Code of Decipline
The foundation of the practice is sīla — moral conduct. Sīla provides a basis for the development of samādhi — concentration of mind; and purification of the
mind is achieved through paññā — the wisdom of insight.
All who attend a Vipassana course must conscientiously (carefully) undertake
the following five precepts for the duration of the course:
- to abstain from killing any being;
- to abstain from stealing;
- to abstain from all sexual activity;
- to abstain from telling lies;
- to abstain from all intoxicants.
There are three additional precepts which old students (that is,
those who have completed a course with S.N. Goenka or one of his
assistant teachers) are expected to follow during the course:
- to abstain from eating after midday;
- to abstain from sensual entertainment and bodily decorations
- to abstain from using high or luxurious beds.
Old students will observe the sixth precept by having tea without
milk or lemon waterat 5 p.m. break, whereas new student may
have tea with milk and some fruit. The teacher may excuse an old
student from observing this precept for health reasons. The
seventh and eighth precept will be observed by all.
Acceptance of the Teacher and the Technique
Students must declare themselves willing to comply fully and for
the duration of the course with the teacher's guidance and
instructions; that is, to observe the discipline and to meditate
exactly as the teacher asks, without ignoring any part of the
instructions, nor adding anything to them. This acceptance should
be one of discrimination and understanding, not blind submission.
Only with an attitude of trust can a student work diligently and
thoroughly. Such confidence in the teacher and the technique is
essential for success in meditation.
Other Techniques, Rites, and Forms of Worship
During the course it is absolutely essential that all forms of
prayer, worship, or religious ceremony — fasting, burning
incense, counting beads, reciting mantras, singing and dancing,
etc. — be discontinued. All other meditation techniques
and healing or spiritual practices should also be suspended.
This is not to condemn any other technique or practice, but to
give a fair trial to the technique of Vipassana in its purity.
Students are strongly advised that deliberately mixing other
techniques of meditation with Vipassana will impede and even
reverse their progress. Despite repeated warnings by the teacher,
there have been cases in the past where students have intentionally
mixed this technique with a ritual or another practice, and have
done themselves a great disservice. Any doubts or confusion which
may arise should always be clarified by meeting with the teacher.
Interviews With the Teacher
The teacher is available to meet students privately between 12 Noon
and 1:00 p.m. Questions may also be asked in public between 9:00 and
9:30 p.m. in the meditation hall. The interview and question times are
for clarifying the technique and for questions arising from the
All students must observe Noble Silence from the beginning of the
course until the morning of the last full day. Noble Silence means
silence of body, speech, and mind. Any form of communication with
fellow student, whether by gestures, sign language, written notes,
etc., is prohibited.
Students may, however, speak with the teacher whenever necessary
and they may approach the management with any problems related to
food, accommodation, health, etc. But even these contacts should
be kept to a minimum. Students should cultivate the feeling that
they are working in isolation.
Separation of Men and Women
Complete segregation of men and women is to be maintained.
Couples, married or otherwise, should not contact each other in any
way during the course. The same applies to friends, members of the
same family, etc.
It is important that throughout the course there be no physical
contact whatsoever between persons of the same or opposite sex.
Yoga and Physical Exercise
Although physical yoga and other exercises are compatible with
Vipassana, they should be suspended during the course because
proper secluded facilities are not available at the course site.
Jogging is also not permitted. Students may exercise during rest
periods by walking in the designated areas.
Religious Objects, Rosaries, Crystals, Talismans, etc.
No such items should be brought to the course site. If brought
inadvertently they should be deposited with the management for the
duration of the course.
Intoxicants and Drugs
No drugs, alcohol, or other intoxicants should be brought to the
site; this also applies to tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and all
other sedatives. Those taking medicines or drugs on a doctor's
prescription should notify the teacher.
For the health and comfort of all students, smoking, chewing
tobacco, and taking snuff are not permitted at the course.
It is not possible to satisfy the special food preferences and
requirements of all the meditators. Students are therefore kindly
requested to make do with the simple vegetarian meals provided.
The course management endeavors to prepare a balanced, wholesome
menu suitable for meditation. If any students have been prescribed
a special diet because of ill-health, they should inform the
management at the time of application. Fasting is not permitted.
Dress should be simple, modest, and comfortable. Tight,
transparent, revealing, or otherwise striking clothing (such as
shorts, short skirts, tights and leggings, sleeveless or skimpy
tops) should not be worn. Sunbathing and partial nudity are not
permitted. This is important in order to minimize distraction to
Laundry and Bathing
No washing machines or dryers are available, so students should
bring sufficient clothing. Small items can be hand-washed.
Bathing and laundry may be done only in the break periods and not
during meditation hours.
Students must remain within the course boundaries throughout the
course. They may leave only with the specific consent of the
teacher. No outside communications is allowed before the course
ends. This includes letters, phone calls and visitors. Cell
phones, pagers, and other electronic devices must be deposited
with the management until the course ends. In case of an
emergency, a friend or relative may contact the management.
Music, Reading and Writing
The playing of musical instruments, radios, etc. is not permitted.
No reading or writing materials should be brought to the course.
Students should not distract themselves by taking notes. The
restriction on reading and writing is to emphasize the strictly
practical nature of this meditation.
Tape Recorders and Cameras
These may not be used except with the express permission of the
According to the tradition of pure Vipassana, courses are run
solely on a donation basis. Donations are accepted only from
those who have completed at least one ten-day course
with S.N. Goenka or one of his assisting teachers. Someone taking
the course for the first time may give a donation on the last day of
the course or any time thereafter.
In this way course are supported by those who have realized for
themselves the benefits of the practice. Wishing to share these
benefits with others, one gives a donation according to one's means
and volition. Such donations are the only source of funding for course
in this tradition around the world. There is no wealthy foundation or
individual sponsoring them. Neither the teachers nor the
organizers receive any kind of payment for their service. Thus,
the spread of Vipassana is carried out with purity of purpose, free
from any commercialism.
Whether a donation is large or small, it should be given with the
wish to help others: 'The course I have taken has been paid for
through the generosity of past students; now let me give something
towards the cost of a future course, so that others may also
benefit by this technique.'
To clarify the spirit behind the discipline and rules, they may be
summarized as follows:
Take great care that your actions do not disturb anyone. Take
no notice of distractions caused by others.
It may be that a student cannot understand the practical reasons
for one or several of the above rules. Rather than allow
negativity and doubt to develop, immediate clarification should be
sought from the teacher.
It is only by taking a disciplined approach and by making maximum
effort that a student can fully grasp the practice and benefit from
it. The emphasis during the course is on work.
A golden rule is to meditate as if one were alone, with one's mind
turned inward, ignoring any inconveniences and distractions that
one may encounter.
Finally, students should note that their progress in Vipassana
depends solely on their own good qualities and personal development
and on five factors: earnest efforts, confidence, sincerity, health
May the above information help you to obtain maximum benefit from
your meditation course. We are happy to have the opportunity to
serve, and wish you peace and harmony from your experience of
THE COURSE TIMETABLE
The following timetable for the course has been designed to
maintain the continuity of practice. For best results students are
advised to follow it as closely as possible.