Author Topic: Social stigma against Vipassana / Meditation  (Read 5307 times)

chintan

  • Maun
  • Member
    • Vipassana - Goenka
Social stigma against Vipassana / Meditation
« on: January 16, 2011, 06:33:44 AM »
Yes there is a social stigma against Vipassana - at least in Delhi where I live there is . The reasons / arguments are various
- friends are not able to understand your motives and feel that you are taking an escapist route from life's problem
- everyone seems to be knowing someone who abandoned his family or social responsibilities and became an ascetic and hold it against the practice of meditation which to them a step in that direction
- its a cult - they brain wash you - how can an intelligent person like you allow yourself to be brain washed
- why meditate at this age - you should start doing it after you are 75 (Indian concept of Vanyaprastha)
- what is wrong with you - you have such a nice family / career / education - why are you getting into all this
- you should read Bhagvat Gita its all in there - why are you leaving your religion

I am not really too bothered by this but what it has done is that I now dont share my experiences or learnings with anyone except my family and really close friends and there too only with those who I think can understand. See so many people around me who can benefit - maybe not through a 10 day retreat cause that is too intense but through a simple 30 min a day meditation or even getting to know the Dhammma but am helpless.

Maybe its best I let my actions do the speaking but the feeling of helplessness overpowers me sometimes.

Any suggestions?

Morning Dew

  • Guest
Re: Social stigma against Vipassana / Meditation
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2011, 08:53:42 AM »
Quote
I am not really too bothered by this but what it has done is that I now dont share my experiences or learnings with anyone except my family and really close friends and there too only with those who I think can understand

I can feel what you are saying. I too share this only on this forum and with my wife who is not that happy to listen about it all the time. For now it is enough to be a helpful hand here in this community. Supporting our members and sharing is what can be enough for you at this time in your life. Who knows what comes in the future. Lets be mindful of the now which is the important thing.

Even your concernes with this issue are still based in your ego-self since it is the ego-self who separates its self from the rest and takes it so personal. Once that ego is drown in pure compassion for all that is you will see all their suffering and will look at this issue with a totaly different eye :)
Until then keep at it practicing. Staying mindful through the day is not that easy as it seems and needs a tremendous energy which can be exhausted by clinging to those issues you mention.

Try to be aware of this ego which is wasting the energy needed to be mindful without resisting it, or judgeing it, but just observing it, seeing it being aware of it until it disapears on its own accord.

This too shall pass.

Friendly Che

ivana

  • Guest
Re: Social stigma against Vipassana / Meditation
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2011, 10:57:36 AM »
Hi Maun
I think I have to be open to myself and after I understand people. I am writing how I felt first time I saw a walking meditation. I came late to meditation class and in dark basement of a Buddhist temple I saw people who did not look at me, only look at floor and went slowly as robots from one wall to other wall. I thought they were crazy. It was 1 year ago. And time went and I wanted to do mindfulness meditation. So I went again to the temple and I learnt walking meditation. If somebody does not know about it is I am for him a crazy person who is going from one to other wall in the dark basement of the buddhist temple. ;D
Take care
Ivana

Crystal Palace

  • Member
  • "Move on Bhikkus, Move On" - Buddha
    • Thai Forest Tradition
Re: Social stigma against Vipassana / Meditation
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2011, 05:48:36 PM »
Maun,

I suppose anybody who walks the path of Dhamma encounters people who question, oppose and even challenge what one is doing. The key, I think, is how one reacts to it.

First things first: You cannot change the world. Period. If you think you can and if you try to explain what you do to everyone around you, you will only end up wasting energy. Explain yourself to only those who think will understand. Those that you think cannot should be left alone. If they criticize, let them do so. 

You are 41 and the society can still accept you venturing into "Escapist Spirituality" but I am 20 and what I do is considered simply bizzare (sometimes even deviant) The relatives of mine (my Mamas - Mamis, Chacha- Chachis, grandparents and so on) keep telling me that this is the age to go out and party and have fun. Why, they ask, is it that I have become so "serious"?

To those that I know will not understand, I simply nod my head and try to end the discussion with as little argument as I can. I say something like, "Yeah you've got a point there. I will consider it." And I quietly walk away.

I keep my meditative life strictly private (I don't know whether this is the right thing to do or not) but only few of my (many) friends know that I do some sort of "meditation" (On the other hand almost all my relatives know because my parents have told them about it) Ofcourse more and more of my friends will eventually get to know as time passes by, but I try to maintain a low profile (but not secrecy) about this aspect of my life.

The funny thing in this whole problem is that you and your lifestyle can serve as an inspiration for those who can understand the Dharma. For them a person who is doing all his duties and yet is practicing with steadfastness becomes some sort of an investigation They become inquisitve and want to enquire a and find out about it. They can identify from your behaviour that you are not taking an 'escapist' route and infact are working to face life's problems head on. And a little part of them wants to do the same thing that you are doing. Ofcourse, some take up the practice, while others never do so but you can make out that they secretly respect you for having the guts to do what you want to do in life.

Behaviour matters. It is much better to maintain silence than to shove philosophy down people's throats. Sometimes this can even have a positive effect on some people forcing them to think - "here is a person who doesn't boast about his 'guruji' or 'technique' but in fact remains silent and goes about doing his job."  (You know how it is in India where everyone says my guruji/sect is the best.) Like this some people come and genuinly enquire about what you do. And as Goenkaji says, what is there to hide. You tell them all about it. Once you've done that, you've done your job.

Whether or not a person takes up the Dhamma is dependant on many factors - past merits, time constraints, situational constrains, willingness of his mind, availability of dhamma, etc etc. We are only in charge of our life and no one else's. The most we can do is explain.

Warmly,
Crystal Palace
"Abstain from unwholesome actions,
Perform wholesome actions,
Purify your mind"

Buddha

Crystal Palace

  • Member
  • "Move on Bhikkus, Move On" - Buddha
    • Thai Forest Tradition
Re: Social stigma against Vipassana / Meditation
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2011, 06:01:37 PM »
As a side note I do wish to add that it is extremely unfortunate that in the Hindu Society, practicing meditation (or tapasya) has become something to be done at the 4th (and last) stage of a person's life.

Something like Vipassana meditation requires sincere and constant efforts - something one is best fit to do in one's youth. At the age of 70, it becomes difficult to even sit cross-legged for a little while. When meditaion is nothing short of a physical and mental test, why wait till our bodies and faculties have become greatly depleted?

I do not know how and when this tradition came about in our society, but it is extremely unfortunate. Also ironic because if anyone has noticed, many our gods engaged in deep meditative retreats in their youth and prime time.

Everything changes.

Sincerely,
Crystal Palace
"Abstain from unwholesome actions,
Perform wholesome actions,
Purify your mind"

Buddha

Namaste

  • Guest
Re: Social stigma against Vipassana / Meditation
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2011, 04:32:39 AM »
Knowing the social stigma is egoborn makes it no less hard.  But this thread is good medicine.

CP, your situation is the same as mine, though no one beyond my nuclear family knows.  It feels good to relate.

Jeeprs

  • Guest
Re: Social stigma against Vipassana / Meditation
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2011, 05:24:10 AM »
Nobody among my friends, family or workplace (here in Australia) questioned it when I did the SNG retreat, although a few said 'seems like a lot of work'. One Indian programmer said, when I mentioned that I was interested in meditation, that it is 'not necessary for this stage in life'. At the time I didn't understand what he meant, but I do now. Overall Australia is a fairly easy-going and tolerant society about such things and I think Buddhism has a good reputation in this country.

Perhaps there are prejudices peculiar to Indian society. After all Buddhism died out in India a long while ago, and it is actually a heterodox movement according to the traditionalists. It goes against the grain.

Anyway I feel for your situation and I suppose all I can say is that all the criticisms are misplaced and misdirected. I suppose you could also see it as an opportunity to practice forgiveness and loving kindness by not resenting the people who make such criticisms but instead treating them as your teachers. I think that is what the Dalai Lama would recommend.

Also I will say, I rarely speak about Dharma to anyone outside the various Dharma groups I participate in, even with my family. I am the only practitioner in my extended family or workplace.  Every so often I will mention a principle or an anecdote or teaching, but I don't discuss it much, in fact one of the reasons I am participating on the Vipassana Forum is because it provides an opportunity to interact with other practitioners.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2011, 05:27:51 AM by Jeeprs »

chintan

  • Maun
  • Member
    • Vipassana - Goenka
Re: Social stigma against Vipassana / Meditation
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2011, 08:49:25 AM »
Thanks for all your replies - the extremely positive thing which has come out of my Vipassana is that my dad did his retreat 3 months back. Man is he regular. He is zooming ahead on his practice and has already registered for his second one at Igatpuri. He and me have long conversations on our practice and I am so happy for him.

Guess I will keep it under wraps as much as I can for the outside world for the moment. Though have to confess that the argument on brain washing gets my goat.. arrrghhhhhh.. if only they knew Buddhism 101 - always question and dont accept unless you are convinced.

With metta.

 

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