One of more than 160 centers worldwide where the technique of Vipassana meditation is taught and practiced, Dhamma Visuddhi is situated on 15 acres of forested property on the bluffs overlooking the Red Cedar river and the town of Menomonie, Wisconsin. The site is within the city limits, and yet very quiet and secluded. Dhamma Visuddhi, a name that means ‘Purity of Dhamma’, is a little more than one hour east of the Minneapolis/ Saint Paul airport in a traditional dairy farming area of western Wisconsin, and is easily reached by regularly scheduled public transportation.
Vipassana is an ancient technique of India, as old as 2500 years and it means to see things as they really are.
It aims at the total eradication of mental impurities, resulting into the highest happiness of full liberation. Its main purpose is healing, not merely the curing of diseases, but the essential healing of human suffering.
Vipassana is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. Its focus is on the deep interconnection between mind and body, that can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body. They also continuously interconnect and condition the life of the mind. The mental impurity can thus be dissolved through this observation based, self-explanatory journey to the common root of mind and body, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion.
The scientific laws that operate one’s thoughts, feelings, judgements and sensations become clear. The nature of how one grows or regresses, how one produces suffering or frees oneself from suffering is understood through direct experience. Increased awareness, non-delusion, self-control and peace characterize life.
What Vipassana is not:
- It is not a rite or ritual based on blind faith.
- It is neither an intellectual nor a philosophical entertainment.
- It is not a rest cure, a holiday, or an opportunity for socializing.
- It is not an escape from the trials and tribulations of everyday life.
What Vipassana is:
- It is a technique that will eradicate suffering.
- It is a method of mental purification, which allows one to face life’s tensions and problems in a calm, balanced way.
- It is an art of living that one can use to make positive contributions to society.
It aims at the highest spiritual goals of total liberation and full enlightenment. Its purpose is not to cure physical disease. However, many psychosomatic diseases are eradicated as a by-product of mental purification. In fact, Vipassana eliminates the three causes of all unhappiness: craving, aversion and ignorance.
Several Dorm Style accommodation is available in the campus for students. There are separate rooms for men and women all with shared rooms and some with bunk beds. Per course upto 45 students can seek accommodation at the centre.
The mansion is the visual centerpiece of the campus. It was built in the 19th Century. It houses the kitchen and dining halls along with some student accommodations.
The Meditation Hall
Originally built as a conference center, this structure functions efficiently and comfortably as the Meditation Hall complete with separate entrances for men and women.
The technique is taught at ten-day residential courses during which participants follow a prescribed Code of Discipline as mentioned above, learn the basics of the method, and practice sufficiently to experience its beneficial results.
The entire practice is actually a mental training. Vipassana can be used to develop a healthy mind.
Because it has been found genuinely helpful, great emphasis is put on preserving the technique in its original, authentic form. It is not taught commercially, but instead is offered freely. There are no charges for the courses – not even to cover the cost of food and accommodation. All expenses are met by donations from people who, having completed a course and experienced the benefits of Vipassana, wish to give others the opportunity to benefit from it also.
Ten days is certainly a very short time to penetrate in the deepest levels of the unconscious mind and learn how to eradicate the complexes lying there. Continuity of the practice in seclusion is the secret of this technique’s success. Rules and regulations have been developed keeping this practical aspect in mind. These rules are based on the practical experience of thousands of meditators over the years and are both scientific and rational. Abiding by the rules creates a very conducive atmosphere for meditation; breaking them pollutes it.
A student once entered will have to stay for the entire period of the course. The other rules should also be carefully read and considered. Only those who feel that they can honestly and scrupulously follow the discipline should apply for admission. A prospective student should also understand that it would be both disadvantageous and inadvisable to leave without finishing the course upon finding the discipline too difficult. Likewise, it would be most unfortunate if, in spite of repeated reminders, a student does not follow the rules and has to be asked to leave.
Course size varies ranging from 20 to 45 students.
For information on course schedule visit https://www.dhamma.org/en-US/schedules/schvisuddhi
THE COURSE TIMETABLE
The following timetable for the course has been designed to maintain the continuity of practice. For best results students are advised to follow it as closely as possible.
|4:00 am||Morning wake-up bell|
|4:30-6:30 am||Meditate in the hall or in your room|
|6:30-8:00 am||Breakfast break|
|8:00-9:00 am||Group meditation in the hall|
|9:00-11:00 am||Meditate in the hall or in your room according to the teacher’s instructions|
|11:00-12:00 noon||Lunch break|
|12noon-1:00 pm||Rest and interviews with the teacher|
|1:00-2:30 pm||Meditate in the hall or in your room|
|2:30-3:30 pm||Group meditation in the hall|
|3:30-5:00 pm||Meditate in the hall or in your own room according to the teacher’s instructions|
|5:00-6:00 pm||Tea break|
|6:00-7:00 pm||Group meditation in the hall|
|7:00-8:15 pm||Teacher’s Discourse in the hall|
|8:15-9:00 pm||Group meditation in the hall|
|9:00-9:30 pm||Question time in the hall|
|9:30 pm||Retire to your own room–Lights out|
According to the tradition of pure Vipassana, courses are run solely on a donation basis. Donations are accepted only from those who have completed at least one ten-day course with S.N. Goenka or one of his assisting teachers. Someone taking the course for the first time may give a donation on the last day of the course or any time thereafter.
The Code of Discipline
The foundation of the practice is sīla — moral conduct. Sīla provides a basis for the development of samādhi — concentration of mind; and purification of the mind is achieved through paññā — the wisdom of insight.
All who attend a Vipassana course must conscientiously undertake the following five precepts for the duration of the course:
- to abstain from killing any being;
- to abstain from stealing;
- to abstain from all sexual activity;
- to abstain from telling lies;
- to abstain from all intoxicants.
There are three additional precepts which old students (that is, those who have completed a course with S.N. Goenka or one of his assistant teachers) are expected to follow during the course:
- to abstain from eating after midday;
- to abstain from sensual entertainment and bodily decorations;
- to abstain from using high or luxurious beds.
Old students will observe the sixth precept by having tea without milk or fruit juice at the 5 p.m. break, whereas new student may have tea with milk and some fruit. The teacher may excuse an old student from observing this precept for health reasons. All the old students will observe the seventh and eighth precept.
Acceptance of the Teacher and the Technique
Students must declare themselves willing to comply fully. The students must observe discipline and meditate exactly as the teacher asks, without ignoring or adding any part of the instruction. This acceptance should be one of discrimination and understanding, not blind submission. Only with an attitude of trust can a student work diligently and thoroughly. Such confidence in the teacher and the technique is essential for success in meditation.
Other Techniques, Rites, and Forms of Worship
During the course it is absolutely essential that all forms of prayer, worship, or religious ceremony — fasting, burning incense, counting beads, reciting mantras, singing and dancing, etc. — be discontinued. All other meditation techniques and healing or spiritual practices should also be suspended. This is not to condemn any other technique or practice, but to give a fair trial to the technique of Vipassana in its purity.
Interviews With the Teacher
The teacher is available to meet students privately between 12 Noon and 1:00 p.m. Questions may also be asked in public between 9:00 and 9:30 p.m. in the meditation hall. The interview and question times are for clarifying the technique and for questions arising from the evening discourses.
All students must observe Noble Silence from the beginning of the course until the morning of the last full day. Noble Silence means silence of body, speech, and mind. No form of communication with fellow student, whether by gestures, sign language, written notes, etc., should be done.
Students may, however, speak with the teacher whenever necessary and they may approach the management with any problems related to food, accommodation, health, etc. But even these contacts should be kept to a minimum. Students should cultivate the feeling that they are working in isolation.
Separation of Men and Women
Complete segregation of men and women is to be maintained. Couples married or otherwise should not contact each other in any way during the course. The same applies to friends, members of the same family, etc.
It is important that throughout the course there be no physical contact whatsoever between persons of the same or opposite sex.
Yoga and Physical Exercise
Although physical yoga and other exercises are compatible with Vipassana, they should be suspended during the course because proper secluded facilities are not available at the course site. Jogging is also not permitted. Students may exercise during rest periods by walking in the designated areas.