The Oregon Vipassana Association organizes courses at rented sites in different locations around Oregon. There are one or two 10-day courses per year as well as short 1 to 3-day refresher courses for “Old Students” (those who have already completed the 10-day course as taught by S.N. Goenka).
Courses are also regularly held at the Northwest Vipassana Center in Onalaska, WA located 1.5 hours north of Portland.
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.
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 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|
Cedar Ridge Retreat and Conference Center is located at 18062 Keasey Rd, in Vernonia, Oregon. It is nestled in the Oregon Coast Range on the banks of Rock Creek, about 45 miles west of downtown Portland.
For accommodations, the upper grounds, including the Lodge and House on the hill, offers large and small bedrooms with single and double bunk beds and full bathrooms in the hallways. Lodging at the lower grounds consists of simple but comfortable dorm-style heated cabins with heated bathhouses nearby.
A nice spacious conference hall at the upper grounds serves as a meditation hall.
Mattresses are provided in all of the sleeping areas. Students bring their own bedding supplies including sleeping pillow (not the same as your meditation cushion), sheets and blankets/sleeping bags. Sleeping supplies can be provided to students flying in if they notify the registrar in advance.
Cedar ridge area wildlife includes deer, elk, eagles, great blue herons, fox and coyotes.
Winter temperatures range from possible lows of 25 degrees at night to highs in the 50s during the day with high probability of rain.
For public transportation options from Portland to Cedar Ridge, please see Columbia County Rider and Trimet.
Bar L Ranch
The Bar L Ranch is a beautiful and rustic 20 acre site in the mountains of Camp Sherman, in Central Oregon. The setting of the course is next to a large meadow that is surrounded by Ponderosa pines, Tamarac trees, a lovely creek, and many walking trails.
The ranch is a private residence that is used as a meditation retreat center once a year. It also serves several one-day meditation courses throughout the year. The meditation hall is a yurt, accommodation is individual tenting, the dining hall is an outdoor tent, and showers are outdoors (and private).
Temperatures fluctuate greatly in Central Oregon. On summer nights, sub 30 degree weather is possible and during the day 80 or 90 degree heat is common. Participants must bring their own tents, and warm sleeping bags (0 degree bags are recommended), and should bring plenty of clothing to layer throughout the day and night.
This course is for the more hearty student, as it set in a natural environment, with large temperature fluctuations and which is mostly without indoor accommodations. The Bar L Ranch is a peaceful place to meditate.