Notable Living Contemporary Teachers

Place of Birth
Mandalay, Myanmar, Burma

Foundation of Teaching
Peace, Love, Compassion, Presence, Vipassana  Meditation, Dharma

Example of Teaching
“When one experiences truth, the madness of finding fault with others disappears.”

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Satya Narayan Goenka

Mr. Satya Narayan Goenka (29 January 1924 – 29 September 2013) was the Principal Teacher of Vipassana, the practical quintessence of the Buddha’s teaching. A leading industrialist in Myanmar (Burma) after the Second World War, Goenkaji, as he is affectionately known outside India, is proof that the mental exercise of meditation is necessary for a wholesome and beneficial life. Known for his humility, deep compassion, unperturbed composure, Mr. Goenka’s emphasis on the self-dependant, non-sectarian and result oriented nature of Vipassana found appeal in a world searching for a practical path out of stress and suffering.

As an indicator of the increasing universal acceptance of the Buddha’s scientific teachings, Mr. Goenka was invited to lecture by institutions as diverse as the United Nations General Assembly, members of the Indian Parliament, Harvard Business Club, Dharma Drum Mountain Monastery (of Ven. Sheng Yen) in Taiwan, the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the Smithsonian Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Silicon Valley Indian Professionals Association.

Mr. Goenka’s success in service came from being an inspiring example and an ideal, and of practicing what he asks his students to practice. “Develop purity in yourself if you wish to encourage others to follow the path of purity,” he told an annual meeting in Dhamma Giri, Igatpuri, on March I, 1989. “Discover real peace and harmony within yourself, and naturally this will overflow to benefit others.”

Mr. Goenka was a tireless worker. In 2002, at the age of 78, he undertook a remarkable Dhamma tour of the West. Accompanied by his wife Illaichidevi Goenka, a few senior teachers and students, he traveled for 128 days through Europe and North America, joyfully sharing the priceless gift of Vipassana. The second leg of the tour was a 13,000-mile road journey in a motor caravan through the United States and Canada.

A prolific writer and poet, Mr. Goenka wrote in English, Hindi and Rajasthani. Quoting the Buddha’s words, he said: “Those who have a strong feeling of gratitude, and a wish to serve others without expecting anything, are very rare people.” With his over 50 years of dedicated Dhamma service, Mr. Goenka belongs to that very rare category.

Throughout his life, Goenka trained about 1300 assistant teachers to conduct courses using his recordings, and about 120,000 people attend them each year. Upon Goenka’s death, Jack Kornfield, noted American author on Buddhism wrote, “In every generation, there are a few visionary and profound masters who hold high the lamp of the Dharma to illuminate the world. Like the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh, S.N. Goenka was one of the great world masters of our time. [He] was an inspiration and teacher for Joseph Goldstein and Sharon Salzberg, Ram Dass, Daniel Goleman, and many other western spiritual leaders.”

Mr. Satya Narayan Goenka died at his home in Mumbai in 2013. He was 89 years old.

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Quotes

  1. “The only conversion involved in Vipassana is from misery to happiness, from bondage to liberation.”
  2. “Grasping at things can only yield one of two results: Either the thing you are grasping at disappears, or you yourself disappear.  It is only a matter of which occurs first.”
  3. “Peace and negativity cannot coexist just as light and darkness cannot coexist.”
  4. “The whole point of Vipassana is to decondition the mind so that one can live a happy life. A life full of love, compassion and good will for all.”
  5. “Removing old conditionings from the mind and training the mind to be more equaimous with every experience is the first step toward enabling one to experience true happiness.”
  6. “Work diligently. Diligently. Work patiently and persistently. Patiently and persistently. And you’re bound to be successful. Bound to be successful.”
  7. “Our suffering stems from ignorance. We react because we do not know what we are doing, because we do not know the reality of ourselves.”
  8. “For real happiness, for real lasting stable happiness, one has to make a journey deep within oneself and see that one gets rid of all the unhappiness and misery stored in the deeper levels of the mind.”
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