Author Topic: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.  (Read 29245 times)

kidnovice

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Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #50 on: September 28, 2010, 11:42:47 PM »
Thanks for your lengthy response, Matthew. Before I respond (and I'm not even going to try to reply to all your points!), I'd like to first frame my comments by acknowledging that I have recently begun directing my entire practice toward developing whole-body awareness. This is in no small part due to many comments you have made on this forum. I am grateful that you planted these seeds. Coincidentally, I recently found myself drawn to Thanissaro Bhikkhu's teachings, and after spending a couple weeks at his monastery, I'm thoroughly persuaded that whole-body breathing is the direction I ought to be going now.

I say this to point out that I offer no critique of your approach, and I'm NOT recommending Goenka's teachings as an alternative to yours. I'm not yet proficient in "whole body breathing," and thus I'm not in a position to evaluate it.   However, my own experience does lead me to believe that some aspects of Goenka's teaching can be quite complimentary. (it is worth noting that Goenka himself suggests that his entire teaching is about training the mind to be thoroughly aware of the body with each breath.)

With that said, I hope you don't mind that I suggest that the following tactic is not conducive to dialogue:

Quote
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

Whether intended or not, it comes across as quite dismissive of any benefits a person might be experiencing (while alleging a detriment that we don't see happening in ourselves). It basically shuts down any opportunity for sharing. It would be much more fruitful to create an atmosphere where all practitioners, including "Goenka-ites"  (if there are any here) felt free to describe their meditation experiences in more detail. You would then have the chance to point out ways that they might be hurting themselves, and suggesting ways that a more "whole-body" approach could remedy any deficiencies they are experiencing.


In that vein, I am happy to offer some of my own observations for review. To be clear, I'm not here to defend Goenka or everything he teaches. Here is what I have found especially useful: (a) systematically moving awareness through all parts of the body, (b) training the awareness to move in different ways and different speeds, (c) training the awareness to be both microscopic and macroscopic, (d) cultivating a non-reactive awareness to what is being observed, and thus remaining open to anything that might be occurring in the body, (e) training the mind to be capable of sensing even very subtle sensations, and (e) generating a kind and loving awareness that is tuned into the subtle flow of bodily-vibrations associated with joy.

Those skills are taught quite explicitly at courses, and I have found tremendous advantage in all of them.  Indeed, I think it is these practical aspects of Goenka's style that most "returners" value (that, and of course, the opportunity to sit silently in a structured setting with virtually no pressure to pay-up).  Pretty much everything else can go to the scrap-heap for all I care, though I'm sure if I have to stop attending Goenka- courses, I will also miss his gas-powered lawn-mower of a voice.  :'(  Which of the skills that I mentioned do you see as especially detrimental or simply unhelpful?

With metta,
KN
« Last Edit: September 29, 2010, 12:28:25 AM 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.

MEDITAT0R

Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #51 on: September 29, 2010, 05:41:38 AM »
@Matthew: What about you requesting adding vitamin D instead of fluoride to the drinking water? ;-) ...

As long as I don't know about your own experience in a Goenka-course, there will remain a feeling that it is some kind of crusade you're leading because something personnel happened. So, I respect if you don't wish to share your experience, but this doubt will thus remain.

@all: I'd like to follow Matthew in playing the math game", and am going to ask a friend doing a lot of registration on the courses for reliable data.

The question is: what will we do with these numbers?

I have been doing a lot of service in registration over the last years, too, and would like to add the following observations and thoughts:
1. In Europe, there is usually a long waiting list for the courses. Some centers could easily accomodate double or triple the actual number of seats if there were sufficient facilities. Now isn't this huge demand already a sign for the success of the technique - beeing recommended to these applicants?
2. Due to this over-demand, many centers started a policy to give preferred admission to new students. P.e. in Switzerland new students were always given permission and old students had no seat for sure until short term before the course (at least this was the case two years ago). Or in Germany, as old students do usually register earlier than new ones, they confirm just half or less of the actual number of places to old students. And because about one third of the applicants usually cancels before the course, the number of old students drops down even more.
3. There are a lot of courses only for old students, too. Like Satipatthana Sutta courses, one or three day courses, not to neglect all the long courses.
4. So, even if we had an exact percentage of returners, this doesn't reflect the actual interest to do another course - many old students might not be able to join because of that policy to give new students a chance to learn the technique.
5. And also if we made up a huge inquiry and would get a definite percentage of how many people would have returned: this doesn't really reflect the benefit of a technique. P.e. it is very beneficial to become a monk, no doubt about that I guess? But does the percentage of humans actually taking robes really express its benefit?

I am looking forward at how this discussion develops furthermore.
At least it seems we left the sandbox and settled down in a classroom - for a math class :-).

Morning Dew

Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #52 on: September 29, 2010, 05:52:26 AM »
Quote
What about you requesting adding vitamin D instead of fluoride to the drinking water? ;-) ..

@ meditator; what about adding rat poison instead of drinking water ?

Remain relaxed ( or not) ;)


Matthew

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Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #53 on: September 29, 2010, 07:39:22 AM »
@KN

I apologise if I sounded dismissive, I was using simile. The fact is we do gain some benefits from fluoride in drinking water and these are outweighed greatly by the toxic effects. The same I believe to be true of Goenka's method: there are benefits to be gained however these come at a great cost. The fact that you are moving towards a more whole body approach suggests to me that you have personally found the limits of Goenka's teachings. As to the specifics you mention they all accrue from properly based meditation.

Pamojjam, one of our old regulars who was a Goenka follower - despite being banned from the organisation - was unable to move beyond this point and is in an entrenched war with VRI over these issues, demanding to be re-admitted and listened to - whilst being roundly ignored. As a result he is spiritually stuck in a time warp.

EDIT: You asked which practices I saw as detrimental. Anapana at the nose is detrimental for the reasons expounded above. Body scanning is detrimental as it is a fabrication and not an acceptance of "what is".

@MEDITATOR

Re: Vitamin D .... obviously that was the connection I was deliberately not expressing. You may not know much about Vitamin D. Having spent a year reviewing the scientific literature I do.

Vitamin D deficiency (<50% optimal levels) is epidemic in the modern world due to our lifestyles (i.e. approximately 75% of the population). Deficiency is highly correlated with dental problems for several reasons. Firstly it regulates calcification in bony structures, secondly it regulates cell growth throughout our bodies, thirdly it regulates the immune system in multiple ways and fourthly, with calcium,  it makes up the intracellular bonds that hold soft tissues together - gum disease is primarily due to Vitamin D deficiency. Have a read of this article: Vitamin D and Teeth - Is Your Dental Health at Risk?

Re: My "personal experience/problems of Goenka retreats". As I said you will have to be patient my friend - it isn't coming. I have no personal experience of being gassed to death with Cyclon B by the Nazi's in a Polish concentration camp. However, I know categorically it isn't good for your health or longevity and I do not have to go through that experience to know this. Intelligent reflection on the facts is enough.

I am not leading any crusade. Pointing out truth about an organisation that is dear to you may seem like a crusade from your point of view. It is not so.

Re: The numbers game and new students. I think I made my point quite clearly. 2% is a fairly accurate number. It may be 4% or 5% but I doubt it - even if it is the figure I quoted is not incorrect by an order of magnitude. Your numbers game is skewed for the reasons you point out: new students are now being given priority. It won't provide an accurate picture.

Additionally the number of people applying for Goenka retreats may well be rising. This does not mean they are good, successful or anything else. Compared to other "products" on the retreat shelf they offer great value for money. We are in the middle of a global recession. Less people can afford to go on expensive retreats.

It is also a sign of the great weakness of modern man: we are weak - we want someone to show us the way - and in a time when people are spiritually bereft and increasingly suffering material poverty too they are feeling the crunch badly.

Really, if Goenka wanted an organisation that was to become a real living tradition, the teachers on courses would give the teachings - and not just press buttons. This would offer a real measure of the success of his teachings: that his 20 year old recordings have to be constantly recycled shows that he is incapable of teaching anyone to deliver his teachings. This is a bad sign and must be questioned by anyone with a brain. The standard sales pitch about "maintaining purity of teachings" is BS because Goenka does not follow the methods of his master and certainly deviates greatly from the methods of the Buddha.

We have been through these points time and time again on this forum. Soon I think I am going to make a new board called the Goenka controversies (or something like that) and put all the threads in one place. Then people can reference them easily and we don't have to go over this all again.

In the mean time the greatest benefit comes from being honest with yourself and maintaining a practice that is well founded and leads to real change in your life, greater understanding, compassion, insight, skilfulness and effective action. In this way we each become a part of the solution and stop being a part of the problem. Vipassanaforum is here to help people with that, not for endless repetitive samsaric BS.

Warm regards to all. May your practice flourish in the Dhamma to the benefit of all sentient beings.

Matthew
« Last Edit: September 29, 2010, 07:55:24 AM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

kidnovice

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Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #54 on: September 29, 2010, 09:48:24 PM »
I apologise if I sounded dismissive, I was using simile. The fact is we do gain some benefits from fluoride in drinking water and these are outweighed greatly by the toxic effects. The same I believe to be true of Goenka's method: there are benefits to be gained however these come at a great cost.

I agree that Goenka's "method," taken as a whole, (technique +strict structure of retreats+ impersonal delivery of teachings +ironically sectarian leanings) comes with risks. Anyone who denies this is seriously not paying attention. Goenka says as much. And this is a problem--an  ethical one, which I'll get to in a second. You obviously disagree with what I'm about to say, but I think Goenka's method is also extremely efficient for those people with the temperament for it. I think this is why so many people say that their Goenka retreat radically improved their practice and deepened their insight more than any other retreat they had done (no surveys, but I swear I've heard countless serious practitioners say this while explaining why they still decided it wasn't for them. Its practically a cliche).


This brings me to the ethical problem that I'd like to pose for everyone. Its the utilitarian dilemma-- is it wise to propagate a method that helps most people, significantly advances a few, but traumatizes a small minority?  Whether you agree with TIB's characterization, I'm pretty sure that this is part of what he is pointing out to us. And if our metta practice is to mean anything, this is an issue we should grapple with. Here's what I know. Even though we're talking about a minority being hurt (let's say 2.9%  ;D), when you're dealing with Goenka's numbers, THAT'S alot of traumatized people. Some of those people obviously came in with mental illness. But my sense is that alot of them didn't. At all. (well, no more than you or me).

Now, as for the technique...

As to the specifics you mention they all accrue from properly based meditation.

I was a bit surprised to hear you say this. Other "Goenka-practitioners" can correct me on this, but I thought I had basically captured the essence of Goenka's meditation technique in those "specifics." I think many people become proficient at these skills in a remarkably short amount of time by attending Goenka courses.

The question then becomes whether these people (myself included) are unknowingly suffering from "toxic effects" even though our experience tells us we are generating less toxicity. Do you think this is the case? Can you describe these effects that we are experiencing?

Body scanning is detrimental as it is a fabrication and not an acceptance of "what is".

But couldn't it be a skillful fabrication much like the bhramavijaras, concentration, sati, and really the noble eight-fold path? At some point all fabrications need to be undone, but as the Buddha discovered, some fabrications actually bring us closer to that point. Really, body scanning is merely a development/expression of some of the skills you approved: "(a) systematically moving awareness through all parts of the body, (b) training the awareness to move in different ways and different speeds, (c) training the awareness to be both microscopic and macroscopic"

Seems to me, body scanning is about accepting things as they are... just part by part, until you're ready for the mouthful. :)

The fact that you are moving towards a more whole body approach suggests to me that you have personally found the limits of Goenka's teachings.

Honestly, I can't say I have reached the limit. In fact, I know I haven't. I have simply reached a point where, given my individual temperament, I believe that whole-body breathing would be an invaluable tool to have soon (as opposed to later, as Goenka suggests). I certainly don't feel that I've begun detecting a point of toxicity. Of course, I'm open to suggestions.

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.

Lokuttara

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Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #55 on: October 13, 2010, 03:55:12 PM »
KN, you have described and highlighted the benefits of Goenka's technique very well, well said my friend. This is a very useful conversation. Although at times, I have a feeling that open communication is not really taking place. One of the parties appears not to be completely open. This is just my humble opinion, and I'm doing my best to speak without any aversion or in a reactive way. Sending metta to that person so we may have more openess, and a more beneficial, love and non-reactive exploration without any prejudice for/against any particular technique :)

Also, experiential wisdom is important imho. How can you deny something, or speak about it in any way, if you have not experienced it yourself? Somebody else's words or experience, somebody else's wisdom, is not your wisdom. Find out for yourself, then speak from ones own experience :)

Remain relaxed and keep sending metta :)
« Last Edit: October 13, 2010, 04:00:58 PM by Lokuttara »
"One may be surrounded by great beauty, by mountains and fields and rivers, but unless one is alive to it all one might just as well be dead." Krishnamurti

Mindfullness

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Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #56 on: October 20, 2010, 02:30:50 AM »
Hello!

I have a few questions regarding Vipassana and also Tantra.

I have done one 10 day Vipassana Course by Goenka. I thought I got a lot out of it. However, I am confused regarding the correct execution of the technique. When doing Vipassana, when you move from to bottom on your body, moving from sensation to sensation, is it OK to be visualizing your body parts as you do this. For instance, when I move to my arm, is it ok If I have a visualize picture of my arm in my head as I try to sense a sensation in that part of the body? I thought this would be ok, but then I thought that maybe visualizing my body parts as I do this is creating a false image and is violating the idea of " seeing things as they are", which is what Vipassana wants us to work towards.

Secondly, I have started to read the epic known as The Book of Secrets by Osho and I was wondering if it is OK to do both Vipassana and meditations from Osho's book at the same time?

Vivek

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Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #57 on: October 20, 2010, 04:59:54 AM »
Hi nliyan25.

Quote
When doing Vipassana, when you move from to bottom on your body, moving from sensation to sensation, is it OK to be visualizing your body parts as you do this.
I suggest you don't visualize anything while doing Vipassana. Goenkaji himself instructs not to visualize body parts etc while meditating.

Quote
Secondly, I have started to read the epic known as The Book of Secrets by Osho and I was wondering if it is OK to do both Vipassana and meditations from Osho's book at the same time?
Please do not mix Vipassana with any other technique. Osho's meditations are indeed helpful in many ways. However, I suggest that when you do Vipassana, you do only Vipassana. You may practice other techniques before/after your Vipassana sessions.

Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?

rideforever

Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #58 on: October 20, 2010, 06:00:37 AM »
Secondly, I have started to read the epic known as The Book of Secrets by Osho and I was wondering if it is OK to do both Vipassana and meditations from Osho's book at the same time?

I would suggest you do what you want to do.  If not sure, experiment.

Morning Dew

Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #59 on: October 20, 2010, 06:44:43 AM »
I prefer starting or ending my Shamatha-Vipassana session with Qigong/energy work-streching. This seems to keep me fresh in both ways.
If i do only sitting meditation it drains me sometimes depending on how hard the ego self fights back.
If i only want to strech i do the Sun Salutation 20 times especialy when i get up in the morning and still feel sleepy.

I agree with Vivek when choping wood do only that but as soon you stop choping wood start cleaning the windows. If you do both at the same time ... well, i'll let you imagine the rest ;) lol

In my opinion and Shamatha-Vipassana should be the first meditation for one to practice until deep mental calm is achived before moving to other techniques. I too will move more into Qigong once my mind is calm and i feel compassion is taking over my heart instead of anger and worry.
But until then Shamatha will do with little basic Qigong or Sun Salutation.

Remain mindful remain relaxed

Mindfullness

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Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #60 on: October 20, 2010, 02:03:43 PM »
Thank you guys! So basically, would it be ok if I practiced Vipassana, but just NOT at the same time I tried tantra(basically, do Tantra later in the day)?

Lokuttara

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Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #61 on: October 20, 2010, 02:12:55 PM »
Should be fine IMHO, but please email your nearest Vipassana teacher with this question. You can get their details from the centre.

I think the idea is to not practise or mix things at the exact same time. So if you do Yoga, then do Yoga. But don't do Vipassana and start mixing in Yoga stuff to it.
"One may be surrounded by great beauty, by mountains and fields and rivers, but unless one is alive to it all one might just as well be dead." Krishnamurti

JAB2202

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Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #62 on: December 06, 2020, 02:49:23 PM »
Quote
 

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. It is no exaggeration to ask the question I did.

It's not just Goenka that has it wrong. I also do not find I can agree with: Tibetan/Vajrayana Buddhism, Pureland Buddhism, Shin Buddhism, and the vast majority of East Asian Buddhists who go to the temple and offer food for merit in their next lives and worship Buddha statues then go get drunk and frik a whore.

And it may be a tiny minority of negative reports one hears - but I can assure you, there is an equally tiny minority of Goenka course attendees on the other side of this argument, making noise about how good it is.

It's all clinging to view and this is pointless and hinders progress on the path.

Matthew

Hello Matthew,

I know this post is really old, but I have only read it now.
Which type of meditation/vipassana are you practicing? Please let me know.
I am interested to get to know other techniques, but is's not easy to separate the wheat from the chaff as there are so many around.
Thank you!

With Metta,
Jackie
« Last Edit: December 06, 2020, 07:50:26 PM by raushan »
If you can't do it with the mind, do it with the body.

Matthew

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    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #63 on: December 07, 2020, 06:59:21 PM »
Hi Jackie,

No worries about digging up the old thread. I must admit I feel discomfort reading back some of my answers here - they lack skilfulness and do not amount to wholesome speech, so thank you for that. It is a good reminder to be compassionate and considerate always when posting - not something I was achieving consistently ten years ago.

To answer your question:

Mindfulness of breathing is my recommendation with the focus on the entire body-mind experience.

This is as introduced in the Calm-abiding or Shamatha/Vipassana text available from the homepage. That is really the baby steps described there.

Reading the Anapanasati Sutta and Satipatthana Sutta (and/or Maha-Satipatthana Sutta) can show you the next steps. These texts can be accessed on accesstoinsight.org - I recommend reading more than one version by different translators, and some commentaries too.

When reading these texts it is important to bear in mind that they are a written version of an oral tradition, so they have a very repetitive format. This repetition helped make recall and accurate passing on easier during the days of this being an oral tradition. It does mean getting into the right headspace to make sense of the texts (I found reading out loud to myself at first helped, though maybe I am just weird - but it kind of reproduces the way these texts were transmitted and remembered before they were put on paper).

I hope that helps.

Kindly,

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

JAB2202

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Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #64 on: December 08, 2020, 01:54:06 PM »
Hello Mattew,

great, thank you! I digged them up. Just to make sure I've found the right text, since there are so many. Were you referring to these below?

http://www.abhidhamma.com/Samatha_and_Vipassana_ebook.pdf

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.010.than.html

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.118.than.html

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.22.0.than.html

I find being compassionate with (some) others very challenging too, especially with my noisy Spanish neighbours. They are living with about 10 perrots - you can imagine the noise level. :) No sign of them, of course, before we moved into the place and therefore considered it quiet and peaceful.

With Metta,
Jackie
« Last Edit: December 08, 2020, 01:58:09 PM by JAB2202 »
If you can't do it with the mind, do it with the body.

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 #65 on: December 13, 2020, 09:20:02 PM »
Hi Jackie,

Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding - I've not been feeling too well. The first text you link to by Nandamālābhivaṃsa is very much in the lineages of Burmese Vipassana study. I haven't studied it closely yet but the text I was referring to above is hosted on the forum.

Shamatha (calm) and Vipassana (insight/clear-seeing) are fruits of meditation, they both develop and grow naturally from the practice, so on first examination of the text above, I am inclined to suspect it may be somewhat academic and self-referential. I'll take a deeper look soon I hope. The basic instruction I've used for many years is very secular. It really is about the grounding of the practice without any bells and whistles.

The text can be found here and there is a pdf download linked too.

I notice all the translations you have linked to are by Thanissaro Bikkhu - a respected chap, but not enlightened. I would suggest putting the names of the Suttas into accesstoinsight and reading around various translators and commentaries. There are 110 results for Sathipatthana Sutta for example.

Kindly,

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

JAB2202

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Re: Ex Goenka practisioners Survivors Group.
« Reply #66 on: December 15, 2020, 03:38:31 PM »
Hello Matthew,

thank you again for your help and no need to apologize. I'll look into it.
Get well soon!

With Metta,
Jackie
If you can't do it with the mind, do it with the body.

 

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