"Dhamma Dharā means "Land of Dhamma". The Shelburne center, founded in 1982, was the first center in North America. The original facility was merely a roomy, comfortable two-story house and barn on eight acres of meadowland. Local farmers report that the house was once a temperance tavern (i.e. not serving alcohol) for horse drawn coaches. Just eight students completed the first ten-day course and early courses in the house were limited to 25 students. Slowly the center began expanding to meet the demand of students. In 1989, a group of meditators donated an adjoining seventy acres of land which brought the land back to its original parcel. Today the center consists of 108 acres and many new buildings have been added, including a bathhouse, two dining rooms, meditation hall for 200, a 60 cell pagoda, separate residences for men and women and a center manager's house.
Presently the center is able to accommodate 50 women and 44 men for a total of 94 participants year round. During the summer months course our capacity is 146 students, when we can use tents and cabins. New residences were completed in December 2004 with individual rooms and private baths so students can meditate seriously with the very least distractions.
Approximately nineteen 10-day courses are scheduled in Shelburne per year, with nearly every course full with a wait list. Approximately 1,725 students from around the world complete our courses annually."
Most of you know that I will be unreachable during the next 11 days (May 13 - 24). If something were to happen and it was absolutely necessary to reach me, here is the contact information of where I'll be:
The main meditation hall (from the VMC website)
More pictures of the center can be found at: http://www.dhara.dhamma.org/ns/about3_slideshow.shtml
A short description of my next 10 days:
"The course requires hard, serious work. There are three steps to the training. The first step is, for the period of the course, to abstain from killing, stealing, sexual activity, speaking falsely, and intoxicants. This simple code of moral conduct serves to calm the mind, which otherwise would be too agitated to perform the task of self-observation.
The next step is to develop some mastery over the mind by learning to fix one's attention on the natural reality of the ever changing flow of breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils.
By the fourth day the mind is calmer and more focused, better able to undertake the practice of Vipassana itself: observing sensations throughout the body, understanding their nature, and developing equanimity by learning not to react to them.
Finally, on the last full day participants learn the meditation of loving kindness or goodwill towards all, in which the purity developed during the course is shared with all beings.
The entire practice is actually a mental training. Just as we use physical exercises to improve our bodily health, Vipassana can be used to develop a healthy mind.
Because it has been found to be genuinely helpful, great emphasis is put on preserving the technique in its original, authentic form. It is not taught commercially, but instead is offered freely. No person involved in its teaching receives any material remuneration.
There are no charges for the courses - not even to cover the cost of food and accommodation. All expenses are met by donations from people who, having completed a course and experienced the benefits of Vipassana, wish to give others the opportunity to benefit from it also."
On a completely separate note, the class I taught (which is now being taught by an actual energy auditor) made the news today. ABC News 40 filmed the students during their first day of "field work" which involved going into 3 nearby houses/apartments and doing a walk-through inspection.
No video clip at this time, but I will post it when it becomes available. Here is another story about the program which was written by a UMass administrator:
Wish me luck - I am a little anxious about this whole thing as I have never done anything like this before.
THE COURSE TIMETABLE
The following timetable for the course has been designed to maintain the continuity of practice. For best results students are advised to follow it as closely as possible.
4:00 am Morning wake-up bell
4:30-6:30 am Meditate in the hall or in your room
6:30-8:00 am Breakfast break
8:00-9:00 am Group meditation in the hall
9:00-11:00 am Meditate in the hall or in your room according to the teacher's instructions
11:00-12:00 noon Lunch break
12noon-1:00 pm Rest and interviews with the teacher
1:00-2:30 pm Meditate in the hall or in your room
2:30-3:30 pm Group meditation in the hall
3:30-5:00 pm Meditate in the hall or in your own room according to the teacher's instructions
5:00-6:00 pm Tea break
6:00-7:00 pm Group meditation in the hall
7:00-8:15 pm Teacher's Discourse in the hall
8:15-9:00 pm Group meditation in the hall
9:00-9:30 pm Question time in the hall
9:30 pm Retire to your own room--Lights out