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Realizing the Dream of Dhamma
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Realizing the Dream of Dhamma
- by S. N. Goenka

(The following is a translation of Goenkaji’s remarks to about 5000 Vipassana meditators attending the first one-day course under the main dome of the Global Pagoda in Gorai, Mumbai, on March 19, 2006. It has been adapted for the Newsletter.)

My mind is filled with joy at seeing this large gathering of the Vipassana family. In future, within this great dome, thousands of people will sit together and meditate. A small glimpse of that scene is before my eyes. The Buddha said, Samaggānaṃ tapo sukho—“To gather together and meditate brings joy.” A very fruitful joy.

This is a land for meditation. Whenever I come here, my mind feels delight. At the time when a Dhamma son donated this priceless land, I did not fully understand. But afterwards, each time I came here, strong faith developed in my mind that this land is very pure, it is a land for meditation. Many saints have meditated in this vicinity. Therefore this land has drawn all of us to come here. Tremendous is the attraction of this land!

In the time of the Buddha, an ascetic named Dāruciriya was meditating in this area when he heard that someone in the world had become a sammāsambuddha. He resolved to meet the Enlightened One in order to learn the path of liberation. Dāruciriya walked from here to Sāvatthī, encountered the Buddha, reached liberation, and became an arahant.

Another incident that happened here comes before my eyes: A man from this region named Puṇṇa went to Sāvatthī for his business, and there he met the Buddha. He was fortunate, he learned Vipassana. He was even more fortunate; he progressed rapidly on the path of Vipassana. His business remained important to him. However, he could not help thinking, “This is such a wonderful teaching, but the region where I live knows nothing of it. Nobody even knows that there is such a technique that offers liberation from the cycle of life and death. If people there learn and practice it, they will get the same benefit.”

With deep enthusiasm he went to the Enlightened One and said, “Sir, I request your permission to go back to my home and proclaim there the doctrine taught by the Buddha. Allow me to make Vipassana known to the people.”

The Buddha smiled and asked, “Are you aware that in your region, people will strongly oppose you. They will heap abuse on you. What will you do then?”

“Lord, with folded hands I shall humbly say, ‘You are so kind, so good! You have only heaped abuse on me, you have only used a few harsh words. Someone else might have pelted me with stones. You did not throw stones at me. You are so kind!’”

“And if they start throwing stones at you, what will you say then?”
“With folded hands I shall say, ‘You are so kind! Someone else who had become angry might have beaten me with sticks. You only threw stones at me. You are truly kind.’”

“And if they started beating you with sticks, what will you say then?”

“With folded hands I shall say, ‘You are so kind! You have only beaten me with sticks. Someone else would have attacked me with a sword. You did not attack me with a sword. You are indeed kind.’”

“And if some of them attack you with swords, what will you say then?”

“With folded hands I shall say, ‘You are so kind, so good! So many people in this world are miserable. In their great misery, they commit suicide. You are saving me from that evil act. You are truly merciful!’”

The Buddha said, “Good! You have ripened in Dhamma. Now, you are fit to preach the doctrine.”

This is the region in which the ascetic Puṇṇa spread the Buddha’s teachings. And the archeological remains in this region, the nearby caves and statues, show that people gladly accepted the Buddha’s teachings.

In our own time, when the foundation stone of this pagoda was being laid, someone asked me, “Sir, why did you choose this place?”

I replied, “I did not choose the place. The place chose me.”

The entire picture is revealing itself. The greatness of this land! The purity of this land! Somewhere nearby there used to be a large port known as Suppārakapattana. It was a huge centre of business activity in ancient India, as Mumbai is today. And near this place many ascetics used to perform penances. When Vipassana started spreading, people started practicing it in large numbers.

The same is happening today. Not only in India but around the world, people are accepting Vipassana, they are accepting the words of the Buddha. In doing so, they have not joined a sect. What matters is not to call oneself a Buddhist but to practice Vipassana, to practice the Noble Eightfold Path taught by the Enlightened One, to practice sīla, samādhi, paññā, and to really benefit from the teaching of the Buddha.

The teaching of the Enlightened One does not belong to any particular caste, creed, race or sect; it is universal. And everyone accepts it. Today, there is not a single religious group whose followers do not come to join Vipassana courses. And not only that, their leaders and their teachers come to learn Vipassana.

I am dreaming of a day when as many as ten thousand people will gather here in this dome to meditate. Some will call themselves Hindus, some Buddhists, some Jains, some Muslims, but all will practice Vipassana. All will practise sīla, samādhi, paññā. This is the greatness of the Buddha’s teaching. It is universal, for one and all.

This magnificent pagoda is a symbol of the deep gratitude we feel, a symbol stretching toward the sky. My mind feels infinite devotion, infinite gratitude toward those who preserved the words of the Buddha in their pure form, as well as the practice in its pristine purity.

This pagoda is not intended for prayers or rites and rituals; it is meant for meditation. This is a land for meditation. Even in the past, how many saints have meditated on this land! Again people will meditate, for centuries they will meditate. And all humanity will benefit.

Meditators of this generation carry a great responsibility. Practice Dhamma not just for your own benefit, your own liberation, but for the benefit of suffering people around the world—for their liberation. Ripen yourselves to help others ripen. When Dhamma arises, it brings great benefit to one and all.

The Enlightened One explained that when one helps others with proper volition, no other wish arises but the urge to help, to serve. One thinks, “How can others be helped? How can others get this teaching? How can others receive benefit? How can they become liberated from misery?”

Every meditator must realize, “The way to serve is without expecting anything in return. How can I help for the benefit of many? How can I serve? What can I do so that more and more people benefit?” That is the proper volition for serving.

And along with the wish to help others is a feeling of gratitude.

Gratitude to Gotama the Buddha, who rediscovered the teaching and used it not simply for his own benefit but for the liberation of so many other people.

Gratitude to Emperor Asoka, who preserved the teaching by sending it to neighboring lands, so that it stayed alive after it was lost in India.

Gratitude toward those neighboring countries, which carefully kept the teaching in its pristine purity.

Gratitude to the saints of those countries, the chain of teachers, who kept the living practice of the Buddha’s teaching down to the present day.

Because of them, the Dhamma has returned to India and has started spreading around the world for the benefit of many.

To those who came before, let us feel gratitude. And to those still waiting for the Dhamma, let us develop mettā, the wish to serve without expecting anything in return.

May all beings be happy!

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