Greetings from Dhamma Patapa
2023 Annual Old Student Meeting
The Annual Old Student Meeting (AOSM) held November 3-5 at Dhamma Patapa was a tremendous success with the largest and most diverse group of students in the ten plus years that Dhamma Patapa has been hosting this gathering.
The theme for this year’s meeting was “Walking the Noble Eightfold Path Together” and included insightful discussions both with the larger group and in smaller discussion groups.
2023’s AOSM was no exception in being an inspiring and fun opportunity to meet with other old students in a more informal setting and build friendships and community.
The camaraderie, delicious food, and group sittings was enjoyed by all.
Next year’s AOSM is planned for November 1 -3, 2024.
My Intro to Vipassana
submitted by an old student
A couple of years ago I volunteered at a homeless center with
a Vipassana meditator. I didn’t know what Vipassana was, but I had
dabbled with meditation. When I heard that she would go out into the
woods to meditate, I thought she was crazy. I’m thinking to myself,
“I’m black. There’s no way I’m going out into the woods. Not
without my phone, and certainly not in Southeast Georgia. No way.”
So I just forgot about Vipassana and moved on.
But the more she and I volunteered, the more I noticed how she
always appeared to be calm, patient, and compassionate. See, we
were in the same situation as volunteers, handling the same
responsibilities, and experiencing the same stresses. But I was
noticeably anxious and stressed at that homeless center.
At first I wondered what kind of marijuana was she using! I was a
medical marijuana patient, and I thought marijuana was the only
thing that could calm a person. I asked her how she was able to
stay calm; I wanted to try whatever it was that she was doing. She
reiterated that she was only doing Vipassana. And that’s when I
decided to give Vipassana a proper trial.
Now I’ve just completed my second course. I’ve also completed a
number of one-day courses over the years. I’ve served a handful of
times too. Now I can’t imagine my life without Vipassana, without
Goenka-ji. Can’t imagine it without Dhamma Patapa. Can’t imagine
it without the other meditators I’ve met over the years, too.
Please don’t get me wrong — Vipassana doesn’t work miracles! I
know not to expect Vipassana to impact me in the same way it’s
impacted others. If anything, I’m just trying to make a little
progress on the path.
I don’t think I would’ve ever completed that first 10-day course if
not for my fellow volunteer, and if we weren’t experiencing the exact same stresses at that homeless center at the same time. I hope to one day introduce others to Vipassana the same way she introduced it to
me. That seems like a great way to introduce the uninitiated to
Vipassana and its universal benefits. Or maybe this is likely the best
approach for someone like me.
And just a friendly reminder to sit two times each day! I haven’t
been doing this. Looking back, I can see how avoiding the daily
practice had further ruined some situations for me. I see how I
wasted time coming up with excuses for not sitting. That’s my only
regret when it comes to Vipassana. But I’m glad I still have the
opportunity to start anew.
Always remember — every breath is a new chance to start fresh, to
remain equanimous with the present, as it is.
Peace and joy to all.
Ways to Connect and Serve
Various WhatsApp groups under the Southeast Vipassana Community are offered to help create virtual spaces for friends along the path to connect and stay up to date.
Southeast Vipassana Community Announcements– center announcements and dhamma inspirations.
Old Student Discussion– interactive discussions for old students.
Dhamma Patapa Servers– interactive discussions for old students who have served a 10-day course.
Black Heritage Community– interactive discussions for old students from the Africa diaspora.
En Español – conversación interactivo para estudiantes viejos en español.
Support Dhamma Patapa, both at home and at the Center
Visit this website or click the following code:
Enter the email address or phone number you use to sign up for your courses.
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Thank you for supporting Dhamma Patapa! Together we make it work.
Kitchen Coordinator Needed
Dhamma Patapa has an opening for a full-time position to serve as the kitchen coordinator. Applicants should be old students who have experience serving courses and have experience managing volunteers. This is a great opportunity for someone who would like to grow in Dhamma and serve in a meaningful way. The schedule is for seven-hours per day five days a week and the opportunity to sit ten-day courses throughout the year. Accommodations are provided. If you’re interested and can make at least a six month commitment, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
LGBTQ+ Course planned
for May 8-19, 2024
While people of all sexual orientations and gender identities are welcome in all of our courses; this course aims to accommodate queer, transgender, nonbinary, genderfluid, and gender-non-conforming individuals.
The campuses at all the meditation centers in this tradition are segregated into male and female sides. This extends to the residential housing, the walking areas, the dining rooms, and the meditation hall. Recognizing that members of the LGBTQ+ community may not feel comfortable on either side of the compound, or having to identify as male or female, we plan to modify the traditional housing arrangements.
With that in mind, we ask that you let us know about your sexual orientation and/or gender identity on your application to help us understand and best meet your needs. You may also alert us to any concerns by writing something on the application where we ask, “Anything you wish to add to the above information?” We will contact you and together we will make a plan that works for you. Your private information will only be used for housing arrangements and will be kept confidential.
Course registration will open February 8, 2024. Once the course has opened, you may apply for the course using this link.
Dhamma Service Periods
Dhamma Service Periods (DSPs) are an opportunity to give our Vipassana Centers some of the extra attention they deserve! 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, three meals are also enjoyed. The service periods 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 next Dhamma Service Period which will be the Winter Service Period January 7-17, 2024. We hope to see you!
Photos from the Fall Dhamma Service Period at Dhamma Patapa
Atlanta Dhamma House
An Atlanta Dhamma House is in the works which will be a welcome boon to the large community of old students in the greater Atlanta area. Details are still being worked out. The website is currently live; however, more details are still being added.
Poem from an old student
The Dhamma Patapa Inreach Committee is requesting old students to create original submissions that can include topics such as overcoming obstacles, friends on the path, the value of service, favorite resources, and any other Dhamma inspirations.
Most written submissions will be approximately 500 words in length, but we are open to a variety of forms of expression and willing to assist you with fine tuning. Please send your submissions electronically to
In this edition, an old student shares a poem.
The trouble with the monkey mind,
is swinging from tree to tree,
just when you’ve grabbed ahold of one thought,
you’ve branched off to a new pile of leaves.
Instead of being satisfied,
within the moment of now,
you find yourself on a roller coaster,
living outside of how.
How does one live from place to place,
and be happy where they are?
It takes time to investigate,
to breathe in the here, not far.
But once you’ve stepped up to the plate,
you’ll relax and see the truth,
there’s nothing holding you down in life,
get off that internal loop.
Let go of what you think you need,
and also drop the plight,
appreciate just who you are,
a being made of light.
And not that it’s the answer,
but it sure does make more sense,
forget all of the happenstance,
and bad turn of events.
Once you dig into this state,
and witness where it begins,
there’s nothing you won’t know
except for Love,
which Always Wins.
Thousand Hands of Dhamma:
Atlanta Children’s Course (October 2023)
Usually the most chaotic time of a children’s course is registration, when the check-in table is descended upon by a pack of children, teens, parents, and siblings or friends pleading to attend even though they haven’t applied for the course. This time, however, I found myself noticing with the Course Coordinator how calm and peaceful it all felt. In fact, by the end we were asking ourselves why the entire course went so effortlessly. I wondered whether listening to Goenkaji’s servers’ talk beforehand inspired something deeper within us all.
Location: We hosted the course at a school loaned by long-time old students. We easily converted the large classrooms into a dhamma hall by setting up cushions and a TV above the Dhamma seats. An outside playground and short hiking trail through the woods made a welcome addition to the large activity room where our Jenga champions erected their tallest towers. This time the Activities Coordinator, who served with a broken ankle, and I asked the children if doing some Anapana might help them be more skillful at pulling out the Jenga blocks.
Cushions: A few weeks prior to the course, an old student had volunteered herself and her husband to borrow cushions from another old student, load them into their van, and bring them over to the school. She did this even though her own child was at home sick, which was the only reason she didn’t serve as a group leader like she had done in the past.
Food: Another old student’s savory chana masala and biryani must be held culpable for the most heavy-eyed group of children we’ve had so far. Without being asked, the student came up to me at a 1-day course and said, “I’ll get all the cooking done for your children’s course… I’ll bring it for lunch.” A server also selflessly volunteered to bring breakfast for all the servers because so many of them came as early as 7 a.m. for the optional group-sitting before the course. The mother of a student even brought a vegan pizza for lunch to accommodate those who are dairy-averse.
In all honesty, there certainly were a few moments of doubt and uncertainty— like when only half the boys checked-in but the rest all appeared moments before the first session, or when our Atlanta trust meeting encroached on the time for the servers’ talk. But this slight turbulence quickly subsided as a sense of detached service swept over us and we remembered Goenkaji’s question, “What type of service is it if you don’t have joy?” While listening to several of his talks to decide which one to play for the servers, I recalled Goenkaji saying, “When I first came to India and started conducting courses, a server from Burma came to serve before other old students began serving. I only have two hands. . . but Dhamma has thousands of hands. Every Dhamma server is part and parcel in the giving of Dhamma.”
The Course Managers embodied this teaching. Even as a first-time Course Manager, the female course manager wore the sweetest smile and just made it seem so easy. The male course manager, a very experienced children’s course server, probably contributes along with others to a few hundreds of hands of Dhamma.
Again, remembering Goenkaji’s words on service: “The dana of Dhamma is the highest form of giving,” and the dana of service adds more to our paramis “every moment we are serving.” Everything from the school and the cushions and the food to the Ziplock run that a server made to pack up the leftovers, to the thank you card another server brought for the school, to an assistant teacher leading the morning group-sitting, to the very first teachers who role-played “Swimology” and from whom I copied, to the hundreds of hours of meditation put in by old students in the room where the children now meditated made this course flow effortlessly and with incredible ease . . . the thousand hands of Dhamma!
2024’s Children and Teen’s courses will be held June 21-22 and June 22-23 at Dhamma Patapa.
Dhamma Story Time
Ongoing and hosted by Pariyatti Presents…….
You are welcome to join online each week for live Dhamma stories. During the Dhamma Story Time sessions, volunteers read inspirational excerpts from our catalog. Sessions last for about 30 minutes.
Thursdays at 6am PT / 9am Eastern / 3pm CET / 6.30pm IST
You may click on this link and scroll down the page to find the details on how to join the sessions.
Anapana App for Children
Words of the Buddha
Abstain from all unwholesome deeds,perform wholesome ones, purify your mind – this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
Resources and Useful Links
International Vipassana Newsletter
The April 2022 issue of the International Vipassana Newsletter is available online. For your reading in this issue:
Feature Article: Dawn of a New Millennium In previous issues, we chronicled Goenkaji’s teaching journey decade by decade. From this issue, we will focus on one year at a time, starting with the pivotal year 2000.
First Black Heritage Course in the USA On January 3, 2010, the first worldwide African Heritage Course concluded in India at Dhamma Paṭṭana, the center next to the Global Pagoda. Goenkaji strongly welcomed this initiative because, in his words, “White, black or brown, a human being is a human being.” His wish was for people of every background to experience liberation from suffering. In August 2010, Dhamma Dīpa in the UK held another African Heritage Course.
Also on the website:
Together Though Apart: Vipassana Meditators in Cyberspace
In All the Ten Directions Practicing the Dhamma in a Time of Pestilence
To view or download the issue, go to our website www.news.dhamma.org (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 email@example.com.