Please read the Retreats Page first.
The Vipassana Practice
Vipassana is a form of Buddhist meditation from the Theravada tradition. It is a practice of training the mind in continuous moment-to-moment mindfulness through out the whole day.
Through an unbroken and continuous observation of distinct physical and mental objects arising in one's meditation, a meditator will come to understand the three universal characteristics of all phenomena ; i.e.: that they are impermanent, unsatisfactory and void of an abiding self.
The ultimate aim and primary benefit of this Vipassana practice is the attainment of the four noble path knowledges and noble fruition knowledges, which take "Nibbana", the State of Peace, as an object.
The mind has a tendency to be dominated by various unwholesome mental states such states as greed, anger, fear, ignorance, pride, wrong views, doubts, laziness, restlessness and worry, to name just a few. These may be seen as the causes for suffering, both in us and in all beings. But through careful observation these unwholesome mental states will subside, allowing wholesome mental states to arise in their place. Mental states such as effort, mindfulness, concentration, intuitive wisdom, joy, tranquility or peace, happiness, loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, equanimity, contentment, and patience reduce suffering and increase a person's mental and physical well being. This is known as the purification of the mind, which is another major benefit of Vipassana meditation. Thus it is contributing to peace in the world.
As it is taught in the tradition of the late Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw of Myanmar, Vipassana meditation consists of continuous mindfulness in sitting meditation, walking meditation, and all general activities. During sitting meditation one's awareness is directed to the most prominent physical or mental object of observation, beginning with the rising and falling movement of the abdomen. Slowing down bodily movements throughout all one's daily activities and restraining the senses are essential parts of the practice. Meditators are supported and guided in their practice through regular interviews and discourses. All meditators are required to observe the "Eight training precepts" and to maintain "Noble silence" throughout the course of a retreat.
Guidelines for Meditators
Lay meditators must carefully observe the eight precepts.
- Consuming alcohol and drugs, smoking, and chewing of betel are not allowed.
- Monastics are expected to strictly observe their monastic code of discipline.
- Restraint of the senses is highly beneficial for intensive meditation.
- Meditators observe Noble Silence.
- Talking is a great hindrance to progress in mindfulness meditation.
- Meditators should stay alone and refrain from unnecessary speech.
- Please keep reading and writing to an absolute minimum.
- Socializing is strongly discouraged.
- All unfinished personal, family and business matters should be taken care of prior to the intensive meditation retreat so that they do not interfere with one's meditation.
- Communication with the outside world through telephone and e-mail should be kept to an absolute minimum.
Meditators should practice with the following qualities :
- Sustained, continuous, moment-to-moment mindfulness from the time of waking to that of falling asleep at night
- Respect and sincerity
- Honesty and straightforwardness
- Heroic effort
Meditators are expected to do 12 - 14 hours of formal practice a day.
Sleep should be limited to between four to six hours per day.
Meditators are advised to perform all activities in slow motion.
During the meditation retreat please stay within the monastic compound.
Meditators must strictly adhere to the instructions of the meditation teacher.
Full-time meditators will have six interviews per week.
Outside of the rains retreat (vassa) there will be three live Dhamma-talks per week and four tape-recorded Dhamma-talks per week.
During the rains retreat tape-recorded Dhamma-talks will be played every day.
Skipping interviews and Dhamma-talks is usually to the disadvantage of a meditator.
Do not practice other meditation methods while at this center.
Part-time meditators are welcome to practice at the center from 7:00 am to 7:30 pm. However, they have to arrange for their own accommodation and food.
Sound physical and mental health is a basic requirement for intensive meditation practice.
All meditators have to perform regular cleaning duties in the bathroom and bedroom.
This is a monastic environment and we ask retreatants to wear non-distracting, modest clothing, which is loose and covers the body. Clothes worn should be neat and clean. Please refrain from wearing revealing or enticing clothes, including shorts (under-knee length is acceptable) and leggings, tights, shoe string tops or singlets. Regarding sarongs, longyis, pareos, only mid-length and long ones are adequate. Avoid wearing clothing that rustles loudly.
In order to maintain the quality at the center we accept only meditators with serious commitment. New meditators will be on probation for seven days.
Meditators who do not follow the guidelines at the center and who do not meditate seriously will be asked to leave.
Panditarama is committed to providing a safe, comfortable and productive meditation and work environment, free from unlawful discrimination and harassement, where everyone is treated with decency and respect.
Mental Health QuestionaireUpon arrival meditators who have not practiced at Panditarama-Lumbini before will be asked to fill out the mental health questionnaire given below. Please do not fill it out in advance and send it to the center. If you have any physical or mental condition that could possibly interfere with intensive Vipassana meditation, you should contact the center with your questions prior to arriving. This is for your benefit.
A Word of Caution
Meditation at Panditarama Lumbini International Vipassana Meditation Center is intensive. This requires that each meditator possess a strong capacity to handle silence, being away from family and friends, the intensity of 12 to 14 hours of mindful sitting, walking meditation, and general activities each day, and the arising of, at times, challenging physical sensations and difficult mental states.
The meditation teachers at Panditarama Lumbini International Vipassana Meditation Center are not professional psychologists or psychotherapists. The ability of the regional medical facilities to handle a psychological emergency is limited.
MENTAL HEALTH QUESTIONNAIRE
This is your first exercise of Vipassana meditation at Panditarama-Lumbini. At Panditarama honest, non-judgmental communication with your teacher is a prerequisite for intensive meditation practice. This bond and trust can enable your teacher to assist you to reach the fruition of this practice. Considering the absence of mental health professionals at the meditation center, knowledge of a meditator’s mental constitution will help the meditation teacher guide a meditator more effectively. We ask that all applicants truthfully and comprehensively answer the following questions.
1. Do you currently have any mental health concerns? If yes, please describe.
2. Are you seeing a doctor or health care person for a mental health concern? What is the diagnosis? Does your doctor/care-giver approve of your meditation retreat?
3. Have you ever been given a diagnosis for a mental health condition that you did not agree with? If yes, please describe.
4. Have you ever received psychotherapy and if so, for what reason, for how long and from whom?
5. Have you ever taken or are you currently taking anti-depressant and/or anti-psychotic drugs or any other mental health related drugs. If so, which kind and for how long?
6. Have you ever had a psychosis or mental health condition that disabled you from performing your normal activities of daily life? When, how many times, and when was the last time?
7. Have you ever been hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital or for any mental health related issue? If so, how many times and how long was each hospitalization?
8. Have you ever had or are you currently suffering from an anxiety disorder (panic, phobia, obsession, and/or compulsion)? If so, when, why and for how long?
9. Have you ever had a prolonged depression? When, and how many times?
10. Have you ever had a phase of visual or auditory hallucinations, racing thoughts, irritable mood, exaggerated self-importance, and/or hyperactivity?
11. Have you ever had visual or auditory hallucinations, bizarre behavior, disorganized thinking and speech, and social withdrawal? Do you ever hear voices that are only in the mind?
12. Have you ever seriously considered or attempted suicide? When, why? Do you currently have thoughts of suicide?
13. Have you ever or are you currently suffering from alcohol or substance abuse? If so, when, why, for how long, which substances were involved? Have you overcome the problem?
14. Have you ever suffered from an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia? Do you practice fasting? If so, when was the last time?
15. What was the most traumatic or difficult experience in your life? Please describe. What happened?
16. Are there any serious childhood issues that are currently affecting you?
17. Have you ever been the victim of sexual and/or physical abuse in your childhood or adolescence? If so, please relate what happened?
18. Have you ever been involved in a physically violent confrontation as an adult or as a child?
19. Is there a history of schizophrenia or any other serious mental health illness in your family? If so, please specify.
Please note that confidentiality will be respected as per Western Medical Standards and this form kept private and secure.
I, _____________________, the undersigned, hereby declare that all the information given above is true and that I have not left out any important items. I also understand that Panditarama Lumbini International Vipassana Meditation Center will not take any responsibility in the event of any physical, mental or psychological injury during or after my stay at Panditarama Lumbini International Vipassana Meditation Center.
Lumbini, Date: _____________ Signature: _______________________
The Eight Precepts
Lay retreatants must carefully observe the eight precepts.
04.00 Wake Up
04.30 - 05.00 Walking meditation
05.00 - 06.00 Sitting Meditation
06.00 - 07.00 Breakfast
07.00 - 08.00 Sitting Meditation
08.00 - 09.00 Walking Meditation
09.00 - 10.00 Sitting Meditation
10.00 - 11.00 Walking Meditation
11.00 - 12.00 Lunch
12.00 - 12.30 Rest
12.30 - 13.00 Walking Meditation
13.00 - 14.00 Sitting Meditation
14.00 - 15.00 Walking Meditation
15.00 - 16.30 Sitting Meditation
16.30 - 17.45 Walking Meditation
18.00 - 19.15 Dhamma Talk
19.15 - 20.00 Juice & Walking
20.00 - 21.00 Sitting Meditation
21.00 - 22.00 Walking Meditation
Interviews will be conducted Sun. - Fri. 08.00 - 11.00
The Practice of Generosity (Dana)
Dana is an ancient Pali word meaning generosity, giving or gift. It is directly related to the Latin word “donum” and through it to such English words as donor, donate and donation. Dana is intrinsic to the 2500-year-old Buddhist tradition. Going back to the days of the Buddha, the teachings were considered priceless and thus offered freely, as a form of dana. The early teachers received no payment for their instructions, and in turn the lay community saw to it through their voluntary generosity, their dana, that the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, and medicine were provided for the teachers who in the early days were monks and nuns. Beyond this practical dimension, dana also plays a crucial role in the spiritual life of Buddhists. It is the first of the ten paramis, or qualities of character to be perfected in one's life time or life times.
When the Buddha gave a discourse to lay people, he would almost always begin with the importance and benefits of dana.
The act of giving itself is of immeasurable benefit to the giver for it opens up the heart, diminishes for a moment one's self-absorption, and places value on the well-being of others. The simple gesture of offering even a flower, a kind thought or a simple meal is in fact a sincere form of practice. The size or value of the gift is of almost no importance - the act of giving itself generates a thought moment devoid of greed and full of loving-kindness.
In Asia this tradition has been kept alive by the lay community supporting the teachings by contributing to the monastic centers or giving food to the monastics as they walk from house to house on their daily round of gathering alms. Once a year there is also a formal giving of robes to the order.
Panditarama Lumbini International Vipassana Meditation Center is keeping this old tradition alive and has operated from its very beginning entirely on the principle of generosity. We do not have any set daily fees. Monetary donations are used to maintain and further develop this meditation center for the benefit of present and future meditators.
Adapted from Nooder Poort - Zen Buddhist Centre