October 2023 Update

posted in: 2023 0

Greetings from Dhamma Patapa

2023 Annual Old Student Meeting

The Annual Old Student Meeting (AOSM) will be held November 3-5, 2023, at Dhamma Patapa.

The theme for this year’s meeting is “Walking the Noble Eightfold Path Together”. 

For those who may not be familiar with Dhamma Patapa’s Annual Old Student Meetings, they are an inspiring and fun opportunity to gather with other old students in a more informal setting to build friendships and community. A talk will be given this year by teachers and assistant teachers based upon the Noble Eightfold Path. This will be followed by small group discussions. The theme of the meeting is intended to be helpful to both newer and more experienced students alike.  To gain more insight into the schedule and activities, you may access the meeting agenda here .

We sincerely hope you’ll join us for the camaraderie, delicious food, group sittings, and insightful discussions.

You may apply on the regular course schedule and apply page here.

The Last Roti

It was day 4, Vipassana Day. The servers were bustling around the kitchen preparing lunch. So much delicious food was being cooked to inspire the students to keep practicing.

On this day the stove top was full of pots and pans, including a skillet with Rotis cooking. For those who have not tasted delicious Rotis, they are an Indian bread. Small balls of dough are rolled out flat, and then cooked in the pan one by one. There were 60 students, plus all the servers to cook for. Many, many Rotis were being prepared. One by one.

Finally it was time for the last Roti to be cooked. All the food was set out for the students. A plate of Rotis, stacked high, sat waiting for the last one to be put on top. The cook took the Roti out, placed it on the plate, and suddenly all the flame on the stove went out.

Someone went outside to check the tank. No more gas! Everyone stood looking at each other in amazement. Yes, we ran out of gas, but we had enough to cook all the food, even the last Roti!

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.

https://chat.whatsapp.com/JJNB9rQhppE3xijJwulKQ1

Old Student Discussion- interactive discussions for old students.

https://chat.whatsapp.com/GqNkE3AdXKiF4knuG2MAaL

Dhamma Patapa Servers- interactive discussions for old students who have served a 10-day course.

 https://chat.whatsapp.com/BSryImFejsQ5YFxvDvwT1E

Black Heritage Community- interactive discussions for old students from the Africa diaspora.

https://chat.whatsapp.com/EC5y1Z1a01F53NJRVxEx4w

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. 

You will then be sent a verification code to complete the login process. 

The first screen is for your availability, and if you’d like, you can also add your skills and location. To change the language, select from the drop-down menu to the top right.  

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 manager@patapa.dhamma.org.

Burmese Course at Dhamma Patapa in November

We are fortunate to have two Burmese assistant teachers for the upcoming November course beginning November 22 and ending December 3, 2023

You may apply for the course using this link.

Dhamma Service Periods

The very successful Fall Dhamma service period began on the 24th of September and finished on October 4th. According to the operations team at Dhamma Patapa, “It was wonderful. We are even having a one-day course for those who served. We got a lot done. All the AC units were taken apart and cleaned. This required servers with some mechanical skills. We did planting, and put down walkways outside the new buildings.  Although there is discussion about continuing to build new residences, it’s important to get caught up on all of the maintenance and landscaping. A goal is to build an arbor and more benches. Carpenters, who are available to help, would be welcome. Roadways to get to the new buildings need to be designed, as well as finally removing the old trailer.”

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!

planting pic 1
planting pic 2

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, and more information will be coming soon.

Dhamma Inspiration

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
this email address.

In this edition, an old student shares their serving experience. The essay may also be found in the Pariyatti Journal here.


Nobody told me that serving a Vipassana course could be fun. Or maybe they did, and I didn’t listen. I had faith that it would be fulfilling and deepen my practice but didn’t realize that I could have a good time along the way. So, if you don’t know, or someone told you and you didn’t listen, I’m here to tell you something. Serving a Vipassana course can be fun!

It was a difficult decision for a middle-aged man like me with a full-time job and two young children, to free up twelve days from my family and responsibilities (it really takes twelve days to sit or serve a 10-day course). Even though I was fortunate to have found the time to have sat two 10-day courses, I wasn’t sure when I’d find another twelve-day period again. At first, I told myself that I should just use the time I have to be a student again so that I could deeper my practice. Even after publishing a piece in the Pariyatti Journal titled “Let’s Talk About Mettā and Service” that concluded with a promise that the next course I joined would be as a server, I still had doubts about serving! Couldn’t I just keep working on being a decent, helpful person in the real world, volunteer for charities in the evenings and weekend, and perform other kinds of service? Wouldn’t that be enough? Or possibly even better? Why would I need to serve at a center, away from my family? (To give credit where credit is due, those weren’t all my original questions. My wife asked them to me. But since they were all quite valid, they turned into my own questions.)

When I tried to explain what serving a course entailed to family and friends who have never sat a course, they looked at me with even more surprise than when I told them I was going to sit the first time. This was an impressive feat considering that the first time I sat, they thought I had caught a nasty case of mid-life crisis syndrome that entailed self-torture. “Wow. Pretty much the complete opposite of what I would do with ten days to myself!” a friend texted me.

My idea of what serving a course was going to look like and the actuality of doing so was quite different. In my mind, I thought I would cook, clean and perform other menial tasks in silence, talking only when absolutely essential. It seemed like I was headed toward a solemn experience.

But it was more than that. Our team of dhamma servers worked in the kitchen prepping, cooking, cleaning, and serving food during the day, with breaks to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We also had time to take about ninety minutes of rest, attend three hour-long meditation sessions, and listen to the evening discourse if we so desired. Before calling it a night, the servers practiced mettā meditation, followed by a meeting with the teachers to review how the day went. Two of the servers were course managers, one woman and one man, who helped the students arrive punctually to all mandatory meditation sessions, fulfilled any reasonable need that students might have had, and acted as assistants to the teachers.

I am naturally a loner, so ten days of silence without reading, writing, music, or contact with the outside world was not much of a barrier to me participating on a 10-day course. At my job, I often need to work with others, but I rarely enjoy doing so. Yet, working with my dhamma brothers and sisters felt different. I suppose it doesn’t always turn out this way, but in our case, we quickly formed a cohesive and harmonious team. No one was above anyone else. Nobody was seeking anything in return for their help. There was a sign above the sink that said, “If you see a job, it’s yours” and that’s the way we all operated.

We signed up on our own volition to serve others, so pretension, expectations, and ambition were minimal compared to typical life. That left us a space filled with lots of fun and laughter. We enjoyed working together for a common cause and watching students earnestly attempt self-betterment through dedicated meditation practice. While we vowed to practice noble speech, i.e., strictly dhamma talk or practical talk devoid of lies, gossip, and idle chatter, some of us stuck to it better than others. We shared amusing stories of previous times at dhamma centers, struggles with the practice, and life experiences. We were like staff at a restaurant where our customers paid nothing for the products and services received. We knew they appreciated our work and if they didn’t, well, they couldn’t complain!

Even though I now know that serving can be fun, I also understand that having a good time isn’t the main purpose. I already find plenty of enjoyment outside of dhamma centers with my family, friends, and community, so leaving them simply to have a good time isn’t a good enough reason. There is much more to service than that. Vipassana is an action-based practice. Without the service component, the practice is incomplete. Other than the actual manual work involved, practicing selfless service provides a chance to dissolve the ego, learn Dhamma from experienced teachers, discuss Dhamma with fellow servers, and reinvigorate and deepen practice in the meditation hall.

So, can’t we just volunteer for charities and help those in need outside of dhamma land? Absolutely we can and should. However, serving meditators in a place that minimizes waste, egotism, and commercialism is a service to oneself. It is also a service to the broader community as courses are accessible to every socio-economic level, race, and religion. Within the property walls, we are equals. No one can buy a better room or better food or anything else directly or indirectly. It’s particularly inspiring to be involved with such a unique group, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t an abundance of opportunities in the real world. The equation is simple: if you can help without harming anyone, including yourself, you should do it. We must be able to treat everyone patiently and peacefully, not just those on our particular path, or else our endeavor is far from fulfilled. But it doesn’t hurt to work with a group you have confidence in and have a little fun along the way. In fact, I’m confident that it helps.

If you have never served because you think it might be drudgery or an obligation or a waste of time, I suggest you put those erroneous thoughts aside and give it a try. And if your family and friends are asking tough questions, feel free to use some of my selling points. Ultimately, however, actions speak louder than words. Come back as a better person, keep working, and you won’t have to say a single word.

Children/Teen’s Courses

Children and teenagers ages 8-17 learn the technique of Anapana meditation as taught by S.N. Goenka. Anapana is the observation of the natural breath as it comes in and goes out. Young people who have started practicing this technique often experience better concentration, sharper memory, improved comprehension, and the ability to stay calmer. In short, they gain a practical tool to use in the face of adversity or challenge. The course includes meditation instruction, art and outdoor activities.

For more information, email the course coordinator at childrens-course@patapa.dhamma.org

Each year, Children and Teen’s courses are held at the Center. Here are a few excerpts from participants at the course this past June.

“Ten years ago, my husband and I experienced a heart-wrenching tragedy when we suffered a miscarriage at the end of the second trimester of our first pregnancy. It was a devastating loss, and we were left feeling broken and inconsolable. Little did we know that this very place would become the backdrop of a miraculous journey.
The pain and grief from our miscarriage were almost unbearable. We were grappling with the loss of our first child, and the pain seemed endless. But life has a way of surprising us in the most unexpected moments. It was during my first 10-day retreat at this very miraculous land of Dhamma Pratapa in Jesup, I discovered, that I was expecting once again. I vividly remember that day, the very day when our first baby was supposed to be born. Instead of dwelling in sorrow, we were given a gift that would heal our broken hearts. The revelation that I was pregnant with our son..

But our journey with him was not without its challenges. He arrived 3 months earlier than expected, and our precious boy had to spend his first days in the NICU. The fear and anxiety of those days were overwhelming as we watched over our fragile son, who mostly forgot to breathe. Every day was a battle. It made me think, one of the meanings of this baby’s name is “breathing” and is a Dhamma Pratapa baby – how can he forget to breathe!

Today, as I stand here, ten years later, with my husband and our vibrant, healthy son, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. This place not only gave us the gift of new life but also taught us the profound lesson of resilience and the beauty of the unexpected, when not judged and surrendered!”

“The teen course was a wonderful experience for my 16-year-old daughter. She has been observing my yoga and meditation practices since birth. She was looking forward to attending and learning more about the technique of Vipassana. We talked about her experience on the drive home, and one of the first things she said to me was I want to clear out space in my room for my meditation practice. As a scholar and athlete, she has a robust schedule. She has learned the skill of self-care and understands the importance of a calm mind. Anapana is a tool she can now use in her everyday life.”

“First of all. My daughter loved the course!!  She wants to go for a 7 day. Would love to see that at Jesup!  If not 7 day maybe a 3-day? And a taste of what vipassana is about. With more days we could have fit it in.  The registration process was easy. The meals were well received and easy to whip up! So that was good!”

“Giving thanks for this amazing course offered and carried out by amazing volunteers and the open hearts and minds of some pretty awesome young people!

Community really shined bright as everyone showed up for these young people. With moody weather and an evolving schedule, Dhamma showed up in full effect! This course strategically targeted the most creative and compassionate parts of their minds and spirits. From beginning to end each moment was filled with an opportunity for these young meditators to grow within themselves and their community.

While the personal practice of each meditator may not be the same, the fellowshipping that took place on this beautiful Dhamma land, was simply sweet and inspiring. Bonds were formed and moments were captured with the deepest sincerity.

My 8-year-old nephew and 16-year-old daughter enjoyed every moment spent learning to keep their breath connected to their entire being. With intentional inhales and exhales, they also learned to exert a little more patience when interacting with their environments at large.

If anything were to improve with this course, it would be More Time needed. The courses for both kids and teens should be extended by at least a day or two. This will allow more time for the participants to deepen their individual practices while engaging with their environments.”

2024’s Children and Teen’s courses will be held June 21-22 and June 22-23.

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

About the Children's Anapana app
Check out our new app for kids and teens! It’s all an old student needs to enrich their Anapana experience, explore upcoming children’s courses near them or around the world, and cultivate inspiration for growing their strong minds. With timed meditation sessions, convenient search features for course registration, and informative video content on the technique, the Anapana for Young People app is an excellent resource to encourage and support your child’s practice. Anapana for Young People is available on Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. Visit children.dhamma.org to learn more.

Words of the Buddha

One is the quest for worldly gain,
and quite another is the path to Nibbana.
Clearly understanding this,
let not the monk, the disciple of the Buddha,
be carried away by worldly acclaim,
but develop detachment instead.

Dhammapada 5.75

Resources and Useful Links

 

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 manager@patapa.dhamma.org

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 editor@news.dhamma.org.