Vipassana teacher S.N. Goenka answers some questions on the ancient Buddhist meditation technique. Vipassana was taught in India more than 2,500 years ago as a universal remedy for universal ills. Goenka conducts meditation classes for individuals at various centres across India and abroad.
How can I be sure I am capable of doing the meditation?
For a person in reasonable physical and mental health, who is genuinely interested and willing to make a sincere effort, meditation (including “noble silence”) is not difficult. If you are able to follow the instructions patiently and diligently, you can be sure of tangible results.
Can Vipassana cure physical or mental illness?
Many diseases are caused by our inner agitation. If the agitation is removed, the disease may be alleviated or disappear. But learning Vipassana with the aim of curing a disease is a mistake. People who try to do this waste their time because they are focusing on the wrong goal. They may even harm themselves. They will neither understand the meditation properly nor succeed in getting rid of the disease.
How about depression? Does Vipassana cure that?
Again, the purpose of Vipassana is not to cure. Someone who really practises Vipassana learns to be happy and balanced in all circumstances. But a person with a history of severe depression may not be able to apply the technique properly and may not get the desired results. The best thing for such a person is to work with a health professional. Vipassana teachers are meditation experts, not psychotherapists.
Is there anyone who should not participate in a Vipassana course?
Obviously, someone who is physically too weak to follow the schedule will not be able to benefit from a course. Even those suffering from any psychiatric problems, or those going through emotional upheavals, should not attend the course.
Does one have to be a Buddhist to practise Vipassana?
People from many religions, and even those who don’t practise any religion, have found the 10-day meditation course that we conduct in India and abroad beneficial. Vipassana is an art of living, a way of life. While it is the essence of what the Buddha taught, Vipassana is not a religion; rather, it is the cultivation of human values eventually leading to a life which is good for both the individual and others. www.dhamma.org