Vale S. N. Goenka 1924-2013

I totally missed that Goenka died last year. I’d say it’s a loss, but he was such an outstanding example of someone who set up a spiritual organisation designed to outlast himself, I doubt the whole operation barely hiccuped. But I will voice some sadness at his passing.

Goenka’s network of Vipassana centres with their characteristic ten-day retreats are a vast, global meditation training machine which may well still exist in a century or more. His recorded voice echoes in hundreds of locations at this very moment advising meditators to notice the reactions in their bodies, arising and passing in each moment, with equanimity.

Those retreats, amongst people in my world, have become the de facto gateway between “I’m trying to meditate” and “I’m serious about meditation”. They are also one of the major, popular influences broadening a perspective of Buddhist meditation beyond just “mindfulness”. Millions of people have been introduced to serious meditation through his work, many of them going on to practice, study and then initiate their own schools or meditation centres all over the world. His influence is incalculable.

So… Satya Narayan Goenka, on behalf of a world who may never of heard your name, but which has definitely felt your influence in countless ways – Thank you.

Obituaries:

An older interview with SN in Shambhala Sun

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