DHAMMA KUTA
 
  Mowbray
Galaha Road
Hindagala
Peradeniya
Tel: 08-234649

This meditation centre follows the instructions of S.N.Goenka. Regular 10 day courses in Goenkaji’s Vipassana method take place at the centre. Please telephone for dates. Instruction is with the aid of tapes, and assistant teachers are in attendance.

 
Goenka follows the technique introduced by U Ba Khin of Burma. After instruction in Anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing), the meditator moves on to a form of 'sweeping' meditation, whereby mindfulness of the sensations arising and ceasing in the body lead to an understanding of Anicca (impermanence), and through that an understanding of Dukkha and Anatta. Instruction is available in Sinhala and English. No fees are charged, donations welcome. See dhamma.org for more details on this and other Goenka centres worldwide.

The Mind Power
By Hiranthi Fernando
Situated on a lofty hill, against a backdrop of pine trees, the Dhamma Kuta Vipassana Meditation Centre commands a panoramic view. Rolling hills and valleys rise to mountains, fading away as misty peaks in the distance. On a clear day one could see Sri Pada. Foamy cascades of water, terraced fields of paddy and little villages are seen scattered over the green hilly expanse. The whole scene gives an aura of peace and tranquillity. It seems an ideal spot for meditation.

This meditation centre is located at Mowbray Estate, a few kilometres beyond Peradeniya on the Galaha Road. The two kilometre stretch of estate road leading to it is badly deteriorated after the recent rains. The centre consists of several buildings spread over a 13 acre extent. At the highest level, stands a small white stupa, with a Bo plant beside it. A large Meditation Hall has small cells for individual meditation on the lower level. A refractory, blocks of individual Kuti or little rooms and bathrooms, dormitory blocks, teachers' quarters and a small office are spread over the rest of the area.

"One feels good vibrations here, which plays an important part in meditation", says an experienced meditator who has followed several courses. The Dhamma Kuta Meditation Centre is one of the few centres where courses are conducted. Here, Vipassana, the Buddhist Theravada Insight Meditation is conducted in accordance with the tradition kept alive by teachers since the time of the Buddha.

More recently, this form of meditation was popularised by Sayagi U Ba Khin, a prominent lay monk and Burma's first Accountant General. U. Ba Khin who joined this department as a junior clerk rose to be in charge of three government departments. Apparently, he attributed his success to meditation which he firmly believed increases one's capacity to work. This teacher also initiated the first President of the Union of Burma in Vipassana Meditation.

His pupil, Shri S.N. Goenka who follows the technique was responsible for the establishment of the Dhamma Kuta Meditation Centre. Goenka, an Indian businessman, met U. Ba Khin in 1955 while searching for a remedy for severe migraine headaches. Goenka accepted a friend's suggestion to try Vipassana meditation to cure his headaches. However, when he went to U. Ba Khin to join the course, he was told that the purpose of Vipassana was to liberate and not to cure. Hesitant at first, he finally decided to take to meditation. Soon, he was immersed in it and his headaches also disappeared. Goenka moved to India in 1969 and since then, he has been teaching the technique through the Vipassana International Academy which he heads. The Academy now has about 45 centres in India, Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, U.S. and Sri Lanka. Handpicked, trained assistants conduct the courses at these centres using audio and video recordings of Goenka.

The Dhamma Kuta at Peradeniya is administered by a Board of Trustees and a Board of Management. Short courses of three to four days as well as longer ten day courses are conducted. Courses are structured in such a way that it introduces a participant step by step in to the techniques. No charges are levied for the courses, meals or accommodation. The participants often give voluntary donations which are used to pay the expenses of the next batch. The entire construction of the Centre has been achieved due to generous donations received. The centre can accommodate 40 to 50 resident participants for a course.

These courses of meditation require strict self discipline, explained a senior meditator. The principle of Noble Silence is emphasised during these courses. On the first day, participants begin by taking an oath of silence at all times for the nine days. Even communication by gestures is prohibited. If a participant requires any assistance, he could approach the voluntary helpers. During set periods, meditators are allowed to ask questions from the teacher. Writing, reading, radio, TV is all banned during this period. Until the final day of the course all communication with the outside world is cut off. Men and women are segregated. Diet is also important. Meditators partake of a light breakfast, lunch and evening tea. No solids are taken after 6 p.m. experienced meditators refrain from taking solids after 12 noon.

The day begins with a wake-up bell at 4 a.m. and meditation starts at 4.30 a.m. Over ten hours of the day are spent in meditation, which includes about three and a half hours of group meditation. Vipassana is taught in two stages. Beginners first train their mind to become sensitive to physical sensations by concentrating on respiration. Seated in a quiet place with eyes closed, they focus on the breathing. In the second stage, they apply their heightened sensitivity to scanning their entire body. This exercise is compared to turning on a light in a darkened room.

An experienced practitioner of meditation says, "Vipassana meditation takes you to the highest state, the greatest purification of the mind. It brings about self discipline. Feelings of anger and hatred vanish and One’s capacity to work increases. The mind by itself has tremendous powers".
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