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Twitter founder Jack Dorsey practices Vipassana in this Indian guru's ashram

By the time Goenka died on September 29, 2013 he had established a global network of meditation centres across the world

Anwesha Madhukalya   New Delhi     Last Updated: November 25, 2019  | 16:09 IST
Twitter founder Jack Dorsey practices Vipassana in this Indian guru's ashram
Jack Dorsey called his Vipassana courses the toughest thing he does for himself

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey has said that the meditative ritual of Vipassana that he undergoes is the toughest and the best thing he does for himself. Wrapping up his third 10-day stint at Dhamma Pataka in South Africa, Dorsey thanked everyone involved in his exercise. "Finished my 3rd Vipassana 10 day at Dhamma Pataka in South Africa. Continues to be the toughest and best thing I do for myself. Grateful for all those who enable me to make time for it. And thank you to Pataka for being so incredible," tweeted Dorsey.

Dorsey is among millions of people who undertake this meditative technique. Interestingly, the centre where he practices Vipassana was established by an Indian meditation teacher back in 1970s.

SN Goenka whose establishment Jack Dorsey visited was one of the most popular proponents of Vipassana. He was conferred the Padma Bhushan in 2012 for establishing non-commercial Vipassana centres across the world.  The Indian guru was born in Myanmar in 1924 and raised by an affluent Hindu family. Goenka was a successful businessman who ran a family-led conglomerate. He was also appointed the head of the Rangoon Chamber of Commerce at the age of 30.

Around 1955, Goenka began experiencing intense migraine headaches. When conventional meditation did not help, he took a friend's advice and sought the help of meditation. He met Vipassana teacher Sayagyi U Ba Khin. Goenka practiced under this mentor for 14 years.

In 1969, Goenka renounced his business and moved to India to teach meditation. Goenka sought to bring the technique to laymen instead of monks and other practitioners. His first meditation centre was established in 1976. In 1982, he began training teachers who could also establish their own centres.

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By the time Goenka died on September 29, 2013 he had established a global network of meditation centres. The network included hundreds of meditation centres including in South Africa, Brazil, Belgium, Japan, Spain, Sweden, New Zealand, UK, US and India.  

Goenka's teachings were derived from Buddhist texts but were not religious. His meditation techniques were also very inclusive and did not concern itself with caste or creed.

His meditation style involved long periods of silence as well as sitting cross legged for hours at an end. The retreats were, hence, not only mentally challenging but physically daunting as well.

The Vipassana courses are taught over ten days - a period that is understood to be the minimum necessary period for new students to understand the technique and its benefits. The courses are run on a donation basis. No charges are levied for the courses or for food and accommodation. Expenses are met by donations from practitioners who have completed their courses. The teachers and assistants also offer their services on a volunteering basis.

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