While serving you are learning how to apply Dhamma in day-to-day life. After all, Dhamma is not an escape from daily responsibilities. By learning to act according to the Dhamma in dealing with the students and situations here in the little world of a meditation course or center, you train yourself to act in the same way in the world outside. Despite the unwanted behavior of another person, you practice trying to keep the balance of your mind, and to generate love and compassion in response. This is the lesson you are trying to master here. You are a student as much as those who are sitting in the course.
Keep on learning while serving others humbly. Keep thinking, "I am here in training, to practice serving without expecting anything in return. I am working so that others may benefit from the Dhamma. Let me help them by setting a good example, and in doing so help myself as well."
May all of you who give Dhamma service become strengthened in Dhamma.
May you learn to develop your goodwill, love and compassion for others.
May all of you progress in Dhamma to enjoy real peace, real harmony, real happiness.
- S. N. Goenka
The following are essential references for an old student interested in providing Dhamma Service:
Purpose of Service
Code of Conduct
Serving a course is an invaluable way to strengthen your own practice and assist others to grow in Dhamma. There are many ways that you can offer service for a course offered at Dhamma Vahini.
It is very beneficial to your practice to serve a whole course. Serving a whole course provides a sense of continuity that is helpful to the group of students serving the course and in turn, beneficial to the students sitting the course.
If a full ten days is not available to you though, you may serve half of a course. You can serve the first half of the course till day-4 or 5 or you can serve the second half of the course from day-5 until the close of the course the following Sunday.
If serving half of a course is not possible, then at times there may be room for you to serve for a weekend.
A few times a year, the Center offers 3-day or 1-day old student courses. If your available time to serve is limited, these courses could provide you with an opportunity to serve a whole course.
Giving Dhamma service is one of the most valuable experiences a student of Vipassana can have. Not only is it rewarding to know that you have helped others to experience Dhamma, but it also is a wonderful source of growth and strength for your own meditation practice.
Long Term Dhamma Service is when an old student stays at the center for an extended period of time, providing service according to the needs of the center and its management. Long-term servers sit and serve multiple courses or becoming involved in other aspects of running the center. This extended period of service provides a great opportunity to deepen one's practice as well as helping the center to run smoothly.
As a long-term server, you may begin your stay by being directly involved with courses, either as a kitchen worker or course manager. You will also serve by helping with the general operations of the center.
Long-term servers can alternate sitting and serving courses, with a greater emphasis on serving. Long-term servers may serve two courses, then sit one course and then serve again, depending on the length and type of courses and how each long-term server is integrating their experience. Assistant Teachers are available to discuss long-term servers development in Dhamma and the integration of their practice.
Long-term servers also serve during this time period in the following areas:
Kitchen - Duties include helping with day-to-day operation of the kitchen, integrating and orienting kitchen servers, over-seeing kitchen tasks between courses, keeping track of the food inventory, assist in placing food orders, and receiving food deliveries.
Household - Duties include helping to ensure the center is a clean and welcoming environment for students, e.g., coordinating student clean up at the end of a course, walking through the center at the beginning and end of courses to assess which areas have been cleaned, and helping to clean as needed.
Maintenance - Duties include helping with maintaining the center's buildings and physical operations. This entails troubleshooting problems, making repairs when possible & contacting and coordinating the appropriate sources when not, and keeping an up-to-date list of the various maintenance jobs around the center. Any carpentry, painting, plumbing, or electrical skills are helpful in this position.
Long-term servers stay in the same type of accomodation which are built for students.
You should read the Code of Conduct for Dhamma Workers, so that you understand what is expected of you as a Dhamma worker.
Any old student may apply. Please understand that acceptance is contingent upon approval of the Trust and center management. The center reserves the option to ask a long-term server to leave at any time if their long term service is not meeting the long-term server’s or the center's needs. If you are interested, please download the application form , and submit it by mail or fax to the center.
Who is eligible to give Long Term Service?
All old students may apply to give long term service. An interview with an assistant teacher may be required. It is important for students who apply for Long Term Service to understand that staying at the center for an extended period of time is to serve others and at the same time strengthen their own practice. It should not be simply because they have no other place to go or as a place to stay while conducting personal affairs.
How long can an old student stay at the center?
An old student may give service at the center anywhere from one month to a year or longer. The length of time is determined by an initial interview between the student and an assistant teacher and/or the center manager as well as periodic meetings during the course of their stay. Since there is no actual contract between the student and the center, the student or the management may shorten or lengthen their stay at any time.
What is the course and daily sitting schedule for a long-term server?
As part of their stay at the center, long-term servers are encouraged to sit a course periodically. The main focus is to serve the center. Servers are expected to sit 3 hours daily.
Do Long Term Servers follow the same guidelines as a regular course server?
Anyone who is serving at the center must follow the guidelines as stated in the Code of Conduct for Dhamma Workers. It is especially important for Long Term Servers to understand and follow these guidelines, as they will have more responsibility and are an example to other servers.
What kind of work do long-term servers do?
Long-term servers are asked to provide service according to the needs of the center and its management. This generally involves serving courses, as well as working on various projects between courses.
Do Long Term Servers get time off from the center?
We realize that it is important for someone staying longer at the center to have down time and days off to occasionally tend to personal business and simply relax off the center grounds. Such periods should be coordinated with center management.
There are many opportunities to help maintain the Center. You can come up for a longer period of a week or two, a few days, a weekend, or even a day, depending on accommodation. There is always a way to help.
Operating and developing the Center presents a multitude of tasks that need attention - some are ongoing maintenance tasks driven by regular use of the Center or the cycles of the seasons - while others are more extensive and often associated with planned development projects.
Several times a year the Center holds Dhamma Days for 3 or more days. During these periods there are many students that come to the Center to help work on flower beds, cut trees, cut grass, rake leaves etc, or build new buildings and maintain the present ones, detail cleaning and much more. There are discourses in the evening, and three group sittings daily, Teachers are available at lunch time for interviews with students about their practice.
To address the need for support in these areas, Dhamma Days of different durations are held from time to time for old students in this tradition. Although work is the focus, there are regular daily sittings and other opportunities to meditate. Accommodation and meals are provided. Participating in these Dhamma Days will give meditators an opportunity to assist in the development of the Center while strengthening their practice through Dhamma Service.
Working and meditating builds strength on the land and supports the growing Center. Both will contribute towards the development of a strong Vipassana community that can be enjoyed by all meditators and provide a welcoming place for meditators.
There are few committees operating at Dhamma Vahini to facilitate the provision of on-going courses. Old students are welcome to contact the committee co-ordinators to talk about current committee needs.