April 2023

If you have to look at virtues, then look to others. If you do this you will keep progressing.
– S.N. Goenka

Anapana and Teen Courses in 2022

“I got inspired seeing the transformation in most kids with just one day of Anapana. When I saw a glimpse of the relief they experienced and report from their anxiety/agitation, it filled me with joy that they now have access to a tool to help themselves in their life,” shared the female CCT. Though these courses have not yet been held at the Center due to Covid restrictions, the homes of local old student meditators have been used in 2022. Additionally, a Montessori school in Virginia, owned and operated by old students, also hosted a course for teens this past year.

The July 2022 Children’s Course was hosted in the home of Jyoti and Arun. Local old students served the course and rumor has it they had just as much fun as the children! Ah, the joys of meditation and serving. A server’s perspective, “Keeping equanimity in Childrens’ and Teens’ courses is a whole new level for me as I usually don’t interact with the kids, so helped me immensely with equanimity!” For this Children’s Course, there were 8 new girls; 2 old student girls; 7 new boys; 2 old student boys for a total of 19 children. A combination of sitting to learn Anapana, stories, activities and of course, the food.

Not long afterwards, it was a full weekend of teen courses. On November 4th, 14 teens gathered at a Montessori school in Virginia. Seven were new student girls; 1 old student girl; 6 new students were boys. These teens have Anapana integrated into their school day. This full day to practice Anapana with their classmates, mixed with activity breaks, was a deeper dip dedicated to working with the awareness of the breath. A reflection from an 10th grade boy:

“I thought that the course was going to be very difficult. While it did come with its challenges I feel as though it sort of came as a natural instinct. The first session was difficult as I think that I was just trying to get a feel for it. After the 2nd one I felt pretty confident I could focus on my breathing and keep my mind from wandering a majority of the time. By the end of the 3rd session I think that my mind wanted to be occupied by something, I noticed that it started to wander more. When the course concluded I felt intrigued to practice at home and school. After I got a chance to take the course I would recommend it to someone that needs some way to cope. Personally, the course made me feel as though nothing was important at the time. I did not feel the need to check my phone, fidget, or talk. I felt at pure peace. The course is totally different from the image I created. I thought that we would sit in total silence for hours at a time with no direction. Goenka G’s voice was very soothing, which led to the overall aura of the course. I also liked the teacher’s physical presence and direction. This gave me a good idea of what to do. They also corrected me when they noticed I was “wandering”. Overall, this course was excellent and I would for sure do it again.”

The next day, November 5th, at the home of Mrs. Mehta, 13 teens gathered there for a teen course. Here, 6 new girls; 1 old student girl; and 5 new student boys; 1 boy old student. Learning how to use the awareness of breath, stories that model moral virtues, participating in the activities and eating with new friends gave teens the opportunity to learn how to ease the stresses that come with getting older. “Seeing the teens have a full day of serious meditation is a good reminder for me of the power of Anapana, and how straightforward it is to practice,” concludes the male CCT.

Dhamma Pubbananda will hold its first Children’s Course in three years on June 17, 2023. A teen’s course will follow on September 16, 2023. These courses will be on Dhamma.org for students and servers to register to participate in these courses.

Tax Advantaged Way to Give Dana

According to recent changes in the tax laws, people 72 years old or older facing Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) from their IRA account may be able to donate in a tax advantaged manner. Please consult your tax advisor.

Trust Meeting

It was a great joy to participate in the Mid-Atlantic Vipassana Association Annual Trust Meeting on October 21, 2023. Our Center Teachers led the way in making it a weekend of connection and service- as well as meeting our legal obligations to convene as a Trust. Trustees, committee members, teachers, assistant teachers and interested old student gave there energy, input and time to this event. There were informal, light-hearted exchanges referencing our history together, including fond recollections of the founding teacher of Dhamma Pubbananda, , Lallie Pratt. (Lallie passed away in 2016 ). I got a glimpse of one of our Center Teachers lending his elbow grease to the pot wash station. Newer students, who bring so much perspective and refreshment to our group, interacted freely with our most seasoned attendees. We did a group sharing activity focused on how we came to Vipassana and, importantly, what inspires us to keep at it. There was a lot of useful feedback after the meeting, for instance, how to make it better for people who can only attend over Zoom (some technical oversights left them out at times.) We look forwards to any and all old students joining us in 2023 for a similar event!

Dhamma Pubbananda Garden Team

Working with plants and taking care of a garden is already a known method of therapy and a way to take care of yourself. Being able to do this in the garden of Dhamma Pubbananda has been even more beneficial: meeting new, like minded people, working together as a team, learning about each other as well as the plants and trees that we take care of and most importantly, being able to meditate together in the Dhamma Hall twice a day. It has been very helpful for my everyday practice and enriched my social life with supportive and grounded people.

– Old Student, Garden Team Member

Pariyatti Podcasts

Pariyatti Presents…a panel discussion about “Maintaining Your Meditation Practice at Home: Helpful Supports and Challenges” recorded on November 13, 2022. The panel consists of meditators in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin as taught by S.N. Goenka moderated by Paul R. Fleischman. The panelists (Michal Barnea Astrog, Wayne Smith, Kory Goldberg and Marta Van Patten) share their experiences based on the questions “What helps you with your daily meditation at home?” and “What are the difficulties that you face with your meditation at home?”

Click here to check out full podcast.

Michal Barnea Astrog, Wayne Smith, Kory Goldberg and Marta Van Patten facilitated by Paul R. Fleischman

Dhamma Story

Once upon a time, the headman of a village said to the Buddha that certain people in order to go to heaven perform many rites and rituals, wear various kinds of dresses and adornments, garlands, use fragrance and ointments, worship the fire in many ways, perform other rituals and think that they have done all that were to be done. There are some who, after practicing a low form of occult practices, interact with some spirits and claim to take people to heaven with their help. Venerable Sir! You are omniscient. Kindly do something so that all beings of the world after their death are born in a happy state in heaven.

The Buddha asked him a counter question. “If some body kills, steals, commits adultery, tells a lie, indulges in back biting, speaks harshly, is talkative, is greedy, is of low mentality and has false views, do you think he deserves to go to heaven? Is he fit to go there? Or, if after his death, many people assemble there and pray with folded hands for him to attain a good destiny, take birth in the heaven then by this act, can he really be born in heaven? No, no action performed after one’s death, can deliver him. This is impossible.”

Let us understand it by an example. Let one drop a huge piece of stone in a big lake which sinks under its own weight. Can this stone float on the water even if a great assembly of people pray to it, make a vow to propitiate it, or worship it or by performing any other ritual?

Let us take another example. If a person breaks a pot filled with butter and oil in the water, the butter and oil contained in it start floating on the water. If he breaks another pot filled with stones and pebbles in the water, the stones and pebbles get submerged in the water under their own weight. Then, if he prays, performs rites and rituals, and makes a request, “Oh butter! may you go down, may you go down. Oh stones and pebbles! may you come up, may you come up.” Will this really happen? Do this and see for yourself.

Oh, Headman! In the same way, when one abstains from killing living beings, abstains from stealing, abstains from committing sexual misconduct, abstains from speaking lies and abstains from committing other evil deeds, and lives a life of true Dhamma, then after death, he is sure to go only to the higher abodes. He will attain higher states. Nobody’s curse can send him down to the woeful states of hell. His good actions will only lead him to higher realms. No one can stop him from moving towards higher abodes. This is an unbreakable law of nature.