A SPECIAL LETTER TO OLD STUDENTS
By: S.N Gonekaji
I am really grateful to each and every student who has come to me, thereby giving me an opportunity to serve them in the Dhamma. Each student has helped me to develop my own Paramis and to achieve my aim of paying back the debt of gratitude I owe to my teacher, Sayagyi U Ba Khin.
Every student when he comes to me to take a course is requested to surrender himself completely to the Teacher and Vipassana technique taught at the course to enable him to work exclusively on this technique only. This is to ensure that the student gives a fair trial to the meditation. But this is ONLY for the period of the course.
Having given a trial to the technique once or more than once, if someone has found another technique and another teacher in some other tradition more suitable to his constitution, mental of physical, then it is certainly advisable for him or her to take up that new technique. Buddha gave a number of kammathanas (mediation techniques) to different people according to their temperament and ability to understand. All these were meant to bring the student to the stage of total purification of the mind and to eradicate every little trace, every little stain of defilement. Ultimately this purification would allow the student to experience the Nibbanic stage.
During the last twenty-five centuries many of these techniques have been lost to posterity. But some are maintained even today by different schools claiming direct descent.
I am fortunate that I have come into contact with the tradition whose last luminous link was Sayagyi U Ba Khin, of the International Meditation Centre, Rangoon. After having nurtured me in Dhamma for 14 years he found me fit to be authorised to teach in this tradition. Some others were also similarly authorised to teach by him.
I am only capable to teach this technique which I have received from this traditional school and which has helped me immensely. Therefore I don’t feel qualified to say anything about any other technique. But from my personal experience and the experience of many other students, I am sure that the best benefit one can achieve by this or any other technique is to practice it exclusively in its pristine purity.
To those students who have found some other technique more beneficial to them, I would assure them that all my metta and good wishes are with them. I would them to stick to the new technique they have found more suitable and by practicing it strive on until they reach their goal.
But certainly I know there are many students who have the technique of Vipassana as taught by the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin quite satisfying and adequate for them without mixing anything else. To them also I will give the same advice to stick to this Path and march on to the final Goal.
The mixing of different techniques and running from one tradition or school to another will not benefit anybody. The old proverb says “A rolling stone gathers no moss.” And I have been frequently emphasizing to my students that a man who keeps digging only shallow wells, even for his whole life only be engaged in a futile exercise. How can he drink the water? The correct way to practice is to choose any one technique and go to the source of the water.
Take any route. You can actually go from New Delhi to New York by travelling either eastwards or westwards, but simply by taking ten steps to the east and then ten steps to the west will certainly not get you to New York.
Now I am finding that some of the students have ignorantly got themselves involved in this game of shuttling backwards and forwards. Some have fallen into the trap of calling themselves “Free Lance” thereby feeling happy in their exhibition of so-called “Magnanimity.” Unless your path has been chosen with open eyes and a full understanding of what is involved, the only result will be that you will run around in circles getting nowhere.
In view of this it is my duty and responsibility to issue a warning to those students not to involve themselves any further in these mistakes. In fact it is the real interests of the students themselves which has me to take a new and important decision.
It has now been decided that REPEATED SERIOUS COURSES in the tradition will be restricted. Only those students who have made up their minds finally that the Sayagyi U Ba Khin tradition is the only one suitable to them will be admitted again on these repeated serious short courses. These Students will have ended their search for a suitable Path and Teacher and because of this decision they will now be in a position to work with all dedication and diligence for the final liberation.
Source: Vipassana Newsletter Vol 3 – 1976: No. 2 – April.