Now 38 years old and over 10 years into my Vipassana journey, my wife, Maria, and I have just welcomed Baby William into our family. Long courses and long-term service have helped me mature as a compassionate human being, but they can no longer be my guiding compass. With any thoughts of a monastic life now clearly in the rearview mirror, I’m excited to discover how I can integrate dhamma into my suburban family life in Wilmington, Delaware. With Dhamma Pubbananda just minutes away from my house, I’m hopeful that I can stay connected to my practice and the Goenka tradition, but the path forward for me isn’t clear.
Throughout my life I’ve sought to understand the world and find ways to help. While everyone seems to pass in and out of the pursuit of wealth, power, and fame, the constant fundamental hope I see is to be loved. The problem is that we don’t control whether others choose to hate us or love us. With some Vipassana examination, it’s even questionable whether people have that choice themselves. The amazing power of Vipassana is its ability to teach individuals how to love themselves and others. In a world full of love seekers, this tool has the incredible ability to bring peace and compassion into people’s lives. I’m full of gratitude for all the people who preserved these teachings since the time of the Buddha and distributed these teachings around the modern world.
I’m passionate about bringing meditation into my community. While Vipassana via 10-day courses is unrealistic for most, meditation and morality are accessible to everyone. I’ve been teaching Anapana in my high school science classroom for 5 years. I’ve tried a lot of different strategies, but I’ve settled into starting each class with three minutes of guided meditation, offering optional 10 minute sessions after school, and periodically sharing a lesson on how morality and meditation work to help the mind. The results have been so positive that I started a blog in January called Loving Lives Delaware for students to share their personal experiences.
I struggle with the idea of “purity” in our tradition. Goenka was an amazing teacher who was able to transmit the dhamma around the world, but there are repercussions to believing that he’s the only person who can carry this message. By removing the teacher to pupil connection in our tradition, we remove the interpersonal relationships and elevate Goenka to superhuman. By encouraging students to find their answers exclusively through their practice, we are promoting the idea that meditators should disengage from their relationships and communities. While interpersonal communications are full of imperfections, the shared desire to humbly walk in the direction of truth and love can help both teacher and student evolve in the right direction.
I’m excited to read and share the stories of other Goenka meditators in my generation so I can get out of my silo and join a larger community trying to make the world a better place. In the coming years, we will be the ones asked to carry this tradition forward, and I, for one, have no idea how that’s going to look. While meditation and 10-day courses must be the foundation of our tradition, we need to talk and listen with open hearts and minds as we transition to a generation of meditators who have never met the inspiring Goenka.