WHY THE GRAND PAGODA?
(From 'The Vipassana Pagoda', Global Vipassana Foundation, Mumbai, India, 1997)
Every enlightened person (sammasambuddha) teaches Dhamma (Dharma) which is universal, can be practised by everyone and is beneficial to all humanity - good both for oneself and others. An en lightened person is neither interested in establishing a religion or sect, nor in creating a horde of blind followers who remain involved in performing different lifeless rites and rituals, trapped in cults and dogmas, ostentatious sectarian ceremonies and celebrations - without actually getting the immense benefits from applying the Dharnma in their lives.
An enlightened person is only interested in such a practical, beneficial aspect of Dhamma. He lives a moral life (Sila )and teaches others to live a similar moral life abstaining from all such unwholesome physical, vocal actions that hurt, harm and affect the peace and harmony of others
To live a life of morality, one has to learn how to control and discipline one's wild, fickle mind, i.e. through the practice of samadhi . An enlightened person lives such a life with a controlled mind and teaches others how to control the mind.
To live a moral life, it is also essential to keep the mind pure, eradicating all the unwholesome mental defilements like craving, clinging, aversion, hatred, ill-will, animosity, delusions, illusions, etc. This eradication can only be completely done by developing insight, i.e panna (prajna). One can then fill the purified mind with wholesome vibrations of compassionate love and goodwill for all beings, i.e. metta . An enlightened person himself lives a life of pure mind, full of infinite love and compassion and teaches others Vipassana to develop these mental qualities
An enlightened person will be concerned only with observing the above three practical aspects of Dhamma and will totally avoid argumentative quarrels and debates based on this or that philosophical blind belief
Sakyamuni Gotama was such an enlightened person, a sammasambuddha Like any other enlightened person, he taught Sila, samadhi, panna - by practising which he himself became enlightened
There are no sectarian boundaries involved in the practice of sila (morality) which can and should be practised by everyone. It cannot be a monopoly of any particular sect. It is universal.
To become perfect in sila, samadhi is taught in a non-sectarian way by observing the flow of one's own natural breath, something which is totally universal. This is no monopoly of any particular sect.
The Buddha taught the technique of Vipassana - to purify the mind totally, by breaking its unwholesome habit-pattern at the deepest level. Again the object of meditation is entirely natural and universal. One learns to observe within oneself the ever-changing sensations on the body, the reality of mind-matter interactions, with equanimity. Through regular practice of Vipassana one understands, by direct experience, how defilements arise at the root level of the mind and multiply, how that process can be stopped and how the foundations for the arising of future defilements can be demolished
So Vipassana involves making an analytical study of the mind-matter phenomenon and purifying the mind by breaking its unwholesome habit-pattern. Anyone practising Vipassana can acquire the same beneficial results and develop feelings of pure love and compassion. It is definitely not the monopoly of any particular sect, because the subject of this practice, i.e. the interrelation of mind and body, is based on pure science. Hence it is universal.
The quintessence of Buddha's teaching is nothing except developing sila, samadhi and panna through practising Vipassana. The teaching is totally non-sectarian. To practise Vipassana it is not necessary to get oneself converted from one organized religion to another organized religion. The Buddha's original teaching is not a religion as the word is conventionally understood.
The Buddha taught Dhamma - a moral, whole some way of life which is universal, and can be practised by anyone in any particular sect. He did not teach 'Buddhism', and was not interested in making any one a Buddhist'. He taught Dhamma and made people dhammiko (dharmika) dhammattho (dharmistha). Going through the entire original teachings of the Buddha along with its commentaries - in 146 volumes, 52,602 pages and 7,448,248 words - the words 'Buddhism' or 'Buddhist' (Bauddha) are not found any where. Even during the early Asokan period, i.e, three centuries after Buddha, such words have never been used. Emperor Asoka had himself practised Dhamma and inspired others to practise only Dhamma. This fact is established in his rock edicts and pillars.
People started using these words like 'Bauddha', 'Bauddha Dharma', or 'Bauddha Darsan' many centuries after Buddha when his original, universal teaching in the form of Vipassana and the entire related literature was lost. These terms have unfortunately created a misunderstanding that the universal Dhamma as taught by the Buddha is also like one of the many sectarian organized religions
Although it was lost in the country of its origin, fortunately, some in the neighbouring country of Myanmar both preserved and maintained the Buddha's teaching of Vipassana in its original, pristine purity. This pure teaching was brought back to India in 1969 After a gap of nearly two millennia, Vipassana, the priceless jewel of Dhamma was returned to the land of its birth.
Since its reappearance in the country of its origin, Vipassana has spread far and wide. It has abundantly proved its efficacy as a result-oriented, non-sectarian teaching acceptable to all religious communities. Large numbers of people in over 90 countries are taking advantage of this scientific practice of mental purification.
Just as the exercise of Yoga i.e. pranayama and asanas is universally practised for sound physical health without converting oneself to any particular religion, similarly Vipassana is also practised by all for sound mental health at the deepest level, without converting oneself to any particular religion.
Large numbers of high government officials and corporate executives are taking advantage of Vipassana to get progressively relieved from stress and to increase their efficiency and productivity.
Thousands of prisoners are practising Vipassana, transforming their mental attitudes completely and benefiting from the resultant peace and harmony in their lives. Large numbers of school and college students are taking full advantage of this technique to increase their faculties of memory and understanding whilst developing self-esteem, self-confidence and humane qualities like tolerance, good-will, etc. at an early age. Many undertake Vipassana to easily come out of addictions like smoking tobacco, consuming alcohol and also drugs. Some rehabilitation centres for drug addicts in countries of the developed world like Australia and Switzerland have adopted Vipassana in their programmes with encouraging results
With this background in mind, the purpose of building a Vipassana Pagoda is as follows:
May this clear and correct understanding of the rationale behind the construction of the Vipassana Pagoda be well understood by one and all.
May the Truth triumph and may more and more suffering people come out of the mental agony by the practice of Vipassana, the invaluable ancient cultural heritage of India for the good of many, for the benefit of many.
Bahujana hitaya, Bahujana sukhaya
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