What is Vipassana
How to get There
The Code of Discipline
The foundation of the practice is sila -moral conduct. Sila provides a basis
for the development of samadhi -concentration of mind; and purification of
the mind is achieved through panna - the wisdom of insight.
All who attend a Vipassana course must conscientiously undertake the
following five precepts for the duration of the course:
1. to abstain from killing any living creature;
2. to abstain from stealing;
3. to abstain from all sexual activity;
4. to abstain from telling lies;
5. to abstain from all intoxicants.
There are three additional precepts which old students (that is, those who
have completed a course with S.N. Goenka or one of his assistant teachers)
are expected to follow:
6. to abstain from eating after midday;
7. to abstain from sensual entertainment and bodily decoration;
8. to abstain from using high or luxurious beds.
Old students will observe the sixth precept by having only herb tea or fruit
juice at the 5 p.m. break, whereas new student may have tea with milk and some
fruit. The teacher may excuse an old student from observing this precept for
health reasons. The seventh and eighth precept will be observed by all.
of the Teacher and the Technique
Students must declare themselves willing to comply fully and for the duration
of the course with the teacher's guidance and instructions; that is, to
observe the discipline and to meditate exactly as the teacher asks, without
ignoring any part of the instructions, nor adding anything to them. This
acceptance should be one of discrimination and understanding, not blind
submission. Only with an attitude of trust can a student work diligently and
thoroughly. Such confidence in the teacher and the technique is essential for
success in meditation.
Techniques, Rites, and Forms of Worship
During the course it is absolutely essential that all forms of prayer,
worship, or religious ceremony--fasting, burning incense, counting beads,
reciting mantras, singing and dancing, etc.--be discontinued. All other
meditation techniques and healing or spiritual practices should also be
suspended. This is not to condemn any other technique or practice, but to
give a fair trial to the technique of Vipassana in its purity.
Students are strongly advised that deliberately mixing other techniques of
meditation with Vipassana will impede and even reverse their progress.
Despite repeated warnings by the teacher, there have been cases in the past
where students have intentionally mixed this technique with a ritual or
another practice, and have done themselves a great disservice. Any doubts or
confusion which may arise should always be clarified by meeting with the
With the Teacher
Problems or questions regarding the meditation should be taken only to the
teacher for clarification. The time between 12 noon and 1 p.m. is set aside
for private interviews. Questions may also be asked in public between 9:00
and 9:30 p.m. in the meditation hall.
Interviews and question times are solely for the purpose of clarifying actual
practical problems concerned with the technique. They are not to be regarded
as opportunities to indulge in philosophical discussions or intellectual
arguments. The unique nature of Vipassana meditation can only be appreciated
by putting it into practice and during the course students should concentrate
exclusively on this task.
All students must observe Noble Silence from the beginning of the course
until the morning of the last full day. Noble Silence means silence of body,
speech, and mind. Any form of communication with fellow student, whether by
gestures, sign language, written notes, etc., is prohibited.
Students may, however, speak with the teacher whenever necessary and they may
approach the management with any problems related to food, accommodation,
health, etc. But even these contacts should be kept to a minimum. Students
should cultivate the feeling that they are working in isolation.
Complete segregation of men and women is to be maintained. Couples, married
or otherwise, should not contact each other in any way during the course. The
same applies to friends, members of the same family, etc.
It is important that throughout the course there be no physical contact
whatsoever between persons of the same or opposite sex.
and Physical Exercise
Although physical yoga and other exercises are compatible with Vipassana,
they should be suspended during the course because proper secluded facilities
are not available at the course site. Jogging is also not permitted. Students
may exercise during rest periods by walking in the designated areas.
Objects, Rosaries, Crystals,
No such items should be brought to the course site. If brought inadvertently
they should be deposited with the management for the duration of the
No drugs, alcohol, or other intoxicants should be brought to the site; this
also applies to tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and all other sedatives. Those
taking medicines or drugs on a doctor's prescription should notify the
For the health and comfort of all students, smoking, chewing tobacco, and
taking snuff are not permitted at the course.
It is not possible to satisfy the special food preferences and requirements
of all the meditators. Students are therefore kindly requested to make do
with the simple vegetarian meals provided. The course management endeavors to
prepare a balanced, wholesome menu suitable for meditation. If any students
have been prescribed a special diet because of ill-health, they should inform
the management at the time of application.
Dress should be simple, modest, and comfortable. Tight, transparent,
revealing, or otherwise striking clothing (such as shorts, short skirts,
tights and leggings, sleeveless or skimpy tops) should not be worn.
Sunbathing and partial nudity are not permitted. This is important in order
to minimize distraction to others.
No washing machines or dryers are available, so students should bring
sufficient clothing. Small items can be hand-washed. Bathing and laundry may
be done only in the break periods and not during meditation hours.
Students must remain within the course boundaries throughout the course. They
may leave only with the specific consent of the teacher. No outside
communications is allowed before the course ends. This includes letters,
phone calls and visitors. In case of an emergency, a friend or relative may
contact the management.
The playing of musical instruments, radios, etc. is not permitted. No reading
or writing materials should be brought to the course. Students should not
distract themselves by taking notes. The restriction on reading and writing
is to emphasize the strictly practical nature of this meditation.
Recorders and Cameras
These may not be used except with the express permission of the teacher.
According to the tradition of pure Vipassana, courses are run solely on a
donation basis. Donations are accepted only from old students, that is, those
who have completed at least one course with S.N. Goenka or an assistant
In this way course are supported by those who have realized for themselves
the benefits of the practice. Wishing to share these benefits with others, one
gives a donation according to one's means and volition. Some taking a course
for the first time may give a donation at the end of the course or at any
Such donations are the only source of funding for courses in this tradition
around the world. There is no wealthy foundation or individual sponsoring
them. Neither the teachers nor the organizers receive any kind of payment for
their service. Thus, the spread of Vipassana is carried out with purity of
purpose, free from any commercialism.
Whether a donation is large or small, it should be given with the wish to
help others: 'The course I have taken has been paid for through the
generosity of past students; now let me give something towards the cost of a
future course, so that others may also benefit by this technique.
To clarify the spirit behind the discipline and rules, they may be summarized
Take great care that your actions do not disturb anyone. Take no notice of
distractions caused by others.
It may be that a student cannot understand the practical reasons for one or
several of the above rules. Rather than allow negativity and doubt to
develop, immediate clarification should be sought from the teacher.
It is only by taking a disciplined approach and by making maximum effort that
a student can fully grasp the practice and benefit from it. The emphasis
during the course is on work. A golden rule is to meditate as if one were
alone, with one's mind turned inward, ignoring any inconveniences and
distractions that one may encounter.
Finally, students should note that their progress in Vipassana depends solely
on their own good qualities and personal development and on five factors:
earnest efforts, confidence, sincerity, health and wisdom.
May the above information help you to obtain maximum benefit from your
meditation course. We are happy to have the opportunity to serve, and wish
you peace and harmony from you experience of Vipassana.
THE COURSE TIMETABLE
The following timetable for the course has been designed to maintain the
continuity of practice. For best results students are advised to follow it as
closely as possible.
4:00 a.m.---------------------Morning wake-up bell
4:30-6:30 a.m.----------------Meditate in the hall or your own room
6:30-8:00 a.m.----------------Breakfast break
8:00-9:00 a.m.----------------GROUP MEDITATION IN THE HALL
9:00-11:00 a.m.---------------Meditate in the hall or your own room
11:00-12:00 noon--------------Lunch break
12noon-1:00 p.m.--------------Rest and interviews with the teacher
1:00-2:30 p.m.----------------Meditate in the hall or your own room
2:30-3:30 p.m.----------------GROUP MEDITATION IN THE HALL
3:30-5:00 p.m.----------------Meditate in the hall or your own room
5:00-6:00 p.m.----------------Tea break
6:00-7:00 p.m.----------------GROUP MEDITATION IN THE HALL
7:00-8:15 p.m.----------------Teacher's Discourse in the hall
8:15-9:00 p.m.----------------GROUP MEDITATION IN THE HALL
9:00-9:30 p.m.----------------Question time in the hall
9:30 p.m.---------------------Retire to your own room--Lights out