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Vipassana leads the path to eternal bliss


For several years now, I have been seeking the path to eternal happiness and bliss.

I believe this is the purpose of life – to be happy.

This illusive happiness cannot be achieved through fleeting worldly pleasures. It lies somewhere within you, deep inside, hidden and waiting to be discovered.

About 26 centuries ago, Gautama the Buddha left his princely mansion and surroundings and searched for eight years to find the key to eternal happiness (Nirvana). He said that in order to achieve happiness, man must get rid of misery or suffering, which is like a disease which can be diagnosed, cured and a treatment found.

Buddha deduced that the mind is the key to changing the nature of experience of man. Before wisdom can be attained, the mind needs to be purified and developed through meditation.

Meditation technique

The meditation technique that he introduced was called ‘Vipassana,’ which means seeing things as they really are.

As soon as any input is received by the mind, a sensation arises, a signal that something is happening. So long as the input is not evaluated, the sensation remains neutral. But once a value is attached to the incoming data, the sensation becomes pleasant or unpleasant, depending on the given evaluation.

If the sensation is pleasant, the reaction would be to prolong and intensify the experience. If it is unpleasant, the reaction would be to cease and push it away. Both these processes happen so quickly that in most cases one would not be aware of it.

These cravings, aversion and ignorance, when accumulated over several life-times of a human being are deposited within their body in the form of ‘Samskaras.’

Daily exercise

During Vipassana, the meditator observes these sensations equanimously and the law of nature is such that they fade away.

This elimination of ‘Samskaras’ is a long process; when those in the surface disappear, others deeper within the body come to the surface.

Hence, meditation has to be meticulously practised daily, twice daily to be exact. We must conduct our normal daily life in such a manner as to prevent fresh deposits of ‘Samskaras.’ This means one has to lead a good, moral life with exemplary conduct. Once these cravings and aversions are extinguished, you are well on the path to eternal bliss.

Vipassana Centres

Satya Narayan Goenka, a noted Burmese-Indian teacher of Vipassana Meditation suffered severe migraine headaches when he was young.

His search for a cure took him (in 1955) to Sayagyi U Ba Khin, who combined his public role of a senior civil servant with the private role of a teacher of meditation.

In learning Vipassana from U Ba Khin, he found a discipline that went far beyond alleviating the symptoms of physical disease and transcended cultural and religious barriers.

Mr Goenka became a teacher of Vipassana Meditation in 1969 and helped in establishing it throughout the world. Currently there are 153 Vipassana Meditation Centres globally.

New Zealand Centre

In New Zealand, the Centre is located in a valley surrounded by steep, dense forest near Kaukapakapa (just North of Helensville).

It organises free courses, during which students are provided free accommodation and served vegetarian (and vegan) meals.

The whole establishment is organised and operated by volunteers with military precision. No food of any kind is allowed in student quarters or in the dining hall, except during fixed meal times, as a strict dietary regime is maintained.

Throughout the duration of the course, noble silence is maintained. This means silence of body, speech and mind. Any form of communication (physical gestures, written notes or sign language) is prohibited.

Eight precepts

All students rigorously observe the eight precepts. They include abstinence from killing any living being (even ants), smoking, consuming liquor, involving in sexual and sensual activity and stealing (rooms are left unlocked).

This meditation course is the first step towards enlightenment.

When Mr Goenka was preparing to open his first Centre in India, a cynic remarked that it would be impossible to open a centre and provide free food and accommodation as the starving millions will swarm it.

But he went ahead, as he was confident that the hungry millions will not volunteer themselves to the added conditions of the eight precepts and the other restrictions.

He was right; and that begs the question, “Are the starving millions in that state by choice?”

Similarly, is the desire to be happy or blissful a personal choice?

Hari Arasaratnam Kasinather is a retired Malaysian Naval Admiral, currently practicing law in Auckland. He volunteers his legal services pro-bono to ‘Shakti,’ a charitable organisation which supports, assists and resettles migrant women and children from Asia, Africa and Middle East who have been victims of domestic violence and cultural abuse.

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