One of the world’s great men, S N Goenka, died on Sunday September 29th 2013. He changed my life. He changed the lives of countless others.
Vipassana – the ancient meditation technique which he spread across the globe – is no fad or fashion accessory for sandal wearers or men in suits. It’s hard work. Understanding at the subtlest level the workings of mind and body can be nothing else and Goenkaji didn’t pretend otherwise. Continuity of practice, he said, is the secret of success: two hours a day minimum; less is better than nothing, more is better than less.
His approach was based on the methods of the Buddha, but he did not advocate Buddhism or any organised religion. His courses were, and are, completely non-sectarian; for atheists, for Catholic priests, for whoever wants to come. No belief required, no chanting, no ritual: just meditation. He gave you the tools (no charge) and, after that, it was up to you.
He was a quiet messiah who believed that humanity could be saved one person at a time. And salvation would come, not in some speculative hereafter, but in the personal peace of the here and now. As he said when ending all his talks; “May you have peace, real peace, real happiness. May all beings be happy.”
Though I only knew him through the videos by which he taught, I feel his passing.