Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Vipassana Fellowship's 12-week course

UPDATE MAY 24, 2012:  For a detailed review of the course referenced below, please see this post
This blog will focus on Houston-related news and events, but there are some resources that may be of interest to local practitioners despite being internet-based and/or associated with more distant locales. For this reason, they will be included here.

The next Vipassana Fellowship on-line meditation course begins five days from now on April 30 and, as of today, was still accepting enrollment for this session. 
Icon from the homepage
I'm actually enrolled for this session, having signed up about two months ago.
I like to vet and validate independent offerings before engaging in or reporting on them, and that was difficult to do in this case, as there don't seem to be many published assessments of this course.  Shambhala SunSpace announced one of the 2009 course sessions, but did not provide any description or viewpoints regarding it.  Dr. Jim Hopper of Harvard University included it in a list of meditation resources that he published, also without commentary or feedback.  Fellow Blogspotters The West Wight Sangha did review the course quite favorably in this 2009 post

For those of you who are new to meditation and Buddhism, "vipassana" is a form of silent meditation that derives from the Theravada tradition of Buddhism, which is the oldest of the three main branches. 
A discussion of Theravada vs. other traditions is beyond the scope of this blog post, but if you would like a quick introduction, you might want to check out this easy-to-understand timeline available on Wikipedia.  For the moment, suffice it to say that Theravadin-style insight meditation has much in common with other silent meditation techniques, and is suitable for a wide range of Buddhist and non-sectarian practices. 
Screengrab from
In making my selection, I was drawn to the Vipassana Fellowship's course for a number of reasons.
  1. It is easily accessible, in being delivered over the internet.  I've had good experiences taking professionally-accredited continuing education courses online, as well as (gulp, I'll admit it) an online defensive driving course (yeah, it was a momentary loss of mindfulness that led to a speeding ticket, but that was a long time ago).
  2. The cost of $125 was in line with similar non-profit offerings. 
  3. This organization's website was mature and uncluttered, presenting just the necessary information with no frills, distractions, monetization, or ornamentation.  I was particularly impressed with their FAQ page.
  4. They reference two of my favorite authors, Theravadin nun Ayya Khema and well-known author Bhante G.  In light of this, I suspect that I will have existing famiarity with some of the material to be covered.
Anyway, I'll post thoughts and commentary on this course after I grow to learn more about it, which should begin to happen next week.

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