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Montana Vipassana Association

Since the 70’s Montanans have been attending Vipassana courses in India and around the world. The first two 10-day courses in Montana were held in the early 90’s. Group meditations and 1-day courses for old students were occasionally organized to help support people in their practice over the years.

S.N. Goenka came to Montana during his 2002 tour of North America, when he gave a public talk at the University of Montana in Missoula to nearly 400 people. This visit coincided with a 1-day course for old students of Vipassana, where Goenkaji gave Vipassana instructions and answered questions about the practice. This trip then inspired old students to organize four more 10-day courses that held annually every summer between the years 2002-2005.

Currently, they are not organizing any 10-day courses in Montana due to the need for a suitable location and insufficient help in organizing a course from old students. With growing interest and the volition from old students to make it happen, 10-day courses will again be offered in Montana in the future.

Children and Teens Courses in Montana

Every year Montanans organize and offer 1-day courses for children and teens ages 8-15, and they are usually offered in the fall. These courses are designed for kids, and they include instruction in Anapana meditation and breaks for art, games, outdoor activities, and meals.

To receive announcements about upcoming children and teens courses fill out the subscription form: Subscribe to Children and Teens Course Announcements

Be sure to select the MONTANA box and any other states of interest to you or others you know.

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For course dates or to apply go to: Montana Vipassana Course Schedule and Applications

Vipassana Meditation

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.

The Tradition

Since the time of Buddha, Vipassana has been handed down, to the present day, by an unbroken chain of teachers. Although Indian by descent, the current teacher in this chain, Mr. S.N. Goenka, was born and raised in Burma (Myanmar). While living there he had the good fortune to learn Vipassana from his teacher, Sayagyi U Ba Khin who was at the time a high Government official. After receiving training from his teacher for fourteen years, Mr. Goenka settled in India and began teaching Vipassana in 1969. Since then he has taught tens of thousands of people of all races and all religions in both the East and West. In 1982 he began to appoint assistant teachers to help him meet the growing demand for Vipassana courses.

Meditation and Self-discipline

The process of self-purification by introspection is certainly never easy. Students arrive at their own realizations through their own efforts only. No one can do this for them. Therefore, the meditation will suit only those willing to work seriously and observe the discipline, which is there for the benefit and protection of the meditators and is an integral part of the meditation practice.

The Code of Discipline

The foundation of the practice is sÄ«la – moral conduct. SÄ«la provides a basis for the development of samādhi – concentration of mind; and purification of the mind is achieved through paññā – the wisdom of insight.

The Precepts

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.

Noble Silence

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.

Physical Contact

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.

Course Finances

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 Course

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.


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




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