On September 29th, 2013, at 10:40pm in Mumbai, India, SN Goenka passed away peacefully in his sleep.
Born in India in 1924, Goenkaji was a businessman who eventually discovered Vipassanā meditation in Burma from a man named Saya Gyi U Ba Khin. He eventually went on to become a great Vipassanā teacher and was a pioneer in spreading this technique of meditation across the world. He was a major influence to many people including Ram Dass, Jack Kornfield, and Krishna Das, just to name a few. He selflessly made it his life's work to teach this way out of suffering to countless people, and he did it for free. All of the 170 plus meditation centers across the world are run solely by donations from students who have partaken in a 10-day silent meditation retreat, and neither Goenkaji, nor any one of the other assistant teachers or volunteer servers receive a single cent for their service.
I took my first 10-day course in June of 2000, in North Fork, CA, and as of 1 month ago today, completed my 7th course. Words can do no justice to the benefits I have received through this practice over the years. Through simple and practical means of learning to objectively observe reality as it manifests inside my body from moment to moment, I have become a much happier, less reactive, and clearer person. I am no longer plagued by strong, negative emotions such as anger, fear, or grief. That is not to say that I never experience these things, but they have significantly less power over me than they did in the past. I have learned great patience, I have come out of addictions, and I have experienced deep, peaceful tranquility far beyond what I ever thought to be possible. At the risk of sounding crazy, if I could somehow take all the benefits that I have gotten and give you the direct of experience of the true happiness that I feel, I bet my life that you would immediately go to a meditation retreat. It is that powerful.
For showing me and so many others this noble path, and for the immense impact you have had on my life and the lives of so many others, I offer the deepest thanks. The debt of gratitude I feel is immeasurable. Rest In Peace Goenka. You made the wold a better place. May you be happy and liberated, wherever you be.
With all of my mētta,
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I know exactly what he would say if I were to thank him for all that he has done for me - "It is from your hard work alone that all the benefits come to you". While this is indeed the truth, without the teachings of SN Goenka, I would not know how to do the hard work that has brought so much benefit to me, and for those teachings, I thank him deeply and profusely.