December 2019 Update

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December 2019

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 Living in the past is agitating,
living in the future is delusory.
If you live in the present,
you have learnt how to live.

–S.N. Goenka

Check the “Technology Tools” Section for Information about the Mobile App, Discourses, and Virtual Daily Group Sittings

Winter Dhamma Service Period January 8 – 15

Click Here to Apply

The Winter Dhamma service period will begin on the 8th 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!

You’re invited to apply to serve full-time or part-time for the Winter Dhamma Service Period January 8 through January 15.  We hope to see you!

 Progress on Center Expansion

“In an ideal Vipassana center each student would have its own private room and its own meditation cell.”
– S. N. Goenka 
Progress on the second female 8 room residence has been swift after a delay due to rain.  The concrete slab was poured and framing has been completed.  Other accomplishments include: building wrap on the exterior walls, tar paper on the roof, electric rough-in, plumbing rough-in, fascia boards, eaves, soffits and windows, HVAC rough-in, and stucco. As of this writing, installation of the metal roof, insulation, and dry wall are scheduled.

The new driveway has been covered with “wash-out” which is the recycled left-overs washed out of concrete trucks after concrete pours.

The anticipated schedule is to finish in March / April 2020.  

The estimated total cost for the projected building design and driveway is $320,000.  The project began with $80,000 in cash available. The balance will be financed through a line of credit. This way we will only borrow the funds that we need to complete the female 8 residence.  Loan activation will begin after we have used up the $80,000 we had dedicated to the project as cash on hand.

For those  who wish to contribute with Dana, you may visit the website (username: oldstudent; password: behappy) or call the center at 912-588- 9807.  If you would  like to donate construction skills or for any questions, please contact the center at 912-588- 9807.

All construction projects are made possible through the generosity of grateful old students who wish to help the  spread of Vipassana in the Southeast.

Annual Old Student Meeting

This year’s annual old student meeting (AOSM) was once again an opportunity for old students to gather and share friendship, inspiration, and meditation. The theme was “Fifty Years of Gratitude” marking the 50-Year Anniversary of the first Vipassana course Goenkaji taught outside of Burma.

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. The genuine interest in getting to know everyone set the tone for an interactive weekend.

Our Center Teacher, Bruce Stewart, gave a talk entitled “From the Buddha to Us”. The talk delineated the history of the Buddha and how his teachings have been rediscovered, studied and preserved over the centuries – up to the present.  This insightful talk was followed by a panel discussion of past and current center managers sharing their experiences on the path of Dhamma service. 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 explored  topics such as the next fifty years, engaging old students locally, a healthy relationship with discipline, including Metta in daily life, Sutta study, less food waste, considering global warming regarding center construction, 10-day course presentation – to change or not to change.  Open Space gives a  forum for participants to have more of an active role in the AOSM. Later that evening, after the group sitting, there was a 50 year celebration slide show followed by sharing of stories from the early days with Goenkaji.

On Sunday 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 gives old students a vantage point to see how the center operates and all of the service that is given remotely. The trust meeting also highlights ways to get involved serving outside of the center.

This was followed by closing Metta and 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!

2020’s AOSM will be September 25-27.

Openings On the Dhamma Patapa Management and Maintenance Team

Dhamma Patapa is looking for mature, serious, old students who would like to join the management, maintenance, and operations teams. These are unique opportunities to contribute to support the teaching of Vipassana and provide leadership for the Southeast Vipassana Center while developing one’s own practice within a structured and supportive environment.  Ideally, students would have long-term service experience at this or other centers. 

If interested, please inquire with center management at to set up a conversation as a first step as these positions require some time to develop a relationship with 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

In order to strengthen the Vipassana old student community in South Florida, regular quarterly 1-day courses will be held at the Jupiter Civic Center. These courses will be conducted by local assistant teacher(s). The next 1-day courses will be held February 2nd and April 19th 

A 1-day course for old students in the Carolinas will be held in Greensboro, North Carolina, on Sunday, February 16th.  

For more details, please check the non-center courses tab on the Old Student section of the website (username: oldstudent, password: be happy).  These courses will also be listed on the regular course schedule page.

View Non-Center Courses

Words of the Buddha

Abstain from all unwholesome deeds,
perform wholesome ones,
purify your mind –
this is the teaching of the Buddhas.

Dhammapada 14.183

Essay Written By an Old Student

Eat, sleep, meditate. 

For ten days in October, at the South East Vipassana Center, my life revolved around the sound of a gong…

A gong sounds, I open my eyes.   Where am I?

I’m in my room, it’s dark and takes a moment for my eyes to focus.  A simple shared room, it has what I need and nothing more: a bed, a small shelf for my belongings a clothing rack for my clothes.  I’m in my twin bed, curled up underneath a sheet, sleeping bag and blanket.  I am warm and still, this bed has become a refuge for me. Lying down, it’s welcome break from all of the sitting.  It has a white metal frame that makes a lot of noise as I change positions, preparing to sit up.  My roommate, Wendy, begins to stir on the other side of the room as well.  Silently, we put on extra layers of clothing, walk separately down the hallway, open the door and walk outside into the early morning darkness.

A gong sounds, I open my eyes.  Where am I?

I’m in the meditation hall, seated in my assigned place.  Third row back from the teacher, all the way to the left.  My space is next to the aisle that separates the genders:  40 women on the right side and 40 men on the left.  We sit silently for almost 10 hours a day.   We “work the technique”, observe our breath and bodies as instructed.  Even with nearly 90 people in the hall, it’s so quiet, you can hear every sneeze, cough, burp and fart.  If we are meditating after a meal, you hear bodies digesting food.  I sit atop a large square base pillow, two smaller rectangular pillows and a folded blanket.   As the hours and days pass, I’ve learned to keep my hips higher than my knees, it’s the only way to keep my feet from falling asleep.  To stay comfortable, I have two large blankets, one for my lower body and one to wrap around my shoulders.

A gong sounds, I open my eyes.  Where am I?

I am standing, following the line of women, each of us walk separately as we cannot speak. The sand path leads to the dining hall.  The food inside is simple, abundant and delicious. The first few days, I grab a plate and bowl, filling each with grains, plant based protein, vegetables and salad.  As time passes, my appetite adjusts from all the sitting and lack of movement. Now, I take two small bowls:  one for hot food and one for cold.  I sit outside, usually on the small dock overlooking a pond filled with lily pads.  After eating, I head back into the dining hall to leave my dishes and make chamomile or peppermint tea.  As the tea and food warm my body, I feel drowsy, and head to my room.   I rest until I hear the gong, then start again…start again…

For ten days, my life revolved around the sound of a gong.  I loved every minute of it and cannot wait to do it again.

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.

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.)

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!   ‘Group Sittings Near Me’ Feature on Mobile App

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 Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna 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 July 2019 issue of the International Vipassana Newsletter is available online. For your reading in this issue:

Feature Article:  The Flowering of the Dhamma
Goenkaji was unaware of it, but almost from his first course in 1955, Sayagyi U Ba Khin was training him to become a teacher of Vipassana. When the opportunity arose for him to go to India in 1969, Sayagyi realized that here at last was a way for Myanmar to repay its debt for the gift of Dhamma. This was why he told Goenkaji, “I am going with you.” He would be with Goenkaji in spirit throughout the years ahead.

Chronology-The Second Decade
From 1980 to 1989, Goenkaji began training meditators to conduct Vipassana courses as his representatives. He kept on deepening his understanding of the theoretical…

Also on our website:
Chronology-The First Decade
Interview with Rivers Cuomo
How Silent Meditation Helped Me Succeed at Work

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 2019 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.