Since the early 1980s, there has been an astonishing increase in the number of
Vipassana centers in India and around the world. After experiencing efficacy of
technique themselves, many old students selflessly contributed in the spread of
Vipassana meditation. Working in many different capacities, they have served for
the welfare of many.
To ensure that service of these Dhamma servers yield the best results, Goenkaji
frequently guided them. At yearly meetings in India or on visits to various
centers, he spoke about many different aspects of Dhamma practice and service.
The transcripts of those talks and question and answer sessions are the sources of
this book. It contains guidance given by Mr. Goenka on practice of Vipassana,
what it means to give Dhamma service and how a server ought to serve.
This book is ideal for Vipassana meditators.
Vipassana is one of India’s most ancient meditation techniques. It
was rediscovered around 2500 years ago by Gotama the Buddha.
The Principal Teacher of Vipassana, late Mr. S.N. Goenka, was
authorised to teach this technique by a respected Vipassana
teacher of Burma, Sayagyi U Ba Khin. Born in Burma of Indian
heritage, and well established as a businessman and householder,
Mr. S. N. Goenka did his first
course under the guidance of Sayagyi in 1955 at the International Meditation
Centre in Rangoon. This course was a watershed experience for Mr. S.N. Goenka.
In 1969, Goenkaji returned to India and re-introduced this ancient meditation
‘technique to the land of its origin and spread it throughout the World. He inspired
the creation of close to 200 centres on six continents, specifically for the practice
of Vipassana. All of them are financed solely by voluntary donations and offer the
teaching without any charges. Today, the teaching is available in all the world’s
major languages, and hundreds of thousands of people join courses every year.
Since the early 1980s in India and around the world, there has been an
astonishing increase in the number of Vipassana course offered each year
and the number of centres devoted to the practice of this teaching. This growth
has been possible because of the selfless service of thousands of meditators.
Working in many different capacities, they have freely given help so that still
more people could take steps on the path of liberation.
To ensure that their service yields the best results, over the years Goenkaji
has frequently given guidance to all who participate in this work. At yearly
meetings in India or on visits to various centres, he has spoken about many
different aspects of Dhamma practice and service. The transcripts of those
talks and question and answer sessions are the sources for this volume.
The material included here covers the years from 1983 to 2000, For the most
part it is presented chronologically, but not in every case, one exception, for
example, is the talk placed at the end of the book since it provides a fitting and
In all this mass of material, Goenkaji returns again and again to a central
theme: what it means to give Dhamma service and how a server ought to work,
He explains this at length but always by presenting a few key points.
The first is that service must arise from practice of the Dhamma. Those
wishing to help others walk on the path of liberation must be walking on the
path themselves: that is, they must maintain a regular daily practice of
meditation and strive to observe the Five Precepts as carefully as possible. In
fact, Goenkaji says, service is a way of deepening one’s practice by developing
the ten paramis.
Secondly, service must spring from a base of metta. Even when servers have to
discipline students, they should do so with a volition to help, with a heart filled
Another point is that service must be given selflessly, humbly, without any
egotism No-one should think that they are indispensable; no-one should.
suppose that service is an opportunity to do things as they want, or to achieve
their own aims. Instead, it is an opportunity to set aside one’s own views and
become an instrument of the Dhamma.
This is how servers can work together harmoniously. And this is how the
Dhamma will continue flourishing in its pristine purity for the good and
benefit of many.
Goenkaji discusses these points in depth, as well as numerous other issues,
for guidance on a particular issue, the detailed index directs readers to
the passages dealing with that topic. In addition, a glossary explains the Pali
For publication purposes the source material has been condensed and edited to
some extent, but every effort has been made to maintain Goenkaji’s distinctive
voice and faithfully convey his meaning.
If readers have a chance to listen to the original audio taps, they will find them
very inspiring. Most of the taps are available for Dhamma servers to listen to
between courses at Vipassana centres.
Goenkaji has not himself been able to read through this text, and it may
therefore contain some errors and inconsistencies; these are the responsibility of
the editors alone. Comments are welcome that might help to rectify any flaws.
May this volume prove useful to those whose service is a vital part of the spread
Language & Literature (443)
Sacred Sites (101)
Tantric Buddhism (87)
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