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When the first ten-day Vipassana meditation course came to a close at Alabama’s Donaldson Prison in 2002, twenty men were faced with the possibility of a new chapter in their lives. Many have life sentences and most have been deeply acculturated to the life of violence and abuse that is all too common in prisons. In letters written during a four-year period after this course, 15 inmate-meditators offer direct and intimate access to their thoughts, struggles, dreams and triumphs after taking part in this intensive, voluntary program. Corrections officers, wardens, judges and others ask: “Can this program really reform such hardened inmates? Will the changes last?” These letters will help you decide for yourself if their transformations are real or not.
This essay discusses the therapeutic role that meditation can have, its scientific basis, and its relevance to practitioners of healing professions.
What is the therapeutic role of meditation? What is the scientific basis of meditation? Can meditation be understood through occidental psychology? How is it that meditation can lead a person from narcissism into mature, social love?
Since the early 1980s, there has been an astonishing increase in the number of Vipassana centers in India and around the world. After experiencing efficacy of technique themselves, many old students selflessly contributed in the spread of Vipassana meditation. Working in many different capacities, they have served for the welfare of many.
S.N. Goenka, Principal Teacher of Vipassana meditation, faced some initial hesitation before joining his first Vipassana course due to indoctrination against the Buddha’s teachings during his childhood. After his first course in 1955, numerous misconceptions that he had about the Buddha’s teaching were dispelled, and he was inspired to study the original words of the Buddha in the Pāli language.
Mahasatipatthana sutta, the Great Discourse on establishing awareness, is one of the most important discourses expounded by the Buddha in the town called Kammasadhamma in Kuru kingdom. In this sutta, the Buddha presented a practical method for developing self-knowledge by means of kāyānupassanā (constant observation of the body), vedanānupassanā (constant observation of sensations), cittānupassanā (constant observation of the mind), and dhammānupassanā (constant observation of the contents of the mind).
The Clock of Vipassana has struck is a tribute to Sayagyi U Ba Khin, teacher of Mr. S. N. Goenka and an outstanding civil servant from Myanmar. His accomplishments, in two usually incompatible fields were singular: He was a shining star of Dhamma (the truth, the teaching) as well as a high level government official of tireless devotion and impeccable conduct. U Ba Khin’s career was that of an ideal householder, combining unwavering dedication to Vipassana meditation with unwearying commitment to the public service.
Now revised and updated, this unique guidebook provides practical and inspiring information for meditators who plan to visit India and Nepal and the sacred sites where the Buddha lived and taught. The book offers a rich anthology of deeply inspiring stories relating to each of the pilgrimage sites connected to the Buddha’s life and teaching. It also includes helpful maps, creative artwork, and spirited narratives from experienced travelers.