The initial impetus for a Vipassana organisation in Hong Kong came from a small group of students who had sat courses in the 1990s with Shri S.N.Goenka, the late principal teacher in this tradition in India. The first 10-day Vipassana meditation course in Hong Kong was held during the end of 1997 at a rented site in Sheung Shui and three more courses were held at different rented or borrowed locations around Hong Kong in the following two years.
In 1998, Mr Goenka visited Hong Kong and conducted a group sitting for old students. He also gave public talks in three evenings at the Chi Lin Nunnery to introduce Vipassana to the local community.
The fifth 10-day course was held in 1999 at an abandoned farm at Hang Tau Village of Sheung Shui, which was kindly lent out by the landlord and later developed into the first place in Hong Kong dedicated exclusively to the teaching of Vipassana meditation. Starting up from the basic facilities with a tiny capacity of 30 that gradually expanded to 50 students, the Hang Tau non-permanent centre conducted many courses each year since then and remained the only Vipassana meditation course site in the territory over the past 16 years until 2016, benefiting more than 15,000 people from all walks of life.
In 2004, the trust of the centre, the Hong Kong Vipassana Meditation Centre Limited (HKVMC), initiated discussion with the HKSAR government to explore possible sites for establishing a full Vipassana meditation centre. The lengthy negotiation spanned for six years with many options considered and withdrawn. Finally, at the end of 2010, with the generous support of the Vipassana community both locally and around the world, a piece of greenery land at Tung Wan, South Lantau Island was purchased from the government. Mr Goenka named this permanent Vipassana meditation center in Hong Kong as Dhamma Muttā, the “Pearl of Dhamma”.
It took about three years to overcome the planning and construction technicalities and the only access road was at last built in 2014, followed with the completion of first and second phases of the development in 2016 and 2018 respectively. With a capacity of over 80 students now, Dhamma Muttā became the venue for 10-day courses, while Hang Tau non-permanent centre is mainly for conducting short courses. Donation collection and planning is underway, and when Dhamma Muttā is fully functioning upon the completion of the last phase of construction, it will have a maximum capacity of 150 students and will be equipped with facilities to conduct courses that are 20, 30, 45 days or longer.