July 2022

“Abhivādanasīlīssa, niccaṃvuddhāpacāyino; 
cattārodhammā vaḍḍhanti, āyuvaṇṇo sukhaṃ balaṃ.”

“For one who always respects and honours those who are older and more virtuous, four benefits will increase: 
long life, beauty, happiness and strength.”

 –  Dhammapada 109, Sahassavaggo

One Day Courses Resume

One-day courses are back now, every 4th Sunday of the month starting June 26th. We welcome you to the Center to sit a 1-day course, serve between courses or serve a course part time in addition to sitting or serving a full 10-day period.

You can apply by clicking here.

Updated Covid Requirements

There are some updates to Covid Requirements as per below.

  • All servers and students coming to the Center need to be fully vaccinated. Boosters are recommended. Negative rapid antigen tests the day before coming to the Center applies to everyone and all courses/work periods. For any duration longer than 1-day, but less than 3 days, an additional test needs to be brought with the person. For stays more than 3 days, 2 additional tests need to be brought with the person (a second test will be administered on the 3rd day). An additional test kit is used if there is an infection break- out during a course.
  • Our current course capacities are 15 men and 17 women on the student side, and 4 men and 4 women on the server side.
  • Part-time servers are highly encouraged to apply to courses and service periods. We are in strong need of full-time servers on all courses; part-time servers are initially placed on the waitlist. If we do not have enough full-time servers, we try to find enough part-time servers to spread out across different days of the course.
  • Public transportation and ride share are both allowed now.
View of Dhamma Pubbananda Building

Need for Long Term Servers

Interested in being a Long-term Server or a Sit/Serve Server?

You’re cutting vegetables in the kitchen, preparing for lunch. Talk of the old students begins. Why do you like to serve? Responses vary: ‘It feels good to help.’ ‘I appreciated the servers before me who made it possible for my first course, and I wanted to do the same, to give back.’ For others, it’s having an opportunity to talk to a teacher in person, to deepen one’s own practice. Ananda, the Buddha’s attendant, was in constant service to Buddha, his fellow monks, bhikkhunis and the lay men and women. In all things, he looked for connections to the Dhamma. From the example below, one can see how sitting and serving courses, over time, enables us to develop and deepen our own qualities and virtue.

Ananda once reported to the Buddha about Janussoni’s beautiful white chariot. He asked the Buddha how one could describe the best chariot according to the Dhamma. The Buddha explained the vehicle to Nibbana by means of a detailed simile:

Faith and wisdom are the draught-animals, moral shame the brake, intellect the reins, mindfulness the charioteer, virtue the accessories, meditation the axle, energy the wheels, equanimity the balance, renunciation the chassis; the weapons are love, harmlessness, and solitude, and patience is its armpit. (SN 45:4).

Click here to know more about long term serving. If you’re interested in exploring this opportunity, please write to [email protected].

Center News

Building 4 Renovation – The start of the renovation of Building 4 is pending the finalization of the Center Development Committee’s plans for Center expansion. Several options are still under consideration that will impact the layout of this building. Our budget for the renovation of Building 4 is $1,560,000. To date we’ve spent $78K for the initial demolition. An additional $298K has been set aside from our reserves for this work. Thus, we are still in need of $1,184,000 to complete this project.

New Center-wide Communications Network – We will begin the installation of a new Center-wide communications network at the end of this month. This new network will enable improved telephone communications between AT’s and servers during courses, a Center-wide automatic gong system, select audio from the Dhamma Hall to be heard in the cells, and the connection of our security systems to the internet. The budget for this work is $30K.

Long Term Service Opportunities at the Center – Jason, whose been at the Center for 2 years, and Mendy, who’s been at the Center since March, have come to the end of their long-term service. Asa is just beginning his long-term service. There is currently a strong need for at least 1 or 2 more people to participate in the long-term service program at the Center.

Contact [email protected] if you’re interested in exploring this opportunity.

Center Devel0pment Committee

The long-term vision for the Center has been given a new thrust with many new participants on the Center Development Committee (CDC). We have been thinking through many options. Dhamma Pubbananda has 13 acres with many possibilities about where we could place the new buildings which are currently under discussion.

Some of the interesting things we are working on are a new Dhamma Hall with attached AT residences, additional Male and Female dorms and an additional Pagoda. We are trading the possibility of a new pagoda versus continuing with the use of the current cells long-term. In terms of total student capacity around 90 students is ideal since the number it has to be manageable for AT’s, servers and management.

You can see 2 options we have narrowed down to along with additional background information by clicking here.

Carpentry    Center road sign

Useful Online Resources

Here we are giving some useful online resources which has helped many students in recent years. We hope you will find them useful as well.

Live Q&A
If one has any questions related to meditation, they may be asked of Assistance Teachers on the link: at-[email protected]

Group Sittings
Virtual Group Sittings (VGS) at 7:00 a.m. EST
And 6 p.m. EST

Facebook Tracker
New posts each Monday for inspiration and Center needs:

Servers Needed

There is a strong need for female and male servers for the 10-day course starting on August 17th. If you are available full time or part time please apply here.

Dhamma Story: The Handkerchief Discourse

Following is an extract from a session at a Pali language workshop led by Mr. Satyendranath Tandon in France in 2007. The participants answer his questions and then he tells a story.
by S.N. Tandon

SNT: Since the subject has been broached of what is Vipassana, may I know what are the main characteristics of Vipassana? Suppose you have to tell some friend of yours, you have to say something so that he knows what are the special characteristics of Vipassana. One by one, can …

First student: It’s offered for free. No charge.

SNT: Free. So then the other person will say, “Oh, leave it. If it’s something so cheap, they don’t charge for it.”

First student: It’s priceless!

SNT: But so far as the technique is concerned, what are the characteristics?

Second student: Nothing has to be done. You just have to observe what’s happening.

SNT: But other people will say, “We also do the same thing”—because no religion, no sect lacks its own things to do. What is special about this?

Third student: It’s a choiceless observation.

SNT: Choiceless observation … But you will have to explain to him. Otherwise, he may not know what is choiceless. He will say, “I am seeing here. What choice have I got? I have to see like this.” You are right but you will have to …

Second student: At the level of body sensation?

SNT: How does he understand what sensation is? He’s a man in the street.

Fourth student: Non-sectarian.

SNT: Non-sectarian? He will say, “Why non-sectarian? My sect, there are so many millions of people following this sect. Why do you want me to withdraw from it?” Yes, anybody?

Fifth student: It brings changes now and later in life.

SNT: But what will he think of this? Will he be attracted toward this? Yes, anybody else? You want to say something?

Sixth student: To observe the changing nature of one’s own reality. The constantly changing nature of this reality.

SNT: Yes, this makes sense.

Sixth student: Not to be attached to that. To observe it as it is.

SNT: It makes sense. Yes?

Seventh student: The explanation depends on the listener, on the mental capacity of the person listening to the explanation. You speak according to that. If you want a technical explanation, you can use Pali terms such as anicca, anatta, dukkha … If there is no knowledge of Buddha-dhamma, you give another explanation that would appeal to the person’s common sense.

SNT: What you have said makes sense … What our friend is saying makes a lot of sense. I fully agree with him because I have had such an experience. If you like, I can explain what he says.

On many occasions, we have been invited to tell people about Vipassana. For example, lectures are organized in seminaries, public libraries, temples, training centers and even high-security prisons. So many places. I want to mention one occasion so that what our friend says is apparent.

Some old people are not happy where they live and they go to live in an old age homes. I think here too you have such homes, isn’t it? A Vipassana meditator told me that he had met the chairman of an old age home. There was no Vipassana meditator in the whole community, and the chairman said, “If there is something new, we will give one hour to whoever comes to give a talk. Please come on this day at this time to deliver a talk.”

I said, “Very good. This is a good occasion. I will certainly go.”

When I reached there, they were celebrating the anniversary of the foundation of the home. All the members, nearly 70 of them—men, women, children—had come there. Food was also being prepared for them. They were so busy meeting each other that they forgot I was to speak for an hour. I was sitting on one side. I didn’t know anybody except the student who had taken me there, and he was feeling nonplussed that no one was giving any time for the speech. I noticed that he went to the chairman and said, “Look, I brought the person who is going to deliver a talk.”

The chairman said, “What can I do? So many people have come. They are meeting each other, and they won’t listen.” But then he said, “Despite all that, we will give half an hour. Not an hour, but I’ll manage to allow half an hour.”

The Vipassana student asked me and I said, “Very good. Half an hour will be good enough.” But I found that the situation continued. The organizers said, “The food is ready on the table. An announcement is about to be made, and everyone will go to take food and will start eating. Not even one minute will be available.”

The student went again to the chairman and said, “This man has come. You had said one hour would be allotted, then half an hour, and now the food is ready and everyone will go to take the food. What is this?”

The chairman said, “Okay then, 15 minutes.”

The student reported to me, saying, “What can I do? He is offering just 15 minutes.”

I said, “Okay. Fifteen minutes also is good enough for me.”

“Fifteen minutes?!”

“Yes,” I said. “Even if it is 10 minutes, that is enough.” I remembered that it depends upon the mood of the people at that time. I could see that they were in no mood to listen to a speech about Vipassana. If the mind is free of all distractions, then Vipassana can click. I knew that their entire attention was on the table where food was to be served. They were waiting for that. And children were also there, aged 10 to 15. Men and women were there, everyone was in a different type of mood; who would listen to Vipassana? And now they were giving only 15 minutes.

The chairman announced, “We have invited someone to tell you about a meditation that is called Vipassana. For 15 minutes, would you please give him your attention.”

What did I do? I always carry a handkerchief in my pocket. You know, sometimes it is needed. Even now, in this session I am carrying it. So, sitting on one side, I took out my handkerchief and asked the audience, “Do you see what this is?”

Everybody thought, “What sort of meditation is this?”

But immediately, a few of the people said, “Yes, it is a handkerchief, a hanky.”

I said, “Yes, very good. Can somebody tell me, one by one, to what use is this handkerchief put? How is it used?”

“Quite an interesting subject!” someone said. “It is for wiping dust from the face.”

“Very good,” I replied. “It is used to wipe dust from the face. Anybody else?”

Then someone said, “If the eyes shed tears, it is used to wipe them away.”

“Very good,” I replied. “It is used to wipe tears from the eyes. Anybody else?” Since the place was in Delhi and the month was June, there was scorching heat.

Someone said, “Yes, when it is very hot, it is put on the head in order to provide protection from the heat.”

“Very good,” I repeated. “What else?”

Same thing: “It is used to wipe your nose when it drips.”

“What else?” Now their minds started running in every way.

Someone said, “If you break a finger, it can be used to bind it tightly.”

Another said, “Suppose a train is coming on the railway track and a vehicle is crossing, and an accident is going to occur, and you want to stop the train, you soak the handkerchief in red dye and flap it.” They were getting creative!

Then someone said, “Suppose a tap of water is running but the water is dirty. You use the handkerchief to filter the water.” Similarly, he said, “Suppose you go out to enjoy a garden or another place that is quite dirty. You can take out the handkerchief and clean a spot before sitting down.”

Then somebody said, “Suppose you want to do a magic trick. You can hide a coin in the handkerchief and make it seem to appear out of nowhere.” He continued, “Suppose people ask a woman to dance for them, and she agrees. She will hold the handkerchief in her hand and then dance.”

So many things were mentioned. I knew that now they had forgotten about the food and anything else. I said, “Well, you have given so much information about how this handkerchief is used. Now see what I am doing.” I tied the handkerchief in knots and asked, “What is this?”

“It is a handkerchief!”

I asked, “Now all these things that you told me, can you do them with this handkerchief?”

“No, no. That is not possible. Not possible.”

I untied the knots and asked, “Now is it possible?”

“Oh yes, everything is possible!”

I said, “Each of you has a mind, isn’t it? When it is open, free, you can do anything—just as you can do anything with an open handkerchief. But if somebody says you are a fool or otherwise insults you, a knot is tied in the mind. When that happens, can you still use the mind freely? No, your entire attention is focused on asking ‘Why did he call me a fool?’ It becomes as useless as a handkerchief tied in knots.”

Then I said, “There is a technique of meditation called Vipassana. Whenever knots are tied in the mind, it is used to untie them, just as I have shown in the case of the handkerchief.”

They said, “Oh, very good! Where is it taught?” All within 15 minutes!

So as our friend has said, that is exactly how I remember the incident. Yes.

When you have to tell someone about the main characteristics of Vipassana, there are five:

First, it is universal. Any person from any country, caste, creed, color or sect can do it. There is absolutely no bar.

Second, it strikes at the root. It removes the pus from the wound. It does not simply apply a balm to the wound, giving only temporary relief. It strikes at the root and eliminates anger, passion or other defilements.

Third, it allows no place for imagination, verbalization or visualization.

Next, it is “individualistic.” You have to walk the path yourself. There is no power broker, no intermediary, no guru or priest who will do the work for you. You have to do everything yourself. You have to tread the path yourself.

And lastly, the benefit accrues here and now. I am feeling angry at this moment and I start observing my respiration. And in a couple of minutes or less, I find that the anger starts subsiding and disappearing.

In this way, if we tell people the main characteristics of Vipassana, which are entirely different from what they practiced in the past, people are sure to want to learn it. And you will find that you have done real service to the cause of the spread of Dhamma.