About Meditation: Learning Wonder of “Buddha’s Meditation” (1)

New York, N.Y. After my big injury last October, I decided to double my daily meditation time. I have noticed something as a result.

At first, my meditation was about eliminating pain. When meditating, I usually concentrate my mind on various parts of the body. When I reach a painful place, I observe the pain prudently while imagining its size, depth, color and so on.

Then, after a minute or two, I move my concentration to another place. Slowly, I notice the pain that was there disappears. This really is the important advantage of meditation for me.

Other key benefits I find from meditation include:

  1.  Sleep time is shortened. One hour of meditation is equivalent to three hours of deep sleep. 
  2.  The flashing of intuition will occur more easily. Intuition becomes sharp. 
  3. Sometimes one will be able to see something otherwise invisible. One can judge correctly and quickly execute.
  4. The answer to the matters or questions sometimes come quickly. There are times when an answer comes forth when you meditate.
  5. Pain and suffering, whether physically or spiritually, are reduced. Also, sickness may improve, but this is not the purpose of meditation. 

During the busiest period of my work in the 1980’s, I often heard from a number of people that there is a meditation teaching Buddha himself taught. At that time I had been ‘meditating’ for many years, but so many people talked about this “meditation of Buddha,” I thought this was something I was meant to try at this time of my life.

So wanted to attend the dojo, teaching camp, where one cannot read books, write notes, greet or converse with others. No interaction at all. It was a ten-day course of silence retreat for attendees who keep meditating for twelve hours a day as if living alone, talking to no one. All meals, accommodations, teachings were completely free.

I wanted to go immediately, but my obligations kept me away. One day, suddenly the desire grew so strong, I just abandoned my work and went. The dojo was in Berkshire, Massachusetts.

Everyone sat for twelve hours every day, from four in the morning, with 45 minutes of  meditation followed by a 15 minute break. Even for me as someone experiences with meditation, this was a long time. It was very hard and painful.

When the third day came, my body hurt so much. I felt as if an evil spirit came to me and stabbed me all over my back. It was so painful I just wanted to run away. But I endured. And the fourth day was amazing! Just revelation!

I learned that day the splendor of this meditation. Finally, on the ninth day, we were able to break this “holy silence” and talk with each other the first time. Everyone was even crying that day. And I talked with my roommate for the first time.

I gave special thanks to myself that I had not given up and run away!

After that, I participated in this ten-day meditation course four times. This is the meditation called Vipassana, a method of observing breath, observing the body, and bringing to your full mind concentration with your own breath. 

In the Capital City of Burma (Now Yangon, Myanmar)

In the old meditation center there, there was a document recording all the names of those who had studied and taught after the Buddha’s passing. This teaching continued there for thousands of years, handed down from teachers to students, as is the method taught by Shakamuni Buddha himself before 2,700 years ago. The Hindu missionary Satya Narayan Goenka (Gwenka) spread this “Vipassana meditation” to the world. 

Professor Goenka was suffering from severe headaches and went around the world looking for relief, but no doctor was not able to heal him. One day, walking on a back road of Yangon, Dr. Goenka noticed an old sign for a meditation dojo and went in.

There was a direct descendent of the Buddha’s teaching, called U Ba Kin (who later became Minister of Finance of Burma) who was teaching this meditation. Mr. Goenka entered as his disciple and studied for over thirty years.

When Dr. Goenka’s mother fell in sick in Bombay, Dr. Goenka went back to Bombay to teach this meditation method and taught his mother and friends ten days as in the dojo.

Ten days later, they all said, “Please teach us again this wonderful teaching. We never had this before and we will take care of all new students, their food and lodging as well.”

And then again Dr. Goenka taught the meditation for ten days, and the same thing happened, teaching the tenth days again and again. Repeated many times. The students expanded, and by 1970’s they were over 2,000.

American hippies who studied this meditation there at the time brought this teaching to America and the West. As his mother and friend experienced the first time, “Vipassana meditation” was a tradition that former students take care of new students in dojos in the world. And it is still operated all free in the world.

In this way, “Vipassana meditation” was spread to the world. Even now, even after Professor Goenka died (September 29, 2013), there are dojos in more than seventy countries around the world, operated in the same way as the first in Bombay.

In Japan, there are centers in Kyoto prefecture and Chiba prefecture.

(Following next issue March 24 issue)

Originally published as Vol. 18 in Weekly Biz, March 17, 2018; translated by Jim Luce.

See: Dr. Kazuko Hillyer Tatsumura Column in Japan’s Weekly Biz



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About Dr. Kazuko Hillyer Tatsumura

View all posts by Dr. Kazuko Hillyer Tatsumura
Dr. Kazuko Hillyer Tatsumura
Dr. Kazuko was born into a distinguished old family in Kyoto, Japan, and graduated from Toho conservatory of Music in Tokyo. In 1961 she came to U.S. as a pianist sponsored by the Boston Symphony. She studied at Boston University, New York University, and received her Ph.D. in Oriental Medicine from New York State University and the International Academy of Education in Tokyo. From 1968 to 1992, she promoted cultural exchanges from East to West and vice versa, and became a world famous impresario, producing 2,000 events each year all over the world encompassing over 140 countries. In this connection, in 1972, she went to Dharamsala to find the lost Tibetan Folk Opera, and met His Holiness the Dalai Lama, with whom she remains a lifelong friend. In 1973 and 1991 she arranged and funded personally the tours of the Folk Opera of Tibet to the West. She has received many medals and honors from different countries. Her tireless life long work in Philanthropic field is vast and well known ranging from Save the Beacon Theater, Save the Boat People, Help the Homeless, natural disasters of earthquakes and tsunamis, as well as relief to AIDS and HIV positive children in Africa. She has been a dedicated Board Member to both the J. Luce Foundation and Orphans International for years. Her work focuses on the Tibetan people; Tibetan children remain especially strong in her heart. She raised fund for the new academic building for Manjushree Orphanage in Tawang, India and supported many aspects of the school. See HuffPo pieces entitled Japanese Holistic Healer in NYC to Build School for Tibetan Orphans in India, A Japanese Dinner with Raul Castro’s Daughter, and NYC Gala in Support of Tibetan Orphans Set for January.

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