Goenkaji: The ultimate life, the ultimate goal, is here and now. If you keep looking for something in the future but you don’t gain anything now, this is a delusion. If you have started experiencing peace and harmony now, then there is every likelihood that you will reach the goal, which is nothing but peace and harmony. So experience it now, at this moment. Then you are really on the right path.
Mr. S. N. Goenka: All students attending the course observe “noble silence” — that is, silence of body, speech and mind. They agree to refrain from communicating with their co-meditators. However, students are free to contact the management about their material needs, and to speak with the instructor. Silence is observed for the first nine full days. On the tenth day, speech is resumed as a way of re-establishing the normal pattern of daily life. Continuity of practice is the secret of success in this course; silence is an essential component in maintaining this continuity.
Mr. S. N. Goenka: For a person in reasonable physical and mental health who is genuinely interested and willing to make a sincere effort, meditation (including “noble silence”) is not difficult. If you are able to follow the instructions patiently and diligently, you can be sure of tangible results. Though it may appear daunting, the day;s schedule is neither too severe nor too relaxed. Moreover, the presence of other students practicing conscientiously in a peaceful and conducive atmosphere lends tremendous support to one’s efforts.
Mr. S. N. Goenka: Obviously someone who is physically too weak to follow the schedule will not be able to benefit from a course. The same is true of someone suffering from psychiatric problems, or someone undergoing emotional upheaval. Through a process of questions and answers, we will be able to help you decide clearly beforehand whether you are in a position to benefit fully from a course. In some cases applicants are asked to get approval from their doctor before they can be accepted.
Isn’t it selfish to forget about the world, and just to sit and meditate all day?Mr. S. N. Goenka: Meditation as a means to acquiring a healthy mind is not at all selfish. When your body is sick, you enter a hospital to recover health. One doesn;t say, ‘Oh, I’m being selfish’. One knows that it is not possible to live a proper life with a sick, wounded body. Or one goes to a gymnasium to make one’s body stronger. Similarly, one doesn’t go to a meditation center for the whole life, but simply to make the mind more healthy. And a healthy mind is most necessary to live one’s day to day life in a way that is good for oneself and others.