Author Topic: 'Conditions' for taking Vipassana courses (Goenka)  (Read 3489 times)

cruiser

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'Conditions' for taking Vipassana courses (Goenka)
« on: December 30, 2015, 05:36:07 PM »
I will be attending my second 10-day course in April 2016 (Goenka) and my partner will be attending the same course, for the first time. She is a yoga teacher and also teaches 'ordinary' mindfulness. The e-mail which informed her that she'd been accepted for the course also stipulated some 'conditions', as follows:

1. She should not practice any other form of meditation/mindfulness during the course. This of course makes perfect sense and is wholly logical - no problem
2. The second condition is that she will only be allowed to attend this one course, if she continues to teach her version of mindfulness during her yoga classes. She's been told that after she's 'explored' Vipassana, she can 'make a decision'.

Now I have to say that the second 'condition' seems to me to be somewhat draconian and not itself very mindful(!). I know there are 'strict' guidelines associated with the practice of Vipassana, most of which are clearly helpful, but this rigidity is a little excessive, it seems to me.
I'd be very interested to hear the opinions of experienced Vipassana meditators.


Vivek

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Re: 'Conditions' for taking Vipassana courses (Goenka)
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2015, 05:51:21 PM »
I cannot speak for those who sent the said email, but I think it may have to do with the danger of mixing techniques and its consequences. If your partner decides to stick with this particular tradition of Vipassana, then it's logical that she attend further courses conducted by Global Vipassana Foundation. Else, I don't see any merit in her attending more courses. In any case, there may not be a hard and fast policy that can bar her from attending more courses forever. If in case one center does not allow, she should be able to attend the course in other centers.
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?

Attachless

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Re: 'Conditions' for taking Vipassana courses (Goenka)
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2015, 04:36:04 AM »
If she´s good with the technique, she may keep teaching the different kind of mindfulness during yoga to her students for the benefit of -them-, while not getting particularly involved in practicing it (anymore, if she´s to be confident with the goenka vipassana). Then again, may only be an alibi-kind-of-thing.. but if the prohibition serves the purpose of "not mixing up techniques" only, then with -this- approach I don`t see much problem, at least as a possibility. I mean, does it sound hilarious to say "O well, I practice vipassana meditation, so I can`t give you instructions for any different kind of mindfulness"? Depending on your answer to this, that is your answer actually, in my book. :-)

IMO it does sound hilarious, because if I have been practicing some kind of mindfulness for a certain kind of period and am established in that, change technique and keep practicing that now, I don`t see no problem in teaching others how to do that which I practiced in the past and hence have knowledge of. And since the concern is in regards to "not mixing up techniques" anyway, because the technique and context go together and are one whole as such, then I think it`s not so troublesome, and maybe it could be communicated to the course management as such also. One or the other course-management will eventually understand and agree that transmitting knowledge of a former practiced technique/kind of mindfulness is or may not be harmful to the actual practice of vipassana. (if that`s the case, which I believe).

Cheers

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Matthew

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Re: 'Conditions' for taking Vipassana courses (Goenka)
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2015, 09:11:25 AM »
The second condition is to ensure she does not teach Vipassana a la Goenka to her yoga students - she simply won't be qualified to do so in the eyes of VRI.
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Attachless

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Re: 'Conditions' for taking Vipassana courses (Goenka)
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2015, 10:08:52 AM »
The second condition is to ensure she does not teach Vipassana a la Goenka to her yoga students - she simply won't be qualified to do so in the eyes of VRI.

But he wrote "not allowed to attend, if she keeps teaching her version of mindfulness."
to be or not to be - one hardly notices the subtlety

Matthew

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Re: 'Conditions' for taking Vipassana courses (Goenka)
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2015, 10:16:34 AM »
The second condition is to ensure she does not teach Vipassana a la Goenka to her yoga students - she simply won't be qualified to do so in the eyes of VRI.

But he wrote "not allowed to attend, if she keeps teaching her version of mindfulness."

Not quite:

Quote
The second condition is that she will only be allowed to attend this one course, if she continues to teach her version of mindfulness during her yoga classes. ...

(emphasis mine)
« Last Edit: December 31, 2015, 10:48:26 AM by Matthew »
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Attachless

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Re: 'Conditions' for taking Vipassana courses (Goenka)
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2015, 11:04:44 AM »
The second condition is to ensure she does not teach Vipassana a la Goenka to her yoga students - she simply won't be qualified to do so in the eyes of VRI.

But he wrote "not allowed to attend, if she keeps teaching her version of mindfulness."

Not quite:

Quote
The second condition is that she will only be allowed to attend this one course, if she continues to teach her version of mindfulness during her yoga classes. ...

(emphasis mine)

Which means to me that she will not be allowed to attend a second course if she continues to teach her version of mindfulness during her yoga classes, hence only be allowed to attend this one course.

Of course this leaves open interpretation that she is allowed to attend if she is going to keep teaching only her version of mindfulness and not starts to teach vipassana on her classes, but the "only be allowed to attend this one course" and the "She's been told that after she's 'explored' Vipassana, she can 'make a decision´" makes me believe otherwise, because "having explored" vipassana relates to "only this one course", with the impact of not getting a second course [/b]if she continues[/b] to teach her version of mindfulness, hence the "gotta make a decision".

Who`s going to solve this quiz for us? :-D
« Last Edit: December 31, 2015, 11:09:40 AM by Attachless »
to be or not to be - one hardly notices the subtlety

Matthew

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Re: 'Conditions' for taking Vipassana courses (Goenka)
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2015, 12:53:16 PM »
They have actually made things quite clear:

1) She can attend this course
2) She may not teach Vipassana a la Goenka on the basis of attending this course
3) She therefore must continue to instruct her yoga students with the existing mindfulness teachings she uses
4) "She's been told that after she's 'explored' Vipassana, she can 'make a decision'" - so after further personal exploration she can make a choice as to whether Goenka Vipassana is going to be her practice, in which case she will personally be expected to stop practicing the other mindfulness technique, but
5) Even then she will still have to teach her yoga students mindfulness as she currently does until she reaches the rank of Assistant Teacher at VRI by going on all other courses and requirements etc.

Does it sound a bit muddled? Yes, then so is the idea that Goenka couldn't teach anyone well enough to give the lectures themselves and so AT's have to play 25 year old DVD recordings of the man himself - the muddle is an outcrop of the system employed by VRI.
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Attachless

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Re: 'Conditions' for taking Vipassana courses (Goenka)
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2015, 02:18:57 PM »
Well I find both interpretations kind of harsh and as I said, I`m not entirely sure how it`s meant either. I`m aware though of how you meant it, and since both POV`s (this and the one I gave) seem silly to me in some way, I can`t know. It`s a quiz! At least for me :-D

Kinda silly to threaten with no other courses beforehand whether it`s "don`t teach it afterward!" or "don`t teach something else afterward!" (hence practice this or something else, but not both - "decide").. I would put both past the organization. Maybe that´s the root of my uncertainty in this :-D

Also, I don`t know how that "gotta make a decision" makes any sense either in your context, or how it relates to it (hence I came to think they meant it differently..). But then again, both is silly somehow.
to be or not to be - one hardly notices the subtlety

Liongate

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Re: 'Conditions' for taking Vipassana courses (Goenka)
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2015, 05:38:22 PM »
I know there are 'strict' guidelines associated with the practice of Vipassana, most of which are clearly helpful, but this rigidity is a little excessive, it seems to me.

What strict guidelines are associated with Vipassana?

Liongate

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Re: 'Conditions' for taking Vipassana courses (Goenka)
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2015, 05:40:59 PM »
I cannot speak for those who sent the said email, but I think it may have to do with the danger of mixing techniques and its consequences.

There's a danger in mixing techniques? What would be the consequences of that? There are many variations and schools based upon the same central idea. How can that be dangerous?

Matthew

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Re: 'Conditions' for taking Vipassana courses (Goenka)
« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2015, 07:01:51 PM »
I cannot speak for those who sent the said email, but I think it may have to do with the danger of mixing techniques and its consequences.

There's a danger in mixing techniques? What would be the consequences of that? There are many variations and schools based upon the same central idea. How can that be dangerous?

It is generally an idea propagated by schools who say "our way is the right way, the only way". Two come to mind: The "New Kadampa Tradition" of Tibetan Buddhism who ban students from even reading books from other teachers - and Goenka's school.
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Vivek

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Re: 'Conditions' for taking Vipassana courses (Goenka)
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2016, 04:21:33 PM »
Quote
There are many variations and schools based upon the same central idea. How can that be dangerous?
What about schools or traditions that are NOT "based upon the same central idea"? What are the consequences of mixing techniques in such case?
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?

Quardamon

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Re: 'Conditions' for taking Vipassana courses (Goenka)
« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2016, 06:28:49 PM »
A friend of mine did one Goenka Vipassana course, knowing he could do only one. To do a second one, he would have to give up his own spiritual practice. The organisation in Belgium made that very clear. So he went only once.

Jen

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Re: 'Conditions' for taking Vipassana courses (Goenka)
« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2016, 02:08:38 PM »
Hi Cruiser,
In addition to what others have mentioned about the dangers of mixing techniques, I have a few ideas about the motivation for the request for her to abandon teaching mindfulness:

1) Goenka claims that the Vipassana meditation technique was passed down from the Buddha and maintained by a chain of teachers in its "pristine purity." He claims that this Vipassana tradition gives one a taste of pure Dhamma, to which nothing should be added or subtracted. The teaching of any other sort of meditation technique would then become superfluous.

2) Teaching or practicing on others without the pure volition of service can be a way to reinforce and build up the ego, which would not be a desirable direction to head in after embarking upon the path of liberation.

This is not to say that I necessarily agree with either proposition, but thought I would share what I suspect could be motivations for the email, based on my interactions with assistant teachers within the Goenka Vipassana tradition.

I hope that you both have a very successful and valuable course experience! She should discuss her concerns with the assistant teacher to get further clarification during the course. Hopefully the answer she gets will be satisfactory to her. :)
As an archer aims an arrow, as a carpenter carves wood, the wise shape their lives.

p340

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Re: 'Conditions' for taking Vipassana courses (Goenka)
« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2016, 02:48:18 PM »
Hopefully the answer she gets will be satisfactory to her. :)

If this happens or not seems to be sheer coincidence. In my experience & understanding it's a gamble who is "teacher" in these courses. Hence one should take their advice with a grain of salt.

Alex

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Re: 'Conditions' for taking Vipassana courses (Goenka)
« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2016, 02:47:22 PM »
A friend of mine did one Goenka Vipassana course, knowing he could do only one. To do a second one, he would have to give up his own spiritual practice. The organisation in Belgium made that very clear. So he went only once.

I had the same experience in Belgium almost 10 years ago. I called the organization to understand why and I got some unsatisfactory explanation that mixing techniques could be dangerous.

I didn't do the course. It felt very unwelcoming.

 

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