Look forward to a New Year with our Meditation Course

December 2018  -  Meditation Newsletter

from Vipassanā Fellowship

"We do not need ever to make decisions; rather we need to discern decisions already made.” - Jan van Ruysbroeck (1293-1381)


Meditation Newsletter

Crested Butte landscape photo by Teddy Kelley


Join our New Year online course


Vipassanā Fellowship's meditation course has been offered online for over 20 years.


The course runs for 10 weeks and our next session begins on January 12th, 2019. It is a great way to explore the joy of a steadily developing meditation practice - and especially as we embark on a new year with all its promise and opportunity. Do join us.


The course is an opportunity to learn to meditate or to refresh and deepen an existing practice. We focus on developing a fruitful and sustainable meditation practice inspired by over 2,500 years of tradition but appropriate for today's lives in many cultural contexts. Many people have found it to be an inspiring and supportive way to begin or refresh a dedicated meditation practice.


The session serves as a practical introduction to samatha (tranquillity or serenity) and vipassanā (insight) techniques. Intended primarily for beginners - of any faith or none - the course is also suitable for experienced meditators who wish to explore different aspects of the tradition. The emphasis is on building a balanced meditation practice that is compatible with home life.


Meditation can be joyful! It is sometimes approached as a heartless, mechanical, activity - a daily chore to be endured at all costs through gritted teeth.This is simply the wrong approach. On this course we take the middle way and integrate what might be called both "heart" and "head" practices directly from the advice given in the Pāli Canon.


The course offers daily material for each of the 10 weeks, interaction between participants and support from the tutor. Participants also have access to audio guided meditations and chants to support the text. The course will be led by UK based meditation teacher Andrew Quernmore, a meditator with more than 35 years' experience.


The course begins on January 12th and ends on March 22nd. Application details and further information is available here:






Each month our Parisā members focus on a particular topic from the tradition. Over the year we cover practical meditation, cultural background and philosophical topics to help nourish our ongoing daily meditation practice. Parisā is a dispersed community of dedicated meditators around the world who have come together through engaging in one of Vipassanā Fellowship's 10 or 12 week meditation courses. If you recently finished one of our courses this is an excellent way to nurture your ongoing practice.




Love and Suffering

by Nikolai Gogol


 I used to think that suffering had no purpose,and that healing was no more than relief of pain. I have now discovered that suffering and healing are the gateway to love. Through suffering I have come to understand the close kinship of human souls with one another.

No sooner have you had your full share of suffering than all those who suffer become intelligible to you. But more than that: your mind clears; circumstances and achievements of people hitherto hidden to you become manifest; and you clearly see what is needful to each.

And, by seeing your own needs in relation to the needs of others, you realize that healing consists in responding in love to one another's needs. Healing is the fulfilment of this mutual solidarity; each person contributes to the healing of all.



A Guide to Achievement

by M.B. Werapitiya


“By faith one crosses over the stream.

By strenuousness the sea of life;

By steadfastness all greed he stills.

By wisdom he is purified.”


When Sudatta, the millionaire of Sāvatthī, called on his good friend the millionaire of Rājagaha, the geniality which usually prevailed on such happy occasions was missing. He observed, instead, his friend wholly committed with arrangements for a festive event. In answer to his queries, he learnt that the Buddha had been invited the next day to his friend’s to an alms-giving. The mere mention of “Buddha” sent him into raptures and there arose in him a consummate yearning to meet him. Ascertaining the directions to his place of abode and having spent a sleepless night in eager anticipation, he set out at dawn on a momentous journey. An eerie darkness almost made him panic, had it not been for the trust in the Buddha that gave him the confidence and determination to forge ahead courageously. Nearing his destination, he saw a person whom he unmistakably recognised as the Buddha, calling out to him by name which engendered in him a sense of joyousness and exaltation. Exchanging greetings, he politely inquired from the Buddha whether he had enjoyed good sleep out in the woodland to which he replied that a person who has eradicated all desires has a tranquil mind conducive to perfect sleep.


The Buddha then expounded to him the Dhamma which helped him destroy the fetters of egoity, doubt regarding the Buddha and the Doctrine, and the efficacy of rites and ceremonies to become a Sotāpanna (Stream-winner). Sudatta, now an avowed disciple of the Buddha, invited him to visit Sāvatthī, which invitation he accepted. Returning to Sāvatthī he purchased from prince Jeta a prestigious park at a fabulous price and constructed thereon Jetavanārāma which he dedicated to the Buddha and his Order. The feeding, medical and welfare arrangements were made for 1000 monks daily. Thus Sudatta, better known as Anāthapiṇḍika, by his acts of benevolence, qualified for the rare honour of being the Buddha’s chief benefactor. The Buddha spent 25 rainy seasons at Jetavanārāma during which time, beside numerous important incidents occurring there, he enunciated a good part of what is contained in the voluminous Tipiṭaka. A pilgrim devotee having an abiding faith in the Buddha, Dhamma and the Order on visiting Jetavanārāma cannot escape feeling the aura of him who triumphed over greed, hatred and delusion so that you and I may, as our birthright, tread the path to deliverance.


The Buddha has admonished honest seekers after the truth that nothing should be accepted for reasons that it is rumoured to be so, because of its traditional belief, because the majority hold to it, because it is the product of metaphysical argument and speculation, because it conforms with one’s inclination, because it is authoritative or because of the prestige value of one’s teacher. The truth has to be self realised, with wisdom, each for himself, here and now. His method is one of critical investigation and personal verification. He went so far as to state that hurt arising from dispraise of him, the Dhamma and the Order being a cause for harm, and praise leading to elation of spirits without knowing whether the qualities praised in him are actually present, are obstacles, and the seeker should reject them. Such was the profound concern of the Teacher of gods and men that they should neither fall into error nor be misled.


The purpose of life is to live it and not to step out of it as is done by most of us, thereby bringing upon ourselves emptiness, loneliness and frustration. In order to live, we have to understand ourselves fully and completely, by which process the real from the unreal becomes clear. What is, is real and what should be, a myth and a fallacy. That man’s life is a travail can only be seen as a reality not with the afflicted eye but the mind’s eye. Seeing this reality a person knows the immediate need to meet the challenge with ethical conduct, mental discipline and wisdom as the Buddha had done to be fully awakened. The truth of the matter is that you do not possess life but life possesses you.


Source: BPS Kandy, BL90, 1992 (excerpt). For Free Distribution Only.

Nativity photo by Gareth Harper

Have a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

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Images: Crested Butte photo by Teddy Kelley. Nativity photo by Gareth Harper. Both via Unsplash and edited for this newsletter.

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