Master Goenka Travels from India to Teach Vipassana Mediation in U.S.

New York, N.Y. One year, Master Goenka planned to travel from India to USA and teach Vipassana in USA. He was to tour on the camping car and teach meditation to prisoners in major prisons all over the USA. At that time, they needed a place to stay for few days for him and his family in New York City.

One old student came to me and asked for my help. I offered one small apartment in the same building I lived. Thanks to this, I was able to become close to him, and had a few opportunities to meditate with him in his presence. I also had chances to speak with him.

I spoke “your teaching of Vipassana is so wonderful and incredible, but, for the beginner, it is too difficult’ and for the first time student, often quit and run away “This is because there was no guidance in how to sit properly. So, I explain what I have been taught in Okido Yoga, Japanese Yoga by Masahiro Oki. It is the concept of well-known three teachings in Buddhism: 

  1. Bring your Body into the harmony with Nature,Choushin” .
  2. Bring your Breath into harmony with Nature, Chousoku 
  3. Bring your Mind into harmony with Nature.Choushin.  

I explained that I personally incooperate these three basic teachings into Vipassana. When I meditate and I showed Mr Goenka how actually I do it. I thought this can be taught as “Introduction to Vipasana”, In fact I have been very successful in sending students to the Dojyo after I teach this.  

Mr. Goenka in those days, did not teach “HOW TO do Vippasana” The students only listen his voices through speakers. So called “Assistant teacher” sat in front of the student, but never spoke.  Only at night for 5 minutes, they could ask questions to assistant teachers. Mr. Goenka did not allow assistant teachers to elaborate his teaching. So, my idea was to each such technical parts BEFORE the students go to the DOJYO.  This is Not something else to incorporate into his teaching itself. As he does NOT teach practical way of meditation, such as sitting, breathing, and concentrating mind, I thought this was very helpful. Mr Goenka was very pleased at my explanation.  Ever since I am always teaching this “Introduction”    

Incidentally, my teaching of “Choushin” has special technique. The purpose of this is to bring your spine as straight as possible, as the way the horse, or dog, the four legged animal. But the human, after we started to stand up and walk with two legs, our spine started to curb, adjusting body balance. If spine is curbed, it is difficult to sit for a long time. So, I teach that we do NOT sit on our last bone, tail bone; the Sacrum; the Cocks. Otherwise, Our body cannot be in harmony with Nature. 

In japan In Meiji period (1868-1912), Dr. Torajirou Okada pioneered valuable teaching called “Seiza”.  My great uncle, Dr. Kobayashi Sansaburo (the first MD who opened the first hospital in Hawaii) and his wife, Nobuko established Seizasha Dojyo.  Aunt Nobuko taught me this Seiza since I was 12 years old, but THIS was exactly Vippassana when I think of it.  She was so strict in seeing my back spine was very straight which meant “Do NOT sit on the sacrum!” A few years ago, a monk of Jyodo Shinnshuu sect Buddhism came from Japan. I helped him to establish himself and Shinran’s teaching here, and helped him to start teaching this “Seiza” in New York area. His name is Miki Nakura. mikinakura87@gmail.com. 

Originally published as Vol. 19 in Weekly Biz, March 24, 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

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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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