Author Topic: 90 or 10 day vipassana course?  (Read 7425 times)

kseistrup

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90 or 10 day vipassana course?
« on: November 23, 2008, 05:00:08 PM »
Namasté,

For some time I've been planning to take a 10 day vipassana course next summer (medio 2009) as offered by dhamma.org.  However, I have recently come across the 90 day online course offered by the Vipassana Fellowship (next course starting ultimo January 2009).

My question now is:  Should I choose one of the two courses, or will I benefit from taking the online course first and later taking the 10 day “real life” course?

I reckon I will take the 10 day course under any circumstance, so perhaps my question really is:  Will taking the 90 day online course have any negative influence on the following 10 day course?

I'm thankful for any opinions or advices.

Much metta,
Klaus
« Last Edit: November 23, 2008, 05:02:49 PM by kseistrup »

mettajoey

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Re: 90 or 10 day vipassana course?
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2008, 10:50:26 PM »
Hi Klaus and welcome.
In reference to your question (and this is solely my opinion and preference) I would recommend waiting and doing the 10-day retreat.  The retreat is a very powerful experience in and of itself, and it may be of benefit to not have to unlearn any prior techniques so that you will be able to fully embrace what you will be shown there.  It's the old adage of going in with an empty cup.  I also believe that getting instruction in person is far more valuable than through a book or online.  Even though those teaching tools are a indeed a godsend for folks who do not have the opportunity to take a retreat
Good luck on whatever path you choose to take.
Warmly,
The best type of meditation is the one that you'll do

pamojjam

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Re: 90 or 10 day vipassana course?
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2008, 09:17:19 AM »

Hi Klaus and Joe,

one reason I would recommend to do a 10-day Goenka before any other 10-day Vipassana course is, because it is the most rigorous when it comes to rules and regulation. Where the vigor with which some of the rules enforced might not be understandable anymore. An insignificant example: nowhere else you have to take off your glasses during sitting meditation.

Not only are you not being allowed to eat after noon - but those many religiously enforced minor rules makes everyone recoil and one can't but see all the good reasons, for example, why it would be much better to wear one's glasses also during meditation. And before realizing one has wasted hours, if not days exploring the hindrances instead of the faculties of meditation.

This definitely will be much worse if one has meditated already somewhere else where such minor rules aren't given any importance, the atmosphere much more accepting and kind, and the meditation therefore might have been much better too.

However I believe, analytical differentiation is crucial to any Vipassana in the end - and this child certainly shouldn't be thrown out together with the bath. Instead, come to such a first 10-day course with full dedication even to minor technicalities, give it a full and fair trial. As much as it is possible to you, but also acknowledging your limits with humbleness. After the 10 day you're still able to reject parts or all of it - which only then might really have proven there usefulness to you. Don't go there empty, but keep decent common sense to know which are your limits. Be kind to yourself, in the case you get the impression, no one there is to you.

As little as I understand the 90 days online course, it would give you much theoretical background knowledge.

Quote
Majjhima Nikaya 43

'Friend, how many conditions are there for the arising of right view?

- 'Friend, there are two conditions for the arising of right view: the voice of another and wise attention. These are the two conditions for the arising of right view.

- 'Friend, by how many factors is right view assisted when it has deliverance of mind for its fruit, deliverance of mind for its fruit and benefit, when it has deliverance by wisdom for its fruit, deliverance by wisdom for its fruit and benefit?

- 'Friend, right view is assisted by five factors when it has deliverance of mind for its fruit, deliverance of mind for its fruit and benefit, when it has deliverance by wisdom for its fruit, deliverance by wisdom for its fruit and benefit.

Here, friend, right view is assisted by virtue, learning, discussion, serenity, and insight.

Right view assisted by these five factors has deliverance of mind for its fruit, deliverance of mind for its fruit and benefit; it has deliverance by wisdom for its fruit, deliverance by wisdom for its fruit and benefit.'

In a 10-day course developing 'right view' is assisted through virtue, serenity and insight only. But the also necessary assisting factors of learing and discussion you'll have to look for somewhere else after. And having done that beforehand, maybe already understanding the importance of virtue and starting to train in the 5 precepts already now, will be a real booster to your meditation then.

And the reasons why I wouldn't recommend an other 10-day Vipassana course before a Goenka don't apply here at all. Because you'll only have practiced maybe 1 hour once a day by yourself. Which wouldn't make you prejudiced and more difficult to follow in the 10-day, since you haven't any other retreat to compare and already formed an opinion.

Further you have to consider, if you find Goenka's method working for you and you would want to join one of the even more serious longer courses at the soonest possible date - which is after having kept the 5 precepts for at least one year rigorously (no alcohol and no self-sex if you're a single) and practiced meditation 2 hours each day for 2 years, beside three 10-days, 1 Satipatthana Sutta course and a recommendation by a teacher who knows you well - you also aren't allowed to practice any other meditation method anymore for 2 years beforehand.

Hope that gives you some more perspectives to base your decision on.

kind regards..

frepi

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Re: 90 or 10 day vipassana course?
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2008, 09:14:34 PM »
My reply won't be as sophisticated as Pamojjam but I come up with the same conclusion. I would try the 10 days course. Chances are you motivations will be stronger when meditating in a group. Your time schedule will be taken care of and there will be no distractions. No television, no phone, no music. It will be meditation, meditation and more meditation. After that, if you wish, you can try the online course. No matter if you liked the retreat or not, some of your experience will be usefull in this 90 day course.

pamojjam

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Re: 90 or 10 day vipassana course?
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2008, 10:44:25 AM »

Hi frepi,

obviously I expressed myself too sophisticated, since you seem to have misunderstood what I wanted to say:

Klaus want to do the 10-day anyway, but asks if there could be a disadvantage in doing the 90 day online course first.

I said that doing the 90-days before could enhance the 10-days after - not because of its meditation (you are right) - but because the Pali Suttas are studied there, which is missing in Goenka's courses. And this could enhance the understanding arising out of meditation in the course itself.

If Klaus would want to join a long course in Goenka's tradition after the 10-day soon, he wouldn't be allowed to do any other course with a different type of meditation anymore.

But if long courses would still stay off his radar - which is difficult to know beforehand - of course the 10-day would in turn enhance the daily sittings of the 90-day after, as you said.

kind regards..

kseistrup

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Re: 90 or 10 day vipassana course?
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2008, 02:55:35 PM »
Mettajoey, pamojjam and frepi,

Thanks for your welcome, and thanks a lot for your thoughts regarding which combo of courses could be beneficial.  You have all raised very good points.

After having read your answers, I have decided to take a 10-day Goenka course first.  Not having to "unlearn any prior techniques" and the in person instructions are the keypoints for me.  Then I can always register at the 90-day online course afterwards if I feel a need to study the pali suttas.

Another thing is, I am going to join an 8-day Acem meditation retreat (6-10 hours sittings) in Sweden in February 2009, which would disrupt the 90-day online course for up to 10 days, so postponing the 90-day course is probably the best thing anyway.  I have been practicing Acem meditation for more than a year now, and I am generally satisfied with the results.  However, I wish to give Vipassana a serious try before I decide which method to stay with.

Pamojjam, I have read your Vipassana inquiry, and it puts Dhamma.org and the Goenka courses in a less romantic light than given by e.g. Jenny Phillips' book Letters from the Dhamma Brothers, which is of course not bad in and of itself.  It does make me wonder, though, if I can cope with a 10-day Goenka course...

Warm greetings,
Klaus

pamojjam

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Re: 90 or 10 day vipassana course?
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2008, 09:15:38 PM »

..It does make me wonder, though, if I can cope with a 10-day Goenka course...

You can only know if you try it.

frepi

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Re: 90 or 10 day vipassana course?
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2008, 01:15:25 AM »
It is not as tough as it seems. We all have our "sheep" side as we say in my country. The whole discipline and rigourous routine of the retreat look difficult from the outside but when 100 people are doing it with you, it is much easier. During my retreat, I only saw 1 person quitting before the end. This guy had experienced a profound fear which sometimes happens (I personnaly never experienced any emotional surge but this seems to happen quite often). He actually ran out of the meditation hall and then told his roomate that he was petrified. He later met with the teacher and decided to quit.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2008, 01:45:00 PM by frepi »

kseistrup

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Re: 90 or 10 day vipassana course?
« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2008, 12:15:55 PM »


..It does make me wonder, though, if I can cope with a 10-day Goenka course...


You can only know if you try it.


I have to try it, so I will know. :)


kseistrup

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Re: 90 or 10 day vipassana course?
« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2008, 12:18:58 PM »
It is not as tough as it seems. We all have our "sheep" side as we say in my country. The whole discipline and rigourous routine of the retreat look difficult from the outside but when 100 people are doing it with you, it is much easier.

You're right.  I always find it easier to meditate with others than on my own, and I can easily imagine the same will be true for the vipassana course.  Looking forward to attending.

:)

Matthew

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Re: 90 or 10 day vipassana course?
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2008, 03:56:34 PM »
Dear Kseistrup,

My first long retreat was thirty days of fourteen hours a day of Shamatha practice. The preconceptions before such a retreat can be appalling and twist your mind in many directions. I know I suffered them and I was already living in a Buddhist meditation centre for a year before the retreat. It's just your ego trying to wriggle out of it.

The reality is that retreat practice is essential to gaining true insight and you will not look back having done one. It will probably be the most profound experience of your life and may result in you making many lasting healthy changes in your life - especially if you manage to maintain a regular practice after the retreat. This transition can be difficult but forewarned is forearmed.

I would differ in advice to you only on one point from the other posters. Meditation is essentially a journey one must undertake alone. Therefore the sooner you become a meditator the better.

My advice to you would be to take the 90 day online course first (Paul, I think, did it and found it beneficial - why don't you PM him to ask about his experience?). Then you will have a good taste of one practice and bear some fruits of meditation practice before taking the ten day retreat. You can then immerse yourself in Goenka's technique  on the ten day retreat with the  benefit of the fruits of your previous practice as a ground.

Afterwards you can continue to practice and use your discernment - and your discovery of what is of benefit to you - to make a more informed choice as to how you progress on the path as a meditator. Never give up your discernment to another. That way is not where you will find the path.

A belated welcome to the forums. I am on retreat at the moment and will be back in two weeks or so. I dropped in to check things were OK with the forums and get my PM's and have a read around.

Having read this thread, this alternative viewpoint was one I felt you would benefit from hearing. For this reason I have made an exception to my temporary respite from the forum to post.

In the Dhamma,

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

 

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