- Kāmesumicchācāra veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi. (I undertake the training precept of abstention from unchastity.)
- Musāvādā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi. (I undertake the training precept of abstention from speaking falsehood.)
- Surāmerayamajjapamādaṭṭhānā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi. (I undertake the training precept of abstention from any opportunity for negligence due to liquor, wine, drugs and besotting drink)
Students who have already taken a ten-day course add these additional precepts:
- vikālabhojanā veramaṇi sikkhāpadaṃ samādhiyāmi.
- I undertake the training precept of abstention from untimely eating (i.e. after noon)
- nacca gīta vādita visukadassanā mālā gandha vilepana dhārana mandana vibhūsanaṭṭhānā veramaṇi sikkhāpadaṃ samādhiyāmi.
- I undertake the training precept of abstention from dancing, singing, music, contortionist shows, from any opportunity for wearing garlands, smartening with scents and embellishment with unguents.
- uccāsayana mahāsayana veramaṇi sikkhāpadaṃ samādhiyāmi.
- I undertake the training precept of abstention from (the use of) high couches and large couches.)
After taking the Triple Refuge and the precepts, the students surrenders to the Buddha and the conducting teacher in the following way:
“IMAHAM BHANTE ATTABHAVAM JIVITAM BHAGAVATO PARICCAJAMI. IMAHAM BHANTE ATTABHAVAM JIVITAM ACARIYASA PARICCAJAMI.” “Reverend sir, I relinquish this my person to the Blessed One (the Buddha). Reverend sir, I relinquish this my person to the present teacher.”
By this a student will be responsive to correction, will not go about as he likes, and will be easy to speak to. The teacher will be able to guide and help.
Also, the student must request the teacher to instruct in a meditation subject.
The intention is that the student should ask for a meditation subject with a sincere inclination of heart and with sincere resolution.
For Ānāpāna Meditation, the request is as follows:
Reverend sir, please teach me Ānāpāna Meditation so that I may experience the Nibbanic Peace within.
For Vipassana Meditation, the request is as follows:
Reverend sir, please teach me Vipassana Meditation so that I may experience the Nibbanic Peace within.
This is mindfulness of in-breaths and out-breaths, which develops concentration.
After developing concentration to a certain extent, the student is ready to move on to developing insight (Vipassana) into the ultimate reality of ones’ own mind and body.
The technique used in this tradition is to concentrate on each part of the body in a systematic fashion, to note whatever sensation, if any, is occurring in that part of the body, and to be aware that the sensation is “CHANGING”, impermanent (anicca).
- Believe your own experience.
- The benefits will be proportional to the amount of balanced effort made.
- The results are visible here and now.
- The Teachings invite investigation.
- One can experience directly.
The students who attend the meditation courses are from all walks of life, professionals, religions and cultural backgrounds.