Global Vipassana Foundation
Subhash Chandra is the Senior Trustee of the Global Vipassana Foundation in his capacity as a Vipassana meditator. Having completed the Vipassana course in the 1990s (around 1994), he was impelled to spread the philosophy of mental purification through self-observation.
Developments in the fields of science, technology, communication, transport, agriculture and medicine have revolutionized human life at the material level. But this progress is only superficial. Beneath this progress, people are living lives of high mental and emotional stress, even in the most developed and affluent societies. The problems and conflicts arising out of racial, ethnic, sectarian and caste prejudices, poverty, warfare, disease, terrorism, environmental devastation and the general decline of moral values have cast a dark shadow on the future of civilization.
The Vipassana Foundation propagates the Vipassana technique of meditation that was rediscovered 2500 years ago by Gautama the Buddha. Over centuries, the technique spread to the neighboring countries of Burma, Sri Lanka, Thailand and others. However, the noble heritage disappeared from India. Vipassana was reintroduced to India by Shri S N Goenka, who has been conducting Vipassana courses since 1969.
The Vipassana movement now operates in over 90 countries through more than 150 Vipassana centres. The centres conduct ten-day courses as well as train people to be assistant teachers to spread the Vipassana legacy across the globe.
Vipassana can be accepted and applied by people from any background. Vipassana courses are open to anyone wanting to learn the technique, irrespective of race, caste, faith and nationality. The technique works on the principle that all human beings share the same problems; when the malady is universal, the remedy has to be universal.
The Global Vipassana Foundation is a non-commercial organization. All courses, throughout the world, are run solely on freely-offered donations. No fee is charged. The courses are financed totally by donations from students who have completed a prior course and wish to share the benefits they received by giving donations for students who come after them. Neither the teacher nor the assistant teachers receive remuneration and volunteer their time and service. This practice is consistent with the pure tradition whereby the teaching is to be offered free.
The Foundation has conducted courses in prisons and for senior police officers in Rajasthan and Gujarat. A course was also conducted for the 1,000 inmates of Tihar Jail, where Vipassana was adopted as a prison reform technique. A large number of government officers and corporate executives are increasingly adopting Vipassana as a stress buster and to increase their efficiency and productivity. Thousands of prisoners are practicing Vipassana, transforming their mental attitudes and benefiting from the resultant peace and harmony in their lives. School and college students are taking full advantage of this technique to increase their faculties of memory and understanding whilst developing self-esteem, self-confidence and humane qualities like tolerance and good-will. Vipassana is also known to help in the rehabilitation of tobacco, alcohol and drug addiction. Some rehabilitation centres for drug addicts in Australia and Switzerland have adopted Vipassana in their programmes with encouraging results.
The Global Vipassana Pagoda
With increasing number of people taking to Vipassana, the Global Vipassana Foundation has built a Global Vipassana Pagoda near EsselWorld in Mumbai. The monument in stone is an expression of gratitude and sharing of benefits of Vipassana as well as serving a practical function of enabling thousands of students of Vipassana to meditate together, under the enshrined corporeal relics of the Buddha.
The Global Pagoda is being built on nearly 11 acres of land (worth around Rs 25 crores), donated by Subhash Chandra. The massive dome of the Pagoda encloses a meditation hall, which is 90 feet high and 280 feet in diameter, where 8,000 people can meditate together. The Pagoda is built using interlocking stones instead of cement, concrete or metal and is unsupported by any pillar. This is the largest pillarless dome to be built in stone in the world.
Two small pagodas are located on either side of the main pagoda. The Global Pagoda also has an art gallery depicting the life of Buddha and his teachings. The Pagoda is surrounded by examples of Burmese architecture, including a 21 feet high monolithic marble statue of the Buddha weighing 60 tons, and a 13-ton 8 foot high brass bell, both donated by the people of Myanmar.
The Pagoda's main aim is to provide information about Vipassana in all major Indian and South Asian languages as well as international languages. While adding fresh life and vitality to the teachings of the Buddha, this monument will also be a destination for spiritual tourism.