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Benefit of Many

Benefit of Many

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Talks and Answers to Questions from Vipassana Students 1983-2000This compilation is intended for students of Vipassana as taught by S.N.Goenka
Annual Meeting: Dhamma Khetta, India 1983
ORGANIZING COURSES
Dear trustees and course organizers:This winter I have been reviewing some important Dhamma issues. With theexperience of the successful completion of more than 50 assistant teacher ledcourses this past year, the following guidelines were drawn up at the recent assistantteacher meeting with me in Hyderabad in February 1983. They will serve to help thecontinuing spread of Dhamma.Also, some general policies for all courses regarding d
ā
na, food served on courses,assistant teacher scheduling, and some other points were reviewed.The assistant teacher is authorized by me to conduct Vipassana courses on mybehalf. As such the assistant teacher is my representative and should be received bythe students in this light. This is especially so on the course site where the assistantteacher bears the responsibility of seeing that the technique is transmitted properly,that the courses are organized and run as per my instructions, and that the properatmosphere is created to assist students in their meditation.The greater frequency of courses is obviously providing many more opportunities forstudents to take Dhamma than I could provide by myself. However, to take fulladvantage of these opportunities, it is now more important than ever to enlist theservice and support of old students. Without a minimum of old studentinfrastructure, there is a danger of efforts being spread too thinly and of assistantteacher courses being liable to mismanagement. This could ultimately result in aweakening of the transmission of Dhamma. Also it is important for older students toencourage newer ones to get involved in organizing and working on courses, so thatthey can gain the training necessary to take on more responsibility.The most important point in the code of conduct for the assistant teacher is that heis there to serve others. In doing so, he should never come to expect, nor useDhamma to secure, a better position for himself or his family. The teaching of Dhamma must never become his means of livelihood nor should he profit materiallyfrom it in any way.Until now I have emphasized that the assistant teachers should add very little to thepresentation of the course, that the course should run as it is on the tapes from earlymorning to the mett
ā
session with the workers each night. Only in cases where thetape quality is poor or a mechanical failure occurs or for some needed clarificationshould the assistant teacher supplement the teaching. In the future I will individuallyassign functions of the teaching now covered by the tapes to the assistant teachers.Should students or organizers ever feel a conflict between the behaviour of anassistant teacher and their understanding of Dhamma, the resolution of it should first
 
be attempted with the assistant teacher concerned. If that fails, only then should Ibe referred to. It is important to avoid the unwholesome act of speaking ill of anyteacher.The following points for organizers worldwide were discussed with me at length inHyderabad. They apply to all courses either with me or my assistants. The followingpolicies have been drafted as per my instructions and approval.
D
Ā
NA AND COURSE FINANCES
In an effort to simplify and standardize course procedures, use the proper wordingregarding d
ā
na when either announcing a course or discussing it with prospectivestudents. Courses are run solely on a donation basis. We have changed the wordingto give more emphasis to d
ā
na as an integral part of the practice.Course organizers are strongly encouraged to rely locally for d
ā
na to cover courseexpenses; this includes initial capital outlay for site rental, food purchases,transportation, etc. Only in exceptional circumstances may exceptions to thisguideline be applied for by consulting the Teacher or assistant teacher.If near the end of a course, on Day 10, a deficit of 20 percent or more exists, thenthe following morning, Day 11, a statement only of the course expenses in total anddonations received to date may be posted.If at the very end of the course a deficit still remains, it should be borne locally atleast for three months. During this time the deficit can be announced in the localnewsletter (if possible) and/or discussed among old students in light of the difficultyof organizing future courses if such deficits continue.If after this three-month period the deficit still remains, then the Teacher or assistantteacher can be consulted about the availability of funds to cover such a contingency.In addition, there is an old student d
ā
na letter clarifying course finances for oldstudents only. Trusts should decide whether it is necessary to send this to every oldstudent who applies to do a course. Therein a range of expenses is mentioned fortheir information only. (These figures should be adapted to reflect local conditions.)While the d
ā
na system continues to function successfully, it has been decided tofurther clarify the responsibility such a system places upon the old students whocome repeatedly to these courses.In general, organizers are urged to keep in close contact with the Teacher orassistant teacher directly on all points of course organization, particularly regardingsite selection, finances, scheduling, public announcements, etc.[NOTE: If it becomes necessary to write to Goenkaji in India concerning finances, itshould be clearly stated that the money you are referring to belongs to yourorganization, association, or trust. It is important not to convey the false impressionthat somehow the money is related to Goenkaji personally.]
COURSE FOOD/MENUS
 
While planning a course menu, attention should be given to providing simplewholesome vegetarian meals at modest cost. Organizers should remember that asVipassana in this tradition is unique, no other philosophies or views should bepermitted on the course. This understanding precludes the designing of the coursemenu according to the cook’s notion of "raising consciousness through diet," orsimilar philosophies of "health foods," e.g., macrobiotics, organic foods, etc.Regarding requests for "special food," students should be reminded that courses arefinanced solely by donations and that on such courses students live on the charity of others. By taking only what is offered they are able to develop their p
ā
ram
 ī
s,particularly that of renunciation (nekkhamma).Ample nutritious food should be provided at mealtimes and students should eat atthese times only. This is an important part of the discipline.In cases where for strictly medical reasons special food may be a necessity, theyshould be cleared through the Teacher or assistant teacher before the course. Whileall efforts should be made to accommodate legitimate requests, it should also bekept in mind that a student must possess a minimum of physical and mental healthto take Dhamma. Organizers should not feel obligated to accommodate all specialcomplex food requests. It is left to the prospective students to decide if they canaccept what is offered.
PHYSICAL CONTACT
Another very important point is that, from the moment the course begins to itscompletion, there should be no physical contact between persons of the same oropposite sex. This applies to the management as well. Needless to say, this will alsorequire the complete setting aside of all types of massage and/or healing practices.These guidelines concerning diet and physical contact, including such things asmassage, healing arts, yoga, tai chi, etc., exist not only when a course is in progressbut at all times at Dhamma houses and meditation centres. This is not meant as acondemnation of these practices, but during the training and at the training sites thepractice of Vipassana is to be maintained in its pristine purity.
FINAL WORD FROM GOENKAJI CONCERNING DHAMMA FUNDS
I would again like to emphasize that finances should be properly handled. Every centdonated by a student is sacred money and therefore should be used for Dhammawork only. Neither the Teacher nor the assistant teachers nor the trustees nor theorganizers of courses are the owners of such d
ā
na funds. These funds should neverbe used for anybody’s personal benefit. For the Teacher and the assistant teachers,only the travel, food and medical expenses, when necessary, should be provided.Dhamma money should not be used for shopping, sightseeing or other personalmatters.May the above guidelines help in the spread of Dhamma.With affluent mett
ā
, S.N. Goenka

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