Author Topic: Goenka without Goenka?  (Read 138 times)

dontmind

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Goenka without Goenka?
« on: June 24, 2018, 01:29:53 PM »
Hello everybody!

I have visited a ten day Goenka-course about 2 weeks ago. And I am very happy, that I managed it to implement meditation in my everyday life - since I came back from the course, I meditated each day for 45 min.

What I want to ask you:

I really liked the technique and the way they teached it and I did like the (tough) programme of each day aswell. But there were some points, which I didn't like at all. For example the lectures and the way they were communicated (just as a video without any oppurtunity to ask questions or to discuss the content afterwards, which in my opinion is even more suspicious or even doctrinal, because it is the only input of information you get while you do the course). Neither I did like the content of the lectures. In my opinion they were not very wiseful and they just said you have to experience those things by yourself - yes, ofcourse you have to experience certain things in the "vipassana-way", through insight while meditating, but in my opinion this doesn't free you from a intellectual or rational argument. Sometimes this made me really upset, also because Goenka spoke in a very autoritarian way.

I had the impression that he kind of claims to be the only one who has access to the truth (and in general I don't like people who say that they know the truth.. in German there is a saying which says, that you should look after those people, who are in search for the truth, and to keep distance from those, who claim for themselves, that they have found the truth). In Zen-Buddhism I found an haiku which I think is a great metaphor for enlightenement, which I would translate like this: the more the moon is shining, the more the shadow of the pine is growing. Insight (and truth) is in this case related to an experience of non-knowledge.. And in my opinion it is from a philosophical perspective somehow important to keep that non-knowledge or that gap empty and not to fill it with concepts like love, god etc.

Anyway - excuse me for the philosophical excourse ;) - I wasn't very pleased with some things of Goenka and it is a bit frightening that they get adopted by so many centers in the world without questioning anything of his teachings (I don't think that this is very buddhistic, since I think Buddha said himself, that his own teachings should always be perceived in a critical way). But as I already said I really liked the technique which was taught there and also the structure of the 10-day-course. So finally I get to my question, I wanted to ask you: Are there any centers around the world who teach vipassana in the way Goenka did, but which are not in line with every point of his lectures and interpretation of vipassana and which maybe head for a more dialogical way, which is related to modern philosophical and scientific perspectives as well. I would really appreciate if you know some centres, because I think Vipassana is a really great technique of meditating, but it would be a lot easyer for me to fully engage with Vipassana, when there would be people I can relate to in a intellectual / rational and non the least human way as well.

Thank you!

Maggie

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Re: Goenka without Goenka?
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2018, 01:02:50 PM »
Unfortunately I cannot give a good answer to your question, but I wanted to tell you that I agree. I believe meditation can be very helpful and healthy, but I don't believe in Goenkas authority and even feel he is treated like a God of some sort in certain circles...

dharma bum

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Re: Goenka without Goenka?
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2018, 09:41:59 PM »
I have done 2 10-day retreats and numerous 3 and 1 day retreats with Goenka centres. While it is true that the organization doesn't admit much discussion or debate, there is no attempt made to force any belief system on anybody. I myself found much to disagree with in Mr Goenka's discourses, but I take what seems right to me, and discard what seems superstition. Mr Goenka himself encourages this in one discourse I seem to remember.

But if you're expecting an intellectual discussion about the things he talks about, you will be disappointed. Mr Goenka's organization is designed for numbers - to reach a large number of people and the teachers are not trained in Buddhist philosophy or doctrine and will not be able to respond to questions of a philosophical or religious nature. They are trained in the technique and will have a limited number of responses to any questions people have.
Mostly ignorant

chin

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Re: Goenka without Goenka?
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2018, 08:48:56 AM »
Yes, "discussion" is discouraged at the Goenka retreats but that's not because of any doctrinal view but rather because many of us (myself included) enjoy philosophical debates and conveniently forgo the rigour of the practice in favour of the intellectual stimulation of the "discussion". I personally found it greatly beneficial that they discourage discussion, otherwise I would not have made the progress that I did during the 10-day period.

Having said that, I did not find any doctrinal views being shoved down my throat. On the contrary, Goenka encouraged every student to put everything he says through the test of intellectual and experiential rigour. I find that many of us (again, myself included) have our "organized religion/cult" radars on very high alert making us hypersensitive to the slightest hint of cultish behavior.

After attending a few Goenka retreats, my experience has been that while Goenka himself has discouraged any kind of dogma, devotion, personality cult, etc., some of the followers do fall into the trap of treating him like a god. What can one say, we're all human and prone to such errors. Just observe and let it go!

dharma bum

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Re: Goenka without Goenka?
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2018, 06:23:58 PM »
The Goenka organization actually casts itself and the technique as secular, which makes it hard to train teachers because well what do you train the teachers on? If they would just call themselves buddhist, then there is a wealth of knowledge and training available outside of Mr Goenka.
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dontmind

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Re: Goenka without Goenka?
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2018, 09:14:49 PM »
Thank you for your responses guys.. probably I am a little bit to critical and as a person who is socialized in the western world and considers himself leftwingish, there is maybe even more a problem to trust somekind of authority. Non the less I think that there are vipassana-meditators who fit with their approach to the ideas around meditation better to my own believes. So sorry, I have to ask the question again: Are there any vipassana "organizations" who use the Goenka technique but have managed to develope a more vivid and dialogical approach?

Thank you!