Author Topic: Goenka Vipassana and attitude  (Read 2344 times)


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Goenka Vipassana and attitude
« on: May 19, 2016, 08:50:46 PM »
Was it a goenka retreat ? This tradition way of thinking made me have a very bad attitude. In order to succeed in the buddhist path, you have to use the same methods and attitude used to succeed in "wordly" life, not the opposite attitude. I don't know about others but for me, this attitude was not good and made me fail in both in "wordly" life and in the spiritual path. So I think you should try and stick with the good advice any psichologis, any sports coach, any boss at work, any monk, any sane person would give you regarding how to succeed. I think a person doing good in buddhism should also be doing good in the worldy life, not doing bad. Many respected monks stress to their students that attitude is the most important thing on the path, just like in wordly life Here is a topic with a person that had these problems with goenka: newbielink: [nonactive]

I was way less involved than that guy but nevertheless, I lost some years because of having a bad attitude. You can not succeed neither in wordly life neither in the spiritual life with a bad, self-defeating attitude. They advocate this attitude by quoting buddha out of context and aplying that quote to all situations, completelly ignoring other quotes from buddha. Take for example this goenka practicioner post on another forum:
If I express my views on this view, I guess your view would be more likely that I am trying to defend Goenkaji's views (method) at any cost. :)
But I am not, I think. I am just expressing what I feel. I have nothing to gain personally by defending Goenkaji. I am kind of freelancer Dhamma follower, and not highly committed for the technique or the organization.

Yes, I agree that this organisation and the affiliated people mostly do not engage in debates or directly engage with accusations made against them...(well, sometimes they do).
But I don't think that your reasoning for this is quite accurate. They do not engage in such things because they think it is futile to do so. Why futile? It is not only because of the attitude that "we have got it right, why should we engage in dispute with others" (which I think is a good attitude!) but also because of the mental training they get. The experienced old mediators (not the less experienced ones; they tend to be talkative like me) are slowly becoming incapable of engaging in disputes.

It's actually totally futile, totally -- at least in my experience so far. But again there is this temptation to talk or dispute.

We are not the Buddha. We don't know much about his attitude or teaching strategy.
or this
1) Criticizing other Buddhist ideas/teachings or techniques does not fulfill any beneficial purpose in the path of Dhamma (for oneself and for others). Does it?
2) Criticizing is risky and is prone to making "type II error", and thereby potentially harming others. We do not know for sure which Buddhist teaching is right and which is not. Who knows for sure which "Buddhist ideas were actually taught by the Buddha and which are not"? We just follow a particular idea or teaching based on our personal inclination, experiences, and beliefs. We are no way in a position to make an error-free criticism unless we are a Buddha, and unless the ideas/techniques under question are clearly in contradiction to Shila.

Therefore, being not only unnecessary but also potentially harmful, I think it is better not to criticize other ideas, teachings, and techniques -- even if one is an advanced Dhamma follower.
Refraining from saying negative things about others, it would be better just to say positive things about one's teaching/method that he/she is following. One cannot be sure about the deficiencies in other teachings/methods, but one can be somewhat (or sometimes almost) sure about the positive aspects of teaching/methods one is following and having experience of.-

Although some on the forum are more moderate that the guy who posted this, they did not contradict him because this also applies to their relationships with people. They do not tell their friends when they are in the wrong out of fear of hurting them and "sinning".   They completely ignore buddha quotes like "If you see somebody doing something bad, do not let him do it again and again" or "A good friend tells you what you do not want to hear. Follow such a person like you would follow a guide to a hidden treasure."

They have the idea that one should attempt to lesser suffering only through becoming more resistant, WITHOUT "ENGAGING IN THE WORLD". They see "engaging in the world" as a sign of weakness, a sign of narcissism, of "defending the ego" and avoid any confrontation.  They completely ignore that buddha was quite a rebel for his times and "engaged in the world" quite hard. He was also eager to engage in debates, having confidence that he is in the right.     "One should not neglect oneself.  One should treat oneself as he would treat others. Do not let others hurt or be injust to oneself, in the same way you would not let other hurt or injust another person"

Buddha also said thinks like: A monk with a self-defeating attitude is heading for failure.  A monk should not be drepressed because if he has no energy he will not succeed on the path. A monk should have a good attitude if he wants to succeed on the path.  The path is joyfull. etc.    I can go on forever with buddha quotes they completely ignore. They are not ascetics but they have an ascetic view on life.

The reasons why this tradition might lead to having a bad attitude are many and they are better explained in the link I posted. If you want, I can explain in detail the reasons why the same happened to me although not taking any retreats, just by getting this bad attitude and bad understanding of buddhism from the forum. I got all my information from there and considered all other forums "new agey", "not serious enough" etc. Many complain about getting "emasculated". I thought this is buddhism. Rejecting this would mean rejecting buddhism witch I believe to be right. I did not know these are just some selective interpretations of what buddha said and not actually what buddha said.

I realised something is wrong because I was not making any progress but quite the opposite. I got to work very little because I was unmotivated. Labeling all "wordly" motivations "narcissistic" and seen them as something bad, I got to work very little at my job and I have a liberal profession, so no boss or coach to keep me afloat. Also my OCD increased (because of the pressure of not meditating enough and not progressing) and I simply got worse than ever in terms of attitude.  Any psichologis, sport coach etc. say that a healthy moderate dose of narcissism is what you need to succeed, problems came if it becomes malignant. Buddha himself said to use such "wordly" motivations untill you cross the bridge, not drop it before you cross the bridge. You have to use the weapons that you have. The way you succeed in real life, the same way you succeed in the spiritual life. Despite been a big extrovert, I become quite isolated and considered spending time with others a waste of time. I did not realize that is very important for your mental shape despite been an apparent useless activity in theory. Do not try to live like a monk if you are not a monk. Deciding to live like a monk should come naturally at a point when you would prefer such a life over a layman life. This life should not be forced by your determination (driven by narcissistic and ocd-istic reasons) upon you. This will simply do not work.

  The guy in the link had a friend who got out of goenka after a monk told him to not meditate for 3 days and observe why he is feeling bad for not meditating.  That is the best advice one can give to a long term goenka practitioner.  He realised that his motivations were OCD-istic and narcissistic and driven mostly by fear.

 There are some good things that I got from this but if it I could chose, I would prefer that it was just 1 year not 5. I went from one extreme to the other in terms of attitude towards life and I hope that in the end, I'm gona land in the middle. This really made me very resistant to suffering but also made me unable to enjoy pleasure. The problem is that it made me stagnate both in spiritual and worldly life. Only advice you will get from Goenka when having any problems will be: "meditate more", "take another retreat", "you are not doing it right", "you are not serious enough". They see everything like on a ladder and the only thing you can do is meditate more. Einsein said the definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results"
« Last Edit: May 20, 2016, 07:53:23 AM by Matthew »


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Re: Goenka Vipassana and attitude
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2016, 11:53:29 PM »
I also want to point out that having an ascetic attitude is a mistake many meditators make. Even buddha spent 6 years as an ascetic hardliner. You think you are better than the buddha? People have the idea that their progress on the path is always going up and that if it ever went bad, it was a criminal mistake by them that they find hard to admit. They also think that "a good, special person like me" could never make such a mistake, making "such a stupid mistake" would mean not been a special, "blessed" person. Never forget that buddha himself did the mistake of becoming an ascetic but he was quite a special person.

If you think that you are too special to be the kind of person who lost years of your life to asceticism, if you think doing that would make you a less-than-special person -  remember buddha did the same mistake and managed to get over it. It's quite a common problem.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2016, 07:54:22 AM by Matthew »


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Re: Goenka Vipassana and attitude
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2016, 08:07:35 AM »

I read your posts, they express a strong opinion and I have no problem with you doing so.

I have split them from the original post into this thread called "Goenka Vipassana and attitude" - I have done this as you did not directly answer the original question.

You are clearly very upset by your experience and I would encourage you to move beyond your discomfort, to learn to let go of that past and engage with Dhamma in the present and in a more healthy way. Clearly there was a lot of misunderstandings that developed before: it is wiser you to work now on your understanding beyond these misunderstandings, look back and see them as a lesson: as the Buddha said, "believe nothing, no matter where you heard it, even if I said it, unless it agrees with your own common sense and reason".

It seems to me that you went along with a system that did not meet this criteria. If you are not going get stuck in the misery this brought it is important to learn it's lessons and move on.

Kind regards,

~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~


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Re: Goenka Vipassana and attitude
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2016, 12:23:31 PM »
I`ve been on a 14 day retreat in Nepal and left on the third day, kindly saying "I`m not judging this technique or tradition any better or worser, it just isn`t for me, I will leave, thank you for the opportunity to learn that."

You would do good doing the same, maybe. :-) It`s quite healthy, at least for yourself. Having a "traditional way of thinking" seems never good imo, it`s always better to have an "own way of thinking", putting traditions into that context, not the other way around. I`m only speaking for myself here though, but then again, everyone has to find his own way, and although we may follow "a path", it is our own path still that we are going, and finding. (Being "stuck" in the "wrong tradition/path" for long may -be- part of that path of yours, as long as you learn from it, and is hence deemed beneficial still.)

So far in my experience,

greets Dominic
« Last Edit: May 20, 2016, 12:25:23 PM by Attachless »
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Re: Goenka Vipassana and attitude
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2016, 11:52:50 AM »
Looked at their website. It seems a shame that S.N. Goenka has developed something with such good intentions, but insisits there is only one set way to bring it about. I would run a mile rather than attend such a course, although it is probably just the thing for some people. I think that that's one of the strebgths of modern Buddhism, in that there is always something around that will work for you, if you look hard enough.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka


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