Author Topic: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.  (Read 29247 times)

joy

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Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #25 on: September 23, 2010, 11:25:51 AM »
May be both are right
Joy

joy

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Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #26 on: September 23, 2010, 11:43:07 AM »
A Osho story:

Osho - Respond with Awareness
Osho : There were two temples in Japan, both antagonistic to each other. One belonged to Shinto, another belonged to Zen. And for centuries they had been quarreling, arguing against each other. Both had masters, and they both had young boys, because the masters were old and they needed somebody to help them, to bring vegetables or cook food. Those small boys helped them. Both told the small boys, ”Don’t talk to the other boy of the other temple – never! We have been enemies for centuries, we are not on talking terms.”

But boys are boys, and because both were prevented, both were anxious... So one day, going to the market to fetch some vegetables, they met on the road. And one boy asked the other – this was the Shinto boy, coming from the Shinto temple. He asked the Zen boy, ”Where are you going?”

And the Zen boy said, ”Wherever the wind takes me.” He had been listening to his master, all kinds  of things, so he had also got the taste of Zen. He said, ”Wherever the wind takes me.”

The Shinto boy was shocked at this. What to answer? He wanted to make friends, but this boy seemed to be completely uninterested; he had completely cut him short. There was no way for conversation – now what to say? He is saying, ”Wherever the wind takes me...”

Very sad, he came to his master and told him, ”I did not obey you, I am sorry. I was just inquisitive, curious to know about the other boy. I was feeling alone, and I thought he must be also feeling alone. And your temples may have been for centuries antagonistic, but we are just boys. We can be friends.

”But you were right; it was not good to ask. Certainly those people are dangerous. I asked the boy, ‘Where are you going?’ and he said, ‘Wherever the wind takes me.’”

The master said, ”I had warned you. Now tomorrow, you go again and stand at the same place, and when that Zen boy comes, you ask him again: ‘Where are you going?’ And when he says, ‘Wherever the wind takes me,’ just ask him, ‘If the wind is not blowing, then...?’”

The boy went. He stood at the same place, watched. The Zen boy was coming. He asked him, ”Where are you going?” And the boy said, ”Wherever the legs take me.”

Now he could not answer what the master said, ”If the wind is not blowing...” It would be absurd to answer that. He came very sad to the Shinto master and said, ”Those people are very strange! That boy changed his whole approach! I asked the same question, but he said, ‘Wherever the legs take me.’”

The master said, ”I have been warning you. Now you are unnecessarily getting defeated and that means a defeat for our temple. This is not good. You go again! And tomorrow you stand in the same place, and when the boy comes you ask, ‘Where are you going?’ and when he says ‘Wherever the legs take me,’ ask him: ‘If you were crippled, then would you go anywhere or not?’”

So, utterly happy, the boy went again, stood in the same place, watched. The boy came out of the temple. He asked, ”Where are you going?” utterly happy that now he knows the answer.

And the boy said, ”I am going to fetch some vegetables.” Now the situation again becomes absolutely different. He cannot say, ”If you were crippled...” he cannot say, ”If the wind is not blowing...” So he returned, very angry, and said to the master, ”Those people are strange! Even the boy is strange.”

The master said, ”I have been telling you, but you won’t understand.”

The story is exactly the same. The significance is that each moment is so new and so fresh that nothing old is to be repeated. That Zen boy has understood from his master and his constant dialogue with the disciples that nothing can be repeated, because the situation is never the same. So every moment you have to respond freshly – out of your consciousness, just like a mirror. If a mirror is there and you look into it, you will see your face. And if a monkey looks at it, then the monkey will see his face.

If a donkey looks at it, then the donkey will see his face. The mirror is the reflecting medium, it has no opinion. You cannot say that the mirror is very self-contradictory, that it is not consistent: sometimes it shows the face of a man, sometimes the monkey, sometimes the donkey, what kind of mirror is this? One should be consistent! Zen is not consistent with the past, but absolutely consistent with the present. Its consistency is a totally different phenomenon to anything that has happened anywhere in the world. It is unique.

Source: "God is Dead, Now Zen is the Only Living Truth" - Osho
Joy

Morning Dew

Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #27 on: September 23, 2010, 12:46:01 PM »
So if i understand it corectly you are saying that the Zen boy wins 3 - 0 against the Shinto boy , right?

And just becouse Zen boy had better masters right?

That was an interesting quote! I specialy like the one when man looks into the mirror and sees the monkey! Or was it the donkey?

;)

Crystal Palace

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  • "Move on Bhikkus, Move On" - Buddha
    • Thai Forest Tradition
Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #28 on: September 23, 2010, 01:59:35 PM »
Yes! :) this is my favorite Buddhist Wars episode yeeeee :)

Charge my Jedi Buddhist Knights, chaaaarggggge!

But wait which one is Dart Wader, Goenka or TIB? Hmmmm...

So far as i see it the result is next;
TIB Knight 3 - 2 Goenka Knights

Tight game! And now comercials! Please stay tuned we are right back with more Buddhist Wars :D !!!!


hahahahahaha...Buddhist Wars...hahahaha...

On a side Note: Vipassanaforum.net present's the Bodhisattva awards for 2010 in the 'Best Sense of Humor' category goes to - - - - - - - - -  - - Morning Dew! [For pulling everyone's pants down]

PS -

Question: Someone who wishes to pull MD's pants down, what can he say?
Answer: Nothing. MD doesn't have a goal, practices no technique, has no guru and claims that he does not exist! Where is the room for criticism?  ;)




"Abstain from unwholesome actions,
Perform wholesome actions,
Purify your mind"

Buddha

MEDITAT0R

Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #29 on: September 23, 2010, 04:44:43 PM »
 :)
Buddhist kids in a sandbox.
"You are clinging!"
"No, you are clinging!"
"Mirror, mirror, you have attachment!"
"No, you"
"So, observe it, stupid!"
"No, you observe first!"
...
 :)

I see myself inside that box, too.
It seems to me like we're playing the same game like "outside", camouflaged by our "spiritual" knowledge and terminology.

I just wanted to point at an observation I made since I joined this forum. Surely in an exaggerative way, not meant to abuse.
I am not interested in arguing with the moderator or supervisor Matthew. I would really like to know the story of you as a meditator - did you join a Goenka course, and if yes what happened? If it is already posted somewhere else - sorry, the forum is too rich to search for it.

rideforever

Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #30 on: September 23, 2010, 05:50:48 PM »
... Ultimately, and over a period of time, frequent visitors to this forum will always come to realize who is consistent with his behaviour and views, and who is not.


Why is consistency a good thing ?!

This is reminding me of something Osho said many times : that fools are always consistent.  Osho on the other hand says just whatever ...


Morning Dew

Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #31 on: September 23, 2010, 06:29:04 PM »
Quote
Buddhist kids in a sandbox.
"You are clinging!"
"No, you are clinging!"
"Mirror, mirror, you have attachment!"
"No, you"
"So, observe it, stupid!"
"No, you observe first!"

Me Like this alot :D
You should contiue building a story on this one (i wouldlike to see what happens with the kids), you might end up writing a bestseller and might find some intetesting stuff in you :)

Quote
Someone who wishes to pull MD's pants down

CP my friend be careful here mate, i am not celibate and do not guarantee what might happen if someone pulls my pants down :D lol



kidnovice

  • Member
    • Theravada: with nuts and bolts from Goenka-ji, and fine tuning from Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #32 on: September 23, 2010, 10:05:33 PM »

...I would really like to know where this fact comes from:


We are not going to go over old ground repeatedly. However, less than 2 per cent of people who take one Goenka course return for a second.


Because as far as my understanding, only VRI is really in a position to release figures as there are such a large number of centres worldwide. In my own experience, every time I have gone for a course, roughly about 1/5th's of the people were 'old students'


Yes, I very much have to call "B.S." on that number! Although it sounds very authoritative to bandy about a statistic, I don't think it means much. And highly doubt its veracity. At the centers I have attended, I have consistently noticed a proportion closer to 1/3 old students. Now, that doesn't mean 1/3 of all students are returning. It simply means that there is such a strong desire by some students to return, that at the centers I frequent, courses are able to draw 40-60 old students per month.

Even if the number of returning students is low (like say, 10%), that fact isn't really a commentary on the teaching as much as it is a reflection on the remarkable service Goenka is providing to all. To my knowledge, there is no other set-up like it, where so many people regardless of their financial status are given the chance to meditate so intensively for 10 days. According to wikipedia (and I don't know when/where their info comes from), "each year more than 100,000 people attend Goenka sponsored Vipassana courses."  10% would amount to 10,000 people returning. When you make retreats so widely available, you are attracting a very wide range of people with different ideas and intentions.

In my observation, alot of people don't return because they simply don't want to sit 10 hours a day for 10 days straight. Alot of people are happy to have done it ONCE, and say that's enough. They've got the "tools" they came for. Or they wanted their "Goenka trip," and that's that.  Many people prefer retreats that involve less sitting. A significant number probably never meditate much afterwards, but that's true across ALL traditions for lay practitioners. As many of us know, maintaining a daily practice is MUCH more difficult (and much more rewarding) than completing even a Goenka retreat.

I personally know many meditators who practice in other traditions, but identify their Goenka course as the real turning-point in their practice where they finally "got it." That is where they discovered the power of giving so much attention to the body and cultivating equanimity. That is where they finally pushed themselves to get a glimpse of real concentration. So, why didn't they come back? Some wanted less structure on retreat. Some wanted longer retreats. Some wanted a broader focus (i.e. not just the body and breath). Others are "turned off" by the video, and want a more personal relationship with a teacher. Others can't find the time for so much retreat--i.e., they are regular folks with jobs and relationships-- and the longer you are away from your last course, the more daunting it can seem. Either way, the answers are pretty mundane. And I have no doubt that they make up 99% of the people who don't return.

It is for this reason that I think TIB's comment is a gross exaggeration based on evidence derived from a very small and non-representative sample. Of course, my own observations are anecdotal, but I don't pretend otherwise. I have simply observed many courses and many attendees, and I'm now sharing what I have seen and heard.

With metta,
KN
May we cultivate the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; the compassion to change the things we can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

kidnovice

  • Member
    • Theravada: with nuts and bolts from Goenka-ji, and fine tuning from Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #33 on: September 23, 2010, 10:16:42 PM »
... Ultimately, and over a period of time, frequent visitors to this forum will always come to realize who is consistent with his behaviour and views, and who is not.


Why is consistency a good thing ?!

This is reminding me of something Osho said many times : that fools are always consistent.  Osho on the other hand says just whatever ...



I can't speak to what CP meant by that, but I interpreted him to mean consistency between the views (values) that a person professes and their actual conduct. In other words, do you walk the walk, or just talk the talk? That is certainly not for fools. It is easy for a teacher to preach loving kindness and equanimity, or enlightenment and wisdom, but can they.... oh, I don't know... avoid the temptation of abusing their power to do things like sexually exploit students or manipulate the political process of democratic institutions?

With metta,
KN
May we cultivate the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; the compassion to change the things we can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

Morning Dew

Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #34 on: September 24, 2010, 06:47:53 AM »
Life's a piece of shit
When you look at it
Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true.
You'll see it's all a show
Keep 'em laughing as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you.

And always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the right side of life...

LoL :D

rideforever

Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #35 on: September 24, 2010, 09:04:00 AM »

rideforever

Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #36 on: September 27, 2010, 08:44:17 AM »
... Ultimately, and over a period of time, frequent visitors to this forum will always come to realize who is consistent with his behaviour and views, and who is not.


Why is consistency a good thing ?!

This is reminding me of something Osho said many times : that fools are always consistent.  Osho on the other hand says just whatever ...



I can't speak to what CP meant by that, but I interpreted him to mean consistency between the views (values) that a person professes and their actual conduct. In other words, do you walk the walk, or just talk the talk? That is certainly not for fools. It is easy for a teacher to preach loving kindness and equanimity, or enlightenment and wisdom, but can they.... oh, I don't know... avoid the temptation of abusing their power to do things like sexually exploit students or manipulate the political process of democratic institutions?

With metta,
KN

What is a view ?  Something you hold on to ? 
What is wisdom ?  Something you hold on to ? 
What is abuse ?  Something you hold on to ?

kidnovice

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    • Theravada: with nuts and bolts from Goenka-ji, and fine tuning from Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #37 on: September 27, 2010, 06:14:49 PM »

What is a view ?  Something you hold on to ? 

Yes, but only as you would hold onto any useful tool, ready to let it go when it is no longer helpful.



What is wisdom ?  Something you hold on to ?  ? 

No, never hold onto it. Rather, cultivate it like a skill.



What is abuse ?  Something you hold on to ?

Abuse is something you shouldn't hold onto, but much more importantly....you shouldn't do it. :) It harms you and others around you.

With metta,
KN
May we cultivate the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; the compassion to change the things we can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

rideforever

Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #38 on: September 27, 2010, 09:14:53 PM »
I have those impulses too : 'useful tool', 'cultivate it as a skill', 'much more importantly ... shouldn't do it' ... i.e.  .... be a good and worthwhile being (is this Christianity ?). 

But, this is just the mind in another guise.  After the mind has finished with trying to get you to do bad things, it tries to get you to do good.  It'll get you to do anything as long as it is involved.

Moving into the unknown is a profound change.  A quietly gigantic change.  If you are reflecting on ... hmmmm ... anything, you are in the domain of the known.  JK and Trungpa (my influences) are pointing into the unknown, and pointing out that all the 'known' is the same. 

kidnovice

  • Member
    • Theravada: with nuts and bolts from Goenka-ji, and fine tuning from Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #39 on: September 27, 2010, 10:05:25 PM »
I have those impulses too : 'useful tool', 'cultivate it as a skill', 'much more importantly ... shouldn't do it' ... i.e.  .... be a good and worthwhile being (is this Christianity ?).  

It's not about being "good and worthwhile." Its about being happy and free. And as it turns out, happiness and freedom is a skill. :) The things we do with our mind determine whether we will be happy and free. The sooner we train our minds to do those things, the sooner we are happy. It is in this sense that I use the term "should"  and the Buddha used terms like "Right" and "Skillful." (i.e., "IF you want happiness for yourselves and others, then you SHOULD...")

But, this is just the mind in another guise.  After the mind has finished with trying to get you to do bad things, it tries to get you to do good.  It'll get you to do anything as long as it is involved.

The Buddha's insight was that when the mind tries to get you to do good or bad things, it is not doing so randomly. When it tries to get you to do "good" things (i.e., things that lead to actual happiness), the mind is simply doing so because prior intentions and choices now incline it do so. Similarly, when the mind does "bad" things (i.e., things that prevent you from realizing true happiness), it does so only because of prior actions of the mind. This is what the Buddha called karma.

This is a powerful insight, because it means that you have the ability to train your mind to incline toward happiness. Its a difficult task, but the benefits come quite quickly (you might even say, immediately) once you truly begin the process.

It'll get you to do anything as long as it is involved.

Moving into the unknown is a profound change.  A quietly gigantic change.  If you are reflecting on ... hmmmm ... anything, you are in the domain of the known.  JK and Trungpa (my influences) are pointing into the unknown, and pointing out that all the 'known' is the same.  

It might help to contrast the Buddha's teachings with the approach you seem to be suggesting. What I hear you saying is that if we want to break free of the "push-and-pull" of the mind, we must find a way to keep the mind from being involved. We do this by moving into the "unknown." If this approach works for you, and leads you to happiness, then continue with it!

In my understanding, the Buddha (of the Pali cannon) taught a different approach that I have found quite fruitful. Instead of trying to un-involve the mind, the Buddha taught to retrain it so that its involvement is beneficial in your life (on and off the cushion). And as this process of training the mind unfolds, it naturally leads to a refined mastery of the subtle ways that the mind "gets involved" in things. As you gain that mastery, you are then able to reach a point where the mind is truly uninvolved.

The benefit of this approach is that it ensures mastery of even the most subtle forms of fabrication (i.e., "the mind getting involved"). It also leads to increased happiness along the way, while ensuring that when you finally arrive at the deathless (i.e., "the unknown"), when you come back, you will actually come back free.

Of course, perhaps these teachers are all pointing to the same destination. I am just inclined to believe that how you get there is as important (if not more) as the destination itself.

With metta,
KN
« Last Edit: September 27, 2010, 10:45:25 PM by kidnovice »
May we cultivate the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; the compassion to change the things we can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
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  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #40 on: September 28, 2010, 12:57:40 AM »

...I would really like to know where this fact comes from:


We are not going to go over old ground repeatedly. However, less than 2 per cent of people who take one Goenka course return for a second.


Because as far as my understanding, only VRI is really in a position to release figures as there are such a large number of centres worldwide. In my own experience, every time I have gone for a course, roughly about 1/5th's of the people were 'old students'


Yes, I very much have to call "B.S." on that number!

OK lets do some math. I'm going to need your help here. I'll come to that. ...

Although it sounds very authoritative to bandy about a statistic, I don't think it means much. And highly doubt its veracity. At the centers I have attended, I have consistently noticed a proportion closer to 1/3 old students. Now, that doesn't mean 1/3 of all students are returning. It simply means that there is such a strong desire by some students to return, that at the centers I frequent, courses are able to draw 40-60 old students per month.

You say 1/3 are older students, CP says about 20% or 1/5 ... we have a start with our math game. How many students does your centre draw in TOTAL every month?

Even if the number of returning students is low (like say, 10%), that fact isn't really a commentary on the teaching as much as it is a reflection on the remarkable service Goenka is providing to all.

I have to call BS on this. IT IS A COMMENTARY ON THE TEACHING/METHOD. 100%. If I go and see a Quentin Taratino film and swear I'll never see one again I am commenting on his methods.

Secondly far fewer than 10% return as I'm sure we will be able to prove.

..... standard sales pitch removed ....


In my observation, alot of people don't return because they simply don't want to sit 10 hours a day for 10 days straight.

Have to call BS on this again ... what have you done - a survey of non-returners ??? seriously you are in no position to explain why people don't go back - and this argument is weak.

Alot of people are happy to have done it ONCE, and say that's enough.

I friking bet they do.

They've got the "tools" they came for.

No - they have some tools - ones that won't achieve what they were looking for.

Or they wanted their "Goenka trip," and that's that.

Again ... sorry calling BS .... I ask again - have you done a survey???? If not you are projecting your ideas on to this situation in order to prop up your ego attachment to all things BIGGIE "G"

Many people prefer retreats that involve less sitting.

BS - where is the survey.

A significant number probably never meditate much afterwards, but that's true across ALL traditions for lay practitioners. As many of us know, maintaining a daily practice is MUCH more difficult (and much more rewarding) than completing even a Goenka retreat.

Won't argue with you here.

I personally know many meditators who practice in other traditions, but identify their Goenka course as the real turning-point in their practice where they finally "got it." That is where they discovered the power of giving so much attention to the body and cultivating equanimity. That is where they finally pushed themselves to get a glimpse of real concentration. So, why didn't they come back? Some wanted less structure on retreat. Some wanted longer retreats. Some wanted a broader focus (i.e. not just the body and breath). Others are "turned off" by the video, and want a more personal relationship with a teacher. Others can't find the time for so much retreat--i.e., they are regular folks with jobs and relationships-- and the longer you are away from your last course, the more daunting it can seem. Either way, the answers are pretty mundane. And I have no doubt that they make up 99% of the people who don't return.

That is one hell of a set of assumptions. You call my BS on 2% returning then say 99% of those who don't return it's for these shabby reasons??? Wooo cowboy.

It is for this reason that I think TIB's comment is a gross exaggeration based on evidence derived from a very small and non-representative sample.

BINGO.

Of course, my own observations are anecdotal, but I don't pretend otherwise. I have simply observed many courses and many attendees, and I'm now sharing what I have seen and heard.

OK so now to the simple math.

Out of the people who are returners to Goenka courses - your 33% and CP's 20% please tell me this:

What percentage are returning for their:

1) Second curse

2) Third Course

3) Fourth course

4) Fifth course

5) Sixth or greater course.

Thanks for your help. We'll do some sums with your answers.

Much love to all,

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

MEDITAT0R

Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #41 on: September 28, 2010, 06:51:31 AM »
... still waiting for your Goenka-course story, Matthew  :)

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
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    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #42 on: September 28, 2010, 07:26:42 AM »
... still waiting for your Goenka-course story, Matthew  :)

That will be good for your patience.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

kidnovice

  • Member
    • Theravada: with nuts and bolts from Goenka-ji, and fine tuning from Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #43 on: September 28, 2010, 08:14:51 AM »
As far as I am concerned, the real crux of this dispute over the value of Goenka's teachings comes down to whether it provides tools that are useful. Everything else is largely moot. None of us have "numbers," and thus we can only share our anecdotal evidence about people's experiences at Goenka retreats and their reasons for not returning.

As for my own observations, I am happy to concede that I did not actually conduct surveys at the end of courses. Likewise, I have not conducted official surveys of all the practitioners I know who have sat one or two Goenka courses and then opted to no longer attend. Instead, I have simply chatted with them, and enjoyed hearing their views. I then recounted my observations here (and yes, I think my observations are different from "assumptions"). I believe my observations offer a counterbalance to the comments TIB made. If you wish to question my bias, feel free to search my previous posts on this topic. I like to think that I have demonstrated an openness to critiquing different aspects of Goenka's approach.  If I noticed a stark trend of negative experiences, I would say so.  Believe me as you see fit.

Quote
Quote
They've got the "tools" they came for.
No - they have some tools - ones that won't achieve what they were looking for.

I'll just speak for myself then. I certainly have gained valuable tools from my experience at Goenka retreats. And they achieved much more than what I was looking for. Do I think they are the only tools I should use? No. But have they brought me great benefit? Yes.

With metta,
KN
May we cultivate the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; the compassion to change the things we can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

rideforever

Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #44 on: September 28, 2010, 08:41:50 AM »
...mastery...

Are you going to be a master ?  Of what ?

If you master your mind it has truly pulled you deeply into its trap.  Every ounce of effort leads you away from your natural being which is easy and free.  It reminds me of Chogyam Trungpa "Cutting Through Spritual Materialism".  The book slices straight through how people transfer material attachments into the spiritual domain - he says it is a great seductive trap.  I will be a great master.

Anyway - this is my orientation.  Different tools work for different people; perhaps it is possible to overcome through mastery.  It reminds me of what Osho said about the difference between yoga and tantra - that yoga is an attempt to master the bull, and tantra you just walk along in front of it holding grass in your hand.

I was also told a story : an abbott is leading two monks in meditation ... he walks passed the first who is lying back relaxed smiling ... and then the second ... sitting bolt upright trying very very hard a pained expression on his face ... the abbot whacks the second on the head and says "no, you idiot, like him !".   I like that.

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Member
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #45 on: September 28, 2010, 11:07:11 AM »
KN,

Please bear with me and play the maths game - answer the questions I asked. We'll get a reasonable approximation of figures.

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

kidnovice

  • Member
    • Theravada: with nuts and bolts from Goenka-ji, and fine tuning from Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #46 on: September 28, 2010, 06:25:36 PM »
Really, Matthew, I couldn't possibly begin to answer most of your questions with any sort of accuracy. As you say, I did not conduct a survey of students (and I don't say that cheekily)

Its easy to estimate how many students at a course are returning; every manager knows. Plus, when I'm sitting a course, I can always spot someone with whom I've sat before, and then estimate that there are at least a certain number of returning students. This has to do with how students are seated at a course.

However, I have very little idea how many people are returning for their third, fourth, or fifth courses.  All I know is that I typically see about 1/3 old students at the courses I attend. And that is obviously not the percentage of people who return since many of them could be repeat-returners. Indeed, if it turns out that the number of people returning for multiple courses is high, the overall percentage of returners could be quite low. (i.e., one small group of core Goenka practitioners would be constantly returning thus inflating the number of "old" students at a course).  Of course, I don't think that is really happening. Most of the "core" old students who are frequently returning to the center are doing so to volunteer at ("serve") courses.

Once thing I know is that there is great variation at each course in the percentage of people who have attended multiple courses. Although the proportion of old students to new students seems fairly constant (a conscious decision by the teachers, I bet), I've noticed that my seat position has significantly changed form course to course, indicating that the number of multiple-returners is different from course to course.

The only number I could estimate for you is the one that is embedded in the math I originally gave. The center I frequent seems to draw 120-200 people month for courses. I've only really been there in the summer months, but I "hear" the numbers are fairly constant.   

Anyway, I would much rather we focus on the crux of the issue. This conversation would be much more fruitful if it focused on the limitations of the "technique" itself.  Perhaps then, we might see areas for our potential growth. There are several people on this site, including myself, who have found that the tools we got from Goenka courses are quite useful. What disservice are we doing to ourselves by using these tools?  How would we benefit by ceasing to use those tools?

With metta,
KN

May we cultivate the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; the compassion to change the things we can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

kidnovice

  • Member
    • Theravada: with nuts and bolts from Goenka-ji, and fine tuning from Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #47 on: September 28, 2010, 06:39:03 PM »
...mastery...

Are you going to be a master ?  Of what ?

If you master your mind it has truly pulled you deeply into its trap.  Every ounce of effort leads you away from your natural being which is easy and free.  It reminds me of Chogyam Trungpa "Cutting Through Spritual Materialism".  The book slices straight through how people transfer material attachments into the spiritual domain - he says it is a great seductive trap.  I will be a great master.


There is certainly truth to what you are saying. And if someone is guaranteed to fall into the "I am becoming a master" trap, I wouldn't recommend approaching meditation as a skill to be developed or "mastered."  However, just because there is a pitfall on the path, doesn't mean we stop walking the path. Just watch out for the pitfall. :) Or as a much more accomplished practitioner once wrote:

"Many meditators are squeezing gravel to get sesame oil. Then they realize that this doesn't work and so they stop squeezing the gravel — and that's where they stop. They celebrate how great it is to stop squeezing gravel, thinking that that's the secret to good practice. Well, it's an important step, but the path actually consists of finding sesame seeds and squeezing them. It may take some effort but at least it produces real results." --Thanissaro Bhikkhu

I was also told a story : an abbott is leading two monks in meditation ... he walks passed the first who is lying back relaxed smiling ... and then the second ... sitting bolt upright trying very very hard a pained expression on his face ... the abbot whacks the second on the head and says "no, you idiot, like him !".   I like that.

Yes, I think we all want to be the guy who gets to lie back smiling rather than the one who works hard.  :)


May we all plant good seeds, and enjoy the fruits when they ripen,
KN
May we cultivate the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; the compassion to change the things we can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

Morning Dew

Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #48 on: September 28, 2010, 06:58:24 PM »
No goal my friends no goal. Keep on with your lives as it is and keep on with your meditation as it is. No goal.

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Member
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #49 on: September 28, 2010, 07:19:35 PM »
Dear KN,

The limitations of the technique and the pitfalls I have elucidated elsewhere at length but will recap a little. The mistranslation of the Pali word "Paramukham" makes Anapana in the Goenka style (and many other teachers), a mockery of what the Buddha taught (i.e. "fully face the object of meditation" not "meditate paying attention to your face").

This meaning is more etymologically and ontologically sound in the context of meditation - as the Buddha teaches "sensitive to the whole body and calming the whole body" and not "sensitive to the nose and developing laser-like concentration", in each and every meditation Sutta. "Sensitive to the whole body" is "fully facing" the body. And the Buddha starts with the body here right at the beginning of the process - not after three days.

This really is the key. Fully facing something means owning up to it, remembering it, accepting it. "Sati" or awareness/mindfulness is synonymous with "remembering". Anapana at the nose blocks out bodily awareness and stops remembering. The calm concentrated mind arrived at does not have the same quality as one arrived at through relaxing into the body-mind through whole body breathing meditation. This is why when people on Goenka courses move on to his "Vipassana" there are quite a few who suffer catastrophic de-compensations - they do not have a properly calmed mind, merely concentration. And that concentration can be damaging - Goenka blames such de-compensations on people practicing other techniques or Reiki or doing drugs or being mentally ill (all forms of blaming the meditator) - he never seems to have stopped to wonder, "could it be something in the technique we use".

And yes you are exactly right that old students sitting multiple courses reduces the percentage of first timers when you do the math. It does so quite significantly. If on average those old students sit just 2.94 courses per year then it is approximately 2% of students who return for a second course. From the sounds of it you are sitting at least 2 - 3 courses per year and seeing a lot of old faces - which makes quite reasonable the percentage of 2% (which I did not invent but can no longer find the source for). Certainly it is not incorrect by orders of magnitude.

You are also right that you and others gain some benefit from the techniques/tools you are given. We all gain the benefit of "better teeth" if we drink poisonous fluoride in our water - we don't need it and the only reason it's in the water anywhere is because the Aluminium smelting industry needed to find a use for this toxic waste. They did a good sales job. I won't go into the real way to get better teeth because MEDITATOR will go off on one - the point is something seemingly beneficial may cause much harm - fluoride certainly does.

Warmly, in the Dhamma,

Matthew

Ref:

"FLUORIDE IS ONE OF OUR GREAT PUBLIC HEALTH VICTORIES. FLUORIDE IS TOXIC WASTE THAT DOES MORE HARM THAN GOOD." By: Engelhart, Katie, Gulli, Cathy, Köhler, Nicholas, Maclean's, 00249262, 9/28/2009, Vol. 122, Issue 3
« Last Edit: September 28, 2010, 07:34:32 PM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
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