In this episode, I share my experience from my second visit to the California Vipassana Center where I recently sat my second 10 day silent meditation retreat. I discuss meditation, and how to start and maintain a practice.
Vipassana is one of the world’s most ancient meditative techniques. It was practiced 25 centuries ago by Gotama the Buddha, who said he had rediscovered a much older practice. After his enlightenment in 528 BCE, the Buddha spent the remaining 45 years of his life teaching the way out of suffering. Vipassana is the essence of what he taught. The Buddha’s teaching is known by the general term Dhamma (Sanskrit: Dharma).
For five centuries Vipassana helped millions of people in India, the Buddha’s homeland. This era saw the matchless reign of the great Emperor Asoka (273-236 BCE) who united India and initiated a golden age of peace and prosperity. Asoka also sent ambassadors of Dhamma to all the neighboring kingdoms (including what has become Myanmar in modern times), thereby spreading both the practice and the words of the Buddha.
After about 500 years the practice of Vipassana had disappeared from India. Fortunately it was maintained by a continuous chain of meditation teachers in the neighboring country of Myanmar (Burma) until the present day.
In our time, Vipassana has been reintroduced to India and to people from all over the world by S. N. Goenka, a retired industrialist of Indian heritage who was born in Myanmar. He learned the technique of Vipassana from Sayagyi U Ba Khin, the renowned lay Vipassana teacher who was the first to teach westerners in English. U Ba Khin appointed him to teach Vipassana in 1969.
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