December 2018 Update

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December 2018

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If wisdom arises in your mind 
you become humble and modest, 
as a branch laden with fruit 
is sure to bow low. 

–S.N. Goenka

Notes from the Annual Old Student Meeting 

This year’s annual old student meeting (AOSM) had all of the hallmarks of a wholesome gathering of meditators: friendship, inspiration, and of course, meditating. This year’s theme was ‘Every Day Dhamma‘ focusing on the integration of our practice in our terrestrial lives. As most of us are keenly aware, this integration process can be just as challenging and nuanced as our coursework – consequently, we wanted to devote the AOSM to this multiplex endeavor. With this theme in mind, we incorporated feedback from last year’s AOSM and added more Open Space time and unstructured social time. In previous years our AOSM has featured Thai and Indian cuisine, however, this year we had Latin flavors to dine on.

We began the AOSM with a group sitting followed by our traditional icebreaker where pairs of people introduce one another to the rest of the group. Most of us were a little nervous at first, but the hearty laughs and mirthful smiles melted away the tension and set the tone for the rest of the weekend. 

The next morning we had our annual in person trust meeting and briefly touched on the different committees and their respective responsibilities. This part of the AOSM was a more formal yet critical aspect of the meeting because it gave participants a vantage point to see how the center operates and all of the service that is given remotely. The trust meeting also elucidates ways to get involved serving outside of the center. 

After the trust meeting our Center Teacher, Bruce Stewart, gave a talk on his reflection on the Noble Eightfold Path. (Please see article below for a link to a transcript of this talk.) In the afternoon we had an Open Space activity. Open Space is a forum where the participants create and lead discussions that interest them. Participants dove into topics like meditating in nature, communication, relationships and Dhamma, intoxicants, and inspirational sources on the path. We started using Open Space last year, and we find it a potent forum for giving participants more of an active role in the AOSM. Later that evening, after the group sitting, there were DVD extras shown from the Dhamma Brothers documentary and a time for students to socialize over desserts and tea. 

On Sunday morning, there was a panel discussion featuring local ATs and long-term meditators. They reflected on 50 years of Goenkaji’s teaching and opened the floor to questions which was as fruitful as the talk as students actively engaged with the panel with thought-provoking and future-minded questions. This was followed by closing Metta and a delightful tamale lunch. This year’s AOSM was a great success because we strengthened our connections as friends on the path and learned about others joys and hardships on the path which, consequently, inspires us to keep walking. We hope to see you soon!  2019’s AOSM will be November 1-3.

Reflection on the Noble Eightfold Path
in Daily Practice and Life

Excerpt from a transcript of a talk given by Bruce Stewart at the Annual Old Student Meeting at Dhamma Patapa, November 3, 2018 

“A search for the spiritual path is not always born out of bright lights, ecstasy and instant insight, but more likely propelled by life’s hard knocks and challenges and a lingering sense of general dissatisfaction. For often reasons unknown, we can no longer glide along in a life of mediocrity and blind complacency regarding deeper matters of life’s purpose. Of course it is different for all of us, but dissatisfaction is so often the trigger for an earnest search for a spiritual path.

Seeking out a spiritual path can be fraught with confusion, especially in today’s vast “spiritual super market” which offers an abundant array of options. In the beginning we might experiment – a bit like shopping for new clothes. We might try on different styles, colors, etc. before choosing, wearing and eventually discarding the clothing. This often typifies the beginning of the search, and it can certainly be a start in the right direction. 

However window shopping also has its inherent dangers in that it can soon evolve into a mish mash of eclecticism….a colorful blending of spiritual and meditative practices, various beliefs and rituals. This may, of course, give benefit and some solace and many might choose to be satisfied with this approach for the long term. 

But for some, this approach also wears thin, and the search for a more meaningful and deeper path begins. It is at this intersection where the sincere seeker might ask the question regarding a real and lasting solution to the human predicament of perpetual dissatisfaction and suffering. “

To read the entire transcript, click here.

Vietnamese 10-day Course to be held Feb 27 – Mar 10

Instead of a traditional bi-lingual Vietnamese 10-day Course, this course will be for those who are fluent in Vietnamese.  The Assistant Teachers, who have served many bi-lingual courses, feel there is sufficient interest in having a Vietnamese course.  Please share this information with anyone – new or old students – who may be interested.  To apply, please click here.

Winter Dhamma Service Period is January 21-30 

Includes 1-day course on January 27

The winter Dhamma service period begins on the 21st of January. Dhamma Service Periods (DSPs) are an opportunity to give our Vipassana Center some of the extra attention it deserves!  There is always a long list of projects giving old students an opportunity to contribute and serve at Dhamma Patapa. In addition to sitting together three times daily, we also enjoy three meals. The service periods also offer time in the evenings to listen to inspiring talks, watch Dhamma films, and build friendships. Giving Dhamma service is a great opportunity to grow in our own practice by applying it in a working environment. Please join us at Dhamma Patapa for inspiration and growth in your practice. If you do not have time to stay for the entire period, you are welcome to come for just a few days, even an afternoon. All old students are welcome!

On Sunday, January 27th, a 1-day course will be held for those attending the service period or for those old students who are able to just come for the day. You may apply here.

You’re invited to apply to serve full-time or part-time for the Winter Dhamma Service Period  January 21-30.  We hope to see you!


Local Group Sittings

Local group sittings inspire and support both old and newer students who are growing in Dhamma. Goenkaji emphasized that daily sittings play an important role in producing the beneficial effects of Dhamma in our day-to-day life. Local group sittings help provide motivation and support to old students in keeping up with their daily practice.  Please consult the website– (username: oldstudent password: behappy) for up-to-date information, times and locations of group sittings throughout the Southeast.

When you attend these group sittings, you are meditating with fellow students and gaining strength from each other on a regular basis. When meditators practice the same technique, it gives tremendous support and encouragement to all the participants. Although these group sittings are particularly helpful for the old students who find maintaining their daily practice a challenge, they are very helpful for the well established meditators as well.

There are still many cities and towns in the Southeast region without local group sittings. If you would like to host an official group sitting in your area, download the application and guidelines here. Once official, the group sitting information will be posted on the website so more students may attend.

If you are not ready to host an official group sitting, but are interested in connecting with other interested old students in your area – please send an email to with your name, town and email address. We will add you to a confidential database and introduce you via email when new old students enter your region.

If you are interested in helping organize a 1-Day course in your area conducted by an Assistant Teacher, please send an email to with the subject line “1-Day course and your name”.

Also – there is a page on the old student section of the Dhamma Patapa website that lists all of the non-center courses taking place throughout the Southeast region.  Just log in to the old student section of the site (login oldstudent, password behappy) and click on non-center courses.  Here’s a link to that page as well.


Audiobook Review
Children of Silence and Slow Time by Ian McCrorie

This book is a collection of poems written by Vipassana meditator Ian McCrorie. The poems are reflections of the author’s times spent practicing in caves, forests and retreats. The poems humorously share the author’s own experience of worries, fears and doubts, which may arise for every meditator, while gently reminding us that these are all very much a part of this path. He opens our eyes to the beauty that lies in patiently observing this unfolding of good and bad. The poems will leave you smiling and realizing that happiness lies not in achievement of lofty goals of a perfect life but in accepting the imperfections as they are. At times, the poems are spot on in pointing to the experiences I may be going through and reminding me that overcoming that challenge may not necessarily require solving a complicated puzzle but in simply accepting and moving on. At other times, the book is an inspiration and motivation to continue the work on my chosen path without being distracted for too long.   

The book is available on Pariyatti website in different formats – paperback, eBook, free PDF and free audiobook. I’ve found the audiobook, read by the author himself, to be particularly enjoyable and refreshing when I’m stuck in my regular commute, waiting for someone or doing chores. One of the poems taken from the book …

‘During a solitary retreat in Thailand
sitting in the heat, drenched in sweat,
fending off malarial mosquitoes,
a monk opened his eyes at one point and
found a water buffalo staring at him.
He too was standing in the heat, drenched in sweat,
fending off malarial mosquitoes.
The water buffalo, the dumbest of the beasts of burden,
appeared unperturbed by the heat, the sweat and the mosquitoes.
He lacked the discernment to want life to be otherwise
or to desire to make it different.
This buffalo became his inspiration.
The monk aspired to be as content
in the Thai jungle as this beast.
The monk did not wish to know what the buffalo knew.
He wanted to not know what the buffalo did not know.
Aspire to be as wise as that dumb beast,
devoid of preference,
content with no choice,
free from wanting what is not,
and happy with what is.
This is don’t know mind.
This is water buffalo mind.’

Words of the Buddha

The past should not be followed after,
and the future not desired;
what is past is dead and gone,
and the future is yet to come.

Majjhima Nikaya 3.272

Old Students who live within 1-2 hours of Dhamma Patapa

Each year the Center Plan includes the long-term idea of building a strong old student community close to the Center in order to support and sustain Dhamma Patapa for the years to come. The Second Nature Land Cooperative next to the center is growing, however, many old students may not be able to move to the area.

If you are an old student who would like to become more active in the Center’s activities, or if you have ideas for developing and implementing a plan to engage existing old students who live relatively close to the Center, please contact the Inreach/Outreach coordinator at

Service Opportunities

Dhamma service is one of the most valuable experiences for a student of Vipassana. Dhamma service provides a way to apply Vipassana while interacting and working with other meditators. Many old students have found such service also strengthens their meditation practice and provides an opportunity to express their gratitude by helping people without expecting anything in return. 

All courses at Dhamma Patapa require old students to facilitate the smooth running of the courses. Dhamma service can be provided in the following three ways: short-term, sit-and-serve program, and long-term service. (Read on to learn more about the many ways to serve at the center.)

Upcoming Non-center Courses

Old students are welcome to check the website for non-center courses announced by local group sitting hosts. These announcements may be for 1-day courses, children’s courses, or extended group sittings.

Specifically for Central and South Florida area old students: you may subscribe to receive a list of future courses and announcements by sending an email to

For more details, please check the non-center courses tab on the Old Student section of the website (username: oldstudent, password: be happy)

View Non-Center Courses

Short-Notice Server Roster (SNSR)

What it is: The SNSR is comprised of servers in the Southeast region who are willing to be a part of an e-mail list that we will use when we need Dhamma workers.

What it is not: By joining the SNSR you are not committing to serving on short-notice; only to receive the e-mails we send when needing Dhamma workers.

If you are interested in joining the roster, please e-mail with the subject titled ‘Short-Notice Server Roster’

Technology Tools Mobile App

The Mobile App for iOS devices, iPhones and iPads is now available for download at and at the iTunes Store. Note that a download link to the App is also available at the bottom of the front page of the website for the convenience of students. The Mobile App for Android is now available by going to The Mobile App provides information about Vipassana Meditation as taught by S.N. Goenka in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin and makes it easy to discover and apply for courses worldwide. Old Students in this tradition will be able to use this App to support their daily practice and further their lifelong development in Dhamma. General features:

  • Learn more about Vipassana Meditation
  • Find locations near you that offer Vipassana Meditation courses from a complete worldwide listing or map of over 300 locations spread across 80+ countries
  • Locate Vipassana Meditation courses using search criteria such as dates, regions, and instruction languages
  • Apply and register to attend a Vipassana Meditation course

Features for Old Students (accessible by logging in as “oldstudent” and password “behappy”):

  • One hour group sitting recordings in 25+ different languages
  • Play group sitting recordings with an option to log your daily sittings does not collect this data. All logged data is only stored locally on your device.
  • Old Student reference materials to guide your practice including the 10-day discourse summaries.

NEW!  Dhamma Discourses:

A new website has been established  to make discourses available to old students as they continue to grow in Dhamma. The site provides authenticated access to the authorized materials of Goenkaji, while discouraging the use of unauthorized copies on the internet.  Old students in our tradition can access the site using the usual username and password.

During Goenkaji’s lifetime, he allowed old students to distribute discourses in different languages at no charge or minimally charge only for the cost of hard media.  Similarly, this website will enable old students to obtain electronic access to the discourses for the 10-day, 3-day, and Mahasatipahana Sutta courses in all available languages free of charge. 

Free distribution is consistent with Goenkaji’s express and stated goal to support old students in developing their Vipassana Meditation practice. It will also help ensure that the spread of Dhamma continues in the purity that Goenkaji had envisioned and encouraged, and to which he dedicated his life.

Virtual Daily Group Sittings

The virtual group sitting program has been designed to provide motivation and support for old students in keeping up with their daily practice. In this program, you are ‘virtually sitting’ and meditating with fellow students and gaining strength from each other on a daily basis. When many meditators practice the same technique at the same time, it gives tremendous support and encouragement to all the participants. Although this program is particularly helpful for the old students who find maintaining their daily practice a challenge, it is also very helpful for the well established meditators. All old students are welcome to participate in this flexible and user friendly program to strengthen their daily practice. It has been designed to give you the flexibility to join late or leave early without worrying about disturbing the other meditators. These virtual daily group sittings are complementary and not a replacement for the existing weekly and monthly group sittings that are already happening in your communities. If you wish to participate in this program, please click on the following link to register for the Virtual Daily Group Sitting program.  Once we receive your information, all the necessary details about the program will be sent to you including timings of the virtual daily group sittings, various ways of connecting to these daily sittings etc.

Resources and Useful Links

Dhamma Patapa Website
Give Dana/Donation
Center Wish List
Long-Term Server Program
Vipassana International Newsletter
Pariyatti: Audio and Books

Dhamma Patapa Facebook Page 

Follow us on Facebook for updates on Dhamma Patapa:  (Log in to Facebook before clicking icon)

If you would like to contribute to the Dhamma Patapa Update, either with a recent photo of the center or an article idea, please email

International Vipassana Newsletter

The March 2018 issue of the International Vipassana Newsletter is available online. For your reading in this issue:

Feature Article:  Suffering and Real Happiness

What is the impact of experiencing our own ephemeral nature? How does this realization lead to true inner peace? Sayagyi U Ba Khin explains in a lecture given early in his teaching years to a Western audience in Yangon, Myanmar. Extract from What Buddhism Is.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Take a whirlwind trip around the world and find out about what Vipassana meditators were doing in 2017 or have planned for 2018. See our online issue for more.

Worldwide News:
Poland’s Dhamma Pallava Opens for Courses
Dhamma Korea is Growing
La casa del Dhamma, Medellín, Colombia
Nepal’s Dharmashringa Celebrates Buddha Purnima

Also on our website:
Interview with Rivers Cuomo
How Silent Meditation Helped Me Succeed at Work

Grateful Commemoration- Dhamma friends who recently passed away.

To view or download the issue, go to our (username oldstudent, password behappy).

The online International Newsletter site is updated as we have new material to post. Every three to four months, we publish some of that material in a printable PDF issue. Please check regularly for updates, or subscribe to our RSS feed to receive notification automatically whenever we post something. You can also subscribe to receive email notification when a PDF issue is published.

Please also consider contributing material for posting. It could be a news story, photos, your own reminiscences or more. Write to

Copyright 2018 Southeast Vipassana Center, All rights reserved.
Southeast Vipassana Center

476 Rogers Break

Jesup, GA 31546
(912) 588-1033

This notice is sent to old students of Vipassana as taught by S.N. Goenka in the North American Old Student Contact Database. You may also receive occasional messages from centers and newsletters via this database.


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