This book contains the photographs of the beautiful paintings
in the picture gallery at the Global Vipassana Pagoda, as well as
the associated stories about important incidents from the life of
the Buddha. A vast amount of information is availabie about the
many monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen who benefited from
Vipassana during the lifetime of the Buddha and also helped many
others in coming out of their suffering. If one were to make a TV
serial about the life of the Buddha along with his previous lives,
it would run into more than 1000 episodes. This publication gives
only an outline of the origin and spread of the great technique
of Vipassana, discovered and taught by that supreme man, the
In India, there are many misunderstandings about the Buddha.
Many believe that he is called a ‘bhagavan’ because he was an
incarnation of God Almighty. The truth is that he discovered
Vipassana and used it to totally rid himself of all craving, aversion
and ignorance; and thus became a ‘bhagava’ or ‘bhagavan’
(literally, one who has totally destroyed one’s craving, aversion
After some time, his teaching started being called ‘Buddhism’
and his followers ‘Buddhists’. In reality, he only taught Dhamma.
Those who followed his teaching were called dhammiko, dhammi,
dhammacari, dhammavihari and not ‘Buddhists’. Buddhism and
Buddhists are associated with a sect. The Buddha never formed
a sect. He was against sectarianism. The word for Buddhism
bauddha is not found in any text until centuries after the Buddha.
In Pali there is no parallel word to bauddha.
There are so many other misconceptions about the Buddha
which need to be removed in order to bring the reality to light.
Otherwise, one would remain confused and not understand the
truth. This publication will not remove all misconceptions, but
should certainly help in removing some.
Why did Prince Siddhattha renounce royal comforts, his
beautiful young wife and newborn baby and choose the difficult
life of an ascetic? He had no quarrel with his family members
and didn’t leave them due to tensions as a consequence of any
quarrel. He had loving relations with all of them. Therefore, when
he discovered the universal path of liberation from suffering, he
shared this knowledge with his family and relatives in addition to
innumerable suffering people of the world.
The sole purpose of his search was to discover the true cause
of suffering and the right means for its eradication. He spent six
years of his life making strenuous effort to discover the truth
and he finally found the real solution to this problem. Pubbe
ananussutesu dhammesu—the truth that he had never heard before
This truth was not prevalent in society nor was it being practised
in the spiritual field. How then could he have heard of it? From
whom could he have heard of it? Let us take a look at what was
prevalent as the truth in the spiritual traditions in India during the
Buddha’s time. Let us also look at the truth discovered by him
which, far from being popular, was not even known? -
In almost all traditions in those days, the belief was that the six
sense doors (eyes, nose, ear, tongue, body and mind) constantly
come in contact with their respective sense objects (form, odour,
sound, taste, touch and thoughts). Because of this contact, one
constantly generates tanh—craving to preserve and increase
what is pleasant and aversion to get rid of what is unpleasant.
Whenever craving or aversion arises due to contact, suffering
arises. Craving or aversion comes with suffering. Thus, the
commonly held belief was that when the sense doors come.in
contact with sense objects, one should not generate tanha
craving or aversion. On coming in contact with sense objects, one
should not react with craving or aversion.
The Buddha understood that this is only the apparent truth and
"Not the ultimate truth. It is partial truth, not the complete truth.
Purtial truth can only yield partial benefit, not full benefit.
When the six sense doors, that is, the six sense organs come in
contact with their respective objects (sayatana paccaya phasso)
sensation arises in the body (phassa paccaya vedana) and when
the sensation is experienced, craving (tanha) arises (vedana
Clearly, if we are not aware of phassa paccaya vedana—the
sensations that arise as a result of contact—we are ignoring the
deep root and getting entangled in the superficial branches.
We should be aware of the bodily sensation that arises as a result
of contact and should remain equanimous towards it. When we do
so, we start getting liberated from craving and aversion at the root
level of the mind. Whatever the outward object (causing craving
or aversion), it seems that when we come in contact with this
object, we perceive it as desirable and generate craving towards
it or perceive it as undesirable and generate aversion towards it.
However, this is not the actual truth. It is only apparent truth. The
key to true freedom from craving and aversion is to know the
actual truth and to maintain equanimity while remaining aware
of it. We must gain freedom from vedand paccayda tanha. This is
the auspicious path of attaining liberation from craving in reality.
This is the beneficial teaching of Vipassana. This is the knowledge
that leads to release from all suffering.
An example: a certain person who joined a Vipassana retreat was
afraid of the sound of the barking of dogs. He was an educated
young man. At the intellectual level he understood quite well that
his was a secure lodging. He was sleeping in a closed room. A
dog was barking somewhere in the neighbourhood. It could not
even come near him. Then why should he be afraid? Yet, this
understanding is only intellectual. The fact is that he would be
afraid as soon as he heard the sound of a dog barking. Who could
convince him at the level of reality and how? Fortunately, he
joined a Vipassana course. He started experiencing the sensations
encountered during the course. By practice he learnt to remain
equanimous towards bodily sensations. His fear of a dog’s
barking automatically disappeared. The fear was contained in the
bodily sensations. Once he learnt to be equanimous towards those
sensations, his fear disappeared.
Several people who come to learn Vipassana have addictions
such as addiction to alcohol, heroin, gambling, sexual misconduct
etc. Because of their attachment, they are unable to come out of
their addictions even if they wish to. Actually, the addiction is not
to any substance but to the bodily sensation that comes from the
use of that substance. Because they do not know the real cause of
their suffering, they remain a slave to their addictions and commit
wrong actions, thereby producing suffering for themselves, now
and in the future.
If one commits wrong actions of body and speech, a storm of
defilements will arise in the mind and make him agitated. In order
to get release from this, the Buddha discovered the technique of
Vipassana. To clarify it, he discovered and explained certain laws
The first one, mentioned above, is that as soon as any of the
sense organs come in contact with their respective objects, some
sensation manifests itself in the body. Another fact is that we react
with craving or aversion towards this very sensation. It is only by
discovering this previously unknown truth that the inner eye, the
eye of knowledge, the eye of wisdom arose in him and he attained
knowledge, attained enlightenment; the light manifested itself.
The Bodhisatta became a sammasambuddha.
Two thousand and six hundred years ago, without the aid of
modern scientific devices, solely by means of his mental power,
this super-scientist of the spiritual world realized the truth that
there is no solidity in our apparently gross body and in the
entire material world. This solidity is only the apparent truth,
the manifest truth. It appears to be so. The ultimate truth is that
everything in the material world is made up of innumerable tiny
little sub-atomic particles, which are so minute that they cannot
be seen with the naked eye. He termed them kalapa. Even this
kalapa is not permanent, not solid. Every moment it undergoes
Sabbo pajjalito loko, sabbo loko pakampito.
(Samyuttanikayo, 1.168, Upacalasuttam)
They keep arising and passing away in the wavelets of these
Arising and passing away, this impermanence is their true nature,
their dhamma. The mind and mental concomitants also have the
same impermanent nature.
Within the time that it takes to blink, they arise and pass away
many trillions of times. This creates an illusion that they are
constant and permanent.
Sensations are produced in the body even because of this rapid
activity of arising and passing away in the body and mind.
Another truth of nature manifests itself
Vedanasamosarana sabbe dhamma.
The mental concomitants (cetasikas) that the mind contains
are called ‘dhamma’. The law of nature is that whatever mental
concomitants arise in the mind, they start flowing in the body in
the form of a sensation.
Sensations are also produced by the interaction of body and
mind, due to posture, environment and food.
Besides the above causes for the arising of sensations, different
sensations arise at different times due to the four mental aggregates:
vififiana (consciousness that cognizes), safifid (perception that
recognizes and evaluates), vedana (the sensation), sankhdra
(conditioning in response to the sensation).
Besides the mind, there are four elements of the body: earth,
fire, water and air. Different sensations associated with these keep
arising time and again.
Among these various types of sensations, two types of sensations
are generally predominant—pleasant or unpleasant. They are
instantly experienced by the deepest level of the subconscious
mind. If the sensation is perceived as pleasant, a reaction of
craving occurs and if it is perceived as unpleasant, there is a
reaction of aversion. These reactions are our sankharas. Many of
these sankharas (kammas) tend to grow stronger at the depth of
Some of these sankharas are very feeble, like a line drawn on
water; as one is drawing the line, it fades away. Some of these
are like lines drawn on sand; they fade away in a short while. But
some lines are like those drawn on hard rock with a chisel and
hammer; they don’t fade away for years.
Among these sankharas some are unwholesome and some are
wholesome. Unwholesome sankharas lead us to the lower worlds
and wholesome sankhdras lead us to higher, divine worlds.
Sankhdras that are not very deep-rooted remain on the surface
level of the mind. The sankharas that have strong and deep roots
are connected with the innermost mind.
Due to lack of understanding, we frequently repeat certain
feeble, unwholesome sankhdras and make them intense and deep.
Consequently, we make our present and future more miserable.
These discoveries of the Buddha were not intended to merely
satisfy intellectual curiosity. Rather, his purpose was to find the
right means of eradicating suffering with the help of these truths.
So he discovered the technique of Vipassana which gives results
here and now. One learns how not to react towards sensations and
to remain equanimous. From then on to this day, it has liberated
innumerable people from suffering.
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