The Road to Vipassana has taken me to Dhamma Malaya, Goenka Meditation centre in Gambang, Malaysia. I finally managed to find the time to take a 10 days Vipassana meditation course as taught by S.N. Goenka in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin; I say finally, because I have been thinking about participating in one of Goenka’s silent retreats for some months.
How I got to take the Goenka Vipassana meditation course
My interest and curiosity about Goenka’s teachings began since I have started receiving user feedback from the Vipassana Meditation Timer App I developed, still maintain and saldomely update. The app users, all of whom are Vipassana meditators, were asking to make certain modifications and amendments to the Vipassana Timer App in order to suit a certain Goenka Vipassana meditation that I had never heard of. Being a meditation neard, I quickly jumped in and started a little research; I found some info about Goenka that made me believe I should have looked deeper into the meditation technique and maybe take the course. At the time, I couldn’t take the trip to the nearest centre which was in a neighbouring country, I therefore decided I would have left it to some time in the future and reassured the Vipassana Meditation Timer App users I would have looked into it as soon as I could, obviously counting on the meditators’ patience.
My dedication to languages learning, my passion for technology, travel and a few more social hobbies, give me the opportunity to meet and talk with hundreds of new people per year; I therefore started asking around about Goenka Vipassana Meditation, looking for someone who might have actually taken the course. The first couple of people I found, I gotta be honest, almost put me off the whole thing; they exhibited personality traits that were not in line with the “clear sight”, “seeing thing as they actually are” type of thing; they also seemed to have a very distorted way of looking at reality, being very concerned with the material aspect of life, almost to the point of finding myself questioning their sanity. Those first two people have not put me off my search for truth, I had to look into it further, for myself.
Vipassana Meditation Center first approach
Having found the time while traveling in Malaysia, I looked on the main Vipassana website Dhamma.org and spotted the Dhamma Malaya under the Worldwide Directory of Meditation centres. The Dhamma Malaya centre has a website of itself and takes applications online; I filled the application and with great surprise, I got an answer within 2 hours. I was actually not expecting that level of efficiency, having previously taken courses that involved very basic, time consuming, analogical kind of on-boarding. My first thought was that I might have found Vipassana 2.0, the newly updated internet friendly Meditation platform, I liked it immediately. I instantly received a digital welcome pack via email, containing every little detail required in order to reach the Meditation centre as well as what to bring, what NOT to bring and so forth; I really felt well informed and in good hands.
Reaching the Meditation Center
Dhamma Malaya is located in the eastern part of peninsular Malaysia, close to the city of Kuantan. A quick Kuantan local city bus ride took me to the University in Gambang, where a couple of kilometres walk and a friendly car pick-up, completed my journey to the Meditation centre. On arrival, I was immediately greeted and taken through the registration process, while being reminded one more time about the 10 days stay commitment.
At first, I though it was a little strange that some much emphasis was put on making sure course attends were very well aware about the requirement to stay for the whole 10 days, but then I recalled of other Vipassana courses I took, where we would start as 30 attendees and we will finish in 2-3; getting people to really commit is an interesting idea and I believe it does help to retain students. Also, as I later discovered, the technique is taught in a progressive manner, making almost useless a stay of less than 8-9 days.
Vipassana Meditation simple accommodation and food
I was very pleasantly surprised to find out each meditator would have his/her own room with en-suit bathroom, a real 5 stars treatment :-). Obviously the room is simple and the bed is bare bones as Vipassana Meditation requires, but overall this was the very best accommodation I have ever been given at a meditation centre, not to really complain about the previous ones, of course.
As soon as the registration process was completed, the whole 100 participants were served a light and very tasty meal which made me thing it might have been difficult to be equanimous towards it, if every meal would have been that delicious. Every meal has been great!
Well, I stop right here with the blog post, as I want to learn if the subject is interesting enough for readers to want more. Please leave some comments and questions below, I will be very happy to answer to the best of my knowledge. I wish you all a life of joy free from suffering.