First Course

First Course at Dhamma Giri - It was from 27-Oct to 7-Nov-1976, Seventy-six old students attended the historic first course of four days at the Vipassana International Academy to make every particle of the land vibrate in Dhamma. In a very short time the Vipassana International Academy was extensively repaired and all necessary facilities such as lighting, temporary meditation hall, dining tent and bathrooms were installed. Naturally, there were numerous initial difficulties, which were quickly overcome. A tube-well was drilled, but at the last moment, it was found to be dry. Water for the course was brought by tankers. The course, in severe heat, proved to be a gruelling but wonderful experience. Goenkaji meditated almost the whole time in the meditation hall with the meditators. Goenkaji sent special metta to all the creatures living on the land the night the first group metta session was held. He announced that no creature, from now on, need fear for its life on this Dhamma land. No one would kill them or give orders for them to be killed. During the course, Goenkaji carefully checked all sections of the land and selected the site for the first new buildings, which would house a kitchen and a large hall. To make it clear that the Dhamma is a priceless gift, Goenkaji also announced a new arrangement for covering the cost of food and accommodation at the Academy. In future, students would not have to pay for their food and other expenses, but would donate according to their means and volition for the benefit of future students who would follow them at the Academy. In this way, their happiness at receiving the Dhamma will be shared with others, and the wheel of Dhamma will keep rolling for the benefit of all. The intention of this decision is to eliminate any trace of commercialism from Vipassana meditation centres.