Dear Friends, In this Issue...
  • The Hen, the Apprentice and the Ship
  • Questions-and Answers
  • Generosity and Service Opportunites
  • Dhamma Modana Virtual Monday Group Sittings
  • Sweet Delights
  • Virtual group and day sittings & Pariyatti free resources
  • Dear Monthly Donor
The Hen, The Apprentice, and the Ship

The following section is copied with permission from Bhikkhu Analayo’s “Perspectives on Satipaṭṭhāna,” Cambridge: Windhorse, 2013. (source: )

Another set of three similes illustrating the nature of progress on the path occurs in a discourse in the Saṃyutta-nikāya. In what follows, I translate the parallel from the Saṃyukta-āgama:

It is just as a brooding hen which properly provides for her eggs by sheltering them and incubating them, properly regulating their temperature at the proper time. Even if she does not have the wish that the chickens, by making an effort, peck at the eggshells and come out on their own, nevertheless the chickens will be able to emerge safely from the eggshells by making an effort on their own. Why is that? Because that brooding hen has sheltered and incubated them, properly regulating their temperature at the proper time … It is just as a skilled master or his apprentice who takes the handle of a hatchet in his hand. Taking hold of it continuously, tiny impressions of the hand and the fingers become gradually visible in places. Even if he is not aware of the tiny impressions on the handle of the hatchet, the impressions become visible in places … It is just as a great ship that is [docked] on the seashore during the summer. For six months being blown on by the wind and exposed to the sun, its rigging gradually breaks apart. 

This series of similes suggests that, as long as one has the self discipline to imitate the hen by sitting on one’s cushion regularly, it is to be expected that eventually the desired result will come about. The progress of one’s practice is not measurable by the day, but through long periods of dedicated practice the changes brought about become visible, like the wearing away of the handle of the hatchet. The fetters that hold one in bondage are bound to wither away and fall apart, as long as they are exposed to the wind of continuous practice and the sunlight of correct understanding. Navigating the gradual path depicted in the above similes requires a fine sense of balance. The task one faces is the need to maintain the balance of a middle way that avoids two extremes. One extreme is excessive goal-orientation. Chasing after attainments will inevitably result in a sense of frustration that comes from the unbalanced attitude of sitting in order to get something out of it. This type of attitude can even lead to the self-deception of mistaking what are mere stepping stones along the path for being the final goal. The other extreme is pretending to be beyond the need for any aspiration. The erroneous belief that unwholesome desires can be overcome without having the wholesome desire to overcome them can result in mistaking stagnation for being a form of detachment, presuming that satipaṭṭhāna is nothing more than being in the present moment, full stop. One way to achieve this middle-way balance would be by combining one’s aspiration for complete liberation with awareness of momentary experiences of temporary liberation as a foretaste of the final goal. In this way, instead of aspiring for something to be realized in the distant future, awareness turns to whatever in the present moment conforms to this aspiration.
Dhamma Modana Courtyard, February 2021

Maintaining a Consistent Practice

The following was found on the Vipassana website in California, as part of the AT question-and-answer archives.

Question: I did my first 10-Day course in August. I have been on and off with my daily practice, sometimes doing 20 minutes, sometimes 30 or 40 in a sitting. And I usually forget Mettā. I struggle with consistency with anything. How can I guard myself from poor habits? I think I’m scared to invest so much time because I’m scared of being unproductive, but I guess I would be more productive if I did put more time?

Answer: How wonderful for you that you are making an effort at maintaining a daily practice. I would agree with you that it would be difficult to eliminate fear by first looking for results even before one invests the effort enough to see a change. As our teacher Goenkaji points out in the discourses, just being aware as you are of this habit pattern of the mind of doubt or self-doubt (one of the “enemies”) can be a real strength in re-invigorating your determination to not be overpowered by it.

The habit patterns of the mind (for example fear of making effort) have had a very long time to develop and it will take time and patience to change them. To be most efficient, we do the work of observing the nature of the mind without expecting anything. Trust that the twice daily sitting schedule of observing sensations objectively with a balanced mind is working on this habit pattern. Even though it may seem like nothing is changing, be patient. No correct effort goes to waste!

I wonder what you are thinking of when your mind is evaluating if a sitting has been “productive” as you mention? It may be helpful when this thought occurs, to remind yourself that progress on the path is measured only by your equanimity, not judging these body sensations or mental patterns. In this example you give, that would include not judging the quality of the sensations as to whether or not a sit was composed of sensations that produced a “productive” sit or not. Just as a reminder, it does not matter at all what type of sensations we experience.

There is an excellent resource for old students you might have seen. These are recorded “Old Student Talks” addressing the topic of daily practice available at no charge through [username: “oldstudent”, password “behappy”]

Also of great benefit to supporting a daily practice is attending group sittings with other Vipassana meditators. For more info on online group sittings, please visit this section of the Dhamma Modana Old Student website. There are also one-day courses offered.

Additionally, students find it tremendously helpful to their practice to give Dhamma service.
Questions for Assistant Teachers

If you have questions about your practice you may email 
at‑[email protected] indicating whether you prefer an email response or a phone call.
Generosity and Service Opportunities at Dhamma Modana
  • Management - short, long or seasonal options 
  • Sit-Serve-Serve 
  • Remote work -Join a committee team
  • Landscaping - Grounds & Gardening 
Please email [email protected]
with inquiries. 

Photo: January 2021 project completed
to cover the back porch to the walk-in-cooler.
Dhamma Modana Virtual Sitting

Weekly Group Sitting / Dhamma Modana / Followed by Q&A and Discussion

Dhamma Modana's weekly group sittings are on Mondays, 7pm-8pm, followed by AT-led Q&A.  

It is good to meditate together, especially these days with the current restrictions.
All old students are welcome to join. If you would like the calendar invite sent to you, please email the [email protected].

Join Microsoft Teams Meeting
+1 647-317-5363   Canada, Toronto (Toll)
Conference ID: 843 089 335#
Sweet Delights

Do you have a recipe that you would like to share with the Centre? The Kitchen Committee is looking to hear from you with your favorite recipe. Please send your recipes to the kitchen committee at [email protected]

Many recipes from the Centre can be found on the Dhamma Modana website at Recipes Vipassana Meditation Centre – Dhamma Modana.

Virtual Daily & One Day Sittings

Many old students continue to sit regularly together via the Virtual Group Sitting programs, both AT-led daily and one-day sittings, as well as non AT-led daily sittings.  We know just how much of a support it has provided to many old students, and remain focused on continuing to provide forums for you to strengthen your daily practice!

You can join these programs using Zoom – instructions here.

Pariyatti Free Resources & Newsletters

We recommend using as a resource, not only for the purchase of books but also for its large archive of free downloads. These include audio, video and text.

Be sure to check out their Free Resources section.

You may enjoy and be inspired by the Daily Words of the Buddha in your inbox each morning. A lovely way to start the checking email part of your day.

Visit Pariyatti’s archive of featured articles. You can read the latest December Pariyatti newsletter,  available for download here. App

There are so many audio, video and written resources now available on the app to support you in your practice. Here’s a sampling that you may be interested in:
  • Self course FAQs for doing your own self course
  • On the Subject of Happiness
  • Video documentaries “From Myanmar to the World” and many more
Servers at the end of 10-day Course, November 2020
Dear Monthly Donor,

In 2020, despite 19 course cancellations and difficult circumstances with restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, Dhamma Modana was able to host several courses and work periods while adhering to strict COVID-19 safety protocols. As a result, 157 students, 66 servers, committee members, and the Trust were able to benefit.

Thanks to your donations, and those of other old students, Dhamma Modana continues to develop the Centre to improve the functioning and running of courses. The demand for courses and old students wishing to give service at the Centre continues to grow.

The next stage of development includes plans to increase the student numbers, develop long-term servers’ accommodations, add two bathrooms, and possibly expand the Dhamma Hall, all within the framework of the existing premises. How much can be done will depend on donations and old student volunteers. Monthly pledges are meaningful as these contributions, no matter the size, provide continuity and stability for Dhamma to grow.

Your support is invaluable and has helped to make possible the remarkable progress that has occurred at Dhamma Modana this year. If you have any questions regarding donations (dana), please contact us at [email protected].

More Resources

For more resources, visit the Old Student website. To access the Dhamma Modana old student website and all Vipassana related sites, the username is: oldstudent and the password is always the same. 

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This notice is sent to old students of Vipassana as taught by S.N. Goenka in the North American Old Student Contact Database. You may also receive occasional messages from centers and newsletters via this database.

Best wishes,
Vancouver Island Vipassana Association
Dhamma Modana
2359 Calais Rd
Duncan, B.C. V9L 5V5
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