Vipassana in society
Through its worldwide spreading during the last decades, Vipassana Meditation has also been applied in various areas of society. We would like to present a small part of these activities in the following text. More information about reports and scientific studies are available on the website of the Vipassana Research Institute. It contains technical literature and additional information about Vipassana as well as a series of publications.
The main reasons for this very successful utilization of Vipassana outside of organised meditation courses are due to the multifarious possibilities of application. The most important causes for the application of Vipassana are:
How Vipassana has been integrated in and benefitting society
- Vipassana offers an easy to learn technique that is applicable in day to day life that helps to foster one's personal autonomy.
- The increase in autonomy leads to a larger capacity to act, and thus, an increase in the ability to create a better future for oneself and to handle unexpected change constructively and to the benefit of everyone.
- Due to the ethical orientation which is taught as a prerequisite for Vipassana practice and which is fostered by the continuous practice of Vipassana, people change in a positive way. It is increasingly easier for them to take up responsibilities in society and to be mindful of beneficial social consequences of their actions. These are important factors that are beneficial to society as a whole, especially in the context of organisations, social rehabilitation or prevention and education.
- In the context of organisations and in social areas that are exposed to permanent pressure (for example management levels in organisations and institutions, police, or penal system) Vipassana allows for decisions made on the basis of a realistic consideration of the actual possibilities of action, and not on blind, unreflected reaction.
- In the area of prevention and education, Vipassana allows that young adults and children are well prepared for their future life. An increased ability to concentrate, growing insight and critical reflection of their own emotions and actions, and resulting from those, an increased self-confidence, prevent people from acting in ways that are in the long term disadvantageous or even harmful for oneself or others.
Areas of application
In the following section areas are discussed where Vipassana is playing or has played an important role and which have been documented.
- As early as in the 60ies of the 20th century, Vipassana was applied by the well-known and esteemed Vipassana teacher and Burmese administration official Sayagyi U Ba Khin in the Burmese General Accounting Office to boost the individual and organisational work process [source: Pierluigi Confalonieri (editor) (1993). The clock of Vipassana has struck. A tribute to the saintly life and legacy of a lay master of Vipassana meditation: Sayagyi U Ba Khin (1899 – 1971). With commentary by S.N. Goenka. Seattle/Washington: Vipassana Research Publications].
In India, especially since the 80ies and 90ies, multiple efforts are taken to spread Vipassana for the good of society. For example there is the education of (high) officials in the police service and in the penal system [source: e.g. Kiran Bedi / India Bedi, Kiran (1998). It's always possible. Transforming one of the largest prisons in the world. New Delhi/ India: Sterling Publishers Limited].
There is a website with information about the application of Vipassana in prisons in order to support the social rehabilitation of prisoners.
In India Vipassana is also applied in business, and employees of certain companies have the chance to develop themselves, supported by their institutions. The organisers expect that participation in Vipassana courses will foster the development of an ethical management style, a better ability to deal with difficult situations and stress, better interaction among the employees, as well as the ability to take responsible decisions autonomously and implement them. For higher level management there are special Vipassana courses.
The application of the technique of Anapana, the awareness of the natural breath, which is an important part and prerequisite of Vipassana and is taught together with the Vipassana technique, has been integrated into everyday school life in many Indian schools for years [source: Vipassana Research Institute, topic "children"]. In 2004 the government of India has announced that Anapana is going to be introduced in Indian schools all over the country. Besides the increase in attention and concentration, it is expected to meet the social task of education and training of coming generations in a particular way. Pupils successfully practice together in the beginning and at the end of a school day to concentrate on their natural breath for 15 minutes. This approach seems to prove very promising. Today Anapana courses from 1 to 3 days specially for children and teenagers are held regularly in Vipassana centres as well as in schools in almost all countries where a Vipassana course has already taken place, for example in Germany and all other countries of western Europe.
In the USA an event was held in 2002 under the name of "spirit in business", receiving good resonance from industrial management [source: Vipassana Public Events Europe].
In the area of psychotherapy Vipassana is recommended for therapists and persons working in the social area, as a means of psychological hygiene and burnout prevention. More information about the area of psychotherapy is available from the Vipassana Research Institute.
In the area of psychotherapy there are, among others, evaluated institutions for addiction therapy, successfully applying Anapana and Vipassana (the latter is offered optionally) as an integral part of their innovative therapy concept [source: Studer, Urban M. (1998). Verlangen, Süchtigkeit und Tiefensystemik. Fallstudie des Suchttherapiezentrums für Drogenabhängige START AGAIN in Zürich zwischen 1992–1998. Bericht ans Bundesamt für Justiz. Zürich/CH: start again].
Vipassana Meditation has been the object of and a part of a variety of international congresses.
The Vipassana Research Institute has conducted different seminars on Vipassana and its potentials in the context of areas that are socially relevant (education, health care, ...) or problematic (penal system, drug addiction, ...). For some of these seminars summaries exist in written form and are available at the Vipassana Research Institute.
- S.N. Goenka was invited to the WEF (World Economic Forum) in Davos in January 2000 as guest speaker.
- S.N. Goenka gave a speech at the United Nations' "World Peace Summit" in August 2000. This is available as text and as video:
- S.N. Goenka's speech
- Video of S.N. Goenka's speech
- further information about public events in europe is available from the Vipassana Public Events Europe page.