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#1 RobertK

RobertK

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 12:50 PM

http://de.geocities....m/vipassana.htm


Vipassana


An inquiry (2006-05-08)


Vipassanā could be translated as `seeing things as they have
become'. It is a meditative method to unfold Compassion through
direct experience - and at the same time - Wisdom through
investigation. By the practice of Vipassanā my personal life has
changed dramatically to the better.

The more I was disturbed when I realized, that contrary to my
personal life - the Vipassanā - organization of S. N. Goenka
seems to change to the worse. Finally (after 10 years) it came to
an honest exchange with a high - ranking western senior teacher of
S. N. Goenka, where I tried to explain my opinion in which ways,
we - as an organization - aree heading in the wrong direction.

As a result of this honest exchange with this Achariya (a fully
authorized teacher), he prohibited me from visiting any further
10 - day course and also insisted that I not be allowed to
participate in any future old students group sittings - unless,
I agree to contact him and confess complete faith in all the
theoretical explanations given in the evening discourses by
Goenkaji (and so: my surrender to the actual practice itself was
not in dispute).

My aim was to discuss these deteriorations in our organization out
of serious concern - and not at all for the sake of argument, or
to express disrespect. I do not believe to be in everything
absolutely right or could not have misunderstood some.
Nevertheless, this teacher only replied that my prohibition would
be to my own good. And to a Dhamma - friend who tried to intervene
he reasoned: 'Because I would put my own Cardamom seeds in my rice
pudding.' (a simile of Goenka, signifying: 'If you don't like the
theory, then leave it out [as the Cardamom seeds of a rice
pudding] and just do the practice, which alone will help.')

After waiting in vain for 9 months on an answer to my `kick out'
from Goenkaji himself, I decided to start a worldwide discussion
between Goenka - students on the Internet. Because if Goenkaji is
not available to serious requests by long - time students of him and
if he is not willing to explain such decisions - then our
organization is already becoming a sect and probably will
disintegrate as soon as its teacher is gone. And if there are no
other unifying factors in place. Which apparently only an open
discussion about these pressing issues can try to address - with
the benefit of Goenkaji still able to participate in such a
discussion !

I am asking for contribution by anyone willing to give - for
example -

to my inquiry into the adverse implications of some theoretical
assumptions

in which areas of our organization we have to be prepared to
encounter fencing off of members and splitting of our community

or to relate any personal experiences - which were more confusing
than they could clarify

With the later - please try to write just:

what and how it happened (without guild - imputations)

what you felt (without making others responsible for your feelings)

what were your needs not met

and what concrete behavior you could please the involved person
of, to meet your needs (just ask - don't expect)

This, at first, awkward scheme of talking is called 'compassionate
communication', and it has been very effective in very hopeless
conflicts. As I want to avoid any escalation - and only to
increase wholesomeness. I will try to respond to all requesting
mails, but it may take time, also because I am not directly
connected to the net.

This page is intended to improve mutual understanding, to be
prepared to reveal sectarian tendencies in its beginnings - so no
one has to fear anymore to be kicked out by telling his opinions.
And of course for me to be able to come to courses without having to
distrust and deny my own experiences (or if proved wrong - to be
helped to adjust them).



"May all my deeds and non - deeds ripen at its time to full
maturity - for the highest good of all beings.

May all beings be at ease and free !"



responses >




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Areas of Inquiry


No Blind Beliefs:
By the publications of the V.R.I. (Vipassanā Research Institute,
Igatpuri; the research center of our tradition) and the taped
discourses of Goenkaji himself it is repeatedly emphasized, that
Dhamma (the teachings of the Buddha) has nothing to do with blind
faith, and that one has to accept only those things, which one has
found to be wholesome for oneself and others.

But I was told by an Achariya, if I finally do not believe in
certain theoretical aspects of Goenka's teaching which, for some
reason, I have found to increase unwholesomeness through my own
experience - than I am no more allowed to participate in group -
meditations and have to leave Goenka's organization ?

To which Goenkaji apparently gives his silent consent since 9 months.





Ancient Tradition:
According to the Pali Suttā, the written down teachings of the
Buddha, the Buddha himself taught Kasina - visualizations (1) for
Samatha (concentration) - practice. Also the personal teacher of
Goenkaji himself, Sayagyi U Ba Khin wrote in a pamphlet of the IMC
(2) (International Meditation Center, Yangon) in 1961, how he
instructed verbalizations for concentration - practice.

Goenka still claims that his teaching descended in its pristine
purity - through an unbroken chain of teachers - to his teacher
Sayagyi U Ba Khin and then on to himself. Through this statement:
Goenka tries to give authority to his prohibition of any
verbalization, or visualization - and as not belonging to the
original meditation - instructions of the Buddha !

Although I have always continued to practice Goenka's way without
verbalization or visualizations. Nevertheless I have to believe
Goenka's unsubstantiated claims - otherwise I find that I am no
longer welcome to meditate in Goenka's meditation centers ?





Giving Donations:
Goenkaji insists that Dhamma should always be given without
expecting anything in return - even if it meant for Goenka to
separrate from others that are authorized by Sayagyi U Ba Khin to
teach (i.e. Mother Sayama or Ruth Denison).

Despite this ideal, I was told by an Achariya that, after a total
of 1 year practice in Goenka's meditation centers, I am expected
by this Achariya to give at least 1 year of work to Goenka's
organization (beside the monetary donations already given) ?

Again without being declared invalid by Goenkaji since 9 months.





Surrendering Morality:
According to the understanding of an Achariya: An experienced
student of Goenka - with the extent of my practice - is not
allowed to take the Suttā and Vinaya (rules of conduct for monks and
nuns) as `the Teacher' ? - As the Buddha advised just before his
Parinibbāna (the final liberation at the time of death) concerning
his successor. (3)

Also, I am not allowed to follow the Buddha's advice - and
therefore should not observe the teacher - for a conscientious
observation period - if his behavior is still being influenced by
craving, aversion or delusion ? (4) In my case, on the
contrary, I have to put Sutta and Vinaya below S. N. Goenka -
and surrender to him completely (over and above my surrender to
practice exactly according to the meditation instructions) - even
if he holds different views to the Sutta or Vinaya of the Buddha ?

Goenkaji seems to agree with this understanding through his silent
consent since 9 months.





Other Vipassana Traditions:
In making the distinction between his Vipassanā and that of Ven.
Mahasi Sayadaw, Goenkaji says the method - in which one labels
ones breath: `Rising' and `falling' during Ānāpāna (awareness of
breath meditation), or ones steps: `Left' and `right' during
walking - meditation - is missing the direct experience which is
the only thing that can liberate.

In the Sayagyi U Ba Khin Journal Goenkaji writes that he were
personally acquainted with Ven. Mahasi. But Goenka appears not to
know that Ven. Mahasi - contrary to his opinion - instructed his
beginners to put only 5 percent of their awareness on labeling and
the remaining 95 percent of awareness into the direct experience of
it. And as a meditator eventually progresses in Mahasi's
meditation, he or she is instructed to stop labeling altogether !
(5)

Although I cannot be sure, I suspect that Goenka must have known
about this, and maybe this is the very reason Goenka's teachers
advise students not to speak with teachers of other Vipassanā
traditions ? Would this not be slander ?





Imbalanced Meditators:
During my first year of practice I became acquainted with 3 cases of
new 10 - day course students who were seriously harmed by their
very first courses. Two of them tried to commit suicide the day
after Metta - day (one of the suicide attempts resulted in a broken
spine on the 1st of January 1997 in Bodhgaya; the other, 10 years
before after a course with Goenka - as the teacher in Bodhgaya
too - with ruptured lung and skull) the third had to stay in a
mental hospital for 2 years because of a revived episode of
childhood abuse - which had come up in his first course in
Australia.

I have got the information that V.R.I. of Igatpuri researched cases
concerning 10 such persons who were harmed. All, except one who
couldn't be found, allegedly had either mixed Vipassanā with other
methods of meditation, healing techniques or were using drugs. As
a result - the responsibility of experiencing such serious mental
disturbances was given by the researchers to these persons for
mixing various meditation methods, healing techniques or drugs.

I am surprised that Goenka's researchers did not understand that
mentally suffering people will almost always try any method to
alleviate their pain - even if it means using drugs for self -
medication. Therefore, in reality the use of these alternative
palliatives in combination with Goenka's method are, essentially,
attempts to alleviate the pain of the mental suffering - rather
than, as some researcheers of Goenka would insist, the actual
cause of the suffering.

Further, this seems to occur when they are placed under the strict
regulations of a first 10 - day course - at which time some
respond with symptoms of mental imbalance. I think it is possible
that these episodes of mental breakdown occur because, in the
interviews with the teacher, a student is only asked if he conforms
to the technique. In depth personal psychological histories are
only provided by the students - and not by independent
evaluation. This, unfortunately, can be a perfect way for a
person with, for example, depression or schizophrenia, to pass
unrecognized.

In this regard, I have found that teachers generally are not
sensitive to inner experiences at all (except some with a
psychological background) - which would be the only truly
effective to recognize and to help such students !



responses >



The Monks Path:
Once, when the Buddha was harshly criticized for declaring a
deceased monk a Sotāpanna (1st of 4 irreversible stages towards
full awakening), because this monk had often changed between the
life of a monk and a householder - at which times he always
reverted too alcoholism. But the Buddha remained very firm in
justifying this monk a Sotāpanna ! (6)

Another example: If a Bhikkhu (monk) happens to have self - sex,
he has to confess and regret it immediately. If he hides it, he
has to leave the monastery for the length of days that he denied
this. (7)

And so, a Bhikkhu confessing a fault means progress on the path -
and, because of this, he is not prohibited to continue with
meditation. But, on the contrary, a serious student of Goenka has
to wait for 2 years to continue with serious meditation in long
courses after a transgression with alcohol, self sex - or if he
practiced another method off Vipassanā.

Repeatedly, I was discouraged to enter the living Sangha (community
of monks) for more serious Vipassanā practice by our Achariyas,
because, allegedly, monks no longer meditate or keep the 127 rules
for monks. It is a common and subtly expressed belief of Goenka's
teachers that Dāna (donations) is the sign of real progress on the
path - but the Nekkhamma (renunciation) of a meditator or monk as
something inferior. (8)

By practicing, in some respects, even more severe rules than the
Bhikkhus that were guided by the Buddha, and valuing Dāna higher
than Nekkhamma - do Goenka students and teachers not appear that
they think themselves to be superior to the Bhikkhus ?

Despite Goenkaji repeatedly paying his highest respects to the
Sangha ?





Way of Propagation:
Goenkaji says: All the circumstances during a 10 - day course are
there to help the meditators to progress, and that this has been
proved by the experiences of thousands of Vipassanā - meditators.
But in statistics from 1997 by V.R.I. in Igatpuri, it was shown
that of about 200.000 participants who visited a first, 10 - day
course since Goenka started to teach - only about 20.000 came
back to a second.

If one considers how few students actually come back for a second
course, or how many more fail to continue with their meditation for
years - and then, adding to this (from my experience) how
confused many of the teachers still are about the Dhamma - I guess
it comes down to about 1 percent who really reach security on this
path (become Sotāpanna).

Isn't it Goenka's true motive behind this advertisement that he is
only trying to give confidence in his particular method to students ?

Why is he not willing to disprove, as he claims he would do, with
empirical research how the statistics would change (especially with
respect to first time students who get harmed) if the teachers had
to undergo basic Suttā study, give Dhamma talks, get training in
basic psychological / counseling skills - and adjust to specific
situations if, or when, they should arise ?





Lay Followers:
It is Goenka's conviction that, at the time of the Buddha, many
thousands of laymen practiced Vipassanā (an interpretation from the
commentaries (9)). But, at the same time, of the more then 80
places in the Suttā, where Satipatthāna - practice is mentioned,
only in 4 Suttā are laymen present - with two of them at other
places identified as Anāgāmin. (10)

Furthermore: Even Anāthapindika - whom Goenka claims has donated
so much because of the benefits of his practice in Satipatthāna -
asked Ven. Sāriputta at his deathbed, with tears on his
cheeks: "Why do laymen never get such meditation instructions ?"
Because - even at that time, he had only received - for the
first time - instructions in Sense - Restraint (a preliminary
practice to Satipatthāna) ! (11)

In the Suttā, the Buddha recommends that lay people gradually
practice Dāna, Sīla (ethical behavior) and the 6 Recollections
during Uposatha - day (recollection of Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha,
Sīla, Devatā [Heaven] and Cāga [giving up]) (12) - until
they
are ready to renounce thee laymen life and start to practice as
monks.

But somehow, it appears to me, that Goenka seems not concerned
about having misled 90 percent of all first - time students - who
never come back - thhat his Vipassanā - meditation would be the
only way to practiice Dhamma - while in the Suttā the Buddha
taught them other things more according to their abilities.

In doing so, does Goenka not effectively close them off from all
other avenues of approach to Dhamma ? He would not only prohibit
them to give Dāna before attending a 10 - day course (which is just
the opposite of what the Buddha did) but, on top of this, it
would mean to waste incredible amounts of Dāna (?)

Could this not, somehow, only indicate that a big numbers of
first - time meditators and meditation centers - and not the most
effective way off giving Dhamma - are of utmost importance to
Goenkaji ?





Sectarianism:
Goenka uses the concept `Purity of Vibrations' for signifying the
vibrations of one who is practicing his Vipassanā - method only.
Then it is used for the vibrations of a place where only his
Vipassanā is practiced. Further, it is also used for the vibrations
of Devā (~Angels) which are attracted to such a place.

A big part of Goenka's discourses is devoted to make this point
clear. More precisely: If one is practicing Vedanānupassanā
(awareness of sensations) only, one does not mix it with any
verbalization or visualization (not considering that for the longer
part of ones practice recognition of Impermanence is a Sañña
[recognition] too) - one only tries to keep the universal
teachings of the Buddha pure - and maintains this `purity of
vibrations'.

This very Buddha taught Ven. Meghiya to meditate at once on
the 'recollection of ugliness' when he feels desire. (13) To
practice Metta (loving - kindness) when muddled with hhate (in
another Sutta it is claimed, that hate can not be overcome with
Sati [awareness] alone - but only with additional Metta).
Ānāpāna he should practice if he is plagued by restless thinking
-
and the perception of impermanence to overcome the conceit of `I
am'.

Only in the long courses - where most of Goenka's students never
reach - does Goenka instruct how to practice these other well
known essential recognitions (surprisingly, the 6 Recollections for
Layman too) - and then, only to the necessary extend to suppress
overwhelming defilements.

Devaluating recollection of ugliness as being only for those
meditators with lesser capabilities not able to do Vedanānupassanā.
Apparently not knowing that this very Asubha - meditation is still
practiced by very old and experienced Mahātherā (monks, since -
at least - 20 years).

I had the luck to talk personally to Dr. Rewata Dhamma before his
death. In addition to Goenka's appointment, Dr. Rewata Dhamma was
also appointed as Achariya by Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw and Ven. Mogok
Sayadaw's tradition. Accordingly, at times he was teaching a
mixture of these 3 Vipassanā methods. Also Munindraji, who was
kindly allowed to stay in Igatpuri at old age, taught a differing
Vipassanā method.

But an ordinary practitioner of those other traditions would never
be allowed to come to Goenka's meditation centers - without
denying his or her past practice for the sake of Goenka's `purity
of vibrations'.

Goenkaji however, teaches only his methods and does not adapt these
methods to different personalities or individual situations (as the
Buddha did: by teaching the beginners - practice of the 6
recollections to beginners). On the contrary, he defines such
modifications as heretical to his concept of `purity of vibration'.

In simplifying the most profound teachings of the Buddha and
despising others who aspire to grasp the profundity of it (his
personal friends excluded) - does Goenka by this act not purge his
organization of its most auspicious members ?





Compassion:
The Buddha asked his monks to radiate Loving Kindness even during
intense pain by having their limbs cut off. (15) Metta in this
case, is first of all volition. But Goenka teaches that one is not
able to radiate Metta - if there is not at least a bit of
pleasantness in ones body. So Metta in Goenka's teaching would
mean, foremost, a Sukkha Vedanā (pleasant sensation).

Also, the following would become more understandable - if one
takes Metta more as a sensation - and not as ones own volition:
Goenka says: "Receive Metta - Dhātu (vibrations of loving-kindness)
on the top of your head". An Achariya also told me that Goenka has
started to say: "Receive Nibbāna - Dhātu (element of liberation,
see Itivuttaka 2.44) at the top of your head" - during Evening -
Metta for Dhamma - workers.

What could be Goenka's understanding of these two concepts - with
respect to experience ? And to which Pali words or teachings of the
Buddha does Goenkaji relate them ?

- My guess is this: These two concepts are used to initiate the
gradual development of Kusala - Saññā (wholesome recognition),
Pāmojja (gladness), Pīti (joy), Passaddhi (calming), and
Sukkha; - just as the Buddha intended likewise with the 6
recollections for layman on Uposatha - day. But in Goenka's
theory, he seems to have put the cart before the horse … (?) (16)

If the explanation of some teachers is true - that negative
energies would come out of the feet soles and hinder the teacher's
Metta and that is why one should never point ones feet towards a
teacher - wouldn't that teacher's Metta be thought something
different from Buddha's Metta, who said Metta is the only thing
that can overcome hate - even while being tortured ?

And wouldn't that teacher's Metta also be different from my Metta,
which oozes out with feet soles pointed at me, or me sitting below ?

It so happened, that one A.T. (assistant - teacher) was telling me
that the kind of Metta I experience would be called Nibbāna - Dhātu
in our tradition (whereas true Metta would feel more subtle and not
as momentary). Because I saw dangers in naming, what I considered
Awakening - factors (17) - tradable `Nibbāna - Dhātu' -
therefore I asked five differrent Achariyas.

Only one of them (the one who finally kicked me out) explicitly
denied any relation of Nibbāna - Dhātu to my experience of Metta and
agreed with my concerns. (This Achariya allegedly mailed the A.T.
about it - and the A.T. denied ever having said so. But that's a
different story - one which would show how many fears even an A.T.
can have from being excluded and, defensively, preferring to
respond with a white lie).

In this respect, can this not only mean that many of Goenka's
teachers have different experiences, interpretations - and that
they have been insufficiently guided by Goenkaji ? On the
contrary, Goenka is making the confusion complete by first
saying `Metta is something completely different from Vipassanā',
allegedly because it's only an imagination - while, on the other
side, he defines Metta as Sukkha Vedanā (?)

Goenkaji repeatedly says `Vedanāsamosaranā sabbe dhammā'. Still,
he seems not to see how one always can do Vipassanā by directing it
to body sensations - whether one is meditating, writing a
letter - or imagining all beings to be happy.

It also seems not having occurred to Goenkaji that what he devalues
as imagination (because allegedly it can't be experienced directly)
the Buddha called Cetanā, volition, Sammā-Sankappo (wholesome
thought; the 2nd limb of the noble 8fold Path). And to say that
imagination has no place in Vipassanā is like saying Vipassanā has
nothing to do with Sammā-Sankappo, and further, Pāmojja, Pīti,
Passaddhi, Sukkha, Samādhi, Ñānadassana (seeing things as they
are), Nibbidā (disenchantment), ... up to Nibbāna (?) (16)





Wisdom:
Goenkaji says Dependent Origination of Suffering can only be
stopped at Vedanā (feeling pleasant, unpleasant and neutral
sensations) - by being aware and equanimous with sensations in the
knowledge of their Anicca (impermanence). Sayagyi U Ba Khin says
this `Aniccasaññā' can develop further through observation at any
of the `six sense-door contacts' (Salāyatana-Phassa). (18)

What Goenkaji calls Vedanā, Sayagyi U Ba Khin also calls `contact
at the body sense-door'. Which suggests, that Dependent
Origination can also be stopped at Phassa ?

Further Sayagyi U Ba Khin says: After one has enough experience
with perceiving Aniccasaññā at the body sense-door (sense of
touch), one would be free to experiment with perceiving Anicca also
at the other sense-doors: tasting, smelling, hearing, seeing or
thinking (either as verbalization in whatever language - or as
imagination in its spatial equivalent).

But, contrary to Sayagyi U Ba Khin, Goenkaji prohibits the
observation of Anicca in mental activity even after many years of
Vipassanā practice - because he says mental activity is too
difficult to be observed directly.

Goenkaji says that even when it comes to Cittānupassanā (observation
of mind), one should observe mental activity through its bodily
symptoms only - and so, by observing the bodily symptoms (for
example of defilements) one would observe objectively and it could
be overcome. In my experience this was mostly true.

But in some cases: To be aware only of sensations simply would
suppress the defilement - although Goenkaji says it wouldn't. But
only by additionally being aware of the ongoing mental activity,
which can be observed directly with some exercise (as Goenka's
teacher Sayagyi U Ba Khin said), was the observation - without
suppression - possible.

Regarding all of this, did it never come to Goenka's mind that the
crucial ingredient for redirecting Dependent Origination could be
its first link: Vijjā, wisdom, Pañña as he would say,
or `Aniccasaññā' - with respect to anything directly
experienced - which could be Salāyatana-Phassa, Vedanā,
Tanhā,
Upādāna, Dukkha ... even Aniccasaññā itself (?) (19)

Although Goenkaji lightens up his prohibition to directly observe
mental activity at a minimal level in the serious courses - and
there he suddenly also does teach, that 'Vijjā' is the crucial
ingredient to stop Dependent Origination of Suffering - most of
his students just nevver get there. So are they not misled for
years ?



read more >



Healings:
Goenkaji talks exclusively about meditators becoming healed by the
practice of Vipassanā in his taped discourses. But my own
experience was: Right after my first course I started to suffer for
the first time in my life psoriasis - a skin disease where both
and all of my feet soles became openly infected - which healed by
itself only after 8 more months.

Interestingly: With Ānāpāna it improved, but
Vedanānupassanā
(especially with Bhanga - which Goenka understands as the
experience of subtle vibrating sensations (20)) made the pus
dribble down like a leaky tap.

Likewise, western medicine would only suppress the pus; but after
completing the treatment with antibiotics - the pus continued
dripping. Homeopathic -, Ayurvedic -, Tibetan - medicine,
Acupuncture, Shiatsu and Raiki - treatments - like
Vedanānupassanā - supported the pus coming out and along with it
did no harm to my autoimmune system.

Additionally, the following 3 years I suffered 2 recurring
malarias - completed by a seriously herniated disc. But never in
my life had I suffered such serious diseases, in such a frequency
and duration, making me immovable half of my first 3 years of
practicing Vipassanā !

Goenkaji started to prohibit the practice of alternative healing
techniques to his students just around the same time I experienced
their benefits. According to Goenkaji: energetic - healing
techniques would make use of external energies - leading to
dependency and become conflictive to liberation.

Just the opposite is my experience. Never had I felt any other
energy - receiving treatments by energy methods - than the
nurturance by the practitioners themselves. So opposite to my
disappointing experiences with western physicians before in my
live - depending mainly on drugged down symptoms only.



Converse and solely - starting in my very first 10 - day ccourse
on Metta - day at the chanting of `phala hooo' by Goenkaji - I
experienced a spontaneous shower of quivering energy permeating my
whole body, which felt extremely pleasant. Strangely, for the
next first year of my practice it occurred always at the first
incantation of chanting at the beginning and at the end - at the
hypnotic `phala hooo' - of a 10 - day course. (21)

Then it started to happen also during ordinary live: Whenever the
sincere wish for well - being for all beings arose - which
followed from the influence of the knowledge of my own suffering and
insubstantiality - and that, somehow, in this true nature I
really feel one with all beings.

But this strange, most pleasant, momentary and spontaneous shower
of loving - kindness energy I still do not understand to happen on
account of my own accomplishments. I - by myself - cannot
reproduce it. Nevertheless, it not only permeated me - it
started to ooze out, as I could observe in situations with
aggressive or mad people. Taking the simple conceptual framework of
my christian upbringing for a simile - for me this was like the
proof of a merciful god in all of us.

According to one Assistant Teacher, this energy would allegedly be
called `Nibbāna - Dhātu' by our tradition - but till today the
teachers could tell me nothing more about the experience of this
external energy through the Vipassanā - instructions and
incantations of Goenkaji! (`external' in the fragmenting way
Goenkaji uses this word. Hopefully we all try to understand how we
live in an exclusively interdependent world - with no abiding self
or anything coming about on its own or any other (22))

During my 10 years of my Vipassanā practice I talked with maybe a
100 other Goenka - students more personally. Of whom about 10 had
become seriously mentally disturbed - but only by their very first
course.. In the long courses I have met about 10 practitioners who
secretly mixed their long courses with: Zen, Advaita - Vedanta,
Tibetan - Visualizations, Hare - Krishna Mantras, Energy - Healing
techniques or Bhang (cannabis).

But during all this time I have got to know only one old - student
who finally committed suicide successfully - a real loss to all
who knew him well: Although he practiced only Goenka's method for
many years - none of Goenka's teacher could give him ease with the
kind of painful Kundalini - rising he experienced and was caused by
intensive Goenka - Vipassanā practice - merely by 10 - day
courses !

During all this time: Why did I hear only of practitioners becoming
harmed by the lack of real guidance by the teachers in combination
with this 'powerful method' - coming together with the
unwholesome Kamma (acts and their results) of the student - and
never by the mixing of methods ?

One Achariya honestly admitted helplessness to such questions by
saying: `She could not know, "who of the Achariyas is going to
become crazy during the next long course." Already the second
Achariya send me into exile after asking such questions -
allegedly this is none of the students business ? What do such
comments and ways of handling this problem could become to mean to
the students ?

Why Goenkaji is so speechless - when a serious student is
requesting him to take a stand ?





Teachers, Teachings & Pupils:
Although comparing my practice of Vipassanā with the Dhamma of the
Buddha does give me essential guidance and confidence. Nevertheless
I have to admit, that in my case Goenkaji's method worked so well
right from the beginning - I pragmatically choose Goenka's
parameters - as there are: `no intentional verbalization, no
visualization, no suppression of defilements - and always with
body sensations.'

But the reader should stay well aware that the Buddha himself taught
even suppression in certain cases. (23) If Goenkaji gives - in
10 - day courses - the impression that suppression is not part of
Buddha's teaching - I would never dare to agree with Goenka's far -
reaching claims.

Most of this page would be superfluous and I guess only in our
tradition one has to struggle with such points, because we have
never been allowed to distinguish between specialized meditation
instructions for a certain type of personality / situation and the
much wider Dhamma of the Buddha, who adapted it to all possible
personalities and situations. (24)

Therefore, some points of questions, I raise - might appear to
some reader as irrelevant, simplified, contradictorily or not
enough consequentially reasoned. But with the good - will and help
of the same reader this can easily become improved.



• Goenkaji gives the simile of someone digging for water, but not
being patient enough, he digs here and there, never reaching depth
anywhere to reach the underground water level. This image is very
good to make the point: "Stay with a particular method - if you
find it appropriate -&nnbsp; till you get some water !"

But taking this simile further: By digging a well one usually has
to deal first with earth, then maybe with rock or sand. A spate
may be good enough to handle the earth, with sand it could become
troublesome and impossible to get through solid rock. Similarly
with dynamite and no shovel at hand.

Goenkaji says it repeatedly - the aim and recognizable sign of one
practicing Vipassanā without mistake is: Craving and aversion
becoming diminished.

In Buddha's road map to liberation there are four intermediary paths:

From a Worldling to Sotāpanna: becoming utterly convinced that
everything arising will pass away.

From Sotāpanna to Sakadāgāmin: diminishing craving and
aversion.

From Sakadāgāmin to Anāgāmin: becoming free of every
remaining
craving.

From Anāgāmin to Arahant: becoming free of any residue conceit.
(25)

So, taking the loop back to my Achariya, who - in the opinion of
some - most probably kicked me out, bbecause I still became
emotionally agitated by the deteriorations in our organization -
and by his alleged fear that my truth - inquiring attitude could
also have spread to other students (as if that could ever happen,
if it was not already boiling underneath):

If one does not behave like a Sakadāgāmin after 10 years of practice
in Goenka's tradition - one is no longer welcome to continue
practice in this tradition ? So don't let the time ripen ?

Please think it through yourself what else all of this could imply -
in relation:

to the reality that most students don't progress ? (To say `seeds
of Dhamma have been planted' can be true - at the same time it
can be a convenient way of avoiding all responsibility and to
prevent any adaptations by the teachers. (26))

that a few even get harmed by a first 10 - day course ? (In my
opinion unnecessarily)

to some working hard making themselves appear to have progressed ?
(Out of good intentions - maybe becoming implicitly unable to
admit any mistakes anymore.)

to others who get guidance by such hard working A.T.s ?



In all of this it is difficult for me to understand:

On one side Goenkaji's actual method is effective like dynamite -
doing a good job for Sotāpannā and leaving aside any preparatory
beginners practice. But such is a practice which only can do well
to what one could call a minority `elite'. The students not even
being allowed to discuss the Dhamma of the Buddha with the
teachers - which the Buddha explained a precondition to the
practice of Sīla, Samādhi and Pañña ! (27)

On the other side - with the kind of Goenka's meditation -
instructions and organization of courses - I increasingly get the
impression thhat they are suitable in the long run for simple faith -
type persons only.

Because Goenkaji gives so much importance to:

talk about miracles

giving validity to this method on account of its alleged exclusive
ancient tradition

the authority and indispensability of the teachers by their power
to `give' miraculous Metta - Dhātu - or worse - `Nibbāna -
Dhātu' - and not by their living example in compassion and wisdom

reach the unthinking masses (only to superfluously mess with their
self - confidence by a too demanding first - course ?)

Further, by lightening the meditation instructions of many
differentiating and further - reaching subtleties - in this
attempt not to confuse any faith - type persons:

like the denial that other Vipassana - traditions - as a matter of
course - work with direct experience too.

by giving so much emphasis on something quite self - evident:
Direct experience - narrowing it down to the specific Pali
term 'Vedanā' - mistakingly understood mainly as the felt
qualities of the 4 great Elements = 'Kāyā'. Or as body sense-door
contacts = 'Phassa' (while Phassa would include Sense - object, -
organ and - consciousness). Finally widening such 'Phassa' to
appear not to be distinct to Sañña or Pañña ('Awareness of
Impermanence on the level of body sensations !') ...

Bringing Goenkaji - as a natural course of such simplifications -
in the strange position to have to wwarn with emphasis of
Bhanga ! Which in the Buddha's teaching is a natural stage of
Insight, a Ñāna and knowledge of dissolution (28) - it is a
growing sincerity that there can be nothing of an enduring entity -
and has nothing to do with felt ecstasy or bliss.

Right the opposite: First of all it gives rise to sheer threat to
anyone not liberated of the want to identify. And this threat would
be directly experienced if it deserved to be called real Bhanga -
Ñāna - Goenkaji would not have to put so much effort to convince
at all !

I do not understand why Goenkaji makes it so complicated by
simplifying it. Why does he teach advanced practice to beginners -
why is he teaching beginners practice to the advanced ? Could
anyone help me understand this paradoxical guidance ? Is Goenkaji
secretly fond of Koans ?







Interested, bored, annoyed, or downright angry - want to say,
correct or ask something ? Think it better to stay equanimous with
all of it - and don't want to make it more difficult by giving
attention to the improvement of this Sāsana ?



Write to: Wolfgang Lindner - pamojjaATyahoo.de or
pamojjaATgmx.at



I start to feel much like the fool in the tale: `the emperor's new
cloth'. Nevertheless, behold: "If anyone feels affected through
my inquiry or - what I never intended - hurt: Please try to
distinguish wholesome Hiri - Ottappa (shame and conscience) in it.
Kamma is such that the next time (or the last ?) - I might be the
naked emperor and ultimately glad to have planted the seed of such a
fool (or was it you ?)."



I take refuge in the Buddha

I take refuge in the Dhamma

I take refuge in the Sangha



PS: If I wrote about the benefits of Vipassanā practice - in its
relation to the Dhamma - it would have become much a larger page.
But I see no need to - as this is not suppressed in the same
imbalanced way. The same applies to my gratefulness and respect to
anyone teaching the Dhamma as good as he can !

In particular I want to say thanks to my dear Achariya, whom -
deep down - I do not think so silly as not to be aware - that
anyone could ever start such a vital open discussion as a member
still belonging to Goenkaji's organization.


---------------------------------------------------------------------
-----------







Notes and Suttas revered to:



#2 RobertK

RobertK

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Posted 31 May 2006 - 02:50 AM

Vipassana Meditation
As taught by SN Goenka

CULTS

Vipassana, means to see things as they really are!

CULTS
It is up to each individual to come to their own conclusions about Vipassana as taught by SN Goenka.
The many postings that are here reflect people who feel the techniques used in the Vipassana Goenka retreats are based upon auto-suggestion/hypnosis, and that the organization is cult based.

Again opinions are reflected below, and of course secondly by this website.

I recently went on a Vipassana Meditation course as taught by SN Goenka.
The rules seemed really strict, 10 days Noble Silence, and a written signed commitment to stay the complete 10 days. It was not until the first evenings discourse we were then told that to leave before completing the 10 days was dangerous. (Sounded a bit extreme - dangerous?)
The Noble Silence was no problem. After being told to focus on a triangular region on the nostrils and the breath for 10 to 11 hours a day appeared a bit extreme, but that was alright too. The problem for me arose when listening to the audio recordings by SN Goenka. After the first session and a 5 minute break SN Goenka says "Start again" and then repeats himself "Start again" Or rather it was "S t a r t _ a g a i n - repetition" in a very long and deep drawn out voice. ( A bit like a reverb drawn out via the microphone, almost spooky, yet slightly amusing, and why he feel he needs to say it this I have no idea?) Then repeated words like relax the mind, easily, effortlessly, completely. This word repetition with the rhythm of the ----ly, ------ly, ----ly was very hypnotic, and is how hypnosis is induced.
Further suggestions being given about sensations in the nostrils, warm sensations, cold sensations, dry sensations, wet sensations etc. more repetition using the word sensations, again like hypnosis.
I accepted this over the following 3 days, and tried to ignore it. However on the 4th day and the initiation into Vipassana, when told to meditate on the top of the head SN Goenka then started chanting. (I had heard earlier chanting but thought nothing of it, being told he was sending blessings of goodwill etc to all) The chanting on this next occasion I believe was partially activating the crown chakra. We were then told to work down through the body being aware of sensations. Down the scalp, down the face, down the right shoulder, down the right upper arm down the forearm down the hand etc.
It felt to me like hypnotic control, as I used to practise as a hypnotist myself, and thus I felt I could no longer partake in the course.
I feel from my own past experiences in meditation that this technique was a form of kundalini activation, and an element of spiritual energy transference was being made by the audio tapes and the chanting.
I feel that Vipassana meditation is yet another great meditation technique, but as it is being taught by SN Goenka is not of a PURE form, and that the effects will only be temporary for most participants as they will not be able to hold the level of energy given to them for an indefinite period, due to the way it is taught and given, and for this reason people taking these courses will need to continually repeat the courses to re-experience the effects of the mediation.
I make this posting, not to attack Vipassana meditation as taught by SN Goenka but to share my concerns. Any feed-back would be appreciated. Is it not the way of Buddha, the middle path, and not such extremes?

With regards to the cult aspect of Vipassana as taught by SN Goenka, many of us believe that cults are there to brainwash people and to take their money too. How can Goenkas retreats be cult orientated only accepting donations, and when there is no charge if you do not complete the course? How can it be a cult when free shelter and food is on offer?
I believe that understanding a cult phenomena can be highly complex. However, having studied extensively in hypnosis, and in crowd psychology, as well as meditation for nearly two decades I truly believe that this is a cult (in my opinion). Why?
STANDARD CULT METHODS
1. Removing people from their environment with no outside contact for three days or more.
2. Sensory and sleep deprevation.
3. Induced fear, (suggesting it is dangerous to leave prior to completing the course, and only being informed of this after you start the course)
4. Humiliation. (Suggesting that only people with weak minds leave before completing the ten days.)
5. Views suggesting that all other religions and sects and are incorrect, and the only path is Vipassana with Goenka.
6. Isolation from everybody.
7. Promises of enlightenment.
8. Only assistant teachers. (No one on par to Goenka himself)
9. A subtle auto/suggestion by Goenka that he is Buddha. (Cult leaders claim to be divine or enlightened beings)

This last comment I’ve made, Goenka suggesting he is Buddha, I picked up straight away on during that very first DVD recording of his. He stated that Gautama Buddha, was a person named Gautama who became a Buddha and achieved enlightenment. The way Goenka put this across was as such that we could all become a Buddha, and although he did not actually state as such, I felt he was referring to himself as a Buddha. With his ASSISTANT teachers, never climbing any higher in rank within his organization in my opinion suggests the classic narcissistic personality disorder of a cult leader.

"For more detailed information, and a better understanding about how cults operate, go to the links page where there are links to websites discussing cultism."


#3 RobertK

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Posted 31 May 2006 - 02:52 AM

Vipassana, means to see things as they really are!

SUICIDE
I myself knew one person, Mr Laurence Fischer - who had practised Vipassana over a period of years, who relapsed into taking narcotics and who took his own life in Brisbane Australia by jumping off the Story Bridge in early 1994. These things should not remain unspoken. It requires an open and scientific assessment of all the ultimate outcomes - either positive or negative - for persons taking up Vipassana meditation in order for other people to be able to make a rational choice as to whether or not to participate.
In my experience understanding what the technique is was very difficult and people should not be under any illusions - a problem in meditation becomes a problem in life. One cannot invert ones eyes or turn ones brain inside out. But these are some of the difficult situations into which a person can genuinely fall into in the attempt to honestly practise Vipassana.

Of course the positive side is that it is possible to discern reality, but the cost along the way may be too much to bear and could be fatal or damaging.

Daniel

BARCELONA
I just got kicked off a Vipassana course in Barcelona!!!

Amazing. Day 8. I basically fell out with the teacher, a macho Spaniard who thought he could talk to me like I´m a child. Oh no.

Someone gave me a lift to the station and tried to sell me a Landmark course on the way. Oh my word.

Meditation is good. Any meditation will produce the same results. But the Goenka discourses are bull really. He is sexist and has some spurious stories regarding donating.


P.s. I´m going to complain, do you know of any regulatory bodies I could complain too, as well as the Vipassanas themselves (although they just say "it's all in your own mind", they can get away with anything with this line)


Katie

"Please email your story/experiences/knowledge for inclusion onto this website"
THANKS
The account by the deeply contemplative Buddhist excerpted on your site, and which I read in full on his, was highly entertaining, very lucid writing. Wow! You couldn't drag me kicking and screaming into a Vipassana retreat now. I've been dragged to teaser sessions of est and Scientology (30 years ago) and felt a very strong urge to escape to freedom.
My friend had me toying with the idea of a Vipassana retreat for a while. Thanks to your site, I'm convinced now that I would have the same reaction to Vipassana. I am, on the other hand, taking up yoga at age 59, and thinking about trying meditation in a more relaxed way, and learning something about real Buddhism, not the force-fed tape-recorded, no permission to go to the bathroom kind.

"Please email your story/experiences/knowledge for inclusion onto this website"

ZOMBIES
I just returned from a Vipsassana retreat in Onalaska Washington....It began Wednesday evening Nov 30 and I left Monday morning Dec 5....so 4 full days of this seemingly 'only' road to enlightenment....
After day one Goenka says anyone who can not complete the 10 days is feeble-minded....since when is it kind to label people who do not chose to continue?....this is total intimidation so if you have thoughts of leaving you do not want to speak up ~ appearing to be a weak person and a failure....
Total isolation, silence, meditation inside warm dimly lit buildings, being awakened at 4 in the morning for meditation, 2 meals a day and requirements of sitting for 10 hours a day - inside can definitely create a psychotic experience.....I felt like I was in a glass jar with a press coming down on me with no air....talking to the assistant teacher was no help as she only repeated what was on the audio and video.....she said those feeling were the impurities coming to the surface....I think not as I'm a very active person and absolutely love nature.....it is not me to be a statue ~ isolated from all but my mind ~ for 10 hours a day with no sensations of even outside air around me.....it was a solitary confinement setting for sure....with tapes of the 'technique' being played over and over.....
It was amazing to me to see the chant/song by Goenka responded to with chants and bowing at the end of each sitting....here were are in the USA and I'd say 99 percent of the people did not understand the chanting language - yet they responded like sheep.... depravation with the ONLY stimulation being Goenka's words and direction produced walking zombies - blank looks in eyes....no joy as the purpose was to expose personal impurities/misery/demons and cast them out....all other religions and other methods of meditation were said by Goenka to be followed or performed by 'blind' people....so his discrediting others' beliefs and methods was another form of placing his method on a pedestal - proposing it as 'the only way'....
Another thing to remember is that Buddha lived during a totally different time from the USA today, etc.... note that he meditated outside in nature - not total inside isolation as Goenka requires
This retreat is definitely a cult setting.....I'm amazed I stayed the 4 full days ~ it was like a bad movie that you continue to watch thinking it might get better ~ but it just gets worse.....
I was never so happy to leave anything in my life....the one positive thing from this experience is that I appreciate my life so much more now....the 'answer' is not going to come from a cult retreat - that's for sure....
Rosey

ANOTHER FREAK
Read a few of your posts on internet sites and website and Jesus....!!! I’m a normal smoking, drinking, materialistically entrenched member of society who has done 8 Goenka meditation retreats. Yeah - admittedly you do get a fair few Jesus sandled new agey cringeworthy freaks on the retreats who are all embracing.... but its really not that bad... they'd be suicide bombers if they were Muslims or Jehovah Witnesses if they were Christian....cant blame the technique for freaky people....and they are the minority...you make it sound like everyone whose done a retreat is about to mug you, strip you naked and fleece you for all your money....
I got a lot out of the retreats - go chill and take some time out - sound like you need to stop taking everything so seriously - !!!

Jenny x



"Please email your story/experiences/knowledge for inclusion onto this website"
TRUE & FALSE
I understand your point of view perfectly and I happen to agree with you. I'm sure there are better ways of learning Vipassana than in a 'cult' like environment. And no matter what spin one takes on Goenka Vipassana--it definitely has cultish characteristics IMO (just from reading other peoples experiences).
You know, there are a lot of stupid things on the Internet and sometimes it can be very difficult to know what is true and what is false, particularly when there are so many websites that advocate a particular (false) view of things. I'm not saying that the Goenka thing is really bad for all people but it sure as heck is not good for a guy like me (and probably lots of other people), and if there are no warnings around on the web then anyone can easily get involved in something that they may not be suited to.

Scarily enough for me, there is one of these Goenka retreat places not far from where I live. So as I said before, I'm just glad I saw the posts on the E-sangha forum and then saw your website. Making that website is probably one of the best things you could have done for people (all over the world.)


Ajahn

BIASED
Wow, you aren't into hypnosis and you recommend Autobiography of a
Yogi? Do you honestly believe in the magic powers then, and Reiki? I would suggest you have only experienced your own willingness to believe. Vipassana is old-fashioned. It is hard work and unsuitable for people with mental problems or problems of attitude. A lot of the viewpoints you've presented are far more biased.

Richard


"Please email your story/experiences/knowledge for inclusion onto this website"
VIPASSANA IS IN CONFLICT WITH HEALING
Thank you for your application to join a ten-day Vipassana meditation course starting on 01/11/2005.
On your form you mention that you have practised an energy-based healing technique. Since our experience has shown us that this practice is in conflict with the technique of Vipassana, we can provisionally accept you for one course only, however you must undertake to completely suspend the practice for the entire course period.
Of course, if you have discontinued the conflicting practice, we will be happy to also welcome you to additional courses in the future.

The Course Registration Team


JERK
You sound like an arrogant asshole. What a jerk!.



Aishwarya


"Please email your story/experiences/knowledge for inclusion onto this website"

OVER 20 VIPASSANA COURSES
I write to thank you for your courage in posting the website regarding the Vipassana organisation led by Mr Goenka.
As a person who wasted several years practising Vipassana intensively in sitting a thirty day course and over twenty 10 day courses and serving on over twenty 10 day courses, I have had a unique opportunity to examine in my own case the results of practising Vipassana, which in my case was overwhelmingly negative. It is only by returning to God that I have been saved.

I looked once again at the Code of Discipline for Vipassana courses, and I do not see there any warning to prospective students that they will have to surrender themselves to Mr Goenka. They are asked to say "I surrender myself to Buddha [who is a dead man] and my present teacher [Mr Goenka] for proper guidance and protection". Well any right thinking person upon hearing that would ask 'what is the qualification of this person that would make me surrender to him?' Moreover every right thinking person would know that neither Jesus nor Mohammed, nor Confuscious, and, I suspect neither Buddha, would ask anyone to surrender themselves to him.

Irrespective of the merits or otherwise of awareness and equanimity with sensations, I feel that the giving up of ones own autonomy is intrinsically bad and damaging.

A human being should not bow to any man.

I am interested to know about your story.


Daniel

"Please email your story/experiences/knowledge for inclusion onto this website"

FEEDBACK
Can't thank you enough for setting up the site - it is really important to know about organisations like this.
One point I have about the website is that it seems to be saying 'Vipassana is a cult'. I have been a Buddhist for over 10 years now and meditation is the foundation of being a Buddhist. Vipassana itself is one of the oldest
forms of Buddhist meditation and one of the 'purest'. Vipassana just means meditating without a subject as the Buddha did. It is taught properly by monks all over the world. I just thought that maybe you should stress that it is 'Goenka' that is the cult, not Vipassana.

By the way, if you are looking for a good course of true Vipassana I would recommend Amaravati Monastery in Hertfordshire - that is Buddhism as it should be.

Thought you might be interested in another cult-like group - I recently visited Soka Gakkai at Taplow Court in Maidenhead and found the atmosphere there very strange - very cult-like with people from the group trying to 'block' you and engage you in strange conversations that had nothing to do with Buddhism. I just had to get away from there as quickly as possible - particularly odd when they actually had a barrier to prevent you leaving -
why would you need one? My suspicions were already raised because on the website they were saying that it was the only 'true' school of Buddhism. If anyone is saying that, you know that something is seriously wrong.

It is really a shame that organisations are tainting the name of Buddhism and Vipassana. True Buddhism is really very simple and uncorruptable - you
just have to sit and 'all is coming'!

It seems to me that the most trustworthy schools of Buddhism are the traditional ones - traditional Theravada (like Amaravati), Zen (Throssel
Hole Priory) and any that have connections with The Buddhist Society - that is a good place to start. I have also heard good things about Holy Island although I haven't been there.

Again, many thanks for setting up the site and best wishes for your Buddhist practice!

Chris.





#4 RobertK

RobertK

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Posted 31 May 2006 - 02:58 AM

Vipassana Meditation
As taught by SN Goenka

CULTS

Vipassana, means to see things as they really are!

CULTS
It is up to each individual to come to their own conclusions about Vipassana as taught by SN Goenka.
The many postings that are here reflect people who feel the techniques used in the Vipassana Goenka retreats are based upon auto-suggestion/hypnosis, and that the organization is cult based.

Again opinions are reflected below, and of course secondly by this website.

I recently went on a Vipassana Meditation course as taught by SN Goenka.
The rules seemed really strict, 10 days Noble Silence, and a written signed commitment to stay the complete 10 days. It was not until the first evenings discourse we were then told that to leave before completing the 10 days was dangerous. (Sounded a bit extreme - dangerous?)
The Noble Silence was no problem. After being told to focus on a triangular region on the nostrils and the breath for 10 to 11 hours a day appeared a bit extreme, but that was alright too. The problem for me arose when listening to the audio recordings by SN Goenka. After the first session and a 5 minute break SN Goenka says "Start again" and then repeats himself "Start again" Or rather it was "S t a r t _ a g a i n - repetition" in a very long and deep drawn out voice. ( A bit like a reverb drawn out via the microphone, almost spooky, yet slightly amusing, and why he feel he needs to say it this I have no idea?) Then repeated words like relax the mind, easily, effortlessly, completely. This word repetition with the rhythm of the ----ly, ------ly, ----ly was very hypnotic, and is how hypnosis is induced.
Further suggestions being given about sensations in the nostrils, warm sensations, cold sensations, dry sensations, wet sensations etc. more repetition using the word sensations, again like hypnosis.
I accepted this over the following 3 days, and tried to ignore it. However on the 4th day and the initiation into Vipassana, when told to meditate on the top of the head SN Goenka then started chanting. (I had heard earlier chanting but thought nothing of it, being told he was sending blessings of goodwill etc to all) The chanting on this next occasion I believe was partially activating the crown chakra. We were then told to work down through the body being aware of sensations. Down the scalp, down the face, down the right shoulder, down the right upper arm down the forearm down the hand etc.
It felt to me like hypnotic control, as I used to practise as a hypnotist myself, and thus I felt I could no longer partake in the course.
I feel from my own past experiences in meditation that this technique was a form of kundalini activation, and an element of spiritual energy transference was being made by the audio tapes and the chanting.
I feel that Vipassana meditation is yet another great meditation technique, but as it is being taught by SN Goenka is not of a PURE form, and that the effects will only be temporary for most participants as they will not be able to hold the level of energy given to them for an indefinite period, due to the way it is taught and given, and for this reason people taking these courses will need to continually repeat the courses to re-experience the effects of the mediation.
I make this posting, not to attack Vipassana meditation as taught by SN Goenka but to share my concerns. Any feed-back would be appreciated. Is it not the way of Buddha, the middle path, and not such extremes?

With regards to the cult aspect of Vipassana as taught by SN Goenka, many of us believe that cults are there to brainwash people and to take their money too. How can Goenkas retreats be cult orientated only accepting donations, and when there is no charge if you do not complete the course? How can it be a cult when free shelter and food is on offer?
I believe that understanding a cult phenomena can be highly complex. However, having studied extensively in hypnosis, and in crowd psychology, as well as meditation for nearly two decades I truly believe that this is a cult (in my opinion). Why?
STANDARD CULT METHODS
1. Removing people from their environment with no outside contact for three days or more.
2. Sensory and sleep deprevation.
3. Induced fear, (suggesting it is dangerous to leave prior to completing the course, and only being informed of this after you start the course)
4. Humiliation. (Suggesting that only people with weak minds leave before completing the ten days.)
5. Views suggesting that all other religions and sects and are incorrect, and the only path is Vipassana with Goenka.
6. Isolation from everybody.
7. Promises of enlightenment.
8. Only assistant teachers. (No one on par to Goenka himself)
9. A subtle auto/suggestion by Goenka that he is Buddha. (Cult leaders claim to be divine or enlightened beings)

This last comment I’ve made, Goenka suggesting he is Buddha, I picked up straight away on during that very first DVD recording of his. He stated that Gautama Buddha, was a person named Gautama who became a Buddha and achieved enlightenment. The way Goenka put this across was as such that we could all become a Buddha, and although he did not actually state as such, I felt he was referring to himself as a Buddha. With his ASSISTANT teachers, never climbing any higher in rank within his organization in my opinion suggests the classic narcissistic personality disorder of a cult leader.



#5 RobertK

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Posted 31 May 2006 - 03:02 AM

Vipassana, means to see things as they really are!

A POSTING FROM A MEDITAION EXPERT AND BUDDHIST
Got back last Sunday from a 10 day Goenka Vippassana retreat.
Prior to the retreat I was meditating for between 5-7 hours a day for a period of approximately 2 weeks so that I could receive maximum benefit from my time away. After having finished the retreat I'm still practicing from between 3-6 hours per day.

Great facility, great food, great housing etc. Though the signs on the fence boundaries disturbed me.

The first thing that happened to me was that the teachers (DVD operators) tried to pull me up on the fact that I practice Reiki. And tried to scare me into going home. They used the sentence "when most people are told you can't mix Vippassana and Reiki they begin to panic". I don't believe in any such crap as "can't" and that especially applied to this instance. I didn't agree with their seeming attempt at auto-suggestion either, from a position of perceived authority that is very weak and registered as a poor sign. I explained that I knew I would be fine and made a point to go and see them every few days to tell them of my perceived progress. They even attempted reverse psychology in an auto-suggestive sense and I stated (with internal cynicism) for them not to worry as I never am really listening unless I feel true wisdom emanating from the source. It almost felt like they were worried that my alternative practices would disrupt their perhaps very subtle manipulation of both myself and other "students".


Now down to Goenka himself. I'll start by saying that if I was ever offered to be his "pupil" I would sincerely decline. He still strikes me as a businessman. His attempt at "non-sectarian" Vippassana is ultimately very sectarian and in my eyes subtly manipulative. Very mild or subtle cult undertones filled the 10 days. His approach lacked much compassion and honestly felt like a subtle business venture preying on the weak or even those just after some guidance. In fact his own use of the words "weak-minded" disgusted me. Preying on certain people's minds to otherwise say that anyone who doesn't stay for the full 10 days of potential conversion is a weak person. Such a selfish statement to be made by a person who stated that he himself was enlightened (not just liberated). When it came time to make a verbal vow to surrender to my teachers I directed such a statement towards my own intuition. His speech and mannerisms were both quite suspect in my opinion.

The book displays for potential purchase at the end with Goenka plastered all over them. The fact that where you go to collect your valuables from assimilation is also were you are "coerced" to donate. Rigidity displayed at several times throughout the retreat that is for the perceived benefit of meditation progress was also very suspect in my eyes. There were several other instances and actualities that had my alarm bells ringing.

The actual techniques taught or employed at the retreat are fine. Although I must admit that essential Metta practice was very much left in the dark and seemed like a poorly tacked on afterthought. To restate, people will definitely get a lot of functional meditation induced benefit from the courses. It's the negative undertones I felt throughout my time that I am trying to point out. It's like he is preying in a way by mixing some strong positives from meditation with subtle manipulation so that people will without a doubt feel benefit and be caught up in it so much so that they will not notice what else is actually occurring. It is without a doubt that many people attending such courses are often looking for respite or way out from many miseries or negative states in their lives and what better killing field for somebody to use as a base for subtle manipulation.


Always be aware of your intuition and instincts and don't just shove them under the rug if they have something negative to say. Don't just accept. I know this post will ruffle a few potential feathers and I apologise for doing so. I'm aware that this post may colour others opinions or volitions but I feel I'm doing the right thing. Experience something for yourself and makeup your own mind, be crystal clear, this is just my opinion/experience. I must also stress that this is not the totality of my experience as it is difficult to verbalise or convey with accuracy all accounts of intuition. Perhaps I'm just overly suspicious or sceptical of any authoritarian figures or organisations and as such that may have coloured my judgement. Though I'm quite sure I can detect pure wisdom.

For this experience I mention above there were more details that I left out. For the 10 days of the retreat the "head teacher" sat with her eyes closed meditating but staring directly at me for the entire period. I know personally how my energy being there was a threat. I spent a lot of the days practicing loving-kindness and infinite light meditations to assist. I was encouraging people to give other aspects of Buddhism a try on the final day when your able to talk. That night in what was a scare tactic to single me out, all of my bags were pulled apart and the clothes strewn all over the cell I was assigned. The light was left on in my cubicle alone to highlight something. I had mild fears for my safety to be honest.

When feeling the "old students" there is definitely a drone-like energy pattern common to them all that strengthens during the retreat. The "higher-ups/teachers" do not even know of their condition. Should have seen the way this guy approached one of the younger guys trying to sell him a copy of the chanting to take home with him, it was laughable. The form you fill out at the start of the retreat is enough of an eye-opener. An FPMT retreat I attended also mentioned Goenka styling in a roundabout fashion as being a cult. I find the tradition to be quite malicious, demonic and unnatural.



VIPASSANA AS BRAINWASHED BY SN GOENKA
There is much I'd like to say. There were so many subtle and overt details that I experienced. I am not just a person who is not familiar with retreat conditions and guidelines and am mistaking such aspects of foreign traditions for cult behaviour because I must stress that that is not the case. The nature of many who come to these retreats are people who are looking to change their lives or improve a negative situation. Many of the people who attend are quite unfamiliar to Buddhism and very malleable. They certainly are not used to 10 days straight sitting and it opens some up to a very suggestive state which is the starting point for the brainwashing. What really worries me is that it is one of the most prevalent organisations in the world.



SLEEPY FROM HYPNOSIS OR FROM A HERBAL DRUG?
I escaped yesterday from a 10 day Goenka course at the beginning of day 3.
I was so excited to be going on the course because I've done other meditation courses before and thought that 10 days would be heaven. I arrived early and went to the dining room and had a cup of the herbal tea - very nice. I chatted to another woman who was doing her second course.

My excitement lasted until the taped welcome speech. I had a hard time understanding Goenka because of his accent but I heard that the assistant teachers were there for my protection and that leaving early would be dangerous. Little alarm bells started ringing in my head. What could I be in danger from that I needed the protection of the assistant teachers and how could leaving be dangerous ?

After that speech the silence was imposed so I couldn't even talk to anyone about how I was feeling.

Anyway I just thought I was over-reacting and determined to stick it out. Surprisingly when I went to bed I looked at the clock and it was only 9:30pm. I was exhausted.

Day 1 started ok. But when I went back to my room to meditate mid-morning I fell asleep.

At the morning meditation in the hall they had put out a back support for me which I thought was really sweet that they'd noticed how much trouble I was having with my back.

After lunch I fell down the stairs and hurt my foot. I spoke to the teacher and I was given a chair to sit in for the meditations in the hall. I was a bit surprised that she didn't even ask if I was all right.

I went back to my room for the mid afternoon meditation and again fell asleep.

During the afternoon meditation in the hall I again kept falling asleep and I was really angry with myself. This was so unlike me.

I ate my apple and half a banana for dinner and drank heaps of the herbal tea. I was so thirsty.

We went to the hall for another meditation and then the Discourses. He kept saying that this wasn't a religion and people of all faiths can practice it. But in the next breath seemed to be saying that all other religions were sects (a word he repeated a lot) that had taken bits of the Truth only. I was confused and started thinking seriously about leaving.

After a final meditation we went to bed. Again it was 9:30 and I fell asleep immediately.

The next morning (Day 2) I decided that I'd wait to make a decision about leaving and see what the discourse was like. I also decided that I'd only drink a few cups of the tea and drink plenty of water as I was so very thirsty.

I did my best and didn't fall asleep during the meditations. I was pleased. I went for a walk after lunch and was surprised to feel my heart beating like I'd just finished a class at the gym when I wasn't doing anything strenuous. I started getting really worried. I hated the second day with a passion but kept thinking that the teachers were right and my mind didn't like being disciplined. All I could think about was leaving but I tried really hard to do the meditations.

The Vipassana Discourse on the second night solidified my determination to leave. Straight afterwards I spoke to the female manager and told her I wanted to leave first thing in the morning. She said I had to get permission from the teacher. I spoke to her and she essentially said the same thing that Goenka had said in his discourse. I agreed to think about it overnight and talk to her in the morning. That night I was tossing and turning in bed trying to decide whether to stay or go. I finally prayed (forbidden) and asked for guidance whilst I slept. I had a very strange dream with my sister. When I woke up I still wasn't sure. The female manager knocked on my door and asked what I'd decided. I opened my mouth and the words "I'm leaving" just popped out. I'm not sure who was more surprised - her or me. I then had an appointment with the teacher at 7:15. I had breakfast and a cup of the herbal tea.

I went to the teachers room and she told me she'd read the questionnaire I'd filled out. In it under the recent trauma's section I'd put in that my sister had died. She then said the most horrifying thing that made my decision set in stone. She said that because she does this technique and does these courses so often when someone dies she's a little bit sad but doesn't get really upset. During this interview I didn't give her any reasons for leaving, I simply stated that I was.

I had to wait a while for all the others to go to the hall so I wouldn't disturb anyone while I packed so I sat in the dining room and had another cup of herbal tea and waited. Realistically it was only about 45 minutes but it seemed to take forever.

After I left I drove straight to a friend and sat and discussed the whole experience with him. I can now see that the entire set-up was classic brainwashing techniques. The isolation from any other input. The ban on writing or reading. Even the way the hall was set-up - with the teachers sitting on raised platforms looking down on everyone. When speaking to a teacher you had to sit at their feet whilst they were raised above you. This even happened during my meeting with the teacher in her room.

I was back in town again at about 10:30. I didn't want to be alone so I went shopping. At about 1 o’clock I started getting heart palpitations and getting clammy and I was drinking so much water. I was so thirsty.

There wasn't a doctors close by that was open (Saturday afternoon) so I went to the chemist and told him what I was feeling. He asked if I'd been somewhere when I could have been drugged. When I said yes he said it sounded like a herbal hypnotic. I'd never even heard there were such things. He told me it would take 24 hours to get out of my system. I asked if I should go to a doctor and get tested but he said that things like that are very hard to test for unless they know exactly what it was. He advised that if the symptoms got worse or there were any new ones then to go straight to the hospital.

It's now a day later and most my symptoms have gone except I'm still not hungry and am drinking gallons of water. I believe that is why I was so confused over the 2 days I was there. I think it was in the herbal teas but I can't even prove that I was drugged. I'm very sensitive to medications that relax/calm people and I think that's why I had the heart palpitations.

I certainly wouldn't recommend these courses to anyone.


"I believe that this girls feelings of being drugged, sleepiness, and other symptoms were a direct result of the hypnotic techniques used by Goenka on the Vipassana retreats. As she started to believe that she’d been possibly drugged, then because of her trance induced state, she then acted that out. As a man thinketh so is he. Hypnotic techniques have the potential to be highly dangerous."


#6 RobertK

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Posted 31 May 2006 - 03:03 AM

SN Goenka Vipassana Meditation
Retreat Experience
Once you start the SN Goenka Vipassana Course he states,
"It is dangerous to leave before you complete the 10 days !"
He also states
"It's people with weak minds that cannot complete the course !"
Vipassana, means to see things as they really are!
CHECK OUT THE REPORTS OF PSYCHOSIS

AS THIS POSTING SHOWS, INDIVIDUALS ARE SEEKING SUPPORT & FURTHER INFORMATION.
I've just returned from the first 3 days of a 10 day Vipassana retreat in Marashtra in India. Of course I swallowed the literature hook line and sinker but quickly was aware that what was happening was not what I expected.

The usual methods of opening people up : changes in sleep pattern and daily routine, removal of personal objects and communication devices, segregation of the sexes coupled with taped suggestion and auto suggestion NLP techniques whilst in a semi-hypnotic state which led to good old fashioned mind raping on the forth day - before which I got out. It's supposed to be 10 days of silence, but of course you can talk to the 'teachers' who consist of high level adepts in repeating whatever’s just been relayed on the video / audio taped programming material. And the beauty of it is that people have spent weeks and months preparing for 10 days of silence and spiritual retreat so they are in a hyper suggestible state when they arrive. Fortunately I heard about it 3 days before and tagged along and hadn’t had chance to prepare myself down for it.

I must say it was pretty funny watching the sheep gather into a flock so quickly, although after being brought up as a Jehovah Witness I realise it's not always THAT funny.

I've made a couple of searches in the usual places for information regarding this group who obviously are a cult, but can find nothing useful.

Anyone have any resources or personal experiences with Vipassana?

BROKEN WOMEN VIA HYPNOSIS/PSYCHOSIS
My girlfriend has just come off a Goenka Vipassana meditation course. She is a broken women. I've been on a Goenka's Vipassana course before and found it the most unkind and insensitive meditation course I have ever come across. I strongly advised her not to do the course but she had done it before and had a great experience, so she was into trying it again.

The masters do not even teach people how to sit properly on the course, and then label people who do not buy their pseudo spiritual mumbo jumbo as weak minded. Its all brainwashing subtle hypnosis. Break you down for nine days then build you up with a ridiculous metta meditation session on day 10 so anybody who has been traumatized by the course won't go straight outside and slit their wrists. "Love everybody rubbish".

Goenka, that fat f----, even suggested that peoples misery could INCREASE by the end of the course. Could have put that in the advertising blurb. Maybe they should run a course that will not increase peoples misery, no matter how weak their mind is. That would be kind.

I have to go home now and start the deprogramming process. Anybody whose family member has been a victim of a cult, however large and well established, will know what I mean. Personally I'd like to take a flame thrower to the whole organisation. Beware of Goenka courses. I am the only person who seems to have any criticism of that ego centric empire builder. If anyone else out there also has some questions or criticism get in touch. I think the course is dangerous and gives meditation a bad name. How about you?


"The general consensus from these two postings above and the one below is that the
Vipassana Meditation Retreats by SN Goenka are in fact a cult organization!"

VIPASSANA AS TAUGHT BY SN GOENKA APPEARS TO BE A CULT
I just left a SN Goenka Vipassana course part way through on the 23rd of March - much pressure not to quit. I was looking for a way to relax a little with meditation, but did not find much relaxing about what I was taught during the Vipassana stage. I got the impresison early on that all was not well, but stuck with it for a few more days. In retrospect, I do not understand why I stayed even that long. On the upside, I have discovered that what I was searching for is right here at home with me. I have thrown out several years of inner searching and other new age type rubbish, and feel better for it. This group would appear to be a cult of some type. I did however spend considerable time searching the web beforehand and could not really find anything but glowing praise for the technique. All in all I feel like a total dickhead for getting involved.


PSYCHOTIC EXPERIENCE AFTER VIPASSANA BY SN GOENKA
I'm wondering if anybody has ever had a bad experience with Goenka's Vipassana course after leaving half-way through. I spent five days at a course, then started to feel that it was intensely wrong that I was not allowed to contact my family, so left in the middle.
Everything was fine for about three weeks. Then I experienced a severe anxiety attack (nearly psychotic - I had to check myself into the local hospital) that lasted a hellish four days. It felt really bad: paranoia, fragmented thoughts, the whole nine yards. I'm not saying it had anything to do with the (aborted) retreat. I'm just wondering if anyone has had a similar experience.


One psychotic casualty is one too many, but when you hear of many, then there is something extremely and vey seriously wrong !
MORE PSYCHOSIS

I recently went to a 10 day Goenka course and had a great experience from it.
However, a friend went this past week and had a "psychotic episode" and is now hospitalized after being picked up on the street by the police after acting very strange. I am no longer trying to convince everyone else to go!
I was distressed that the center kicked her out midweek and just stuck her on a bus when there was something obviously very wrong.


"Sadly psychosis can be one of the outcomes of being involved in a cult due to the subtle influences that they use to control peoples minds."


#7 RobertK

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Posted 31 May 2006 - 06:37 AM

HTML><HEAD><TITLE>This Passion: Homophobia At S.N. Goenka's
Meditation Center</TITLE>
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name=GENERATOR>
<META content="Lee Wolf ( Pen Name ) ..A woman who was barred
from a retreat for being gay" name=Author>
<META content="An account of how one devoted meditator learned
that S.N. Goenka has very little room for homosexual meditation
students" name=Description>
<META
content="vipassana,meditation,goenka,,buddhism,dharma,dhamma,insight,concentration,
goenka gays homosexuals" name=KeyWords></HEAD>
<BODY>
<CENTER><B><FONT face="Times New Roman,Times"><FONT size=+3>This
Passion:</FONT></FONT></B>
<P><B><FONT face="Times New Roman,Times"><FONT
size=+2>Homophobia at the Vipassana Meditation
Center</FONT></FONT></B>
<P><B><FONT face="Times New Roman,Times"><FONT
size=-1>by</FONT></FONT></B>
<P><FONT face="Times New Roman,Times"><FONT size=-1>A woman who
learned that S.N. Goenka has very little room for homosexual
meditation students</FONT></FONT> <BR>
<HR width="100%">
</CENTER>
<P>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Seven years ago, I decided to learn to
meditate. The word "depression" doesn't begin to capture the
state of profound, spiritual despair I lived in. Other people
decided what to wear each morning. I decided if I was going to
live. I didn't think meditation would "cure" me. It was more
that the counterbalance to my despair had always been my
spiritual life. I had explored a wide array of spiritual
traditions, and they all pointed to the same thing: I had to get
out of my own way. Meditation seemed like a direct route on the
path.
<P>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I chose the Vipassana Meditation Center in
Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts for two reasons. First, their
introductory materials stated that, "The entire path (Dhamma) is
a universal remedy for universal problems, and has nothing to do
with any organized religion or sectarianism . . . There is
absolutely no question of conversion."&nbsp;&nbsp; That was
good, because I didn't want to be converted to anything. Second,
they don't charge any money. The center runs entirely on
donations. I figured if they could operate without charging a
set fee, they were obviously doing something right.
<P>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; So I sat my first 10 day course. It was
hell. From 4 AM until 9 PM we did nothing but pay attention to
the sensations of respiration. On the fourth day, we got to
switch to the sensations on our whole bodies. I thought I was
going to lose my mind.
<P>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; But an amazing thing happened. A miracle,
really.&nbsp; For the briefest second, I actually felt myself
generating depression. I knew freedom in that moment. If I was
doing it, I could stop doing it. There was a light at the end of
the tunnel. Not a hope in a light, or a sheer, stubborn belief
in a light, but an actual light. I had found what I was looking
for. I dug in my heels and got to work.
<P>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The theory behind Vipassana is simple. Our
minds react to sensory stimulation with craving or aversion.
Over time, lifetimes, if you believe in rebirth,&nbsp; these
reactions become more and more entrenched. The key lies in
learning to observe our reactions with equanimity. When we are
both aware of sensations and equanimous with them, old habit
patterns of craving and aversion arise from deeper and deeper in
our minds. By not reacting, we can eradicate these patterns,
which are the cause of our suffering.
<P>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; My anger was the first thing to go. I sat
in the Dhamma hall with tears of relief streaming down my face.
What had I been doing to myself ?&nbsp; Next went the night
terrors/insomnia cycle. Then the panic attacks. And finally, the
despair. Like people remember the date they got sober, or the
birthdays of their children, I remember the day I chose life,
permanently. I stepped out of my depression like it was a dried
husk and never looked back.
<P>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; It took five years. During that time my
practice became the center of my life. I organized everything
around my morning sit, my evening sit,&nbsp; and when I could go
for another 10 day course. I told everyone I knew about this
incredible technique, these discoveries about the source of my
suffering. My sister sat a course, then my significant other,
then my friends.&nbsp; I found myself incapable of certain
behaviors, like killing mosquitoes or "not noticing" mistakes in
my favor at the check-out counter. More and more, I was living a
Dhamma life.
<P>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The next step was a long course. Serious
students can sign up for a 20 day course, then 30, 45, and 90
day courses. A long course requires a weighty written
application, and an interview with a teacher. I went into the
Dhamma hall for my interview filled with anticipation, gratitude
and joy. I was in love with the whole universe. I was on the
path.
<BLOCKQUOTE>And the teacher told me no. <BR>Why? <BR>Because I'm
a lesbian.</BLOCKQUOTE>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Early in my career as
a meditator, I'd asked if my lesbianism was going to be a
problem. I found a student&nbsp; - I'll call her Pauline, who
was a friend of a friend.&nbsp; She was a very serious
meditator, living in residence at the center.
<P>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; "No, no," she assured me. "It's not an
issue here." <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Pauline wasn't lying to me.
She didn't know. Nowhere in their literature does the center
state their policy about gays and lesbians. Vipassana
meditation, reads the VMC brochure, "can be practiced freely by
everyone . . . without conflict due to race, community or
religion." A bitter voice inside me adds, Everyone except the
gays and lesbians.
<P>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; VMC was founded by S. N. Goenka, a Burmese
national of Indian extraction. He runs a number of centers
around the world. Strict control is kept over the teachings. All
courses are taught by audio and video tapes, with assistant
teachers present to answer questions.
<P>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Goenka believes that people are gay
because they were obsessed with sex in a past life. According to
him, the gay community is rolling in a misery of licentiousness
and promiscuity. Gays and lesbians are only allowed to sit long
courses if they "admit" that they've been obsessed with sexual
passion and renounce their sexuality. Needless to say,
heterosexuals don't have to do anything like this. The teacher
looked me in the eye and said that "this passion" was so strong,
I would have to be given not just my own room but my own
bathroom to keep me from all contact with other female
meditators.
<P>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I left the Dhamma hall feeling like I
needed a bath.
<P>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; And I was devastated. It had been two
years since I'd talked to Pauline, but I didn't know who else to
call. Turned out she'd learned about the policy, too. She'd
struggled long and hard with it. How could she participate in
something that was so wrong? In the end, she told me, she
decided to stay so she could be an agent for change. It was hard
to take her at her word. It was hard not to be cynical.
<P>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I had started to make friends at the
center. But now their letters went unanswered, their phone calls
unreturned. Who were these people? Would the policy matter to
them? Did they already know? Would they excuse it so they could
keep going to the center? Or worse, would they defend it the way
the teacher had?&nbsp; I couldn't bear to know.
<P>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Slowly, I began to find others. I listened
to one lesbian describe how another woman had pulled her aside
after a course. "Have you come out to anyone here?" she
whispered. In small towns, in big companies, in churches,
schools, the military, in institutions of every sort this is how
gays and lesbians survive. Underneath the stories was a feeling
too weary to be bitter. Why did it have to be like this? Why
couldn't there be a sanctuary, a home, a place for us, too?
<P>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I also heard about grueling decisions to
stay silent. Are these people lying? <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Yes.
<BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; But what about the center?
<P>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; In his teaching, Goenka puts a tremendous
emphasis on sila, morality, on what in Buddhism is called the
Five Precepts. Precept #4 is "to abstain from telling lies." If
gays and lesbians are lying by withholding the truth, so is the
center. At the very least, VMC needs to be open and honest to
the public at large if they are going to continue to enforce
this policy. People who would never support such a policy are
unknowingly giving donations of time and money to the center.
People who would be appalled are building a spiritual home
there. Including people who, one day, will be turned away.
<P>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; There's lots of debate about what the
Buddha actually said about homosexuality.&nbsp; But I have a
deeper question.&nbsp; Why are people so willing to give up
their own moral agency to genuflect to someone else's
authority?&nbsp; Isn't that called fundamentalism, or at its
worst extreme, a cult?&nbsp; To hide behind what scripture,
suttas, or a teacher says is ultimately moral cowardice: either
you believe something or you don't.&nbsp; Like it or not we are
all in the end responsible for the ethical frameworks we
adopt.&nbsp; "Because my teacher said" is a defense of nothing
but our own abdication.
<P>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; What if the Buddha had condemned
homosexuality?&nbsp; Unlike Christianity and Judaism, Buddhism
isn't based on a revealed text.&nbsp;&nbsp; The point is
emphasized in the Buddha's -- and in Goenka's teachings: don't
accept something just because your teacher says it. Ultimately
only your direct experience of reality can liberate you. The
Buddha could have been wrong about something. So, for that
matter, could Goenka.
<P>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Goenka is not the only teacher of this
technique. There are other teachers who share his lineage, but
not his bigotry. There are meditation centers where gays and
lesbians sit long courses. There are also silent gays and
lesbians sitting long courses at VMC. Without their own
bathrooms. Do I actually need to say that "this passion" does
not erupt into violence or sexual assaults?
<P>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; In his book <B><I>Cultivating Inner
Peace</I></B>, Paul Fleischman, a teacher at VMC writes:
<BLOCKQUOTE>"Vipassana can sound solitary and impersonal, but
it's always a part of a community of teaching, learning,
practicing together . . . From the upper level of a meditation
pagoda in India, I once watched students far beneath me flowing
slowly down the central aisle of the campus grounds, their white
clothes rippling in the wind, and I realized they were current
droplets in a river that has been, and will be, flowing for
thousands of years . . . Through Vipassana I feel part of the
flow of truth and peace."</BLOCKQUOTE>I read these words and
wept with the worse grief I've known. What about those of us who
are excluded?&nbsp; That he is excluding?&nbsp; Has he faced
students in the Dhamma hall and told them no, for you it ends
here?&nbsp; How can he stand it?
<P>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I ran into Pauline on the street one day.
I'd heard she'd been to India for six months. We exchanged small
talk until the policy came up. <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; "It'll
change," she assured me. <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; "The teacher
said it might," I replied. "But he also said it would be a
shame. He said it would be a pollution of the Dhamma."
<BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; She looked at me in horror.
<BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; "He said that?" <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;
"Yeah. He said that." <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; For one second she
met my eyes. Everything she'd ever wanted hung in the balance.
The she turned her back on me and walked away.
<P>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; She left me holding a lot of unanswered
questions. Questions that people of&nbsp; faith have to come to
terms with if they are going to be people of conscience, no
matter what their teachers say, no matter how high the personal
cost. Questions about power, justice, morality. Questions about
courage.
<P>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Questions like, would you send your kids
to a school that excluded Blacks? Would you belong to a club
that excluded Jews? Why is it acceptable in your meditation
center?&nbsp; If the 20th century can teach us anything, it must
be this: all it takes for bigotry to win is for good people to
do nothing.
<P>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; My journey has been long and hard,
as long and hard as everyone's.&nbsp; Human suffering does not
draw distinctions.&nbsp; Neither does the Dhamma.&nbsp; If the
Dhamma is a river, it was my destination, and I carried to it an
unbearable thirst.&nbsp; But I am not allowed to drink.
<P>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Or maybe, as in Fleischman's telling, the
river of Dhamma flows with people, with students and teachers in
a living community.&nbsp; Doesn't the exclusion of some diminish
the the whole?&nbsp; Or do practitioners of Vipassana really
consider me "pollution"?&nbsp; These are questions that can
break the heart.&nbsp; Yet despite the ragged history of the
human race, despite my own bitterness, because of the Dhamma I
have enough hope to keep asking them.&nbsp; Do you have enough
to answer? <BR>&nbsp; <BR>&nbsp;


#8 RobertK

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Posted 04 June 2006 - 08:39 AM

Thu, 30 Mar 2006

My man, Wolfgang, listen, I will try to hmmm... well to be as honest as possible and to let you into my thoughts and emotions on the subject you have brought up. English is not my native tongue as well, so I might not be that articulate in expressing myself.

First of all, I had not read all your document, but it seems that you have put a lot of effort into the contemplation and designing of this article. Although it might be superficial of me, I still feel that the exact ins-and-outs of what you have wrote in that article are not that important. What struck me was the mental state, which I felt, would lead someone to such a deed.

I have been practicing Vipassana for almost 4 years now and have taken some courses and Satipatthana courses as well. I have been through many doubts and hesitations concerning this path in general, and Goenkaji's method of expounding that path, in particular.

I am an ... guy, having born to the ... religion, having a very non-eastern background. My first doubts were concerning .... why was it that I was born ..., I asked myself. If I was meant to be a Buddha follower, why was I not born with at least a religion which in some manner is proximate to the Buddha's background.

For a while I got closer to my native religion but continued taking courses, although I was not practicing regularly. This was the time of pot/hash smoking for me. During that period which lasted for about 6 months (on and off) the doubts that I had concerning Dhamma radiated directly unto my practice and influenced it greatly.

I had many doubts concerning Goenkaji as a person, and I literally threw my mental and personality defects unto him, and actually believed that he was - what later on turned to have been - my own reflection, with all its imperfections.

After a long and unexplainable process of mental forces, and eventually, Vipassana won over ..., since gradually I came to realize that it is more rational, more practical, completely non-sectarian, universal, and absolutely and almost mathematically precise and scientific, to the best of my intuition, intellect and cognitive abilities.

About a year later, I decided to give up smoking and to take Dhamma much more seriously. ...too much seriously. I was so keen on attaining results, and as fast as possible, that I became completely unbalanced to the point of becoming destructive towards myself.

Of course, at that time, during all that time, I was totally unaware of that. Teachers advises passed through me without me giving any attention to them. I sat in Satipatthana courses, simultaneously manipulating Goenkaji's words (recited directly from the Buddha's discourses) to my own satisfaction.

I actually remember sitting at the Dhamma hall during the discourses hearing Goenkaji saying something in a very clear manner, and having a bargaining and debating with him inside my mind - actually fighting with him to prove him wrong. Eventually I always won theses arguments and felt relaxed, having the point of view I wanted to hold on to, and that I was having so much attachment towards, remaining intact. Let me emphasize that what Goenkaji had said could be interpreted wrongly only by a tremendous effort, fueled by a very deep Sankhara of doubt (or any other, for that matter).

Anyhow, that same period of my life was the period of doubts concerning the path of Indian shamanism. I used to read a lot of Castaneda's books ('the teachings of Don Juan', etc.). At that point my story starts a bit more to resemble yours. My great and unbalanced (to say the least) enthusiasm to attain quick and profound results, led me almost without realizing it, to start mixing another technique of meditation into Vipassana. That technique was mentioned in one of Castaneda's books and this also was interpreted to my own liking of what I wanted it to be.

I started practicing Anapana in a different manner, just slightly different - just actively pushing thoughts away and only then returning to the observation of breath - instead of immediately returning to the observation of breath, having it wandered away to thinking. A very slight difference of interpretation, but a huge difference in the mind's attitude, and a much more enormous difference in the results to come...

And indeed, in no time, I had encountered great depths of mind, enormous depths of mind... enormous to the extent of life hazard. The place I had reached was the the total absence of light, devoid of sense-doors and their objects, and condensed with and composed of primal fear. Without any more elaboration of these experiences (which will most certainly lead me to lying more that I already probably have), I will note that it was much to big for me.

But me, being me, I felt so unique and so much of a spiritual chosen-one, and my ego inflated so much that I actually tried to endure that 'place', that in the beginning was not right to go to, and not conductive to proper meditation. Having tried that I came to the stage of loosing myself, and loosing Dhamma.

At that point I was desperate and afraid for my life, and started asking teachers what to do, having described to them my situation. But even so, I was still so much attached to that egocentric feeling that I am the only one, or at least one amongst so many, that is so capable to have reached that 'stage', that again.

I was not able to listen to advises from them. I remember that almost, if not all, the times that I turned to teachers for advise, I omitted the most crucial fact: I was mixing another method of meditation, and a very aggressive one, as well. I did not say that.

You wanna know why? Because I did not want to be saved. I did not want to give up my only uniqueness, the only uniqueness I had managed to achieve in my entire life. This was my only way of proving to myself that I am actually worth something. I was not ripened to have given that up, yet.

Nevertheless, at that time I did not know that, and so out of my great fear and mental dismay and confusion, I turned to Goenkaji for advise. My letter to him was demanding, crude, impolite, aggressive, condescending, and confused. In this manner I did explain my entire situation over that very long and elaborate letter, and also gave references from the Sayagyi U Ba Khin journal, the Maha Satipatthana Sutta, and from discourses by Ven. Webu Sayadaw, that allegedly proved that I was right in my point of view (whatever exactly that was), and that his teaching was wrong - literally so.

I actually questioned his authority in the same letter which I sent to him in order to seek his advise. How low can you get, man... anyway, again I omitted the fact that I was mixing techniques. Today I know that at that time, I did not realize to the fullest that I was doing that.

Again, my ego was so strong, that it managed to convince me in a very natural way, by the very actuality of having been myself, that there is no point of doubting myself, no point of doubting the source of the doubt that has arisen concerning my practice, and that there is no possibility that these doubts about myself or about what I am doing, are correct.

Anyhow, Goenkaji returned to me with a very simple answer, saying to me that what I am practicing is not Vipassana. That there are no black voids in Vipassana, that I am probably just very rapidly multiplying Sankharas of Ignorance, and that I should contact my closest teacher or my regional teacher for further advise. He cc'd that reply to the teacher in charge of ... and to the teacher in charge of ...

Again I was stubborn and stiff and debated with my girlfriend and told her that he is stupidly wrong. I said to her: "How can he say that there are no black voids in Vipassana if I ACTUALLY FELT THEM AND SAW THEM WITH MY DEVINE EYE!?!?!?"... even for myself I could not realize that I was wrong. And later on, even after having realized that I was wrong, even to myself it took time to admit that fact. My ego was so strong, so powerful.

The day after I got Goenkaji's answer by email, I sat for morning meditation and felt Goenkaji's superb Metta overwhelming me with unconditional love. This Metta was stamped by Goenkaji's presence and so I knew that it was him. Goenkaji loved me like no one have ever loved me before or after. Despite my abusiveness, despite my ego, despite me rebelling his authority to his face, despite me challenging him to a dual - despite me, he loved me so much.

Even so, it took some time, but that Metta softened me a bit, and I started coming to senses and realizing, that I should seek help. I contacted ..., which was the teacher in charge of ..., and that I felt the closest to. And she discussed my problem with Bill Hart (the author of 'the art of living'), and he in turn, gave me the advise to sit a 10-days course like a new student, meaning to really try to hear all the instructions for the first time.

That was 3 years ago, and I am still recovering from the damages I had caused myself by those experiences. But let me tell you something: They were right, they were all right, all along. I was wrong, I had made a mistake and was too dumb to listen for their advise.

Did you try to contact Goenkaji again? Did you try to find out if perhaps your letter/email had not reached him, by any reason? Did you try to contact another teacher in person, to whom you feel closer, and have tried to discuss that problem? Have you continued practicing since that incident?

Have you realized fully, that no one, and I mean NO ONE can take Dhamma away from you? Do you understand that, brother? You have Dhamma, it is yours, and can not be taken away from you! Incoming breaths are yours, outgoing breaths are yours, sensations are yours, the ability to observe objectively is yours. All these are yours, they are within you, they are your own self - anywhere, everywhere, anytime, anyhow - always. :-)

Sometimes we have to learn the hard way. If you can actually avoid making mistakes - good. But many times we can not. Make mistakes. That's ok. Anyhow, concerning some of the 'technical' issues that you have brought up in your file:

1. as to the 'punishment' that you had received. Man... I doubt that, I really do, that someone will not be allowed to sit anymore 10-days courses for believing or not believing in some theoretical part or whole of the goddamn theory, for that matter. I would have understood that kind of decision concerning long courses, because for them you really have to be strong and consolidated in mind, in all terms of your faith and confidence in the path, the technique, the teacher, the tradition, and so forth.

But 10-days courses are for those who are not yet sure, who are not yet matured, who are inquiring, asking, wondering and pondering. Talk to a teacher, talk to ... He became a senior AT already at 1996, so who knows where he is now. And he's German (although perhaps he's residing in France now), so it should be easier for you to talk to him.

Whatever you do, my advise to you is to stop immediately that Internet-debate that you are trying to initiate, because it feels to me dangerously close to the commitment of one of the 5 unforgivable sins: matricide, parricide, killing a Buddha, wounding a Buddha, and causing a schism in the Sangha. Don't do that - be very careful and aware of your motives - you are the only judge of your true intentions.

2. The Buddha did teach other techniques besides Anapana and Vipassana but only to people who where too gross-minded to start with the observation of reality, as it is. Being a Buddha he had the ability to see their mental backgrounds, their mind capacity and inclination, and to determine instantly the proper meditation object to suit them, and that will eventually lead them to be able to practice Anapana and Vipassana.

See, it is very clearly stated in the Maha Satipatthana Sutta that the only way to purify the mind is by observing sensations objectively, by the means of Sampajanno. Please discuss this with a teacher, who can elaborate on that subject without making any errors, as I probably will. You can even read the commented Maha Satipatthana Sutta booklet. You can also read the book "Buddha and His Teaching" by Narada.

That book is also authorized by the V.R.I. as proper reading material. That book, in general, is very inspiring and very informative, and also very readable. That which concerns that issue in particular can be found on pages 519 and onwards. These pages deal with different mental types, and all the 40 different meditation techniques taught by the Buddha, to fit those mental types.

That's all I have for now. You can email me back if you have any comments, questions, or if you just wanna say something, regardless. My little Metta


#9 RobertK

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Posted 04 June 2006 - 08:41 AM

http://de.geocities....tm/critique.htm

Dear ..., dear brother, thanks for writing such an extensive response to my letter. You are right in assuming me to have put much effort in writing this text. But contrary to your opinion - this happened on account of my stuporous try to reconnect Goenkaji's organization with our ancient and foresighted tradition of the Buddha. If you try to reconstruct any bad intentions on my side, well, as Goenkaji says, that is your present to me - but one that I will not accept - and which will remain with you.

You write, the actual points of my text are not so important - so, that means to me that you don't start to worry if your teacher - Goenkaji - would break, for example, his Sila? - The very foundation of all of us on this path?

I feel grateful for your sharing with openness your detailed account of your path, struggling and conquests, in meditation. But I don't see a way in which your path of meditation would be the same to mine. Especially when it comes to mixing techniques or imposing personal views. Of course, I guess you went to such lengths in your report to eventually help me to be able to see similarities to my own.

I'm sorry to say - but this is not the case, as I never wanted to prove how I am right and Goenkaji wrong. Nor did I mix methods. I just want to be allowed to speak of my experiences and understandings deriving from my practice exactly as Goenkaji teaches, and in the context of how the Buddha understood it, as far as I am able to follow.

Of course, I already send my letter to Dhananjay in July 2005 (the secretary of Goenkaji), then again in September, and simultaneously to the email address of Goenkaji, given to me by the secretary. Dhananjay did read it and passed it on, but without being able to promise me Goenkaji finding his time to read, let alone, answer my letter.

You mention secondary literature. Do you give contemporary books really more importance than the Pali scriptures? So you can not know that the Buddha gives the advise to compare anyone claiming to teach the Dhamma with his, the Buddha's word - and not at all with the words of the V.R.I. - Alike, you cannot assume me having done that for my own good in a very conscientious manner? Why you advise me to read commentaries before you even have read the originals in different available translations yourself?

I take refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha each day - for which I will remain for ever indebted to beloved Goenkaji with never-ending gratitude. So why you say with such emphasis, that Dhamma could never be taken away? I never took refuge to Goenka, the V.R.I. or any worldly organization.

I believe you not to believe me to be prohibited (not punished, as you write) to attend group-sittings, not to talk about 10-day-, or even long-courses. In this point, at least I really feel empathy from your side for my situation. Now, maybe you can believe me, that only such a grave breach - not acting what our organization is teaching - could move me in deciding - if given continued silent consent - to publish such a critical inquiry on the world-wide-web.

In this point I can not ask anyone for correction of these misunderstandings than Goenkaji himself. Because the teacher who gave me this unbelievable prohibition is John Luxford - as far as I know, the most senior teacher in Europe! (and with whom I sat a 30-day course 2 years before this incident)

You accuse me of wanting to split the Sangha? But you know that a real Sangha would never send anyone off without serious wrong-doings or merely differing opinions - unless this Sangha is guilty of the very act of splitting? I am sure you will not be willing to differentiate in this point - and it is not at all my intention to destroy your faith in Goenkaji's organization, as it seems so essential to your wholesome practice and where you have taken refuge.

But I ask you to accept that I have the same right of taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. And that I see no other way to improve mutual understanding in our organization than to publish what kind of splitting in reality is already going on. Only an open discussion will stop such unhealthiness within our organization!

Finally I want to ask you if you would agree to eventually use your response as one of its initial contribution to such a healthy and balanced discussion. I guess your experience - of adapting the instruction of Goenkaji only slightly - is very interesting for such meditators who don't want to end up in pitch blackness, as you did. If you don't want that, or only in parts, that's fine with me too. Just let me know.

Wishing you all the best for the furthering on your path, in Dhamma



#10 RobertK

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Posted 04 June 2006 - 08:42 AM

read your detailed paper thoroughly. In the beginning and for a few days I was working intensively writing back to you, and eventually came up with a paper almost as long as yours, covering in specific almost each and every issue that you have brought up in your paper.

But there was this internal debate going on inside of me, and eventually I realized that my intentions are not good. I was trying to prove you wrong just so that I will come out right. I was even thinking of CC'ing the answer to John Luxford, so that he will see what a wise and devout student I am. This thought alone filled me with exhortation.

But although realizing that, it was still hard to give up that ripened opportunity to earn a few credit points with the "powers that be" (and that's my defiled mind that has these schemes, so don't make a conspiracy theory out of this as well... :-)) Conning mind, crooked mind...

Anyhow yesterday I decided to discard that which I wrote and be as brief as possible without missing the point, and without loosing that little compassion which I have towards you.

The chief point that I want to convey is that, if you give it a closer thought, you will realize that there is no possible way on earth, that either of us is wiser, more matured, more spiritually developed, and more literate in the scriptures, the commentaries, the Suttas, the Abhidhamma and the history of the Buddha’s teachings then our teacher, Goenkaji.

Once you realize that, really, you will also realize that there is no way possible that any of your accusations, insinuations, insights or improvements suggestions have any substantial and realistic base to stand upon, and that therefore they derive exclusively from your own deluding Ego. Please try to understand that I am not trying to condescend you now. I have been in that situation as well, and I might just be in it again in the future... you can never know.

Accusing and criticizing is fairly easy. All you need is ill-will and that we all have in abundance. Actually making a change is more than difficult. Goenkaji took upon himself a monumental task of spreading the Dhamma all over the world. He is doing that successfully, wisely, equanimously, patiently, persistently, bravely, efficiently, and undoubtedly, in the best and as good-willed as possible.

However he is a human being and humans make mistakes as long as they are not Arahats. So perhaps he made some mistakes, perhaps not. Consider that suggesting merely the ultimate is not contributive to anything. You also have to have substantial means of realizing your improvement suggestions. Therefore (for example), training all the ATs to become social workers or psychologists is not realistic in any given aspect of the issue, and so forth.

Again, the points to bear in mind are Goenkaji’s undoubtedly and superhuman good will and his unfathomable maturity and wisdom. We are nothing compared to him - there is nothing for us to teach him, there is nothing that we see that he doesn't - Period.

The only advice I have to you (also contaminated with ego, of course), is to stop that "inquiry" at once. Your innate intentions cannot hold good will – it is clearly evident by the words, phrasings and tone of speech you have chosen to articulate yourself, and in any way, this will not lead you anywhere.

The most you will have is a bunch of immature and deluded people looking up to you, and saying: "Yes he does have a point" - And then what? If you really want to ‘correct the organization of Goenkaji', start with yourself. I have already told you, that in my opinion, this is dangerously close to causing a schism in the Sangha.

I hope that you will realize the wisdom in John Luxford's decision, and the even greater wisdom of he who provided you with the Dhamma that changed your life for the better. I hope that you will evolve from this ordeal and grow as you can grow. I hope that one day, not far ahead, you will remember smilingly how sure you were of your mistake. Good luck, my friend







#11 RobertK

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Posted 04 June 2006 - 10:20 AM

This is an old letter that Nina vana gorkom wrote to Susan Elbaum Jootla

Dear Susan
Thank you very much for your kind letter. I prepared a package of books and some Dhamma letters I wrote to different people and am sending these by separate post.
You are no strnagers to me since I read Susan&s book Investigation for insight. I took up teh book again in order to get to know more, beofre I answer your questions,I do not know where to begin. maybe I tell you first about what I have been doing.

We were with a group of Dhamma friends several times in India. Our friend in Dhamma, khun sujin, a Thai lady was always with us. WE vsisted the holy places and talked about Dhamma. About visible object, sound, odor, flavor, tangible object, about seeing, hearing, tasting and teh experiences of tangible object, about thinking. About all realities in daily life. About the defielments which which arise on account of the objects, much more often than one would think. We talked about sense door and mind-door, about teh difference between nama and rupa, which has to be known not in theroy but through direct experience. But you relaize it should be known through direct experience as I get form your book. you also know thatDhamma vicaya, investigation of Dhamma, is very necessary. That we need to listen again and again, consider again and again. Then it sinks in, it is never lost but accumulated. And thus slowly slowly conditions are being built up for the arising of teh eightfold path, one day. But we do not know when. As you write in teh begiining of yoru book

Insight is often conceived as a mqagical experience suddenly just happening and instantly making all things clear. But, by ands large, insight develops slowly and gradually through teh careful process of observation, investigation and anaylsis of phenomena that lies behind their apparent, conventional truth is distinctly and indubitably perceieved.


We always talk alot about conventional truth , samuttio sacca, and absolute truth, paramattha sacca. As soon as there has been seeing we are absorbed in shape and form, stories about what ws seen. But also thinking about conventioanl truth, and attachment are realities which have to be known. Other wise no hope that they can ever be eradicated. Khun sujin says that she is not our teacher, she is our good friend in Dhamma. She would not say fllow me. She wants us to check ourselves whther what she explains is according to teh triuth. Not teh person , the teacer is important, it is Dhamma that counts.

We may think we know nama and rupa already , through direct understanding, we believe that there is no thinking. then when we listen againa we find out that maybe there was some wuick thinking in between, not yet developed panna whcih directly understands. Tanha is most tricky, it takes many forms we may not notice it all, it misleads us all teh time. It seems to me the developemnst must go like this: we think we hve realized something, and then we learen no, it is not like that, it is not wahat we imagined. The warning in teh Visuddhimagga about Imperfections of Insight impresses me very much *vis XX105 Even someone who realises teh stages of tender insight (taruna vipassana( whcih are relaisation through direct experience teh difference between nama and rupa, realising teh conditions for their arising, and 'comprehension by groups', which begins to attend to rise and fall , someonehwo has realised all that can stilll be lured by clinging. I aksed Khun sujin what do to> Se siad go on being aware of nama asnd rupa., then all can be found out. It seems very reasonably to me that no one shoudl flee from tanha or supress it, but realize it as akind of nama. How otehrwise would we know thAT it is there and playing tricks with us


#12 RobertK

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Posted 05 June 2006 - 06:34 AM

Letter to Susan Jootla part II
I find it very logical that we should consider what has to be known first; we cannot jump to the realisation of the arising and falling away of nama and rupa so long as we are not sure when seeing appears to the sati and when visible object, when hearing, when sound, when the tangible objects such as heat, cold, hardness or softness, and when the nama which experiences these rupas. Indeed, it is difficult to discern precisely nama and rupa. It is all in a confusing mass, but it is good to know what we do not know. Sati which arises with kusala citta can only have one object: either a nama or rupa. If we are not sure, what falls away at which moment? A "whole" of namas and rupas? From yoru book, from what I read, I think you know that so long as we think of a whole body, or a conglomeration of nama and rupa together, there is no right view, but wrong view of self.

Khun Sujin explained that when there is the first vipassana nana, discerning nama and rupa, it arises in amind door process. It is clear that this is so. processess of citta go so fast, there is seeing there is hearing, but in-between there are mind door processes. becuase seeing experiences vsisble object, and after the eye-door process is over, tehre is is a mind-door process of cittas which experience the rupa which is visble object. Thus must be before there can be hearing which experiences sound, and then is expereinced in a mind-door process. There are also mind-door processes of cittas which experience teh concept of shape and form, or teh meaning of sound, lots of stories about it.

We cannot catch processes of cittas, we cannot catch mind-door processes, but when it is time for direct understadning to arise, the difference between sense-door and min-door is known, no more doubt.
Nina Van Gorkom

#13 RobertK

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Posted 14 June 2006 - 09:29 AM

http://vipassana-inq...htm/balance.htm



Responses: general | Suffering Disciples | first-timer | critique | down





3

Sun, 26 Mar 2006

... don't you have the impression that the danger of a mental break-down has been recognized and been taken in account with certain questions in the application-forms? (at least tentatively) Of course, the application-forms assume you are responsible for yourself, just as in the courses. And that they have to. Although - taking up ones responsibility - is not really developed with many people jet. That's why we do such practice, don't we? A so called 'independent evaluation' I don't consider worthwhile - or possible - it sound like arrogance and selection. The approach of psychological training to avoid the escalation of psychic problems - on the other side - I consider useful and I hope it will become implemented.





4

Tue, 28 Mar 2006

The newer application-forms - in my opinion - only took legal inconveniences into account (one teacher told me that such grave incidences as I came to know - in the United States could have caused the financial ruin). That the teachers would get training-sessions in client-centered counseling - one could hope in vain for decades. But with public pressure many incorrigible already have improved.






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7

Mon, 27 Mar 2006

... when I wanted to take my 3rd course, I mistakenly put on the application-form that I practiced Reiki - but that lay already many years back. Why I did that? - I don't know. In any case, a short time later followed a call in which I was remembered and exhorted that a serious student is not allowed to practice any other methods - especially no energetic healing-methods.

I found this call quite strange, because I haven't had anything to do with this organization - I only meditated by my self at home. Also I could never get real confidence to any of the always changing teachers of the courses. With questions asked during courses, I always received similar answers - going little into any depths - therefore, at one point I just gave up asking anything. I again felt inconsistencies.

Nevertheless, I visited the next 10-day course. This time immense and fundamental anxieties came up. Through the deprivation of sleep my nerves lay so bare, I couldn't oppose anything against it and fell in a permanent condition of panic-attacks and crying fits - out of which I could not free myself through the prescribed methods. I consulted the teacher - this time not an European, but a Burmese man. Soon I noticed that I could not expect any help from him - also the course-manager was not in the position to help at all.

I knew I had to leave the course, because I already had light hallucinations. Of course, it was attempted to make me stay. In the conversation with the teacher I became aware that he was on a completely different level and very likely with a huge difference in the cultural background too - I was (and am) not enlightened, and I still have very human anxieties.

That he laughed about me, when I sat full of tears in front of him, I perceived as psychologically off the mark. In the end they let me go and I was very relieved and glad, to be able - at last - to talk about my experiences with 'normal' human beings again.

Despite this, in 2005, I completed the next course which went relatively quite. But for me it was clear that this method could not be the real thing. I started with Kundalini-yoga, a method which really works differently. There I found teachers who could give me complex answers to my questions. I could observe positive changes in my personality very fast - and more important:

There is no dogmatic refusal to practice also other methods! A very trustworthy teacher of Goenka told me, I could continue with my practice of Vipassana, but better with a time-period in between. For example: in the morning yoga, evenings Vipassana - because there really is a energetic difference.

Here it is completely allowed to receive help from other people, because at times one doesn't get any further without active help. And if I can't cope with a point out of the philosophical super-structure of yoga, I don't have to deal with it or I'm even allowed to criticize and doubt openly - without being threatened with restrictions.

Important is what works - and that is really meant if someone says this. Overall I feel that Kundalini-yogis are more heartier and a real Sangha, whereas the Vipassana-organization appears rather cold to me.

I too, see a contradiction that Metta-bhavana is given, what in my eye is an active energetic help - but other kinds of energetic help are refused.





8

Sat, 1 Apr 2006

... that some of Goenka's co-worker give such an unfriendly impression I attribute to the unfortunate circumstance - that to partake in the meditation and Dhamma-work - one has to blind fundamental things out. Unfortunately, upright essential qualities which would be supportive to the practice of Vipassana. No wonder, if such co-workers appear less and less compassionate - especially with themselves.

In the end - the first of the four noble truths deals with suffering - and many seem to think, that self-perpetuated suffering would not be opposed to the path. Beside the cultural perplexity - this might have been another reason for the laughing of your Burmese teacher about your huge inner pain - I guess he might equaled your suffering with the evolving realization of the first noble truth. With a Burmese meditator he probably would have been right and reacted with his joy consenting (just speculating).

Luckily, I met on my path enough Buddhist co-meditators and teachers, who truly do justice to the teachings of the Buddha - as you did in Kundalini-yoga. All the qualities you ascribe to your yoga teachers - also a teacher of the Dhamma should have, as far as he really is one.

I am glad to hear, you found a way to leave those hindrances behind and that you continue on your path - as it appears to me - with big steps. Especially that you didn't get fooled by the alleged harmfulness of the use of different methods - but only by your own experience of what is wholesome for you - and by that for others too.






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16

Thu, 30 Mar 2006

Many thanks for you most interesting text. I have not had time yet to fully consider its contents but I am assured that your motives are honorable. I think the biggest challenge Vipassana faces is that it harks back 2000 years and does not recognize the intervening achievements of people seeking (and finding) ways to live a more enlightened life. I found that my practice of Vipassana could not help me through certain challenges in my life, while other techniques that I discovered could.

Especially with regard to psychological 'illness' I think the technique does not provide help to those who cannot supplement the meanings of the old Pali texts by recognizing their links to more modern ways of understanding the human psyche. I believe there is a place for Vipassana, and that giving people an opportunity for retreat from the values of Western society is valuable in its own right. I also believe that Vipassana does put individuals in touch with themselves, however, it doesn't always provide the best way of dealing with that awareness.





17

Sat, 1 Apr 2006

I agree quite in some aspects with your view: That not being able to see connections, for example, in practical approaches of psychology to the many adapting ways of the Buddha to help seekers - makes Vipassana become merely a technique and not a very helpful to so many, who are not ready for it without any preparation.

And I do start to consider such practical approaches like ' Focusing-assistance ' (by Eugene Gendlin, client-oriented) - with its emphasis of awareness with body sensations and investigation and insight in the meaning of such phenomena - with its result to skillfully listen and speak to help wholesomeness states develop in both - the listener and speaker - to complement the 8-fold path in just this area of skillful 'right speech'. An area which usually is absent in Goenka's way of training or guidance by his teachers.

But for me Vipassana remains the essential practice. Just not for everyone at anytime - not because it would not provide a very skillful way of relating with such awareness - but because of lack of skill in differentiating its ways of relating by our teachers, and as it was done at the time of the Buddha as it is described vaguely in the Pali Suttas.

And without devaluing other methods as being allegedly only for those of lesser capabilities, thereby coming dangerously close to slander. It doesn't help to assure in a second sentence that one doesn't want to - if it is repeatedly done at first - and replays such discourses a hundred thousand times.

The fundamental problem in Goenka's Vipassana I see more in forgetting that Sila, Samadhi and Panna has 8 limbs. And if one is not able to integrate something so important as 'right - wholesome - speech', oppositely painting such an integration as a mixing of 'techniques', competing with Satipatthana - as if those practicing Satipatthana could do without, because they are more advanced - all of it becomes lost. If you would like to share - I would be really interested in your personal findings in this respect, as we seem to differ a bid in our opinions.





18

Sat, 1 Apr 2006

many thanks for your detailed reply, which I look forward to replying to in detail. For now let me say that I share your respect for the Vipassana technique. And for me the crucial moment in our practice comes when we leave the retreat center, or rise from our daily cushion, and recreate ourselves in the world through language. Here the notion of right-speech is useful, however the technique does not offer much on articulating right speech or right action in a way that fully fully embraces the possibilities of our short span of 21st century conscious life. More to follow.





19

Wed, 17 May 2006

... I guess, you are fully embracing the possibilities of our short span of 21st century conscious life?





20

Wed, 17 May 2006

Ha Ha Wolfgang, you're damn right! My thoughts are on marriage and family. But I'm constantly reminded about the essential quality of all experience, especially those as they react with, what I consider myself, an addictive personality.

I will have a look at your Dhamma thoughts as soon as I can. You know? - I think you should do more yoga. With love and best wishes






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48

Fri, 21 Apr 2006

Thank you for your enormous courage in taking on the challenging of a structure. Like Luther and all before you who did this, you are in for a bumpy ride, but all will come clear in the end.

In all my experience of the teachers, no matter what I asked or how distressed I became, I was just told to, and I quote: "Keep on meditating" or at times: "Are you feeling the sensations?" - On my first course the female teacher could not even speak English and so none of my questions were understood, and that was just to do with the technique, never mind any deeper mental shit, which I did not even bother to raise.

There was certainly no effort made on other courses to go into any psychological help as that was seen as noise of the mind. As someone who spent years familiar with the suicidal impulse, I know that at that level of mental distress, Vipassana would be damaging, as the ego is screaming for help, and to essentially tell it, it is of no importance, while certainly being true, is miss-timed in those circumstances.

I have been through the Vipassana process and come out the other side freer than I was, but in my opinion, which is based on my experience and therefore will not be true for anybody else, I think Vipassana was a starting block, and work I did afterwards has helped me further to actually go beyond Vipassana. Vipassana is a structure, and anything that has structure, discipline, rules, denial, etc: becomes a cage.

If I may share with you the amazing mind of Krishnamurti who said exactly that. Whatever you try to enforce, whether a rule or a method, becomes in itself an attachment. As well as whatever you try to give up, you immediately become married to it! The stronger the resistance, the more you are holding on, actually.

Anthony de Mello, whom I also recommend as a wonderful teacher, said that when monks come for counseling, all they talk about is sex, and when the whores come, all they talk about is god! Beware of structures and resistance to what is. Krishnamurti said the trick is to understand what is, accept it and find that indeed you are free in the accepting of it, which removes resistance, and FROM THAT NON-RESISTING STATE OF MIND you take steps to change the situation, if needs be.

The line is very fine and requires a quiet mind. Krishnamurti's definition of quiet mind certainly does not indicate one that is concentrating on something, whether it is breathing, or sensations. You do not concentrate, you merely notice. There is a difference. In Vipassana there is not much care given to point that out, although I do think that is what they are trying to teach.

Also, the concentration is something you can do initially, but it is easy to mistake the process of quieting the mind for the meditation. Krishnamurti's definition of what meditation IS is very far from what most people understand it to be, including what people seem to think of Vipassana.

Krishnamurti also said that to get lost in words is very easy because the words are not the thing or the experience itself, but we have to try and communicate. I recommend reading his work - he answered a lot for me that Vipassana WOULD NOT, never mind could not.

I wish you all the love in all the whole shebang of this grand project, and you may quote anything I have said in future writing, but I would ask you not to distribute my mail address, as I may get floods of letters from the furious, and I am not as courageous as you are in facing that! With all my love, and metta (which I humbly feel should be practiced whatever the physical or mental state because "love is not something you DO, love is something you ARE")





49

Sat, 22 Apr 2006

... times have changed: Nowadays no courage is needed to speak out what one thinks - than certainly Luther must have had. Except maybe, for daring to write things not really matured yet. But if one's pretence is not to speak as a wise, than there is nothing wrong in becoming blamed lack of intelligence. As long as I'm offered something to investigate in exchange ...

Of course, I really appreciate Krishnamurti's freeing way of speaking. But I want to explain why I consider some traditions - as Krishnamurti's - almost poisonous to me: When I came to Vipassana I badly needed a way to bring me back to life - which was going on all the time within my body. Before in life - I became very skilled in blinding out all 'bad' emotions with a system of thought - very, very similar to Krishnamurti's. But without claim of having understood his profound depths.

I also do know a friend who lost quite much of her bearings after Krishnamurti had died. She was left with a deep-rooted aversion to any form of trying to change a situation, or to meditate. It always seemed she waited for a teacher like Krishnamurti - and meanwhile led her life past by (my impression only). I see with every person - who really speaks wise - the danger for others to become enchanted and leave their thinking to such much respected.

By my search to find a way of speech which really encourages enquiry and listening to one's own depths, and not to place ones confidence in the experiences of experts, brought me to - admittedly another method - focusing: Being a process- and experience-oriented counseling method basically based on feeling sensations and inquiring into their reflected meaning to life - it gave me a glimpse of what it could mean to exercise real listening and skillful speaking. Something completely ignored in Goenkajis tradition.

And what's more - not to become associated with authority other than the one the listener finds in himself. I really don't give much into not using any 'self-improving' techniques, if they only open up to see what's there. And as you say - that can be aimless love - if one is looking only deep enough.

It seems with either teacher it can give rise to the same self-defeating assumptions: The belief that only one method would be proper - like the only one Goenkaji knows to teach and how it helped him. - I guess it a similar mistake to take the experience of Krishnamurti, that any way to get somewhere would lead only to more self-inflicted suffering - as long as this is not ones own experience - a pretty debilitating belief.

For me I could not imagine any other way than to try to find out for myself. Ending up with self-inflicted suffering and - through such personal experience - become very glad in let it all go. - Out of my experience - to try to let go, without having experienced with full force ones own grip and fear and deeply suffer from it - could merely become a pose. Maybe this only holds true for myself.

After reading your letter a second time it seems I have only expressed - what you wrote - with my own words and particular background. Somehow, I really can relate to it - though not in the sense of taking to books of Krishnamurti. But if I merely imposed my words on something which could imply much more to you, please feel free to reply at any time.





50

Mon, 24 Apr 2006

I hear what you say about your friend who lost her way after Krishnamurti died. Again we see the danger of attaching to anything, be it a tradition, a method and especially a teacher. Krishnamurti himself was very strong in his teaching that you can only ever find things out for yourself and must never give importance to the authority of another. You can follow a way another has walked, but your walk is your own.

Vipassana teaches that too. He would also have not blocked out bad thoughts, but encouraged investigating them. He did not teach body sensation awareness as an aid to investigation, which is why Vipassana (kept pure) is a wonderful tool.

I also got a message this morning from a friend in ... who teased me because he could not make head or tail of Krishnamurti. I laughed because neither did I before I did Vipassana! It was my experience of Vipassana that opened the way for me to understand Krishnamurti! For that I am so grateful.

But I stay careful to move through each experience and each learning, and move on so I do not stay clinging to any particular method, teaching, etc. Accepting my life and everything that occurs in it moment by moment IS the teaching put into practice. Of course I still find myself clinging to this and that, sometimes to a person and so on.

Vipassana has given me the gift of awareness. Krishnamurti gave me the gift of understanding that it is all right if I do not resist the moment as it is, but keep moving through it. As always, it is quite hard to explain states of mind with words, as many of the experiences go beyond words.

If anyone attacks you, then they are themselves in doubt, for you only attack if you feel threatened. What you are doing for them is giving an opportunity for them to question their own attachments and doubts, but most people find it uncomfortable so would rather blame and attack another. Again I wish you love for I see you as a very determined and devoted person and you deserve encouragement and may the very best come to you..






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link to an exchange which turned to this topic in the general responses section >












Back to Vipassana-Inquiry





The evening-talks of the long-courses could clarify many simplifications of the 10-day courses (but also add some other). And many essential beginners meditation-instructions would be taught there. For this reason I really recommend them to every serious meditator.

But, because many would have to become dishonest about their Sila - with very self-defeating results - I noted the teachings of a 20-day course for interested Goenka-disciples down (out of memory with the possibility of mistakes - and certainly with a different emphasis).

And please don't give too much importance to such things as Jhanas - which seem to be interpreted by every Buddhist teacher differently. Best of all these interpreters still remains Ven. Buddhaghosa with the biggest Chapter in his Vissudhimagga: 'Samadhi'. Where he gives the statistic: Out of 1 to 10 million meditators - who try to practice Jhanas - only 1 would reach mastery of the 1st Jhana !!












day 0




The Formalities - The taking of refuge and surrender to the teacher: By repeating the Pali-words played by a tape-player.





day 1




Ekayano-Maggo only means: Sila, Samadhi and Panna.

The 5 requirements for serious meditation in long courses are: Devotion, good health, no self-deception, effort and wisdom. In comparison - the requirements asked of a student to be allowed to long courses are only superficial.





day 2




The 5 requirements: Devotion, good health, no self-deception, effort and wisdom.

The 3 ways of breaking Sila: Doing it, encouraging it, or applaud it.

The 3 necessary components for it to be considered to be broken Sila: An intention to, a tool to, and a visible living being (not going to extremes, for example with bacteria in the air).

Be self-dependent - dont rely on the guiding teacher or the Dhamma-worker. Keep eyes downcast.





day 3




The importance of Sila as foundation for meditation. About right livelihood.

This Dhamma-land (i.e. meditation-center) has very fertile soil, and of every deed done - be it wholesome or unwholesome - the fruits will become multiplied by the purity of the Dhamma-land. Which is not to be believed blindly, but because of the law of nature.

The story of a former physician who became Arahat-monk and thereafter refused to treat his own mother with medicine. But instead gave her truth - to heal her - by exclaiming: By the truth of my virtue of not looking intentionally up to a female since my ordination ... (i.e. Kiriya-sacca).

The 3 kinds of help in ones meditation: Keep eyes downcast, looking only 2-3 steps ahead - keep complete silence - knowing the right measurement of food.

At the time of the Buddha the monks received meditation instructions - and then left to practice in solitude until they became liberated.





day 4




Anapana: Observing the in- and out-flow of respiration through sensations at the upper lip, without any verbalization.

There is no I doing it, but Anatta - bare awareness and mere observation.

Mental storms will come and go, face them with equanimity and bravely. If the storm becomes to strong - use right thought (Samma-sankappo) to overcome them, but only temporarily: Thoughts about the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha, about Dana given, the Sila one has kept, ones devotion, etc. The simile about the first rain after the hot season - making the air smell earthen. Likewise this work towards purity of mind will cause defilements to come up.





day 5




Protect Sila as your own life.

Use hard breathing only for a view minutes and so subtle - even your neighboring meditator could not hear it. In Anapana one goes from the gross to the subtle, from deep to short and shallow breathing.

There are many wrong ways of Anapana, 4 alone in Burma:

Ï Description of Ven. Sunlun Sayadaws Anapana, where one could hear the heavy breathing a hundred yards away from the meditation center;
Ï Imagining the in and out breath with colors;
Ï Counting the breath and verbalizing it ('in' - 'out');
Ï In India Pranayama is practiced for good health and feeling good.

But all these methods will not lead to the liberation the Buddha intended. Only observation as it is - the natural breath - will liberate.

Mental Storms can be handled with hard breathing - or by recollecting ones Paramis, or the triple gem, etc. - but always come back to respiration and sensation.

As concentration develops: Light- or Vision-nimittas can appear - but this is not a necessity - never take them as meditation-object! Nimittas are only milestones passed by - if one stops to glare at these milestones - every progress stops. Remain with respiration and sensation.

Mara - which for example could be ones Sankharas, or a celestial being - will try to tempt you: For example with other meditation objects, fantasies, discontent, good-yogi conceit, etc.

Good Samadhi with Anapana will also bring good results in daily living: For example at the moment of ones death to keep a balanced mind; and as an initial object, which brings ones awareness instantly back to body-sensations.

Keep eyes downcast, keep complete silence, know the amount of food you need.

Sila helps Samadhi, Samadhi helps Panna. Each is interrelated with each other, like: Panna helps Samadhi, Samadhi helps Sila.





day 6




By facing mental storms, they strengthen us. But when storms become overwhelming - better use Yoniso-manosikara (wise consideration). For example about the amount of necessary Paramis to be admitted to such a long-course.

Or to be reborn a human at a time when Vipassana-teachings are available. Such a time was lasting only for 500 years after the Buddhas Parinibbana. Another 500 years later Samadhi was gone, again 500 years later Sila, then Dana, and 500 years - before our fortunate period began - only scriptures were in use. Of course - this is not to be believed blindly.

If we are concentrated only for a moment it is called Khanika-samadhi, which is already enough to start with Vipassana. In long courses this period of concentration prolongs up to 10, 15, 20 minutes, than it is called access-concentration or Upacara-samadhi - which enables to go much deeper with Vipassana.
Finally there would come absorption-concentration - Apana-samadhi.

By overcoming the 5 hindrances we get strength.

There are 2 sorts of Sila - like the 2 sides of a coin - and only when both sides are developed it becomes perfect Sila:
1. Varita Sila, Sila of abstention (5 precepts)
2. Carita Sila, Sila of a pure mind full with love.

By keeping Varita Sila one develops Samadhi and Panna - which lead to Carita Sila.

Keep complete silence, eyes downcast, and know the right amount food you need .





day 7




Protect Sila as your own life - to develop Samadhi and Panna.

Story of Ven. Mahatissa, a Sri Lankan monk, who practiced in the forest, became sick and therefore couldnt go for Pinda-pat (alms-round) anymore. He became weaker and weaker. Finally he decided, that he had to get help from the village. On his way - while passing through a mango-grove - out of his weakness fell and couldnt get up anymore. But he wouldnt eat the overly-ripe mangoes lying all around him - despite being starved for days - for not to break his Sila.

Then the owner of the mango-trees came and gave him the Mangoes to eat. Very impressed by this steadfast monk, the owner of the mango-grove promised Ven. Mahatissa to bring him from now onward his food - until he would become healthy again. And carried Ven. Mahatissa on his back home.

While being carried on the back of the lay devotee, Mahatissa reflected on: How wonderfully Sila has helped me - which filled his mind with gladness and joy (Pamojja and Piti) and his body with pleasant sensations (Sukkha). Thereby he became calm (Passaddhi) and he entered Samadhi with Sampajanna. Further Ven. Mahatissa proceeded through 1., 2., 3., and finally Arahata-phala, still on the back of the Lay person.

How much Sila-, Buddha-, Dhamma-, Sangha- and especially Maranupassana can help us to strengthen in Samadhi.

The Story of a criminal, who was promised freedom from prosecution by the king, by walking with a full cup of oil across a crowded fair-ground - without spilling over even one drop. Similarly, dont miss even on breath in view of an uncertain death.

The 8 Jhanas: with the momentary-, access- and absorption- stage of each. How their value is in using them with Sampajanna. And how the Buddhas Dhamma gets misrepresented - if the Jhanas are not only a mean - but its end. Leading only to other planes of existence, but not out of cyclic existence.





day 8




Entering the field of Panna, with Anicca-vijja, Anatta-vijja, and Dukkha-vijja of all the 5 aggregates. Turn every Kalapa of your body into Panna (with Anicca-vijja, Anatta-vijja, and Dukkha-vijja).

Use Anapana as needed. Keep your Sila strong. Follow all rules and regulations of this meditation center.
Meditate day and night, except during deep sleep. But dont force yourself up, like some meditation-centers in Burma ask to. Also dont start to worry if you dont find any sleep: Become instantly aware of Anicca, Anatta, Dukkha.

Keep your eyes Downcast, at least for the 19 days of this course. But not to such extremes like in the story of a monk, who kept his eyes downcast for 60 years, never seeing the painting on the wall of his cave, etc. Have a good measurement of the food you need.

In Vipassana one goes from apparent- to ultimate reality - from apparent solid matter to the ultimate flow of Kalapas - where matter is dissolved. From solidified mind and mental-concomitants, to the dissolving of it into mere wave-lets (by way of observation of the sensations on the body) till one experiences for the first time Nibbana (Sotapanna-phala - with only 7 more rebirths left, etc.), an experience completely beyond mind and matter. But one has to know all this on the experiential - and not only the intellectual level - to become liberated.





day 9




The same as above: The whole world is nothing than vibrations. Every Sanna (recognizing, distinctions, valuating through the colored glasses of past conditioning, i.e. Sankharas) has to turn into Anicca-sanna, Panna, Dhamma-dhatu, and Bodhi-dhatu - which will develop into Nibbana-dhatu.

The 4 noble truths. The first noble truth - Dukkha on 3 levels:
1.on an ordinary level
2.on the level when pleasure ends, it turns into Dukkha
3. on the level of atomic life - with its friction, radiation, etc. - is not peaceful at all, but agitated and painful.

The second noble truth - the cause of pain lies in us (and not outside of us) by our reaction with craving and aversion.
The third noble truth - pain ends as much as we have let gone of our reactions.
The fourth noble truth - the path: Sila - Samadhi - Panna.
But not the intellectual-, but only the actual experiential-wisdom will help.

The story of a monk who saw in a passing by beauty nothing but a heap of bones (a mass of bubbles = Panna).





day 10




Sila is the base to strengthen Samadhi - with strong Samadhi one develops Panna.

Anicca-vijja, which chases away the habit pattern of the mind. Dhamma-dhatu, the understanding of Dhamma. Bodhi-dhatu, the enlightenment of experiential truth which ultimately leads to Nibbana-dhatu.

The story of a monk, who plugged a Lotus flower from a pond where other people had done the same: A nearby celestial being (Deva) warns him of his broken Sila, explaining that a serious monk is like a clean cloth and every little stain is already too much on such a bright cloth.

Therefore - never compare yourself with others, who are already dirty. The monk, very glad about this celestial warning, asks the Deva to become his guard and to warn him in future too. The Deva rebukes the monk for his silly plea.
Dhamma should make a serious meditator to be self-dependent. Dontexpect warnings from others.

Everyone - not gone to the end of the path like the Buddha - will form a philosophical belief, a sect altogether, from what he had experienced till the stage he reached on the path.
The 62 main philosophical views. But only one who has experienced the 4noble truths completely can have real Samma-ditthi.

About Sampajanna: to the continuous experience of arising and passing away, one has to exercise it like Anapana - when the mind wanders away, just bring it back till it stays Sampajanna - like when Samadhi becomes good.





day 11




Having done a few 10-day courses, where you always succeed from a base of Sila - now - with some more experience of the path you can start the 8fold noble path in the right way: With 'right-understanding' as its very first step.
...62 major wrong views (as the day before), like:
Everything is determined by God, or Karma, or by chance.
In all these 3 views there is no possibility for liberation.
Also all scientific-curiosity (except for livelihood) dont help.

Only when one has experienced the 4 noble truth within oneself (and not only intellectual) - one arrives at Samma-ditthi.

Samma-sankappo also has to be with right view: That the mind matters most - everything is mind made - in a deed (kamma) done always the volitions counts.
Samma-ditthi - in the same way - has to be with Samma-vaca, Samma-kammanta, Samma-ajiva, Samma-vayamo and Samma-sati: Awareness of the body-sensations, with their arising and passing away, i.e.Sampajanna.

Only Samma-samadhi with Sampajanna (on the level of body sensations) from the very first Jhana onward will liberate. In this way one has to include Samma-ditthi on every step on the noble 8fold path.





day 12




Again: Every step on the noble 8fold path has to be with Samma-ditthi, Sampajanna, Anicca-vijja-nana, Bhavana-maya-panna, etc.

The story of a recluse, who wanted to reach beyond the world by walking to the end of the world. The Buddha advised him: Only within oneself can one go beyond the 31 (Buddhist) planes of existence - by way of the 8fold path and Sampajanna on the level of body-sensations.

At first, all those Sankharas - which could drag one at the next rebirth to the 4 lower planes, are cleared out. Until this kind of Sankhara is completely gone - and one experiences for the first time Nibbana, and becomes Sotapanna etc.

Only with Anicca-vijja on the level of body-sensation one eradicates Sankharas. But when one very strong Sankhara threatens completely to overpower you - than use temporarily for your help: Work a bit (laundry), lie down; Sila-, Dana-, Buddha-, Dhamma-, Sangha-, Maranupassana, Metta-bhavana, hard breathing, etc.






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Daily repeated Instruction:




Every moment, moment to moment -

every moment, moment to moment - every moment, moment to moment -

may you all experience Dhamma-dhatu, arise Bodhi-dhatu:

The awakening to the truth on the experiential level pertaining to the 5 aggregates.

Mind and Matter, Mind and Matter, constantly arising and passing away -

arising and passing away - arising and passing away.

Realizing this reality,

surveying the whole body from heat to feet and from feet to heat in different ways.

Keep on realizing this reality - keep on realizing this reality -

keep on developing Dhamma-dhatu, Bodhi-dhatu,

which ultimately will turn into Nibbana-dhatu.

Keep on working - keep on working - keep working - keep working.






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day 13




Between 2 Sammasambuddha the teaching always gets lost. Because the teachings are taken to extremes: Like giving too much importance to only 1 of the 5 Silas (like not to kill, extreme fasting etc.). Thereby the middle-path is lost. And even by only a little diversion from the path - liberation can not be reached.

Also the 8 Jhanas without Sampajanna and Anicca-vijja only leads to higher Brahmic-planes and after death (after many eternities) Brahmas are reborn in a lower realm with a lot of pain - because the Bhava-sankharas, which lead to such destinations - have only been suppressed.

The 8 Jhanas, which lead to higher planes are call ed Lokia-jhanas (worldly-Jhanas).
Starting, for example, with a Kasina in a disc form: The first stage with a acquired sign, called Parikamma-nimitta comes with Khanika-samadhi(momentary-).
The second stage with Uppaha-nimitta relates to access-concentration.
At the third stage, called Apana-samadhi, the Nimitta becomes Patibhaga.

The elements of the 1st Jhana are:
1.Vicara (attention to the object)
2. Vitakka (continued attention to the object)
3. Piti (mental joy)
4. Sukkha (pleasant bodily sensations)
5. Citta-ekagata (one-pointedness of the mind)

For changing to the 2nd Jhana: one proceeds through Khanika-, Upacara- and Apana-samadhi - absorption of the 2nd Jhana - where the 1st and 2nd elements: Vicara and Vitakka, subside.
For going into the 3rd Jhana one follows the same approach as before -and Piti will subside.
At the 4rd Jhana: Sukkha together with all 5 sense-door-impressions of the body (Rupa) subside completely. And only Citta-ekagata and Upekkha (equanimity) remains.

The object for the 5th Jhana is infinite sky.
For the 6th: Infinite consciousness.
At the 7th: Nothing is there.
At the 8th Jhana the object is: Neither Sanna (recognizing, valuating) nor Non-sanna.

These 8 Jhanas purify only partially.
But only with Sampajanna on the level of body sensations - this happens to the depth of the mind -and already with Khanika- or Upacara Samadhi.

If you can not enter the stream of Sotapanna, at least by Sampajanna you are entering the stream of Dhamma and become a Cula-sotapanna (lesser Sotapanna: who will find good conditions in his next life for practice again).





day 14




While doing a long course, one starts to see the Dhamma clearer and clearer. As scientist knows the cause and its effect, so a Sammasambuddha knows cause and effect of mind and matter together.

To show the relation of whats necessary to know - of the noble 8fold path for the ending of suffering - and what is superfluous to know: The Buddha equaled the few leaves in his hand to those leaves of the whole forest.

A Sammasambuddha knows as much as there are leaves in a forest - compared to the leaves one hand can hold - and what is really necessary to know about cause and effect.

By eradicating this cause - that effect is eradicated. As in Paticca-samupada.
The Buddha said: One who knows the Paticca-samupada - knows the Dhamma (and vis-versa).

It is Vedana which leads to clinging. But the real cause is Ignorance by which all Sankharas start. With Anicca-vijja-nana - Avijja get eradicated and no Sankhara can start.

Mind and Matter cause 6 sense-bases, 6 sense-bases cause contact, contact causes Vedana, Vedana causes Sanna to give a valuation, valuation causes Vedana to turn pleasant or unpleasant, such Vedana causes clinging or aversion etc. ...

But with Vijja (Sampajanna) - vibrations (sense-objects) meet other vibrations (sense-doors) which cause further vibrations (Vedana all over the body) - and no more reaction (craving or aversion) will occur. In this way misery is eradicated.

The story of Sariputta who became Sotapanna only after hearing second-hand about the Dhamma: Everything arises on the mind because of an cause - with the eradication of that cause everything ceases.

Remain Sampajanna day and night - know the arising and passing away at the 6 sense-doors - continuously.





day 15




Paticca-samupada is the law of nature (same as above).
What is Avijja? It is the ignorance of this law and the 4 noble truth,which also implies the reverse order of Paticca-samupada.
The only remedy: Anicca-vijja-nana - constantly Sampajanna on the level of body sensations.

About birth, death and Bhava-sankharas.





day 16




Paticca-samupada. With Vedana there is a crossroad: one leading to Dukkha, the other to the ending of Dukkha.
A Sutta: Many winds blow no a mountain... alike many different feelings are found in the body. Be aware of sensations with the understanding of impermanence, continuously.
Anicca-vijja-nana - Sampajanna day and night: Half fallen asleep, but still aware of sensations: Arising and passing - but without forcing yourself (dont go to extremes).

Asava, the flow of intoxication, is the flow of hormones in the blood circulation during occurrence of defilements. An-asava is the complete freedom of such influences. First one has to learn to remain equanimous with unpleasant sensations, which is relatively easy. Next one has to learn to be equanimous with the pleasant sensation (Bhanga), which is full of danger and fearful - because in the name of Vipassana one starts to create Sankharas of craving, which are nothing than agitation and misery.

Finally one experiences neutral sensations in a very calm stare of mind, i.e. Passaddhi, before one reaches Vedana-nirodha.





day 17




The Buddha's advice to meditators was: Be Sato, be Sampajanno and let the time ripen by itself (be aware of sensations - know that they arise and pass away - and leave the rest to Dhamma).

Equanimity with the understanding of impermanence will bring up the sleeping defilements (Anusaja-kilesa). With equanimity alone - as in the 4th Jhana they wouldnt come up - but only become suppressed.

Story of Ananda, trying hard to become Arahat for the first Buddhist Council of 500 Arahats right after the Buddhas death. As long as he struggled too much for it - with too much ego involved - he failed. The moment he relaxed and gave up, just before sunrise of the day the council to be held, laying down - and before touching the pillow with his head - Ananda proceeded from Sotapanna (which he already was) through Sakadagamin, and Anagamin to Arahathood.
Never give a time-limit to success in your meditation efforts!

The 5 Nivaranas (called: enemies) keep us away from being continuous Sampajanna.
But the 5 friends (Indriyas, Balas) will help us (Saddha, Viriya,Samadhi, Sati, Panna).

Also the 7 enlightenment-factors (Bojjhangas) will help - as they develop 1 by 1 to full strength:
Sati:Sampajanna with sensations.
Dhamma-vicaya: dissecting, diverting, disintegrating. Analyzing and investigating reality - for example the 4 elements of the body as they arise and pass away - or of the mind: Vedana - arising and passing. The same with Sanna and Sankharas. Even with Vinnana on has to be aware of arising and passing of the 6 different Vinnanas at the 6 sense-doors,conditioned by the contact of sense-objects and sense-organs;

Bhanga is full of danger - Adinava - and full of threat - Bhaya - because it is so easy to crave for it. And by craving also pain and unpleasantness get conditioned at the same time.





day 18




Be continuously Sampajanna and try to understand Dhamma clearer and clearer.

The 7 enlightenment factors are:

1. Sati: continuous awareness of arising and passing away

2. Dhamma Vicaya: analyzing the elements of body and mind and experience continuously their arising and passing away

3. Piti: pleasant sensations. First one makes unpleasant sensations to tools to eradicate the Sankharas of aversion (with Sampajanna). Once the worst of these unpleasant sensations are gone, one has to do the same with pleasant sensations - like a flow of subtle vibrations and Bhanga - in respect to Sankharas of craving. But here one has to be very alert and see the danger and threat (Adinava + Bhaya) of craving for it.
The story of a parrot, who got many times warned of a certain hunter. The parrot learned and repeated the warnings verbally again and again. Yet, finally he was caught by the hunter. This is a warning of mere intellectual understanding. When one craves - one only creates further misery for oneself.
But if one experiences Bhanga with Anicca-vijja-nana, then Piti turns into an enlightenment-factor

4. Viriya: the effort to stay in the present moment with Anicca-vijja-nana, and not in thoughts of the future or the past.

5. Passaddhi: calmness, with which the ignorance related to neutral sensations can get eradicated. One has to be very alert not to mistake this calmness as Nibbana, as there are no more thoughts - but one has to look-out for a tiny oscillation with the understanding of Anicca - to turn it into a Bojjhanga

6. Samadhi: a concentration without thoughts but the understanding of Anicca, to make it a Bojjhanga.
7. Upekkha: equanimity with Anicca-vijja, for it to become a Bojjhanga. Otherwise it cant help, as the Upekkha of the 4th Jhana.

Once the worst Sankharas are gone, who would otherwise lead to the lower planes of existence, one experience for the first time Nibbana of the Sotapanna stage. Then one has to continue the work in the same way... till reaching Arahat stage.
But even as an enterer of the stream of Dhamma, one will be reborn in a place where one can practice: atapi sampajanna satima(the teaching of the Satipatthana-discourse course).





day 19




The 37 elements pertaining to the path: The noble 8-fold path, 5 faculties, 5 strengths, 7 factors of enlightenment, 4 efforts (Patthana), 4 Satipatthanas (Kaya-, Vedana-, Citta-, and Dhammanupassana) and the 4 bases to spiritual power (Iddipada):

1. Canda: determination, one knows with the first 10-day course: this is the path and stays on it.
2. Citta: concentration, one is very skilled in Jhanas
3. Viriya: effort, one who is very energetic in meditation
4. Muncita: one with strong analytical understanding.

Every yogi has all 4 bases - but usually one is very predominant, because of its development in former lifes.

The 7 Visuddhis (Sutta of the 7 relays-chariots of a king): Sila-, Citta- (Samadhi), Ditthi-, Doubt-, Maggo-amaggo-, 6. the 9 Insight-knowledges: Udaya/Baya, Bhanga, Adinava, Bhaya, (the story of a men with his hair on fire), Nibbida, etc.

The work always remains the same: Anicca-vijja-nana, day and night, atapi sampajanna satima!






--------------------------------------------------------------------------------





Day 16 and 28 of a 30-day course - 'Bhavanga Instructions':




Certainly, many Dhamma-friends would dissuade me to publish this highest teachings of Goenkaji. But in reality, already in a 10-day course Goenka instructs to penetrate any point in the body for a minute or two where gross sensations remained - with awareness of Anicca - and after so-called Bhanga has occurred!

Because it happens quite naturally with many meditators that already in 10-day courses at the heart such spots remain - one can read about this centerpoint-method of Sayagyi U Ba Khin elsewhere too - and the teachers in 10-day courses make quite a fuss and don't want to clarify this alleged advanced instruction and keep it secret only for meditators in the long courses - I consider it very helpful to publish it here.

The warning - such advanced instructions could do harm (many meditators experience a pain similar to a heart-attack with it) - doesn't count, because already with the ordinary 10-days meditation-instructions one plays around with these body-energies equally - and in this very vulnerable mental state of a retreat:

!!! Which already does harm to a few - without any teacher seem to know: That by concentration on any point of the body (first for 3 days at the upper-lips, than at the top of the head) one accumulates natural life-energy there, and then - by moving increasingly faster with this concentrated life-energy through ones body - energy-blockades are blown up there (often caused by traumatic childhood experiences) !!!

As Goenkaji says in the Satipatthana-discourse question & answer talk: "Silly talk about Kundalini - everywhere in the body is energy - Kundalini can even be felt in the small fingers."











"Once the surface and the inside of the body-sensations have dissolved,

even if there are still some gross sensations left -

but a undercurrent of subtle vibrations going through them -

it is considered Bhanga-state.

In this case one may stay 1-2 minutes one-pointedly at the center-point below the chest bone,

the place of the physical heart,

the solar plexus and Bhavanga -

the deepest level of the subconscious mind.

After that always spread your awareness of sensations for 1-2 minutes over the whole body.

Finally sweep the whole body in one breath.

But dont force anything,

just let it happen.

In the case one has experience with this center-point technique,

one may stay up to 5 minutes with Bhavanga.

Whatever the experience may be,

moving from place to place with gross sensations,

or sweeping the whole body in one breath,

or piercing the spine,

or with Bhavanga,

or feeling the whole body at once,

it does not matter!

Only by not reacting and remaining equanimous with the prevailing sensations -

with the understanding of impermanence -

defilements and misery get eradicated."











Please remain aware, that all of these meditation-instructions are noted out of memory, and could contain possible misrepresentations.




I strongly dissuade everyone to follow the Bhavanga-instructions
- unless one has received them from a qualified teacher !

Be warned of the seriousness of such an undertaking -
and try to become proficient in the protective practices Goenka teaches first!





Any hurt or harm suffered - as in the long- and even beginner-courses - out of not understanding my warning and dissuasion, nobody can be made liable, than yourself.

If such happens accidentally in a first 10-day course and you experience what seems to be hallucinations and paranoia - and you can not handle these experiences anymore - (such experiences many meditators do have, but still can handle them - the Buddha to be had to go through such ordeals too):

Stop to meditate ! Don't believe a teacher or Dhamma-worker - who might try to convince you that by stopping you could do harm to yourself. By this statement they show their non-competence in psychological assistance. Only you know yourself the best. Be kind with yourself, eat much and spicy, do lots of bodily demanding work or sports. Talk to gentle people and ask them to be with you - to assist you in going through such a psychosis. Although painful to ones core, people do come out more matured after such experiences. In most cases meditation-induced hallucinations will end soon after leaving the meditation.

If it continues and you have no one to assist you - or can't take it any longer - get psychiatric help. They can help you to dive through such experiences - by suppressing its symptoms - but can not really heal it either. You might end up on medication the rest of you life. This applies in particular to one percent of all citizens, who - according to statistics - suffer at one point in their life schizophrenia (of which about 50 percent heal spontaneously) - and which could be ignited by a first course. And to others, more vulnerable through childhood-abuse or life-long inclination to depressions, suicidal thoughts, etc.





#14 RobertK

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Posted 06 July 2006 - 04:15 PM

http://vipassana.tri...37-d01ff46bb416
Has anyone else come across the dogma of vipassana as taught by Goenka?
I ask because I have this recurring issue. 2 years ago after I having sat two 10 day sits preveiously, I applied to serve a course. Because I said on the application that I did "other" forms of meditation, they asked that I sit the course instead of serve so I could "decide" if vipassana was the meditation practice for me. At that point I was sitting 2 hours a day. I ditched Vipassana. I stopped practicing.
Now I wish to resume practice. I applied to sit a 10 day course and on this application I wrote that I did not do any other meditation practices. I have been called and asked if I stopped doing the other practices or what is going on with that...like they have it in my file that I do other practices or something.
The frustrating thing to me is that it does not matter. Would the Buddha turn me away? No.
I am abandoning the Goenka Vipassana centers. I feel that their approach is like most of Christianity...it's just not following the teachings of the teacher.
Thanks for listening. I am really frustrated.

Lesson is: When applying for a Goenka course do NOT say that you do other meditation practices. THey don't need to know.
posted by:
shaUna
51 friends

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Diana
95 Re: DogmaTue, January 10, 2006 - 3:53 PM
wow, that's weird. I said on the application that I had done meditation in the past, but only sporadically, and they accepted me.
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shaUna
51 Re: DogmaTue, January 10, 2006 - 4:09 PM
Yes, but like I said I had sat 2 courses no problem with saying that. Then when I wanted to serve a course...not sit but serve, they wanted me to commit to just Vipassana...and now I have a bad record or something. :-) totally wierd
I like the technique.
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pamojja
0 Re: DogmaThu, June 1, 2006 - 1:23 PM

Hi shaUna,

it even became worse. I have practiced for 10 years Goenkaji's method without practicing any other meditations. After such a long time, I naturally have my own experiences from Vipassana-practice - and opinions about the way courses are run.

Now - after having shared my personal opinions with a high-ranking teacher of Goenka - I was told that I would be only allowed back, after having relinquished my opinions. Not to talk about long-courses - no: even group-sittings!

After failing to get Goenka to give a clear answer to such exclusions - now I wrote a website and you might be interested:

de.geocities.com/pamojja/_...assana.htm

Never forget, the practice can't be taken away, nor the understanding which came along with it... anicca.
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pamojja
0 Re: DogmaSat, June 10, 2006 - 2:40 PM
Quote: After failing to get Goenka to give a clear answer to such exclusions - now I wrote a website and you might be interested...

My site at de.geocities.com/pamojja has been closed down by the host. Now I have put it up at:

vipassana-inquiry.gmxhome.de/

metta...
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shaUna
51 Re: DogmaFri, June 16, 2006 - 11:20 AM
Ben-
Nope. It is what it is, at least for this A.T. Unless I only committ to Vipassana, I cannot sit her course.
I realize that I don't need to go to a center to have meditation. I prefer to create my own retreats in the woods. REally it is a gift for me to do what inspires me most. THan k you Vipassana.
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ben
0 Re: DogmaSat, June 10, 2006 - 4:42 AM
Hi Shauna

I can kind of understand why you might think that it is dogmatic that the assistant teacher requested that you give up your other meditation techniques before serving a course. I dont know your exact situation but as an old student I wouldnt like you to give up this wonderful technique because of this. The assistant teacher may have had a good reason for suggesting this to you and I dont think you should read too much into it. Maybe you could ring up the A.T or the head teacher at the centre and ask them for their reasons, usually they are quite practical ones and Im sure it has nothing to do with any dogma. I have done several courses and am generally very skeptical but I have found nothing within Vipassana that could be considered dogma. It doesnt sound like they are preventing you from taking more course so why not keep at it if you like the technique smile.gif It truly is a gem.
kind regards
ben
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Adam ॐ
309 Re: DogmaFri, June 16, 2006 - 1:14 PM
As someone who has sat and studied with a lot of different Buddhist groups and lineages, yes, this is my biggest problem with the Goenka organization/lineage. I love their sinceririty, I love the dana-based organizations, I love the tightness of the container they create, I love most of Goenka's teachings, I love their emphasis on sitting, I love the strong grounding in anceient Buddhist wisdom. traditionalism.

I don't like the cultiness, though - the "Goenka says ...", and the idea put forth that this lineage is the One True Teaching (which I was dismayed to hear Goenka say in the lectures that I saw during the three ten-days that I took in North Fork CA).
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#15 RobertK

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 07:36 AM

Sat, 1. Jul 2006

...Thank you, first of all, for your very interesting and informative Web site. It was fascinating to read how the jhanas and other elements of the practice are discussed in long courses.

Based on my understanding of this tradition, the "kick-out" that you experienced is par for the course. Are you aware that Goenkaji himself was expunged from the lineage in a dispute with Mother Sayama? He was kicked out. And how did he react? Apparently he did not react at all. He simply continued along the path.

Ruth Denison also was kicked out. This tradition is hilarious in that respect, with people kicking each other out, creating these illusionary divisions between "us" and "them," between "I" and "you." What is it about this Vipassana tradition that makes us love to kick people out?

Most importantly, Wolfgang, as I'm sure you know, your practice does not need to hinge on admission to 10-day courses or any course. Of course beliefs are not a prerequisite for practicing Dhamma. So they've kicked you out. My advice is to be grateful. What an insult to the ego. What a wonderful opportunity you now have to practice selflessness, to go deep into that feeling. Be there with it. That's my advice. Metta





95

Sun, 2 Jul 2006

thanks for you feedback. You really need not to worry about your identity. If there is one main aim with my website, then it is about stopping this 'us'- and 'them'-business - and no one ever to become kicked out again.

... you seem to be certain that, contrary to my information, Goenkaji was kicked out - and not as I thought - Mother Sayama and Ruth Denison? As I spread a possible misinformation - I would gladly correct it. - But for that, I would need some more precise details about it. If you would be willing to share. I, and all other readers, would really appreciate that.

You know, I must be really dull, I haven't even considered it as an insult to my ego. Otherwise, yours would have really been a very skillful consideration. Before, actually I felt the fear of becoming expunged for speaking up. However, now I feel quite glad becoming truer to myself.

As a layperson and through my life I am now in a situation where I consider it of utmost importance to stay skillfully truthful with my speech. - That for I was kicked out, and that for I recently lost my job. So I still have something to learn in respect to skillfulness, I guess...





96

Wed, 5 Jul 2006

I'm sorry to hear that you recently lost your job. I hope things work out for you.

This whole history of who kicked out whom is pretty confusing, and I'd love to hear an independent account from someone, if such an account exists. Do you know of one?

My information regarding Goenkaji's expungement from the lineage is taken from 'Dancing in the Dharma', a biography of Ruth Denison by Sandy Boucher. Ms. Boucher writes that Denison and Goenkaji both got the boot after conflicts with Mother Sayama and her husband.

Ms. Boucher writes that when Denison became a teacher, she originally was authorized to teach only women. When she began teaching men, and also mixing some Zen influence with her instruction, she came into conflict with Mother Sayama, according to the book. The book recounts how Denison was deeply troubled when she was kicked out, but decided to continue teaching nonetheless.

The book seems authoritative, but it does not give much detail on what happened between Goenkaji and Mother Sayama. Do you know whether anything has been written about their disagreement?





95

Thu, 6 Jul 2006

thanks for your reply. Of course, until now I can handle my life's situation. Thanks for asking.

As I wrote, I only heard it of different A.T.s that Mother Sayama and Ruth Denison were kicked out for charging for courses. To get an independent account - of how this really happened - will be rather difficult now, as most knowledgeable will probably take side and speak in favor of their traditions.

Thanks for providing the source from where you have your information. Unluckily, I do not have any written sources - on what happened between Goenkaji and Mother Sayama - other than what I heard from A.T.s already years ago - I would not even remember those A.T.s names.

Once I read the first edition of the 'Sayagyi U Ba Khin Journal' of 1971, if remember it right. In there were articles of different teachers, like Hover, and all about what was going on in those days.

So I guess, in one of this Journal's later editions, one could find an account when and why any teacher were disauthorized. However, at present I have no access to specialized libraries, or to any U Ba Khin veterans.

The only thing I can do is to add our mail-exchange to my side and hope, someone adds some more pieces to our puzzle. Kind regards






#16 RobertK

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Posted 09 September 2006 - 09:46 AM



means to see things as they really are!

MEDITATION & KUNDALINI
It is my own opinion that the Vipassana as taught by SN Goenka is a form of activation of ones Kundalini energy. Each individual will experience this in their own way depending upon their own spiritual development. When Kundalini energy rises it often produces an element of enlightenment, opening up certain psychic centres, charkas, sometimes producing various types of clairvoyance, astral visions, blinding light, expansion of consciousness, and what the Hindus call Siddhi powers.
According to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, (possibly 5,000 years old) there are certain steps, similar to Buddhism, that one takes - right poise, right action, harmlessness, loving kindness, etc. and the adept practises virtues and moral conduct prior to, or in conjunction with meditation. The reason for this is true meditation, in my opinion is like manure. It makes everything grow, the flowers and the weeds, the good and the bad. Because of this we sometimes find in society people who may at first appear to be enlightened souls, masters and guru’s, but they may actually still have mega serious ego problems due to the affects of the meditation techniques they use.
Also the bottom line is short cuts don’t work, and in the long run only cause other problems. My limited understanding of Buddhism is it is the middle path, not extremes, and extremes are potentially dangerous, as with Vipassana Meditation as taught by SN Goenka.
Kundalini is often referred to as the sleeping serpent, and is thought to be coiled three and half times at the base of the spine. Through various techniques of meditation, prayer, chanting, breathing exercises, and various yoga techniques one can activate this energy which then rises through the spine up into the brain producing enlightenment, illumination, nirvana, cosmic consciousness, supa-consciousness, call it what you will, an experience of expansion of consiousness uniting with divinity. (It is an experience beyond words, thoughts or feelings.)
If this spiritual energy is released too quickly, or before the aspirant is spiritually developed, it can have serious emotional and mental effects on a person. The symptoms can range from serious depression, hallucinations, emotional and mental breakdowns, skin rashes, physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, insomnia, inflammation, overheating, and other medical conditions that your standard doctor cannot treat. This is known as Kundalini Syndrome. (See links page for treatment of Kundalini Syndrome.)

Kundalini has been written about for thousands of years. This is the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Eve is tempted by the serpent (kundalini) and takes the apple from the tree of knowledge, (also referred to as the tree of good and evil, and here is the hint that meditation can magnify the good and the bad.) Even in European folklore we are told the same story. Snow white and the Seven Dwarfs. The Seven Dwarfs are the seven major charkas. Snow White is given the poisoned apple by the wicked queen and falls into a deep sleep. (If there really is such a thing as a spiritual awakening, as I believe there is, then what is it we are awakening from?) It is Prince Charming that kisses Snow White for her to awaken, and then the two of them live in bliss forever-after.
Prince Charming is the male energy, the decent of the ‘Holy Spirit’ in Christian tradition, and Snow White the female energy, the ‘Sacred Fire’(Kundalini). In Hinduism it is Shakti and Shiva.
They all tell the same story. This is also known as the ‘Mystical Marriage’. It is the spiritual male and female energies uniting and coming together.
The effects of this kundalini energy is bliss beyond the senses, beyond words, beyond any description. It is divinity is action. Some say it changes men into saints. It is so amazing - it is also highly addictive. Once experienced, never forgotten.
Yet for some it is another experience as is shown in this posting below, and mentioned on this previous posting.




.
KUNDALINI AND MIND CONTROL WITH GOENKA
Usually kundalini activation happens in three ways. One by the mystic. The mystic experiences the visions, the bliss, and this occurs spontaneously. Afterwards the mystic longs for the experience again, suffers deep depression, but does not know how to reproduce it. Secondly, we then have the Knower. An adept in esoteric knowledge, who understands the process and is able to produce it at will. Lastly, we have the student under the direction of a Guru. (Guru means Light giver, someone who can take the student into the Light, Illumination, Cosmic Consciousness. Guru is a Sanskrit word; "gu" means darkness and "ru" means light. Hence guru means one who can lead you from darkness to light.) In Hinduism this is called Shaktipat. Shaktipat is the transference of spiritual energy from the Master to the student, which activates the kundalini energy. Shaktipat occurs via touch, telepathy, or speech usually.
In the case of the Vipassana with Goenka, in my opinion he uses hypnosis to subdue the students consciousness into a hypnotic morbid negative state of consciousness for 10 days, and from chanting activates the charkas to a certain degree too. From the fourth day onwards he activates the crown chakra with his chanting, producing kundalini energy to rise. The danger here is because he’s suggested it is dangerous to leave before completing the 10 days, and it is only people with weak minds that do not complete the course – with the hypnosis and auto-suggestions, in conjunction with kundalini energy activation, anyone that leaves before the 10 days could be open to severe psychosis. (As can be confirmed by the postings on this site, and even Goenka himself states its dangerous !)
Often, as the student has not had the proper spiritual training prior to this experience, they are not able to maintain the high level of spiritual energy that they're experiencing, and do not understand the process that is happening. Thus like the mystic, after this experience they then long to experience it again, and so repeat the course. (Of course the course is free until you complete the 10 days, because then you are pretty much guaranteed to return again and again, and to tell others about it! Often cults work in such subtle and hidden ways.)
Prior to the course I was on, I had a moment to talk to someone who had already done the course 3 times this year, so this was going to be their fourth time!
"Vipassana by Goenka is not in a PURE form."
For people that are very experienced in meditation, this course does not hold as much danger, as true meditation is about learning to master the mind, to control the mind.
For those with less experience, not so able to control their minds, their minds will be controlled and influenced by the hypnotic techniques and chanting that is used, and become sheep to the slaughter.

"Experiencing bliss consciousness and removal of sorrow are simultaneous events.
When YOU put the Light on darkness disappears.
However, if another is controlling you and the switch, only by being with them can the light remain on.
Do not give your power away to another person, become your own Master."











SITE MAP | SUPPRESSION OF JHANA | VIPASSANA IN PRISON
EMAILS RECEIVED | GAY & LESBIAN.



#17 RobertK

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 06:27 AM

larn ? say ! add | imc | pdf | home





Responses: General | psychosis | first-timer | critique | down





1

Sat, 25 Mar 2006

Have read you lines and I am accepting them. Some spontaneous remarks: You thoughts are unusual but still interesting. I personally think it is quite normal that it is not fitting for everyone and I consider that totally o.k. When I read your lines I start to think that you see this tradition very critically - which is completely all right.

But tell me, could you still sit a retreat in this tradition without all your doubts coming up all the time? Doubts are quite normal - but if they overtake one has to question oneself, if one still can meditate reasonable in such a case?





2

Sun, 26 Mar 2006

Your question, if I still could sit a course in our tradition I want to answer with a definite 'Yes'. But with this page I seem to have taken my final farewell. A call to John Luxford (the Achariya who exiled me) still could have straightened everything out - exactly this policy makes a return impossible to me:

If an own opinion, without wanting to force it on anyone, is no more allowed - than I have been deceived about the allegedly non-existing sectarianism all these years. As soon as an exchange of opinion - without becoming sanctioned or disparaged because of ones distinct views - becomes possible again, then one is again working together - in wanting the very best for all pertaining.

That I have to work with doubt, with feelings of refusal, during Vipassana-courses - in that I don't think to be a great exception - and exactly that work makes it so important, and that's why our organization is so close to my heart






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5

Mon, 27 Mar 2006

Lot of thanks for your discussion and Dhamma-materials. I sent your letter to Dr. Dhananjay. You can see what he will say for Goenka Ji.





6

Tue, 28 Mar 2006

I've received your message where you mentioned you would forward my text - with my points of questions - to Dhananjay (Secretary of S.N. Goenka). Well, already in August last year Dhananjay wrote me back, that he read and forwarded my letter to Goenkaji. But without being able to promise me that Goenkaji would find the time to read - let alone - answer my questions.






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9

Tue, 28 Mar 2006

... because of my Dhamma-service as a web master. I wish you much success in your quest for clarity and happiness. I too have received much benefit from Vipassana, and wish that others can share in this journey towards brightness and sunshine, while traveling open-eyed through the muddy, rough, uneven, path through this life.

It has been greatly puzzling and surprising to learn that the difficulty I have felt in practicing Vipassana is paralleled by other students difficulties, and often others report that they have to struggle even more than I, or that Vipassana is not for them.

Vipassana has brought happiness and understanding to me because it (apparently) has uncovered the very core of my life, the raw experience of perceiving, feeling, acting, reacting this world around me and within me, and shown me ways to make better decisions, even as I sometimes struggle to act appropriately.

I understand very much your desire to question and debate and understand the teaching of Vipassana that we have received. But, surprisingly enough, my experience tells me that the intellectual mind is a poor tool for finding insight, and that even with years of practice and Dhamma service I still feel like a really solid understanding of Vipassana, that can survive debating and discussing, is beyond me.

So it would be difficult to comment directly on the many points you bring up. I work in education, and am very much in favor of constructive criticism and clear explanations. So I hope you are able to receive the feedback you need, and can be a positive influence on others. Be happy!





10

Sat, 1 Apr 2006

... Also I myself do not hope to survive such a discussion - and that would be more than I can wish for, as this would be a resurrection of such skillful speech as it happened so often at the time of the Buddha. You seem to understand, that I only want to support a reconnection to our ancient and foresighted tradition. And how I'm struggling to find the proper means to it.

Your letter expresses as much trust in the Dhamma as I have and does not fear that any harm could ever come by investigating truth - as Goenkaji assures us too with his advise of speaking truth (Kiriya-sacca) as a means to real healing






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11

Tue, 28 Mar 2006

in your letter I read a lot of attachment to your personal situation. I know many serious meditators who are not allowed to give Dhamma-service. Your kick-out is for me only one step on the long way of the natural process of the dissolving of an institution.

When an institution becomes bigger and bigger than there is a need to formulate more and more rules to conserve the essence. By this the original idea loses the freshness and people who like stiff rules dominate the institution by the time. Finally the essence is lost and some people will relaunch the original idea.

When Goenka is dead there will be a lot of changes. If you don't want to wait it will be best to organize 10-days-courses by your own. Complaining only separates, we all have the love of Vipassana together. Metta





12

Sat, 1 Apr 2006

Thanks for your interesting remarks to my text. But in my view - which I never proposed to be much more than a humble contribution to a much wider reflection - our organization is merely co-dependently-arising together with us, its meditators and Dhamma-workers. As much as we - each one of us - is able to accept other views beside ones own - as much we are true brothers in Dhamma. That would never change, it would merely proliferate if Dhamma-siblings separate. As this seems to be the case today, whom to you assume me to separate?

The 90 percent of first time meditators who leave for good after a first course? Or those who don't continue much more than a couple more courses? Or those few who remain hedging off against so many others. Already having left the Dhammist-fold by this very act?

We indeed have the love for Vipassana together. But I guess this does not apply to the same extent about our trust in true Dhamma. I will never take refuge in a worldly organization, but in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the real Sangha (which never would exclude others merely due to their differing opinions - as well as most members of Goenkaji's organization never would).

Yes, I don't want to wait to see confusion come. I take the advise of the Buddha to heart and try to support a mutually respecting assembly. As soon as we are able to really listen to each other - it again will become possible to understand one another. Surely this will solve all the problems I see today, in one stroke





13

Thu, 13 Apr 2006

thank you for your long answer. It must be a lot of work to answer all the mails. Metta






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14

An email send by Assistant teachers to German meditators:

Tue, 28 Mar 2006

Dear Friends, with many the email of Mr. Lindner has left a number of question-marks. Out of his letter it becomes clear, that he doesn't feel at home in our tradition and that he is not happy about what and how Goenkaji teaches. That is o.k., as each one has to get his own opinion, and to make his mind up into which path he puts his confidence.

Mr. Lindner - as it is apparent in his exposition - knows a lot of different traditions and will certainly find another tradition, with which he feels more at home and can cope with. We can only wish him every luck to find his way. But we can not see any value to become involved in a discussion about the fundamentals of this tradition, which he meanwhile refuses for its prevailing parts.

Who experiences himself, how he makes progress in courses with Goenkaji and his assistant teachers and wants to develop further on this path, will not serve oneself well by responding to Mr. Lindner's discussion-invitation. And questions Vipassana - as taught by Goenkaji - so categorically.

When the confidence in our teacher and the foundations of our courses are questioned so far - any further practice and further progresses on this path become impossible. If there are questions or doubts, you should better clarify it with a teacher of your confidence. In particular - as fast as possible - and don't get tempted to stoke such 'discussions' with other students any further.

That is the way which Goenkaji recommends and the teacher and assistant teacher will happily take all the time necessary to answer questions and take away doubts. For this it is essential that the confidence in Goenkaji and his A.T.s remains as before - confidence is the base - without confidence no intensive practice - and along with it no real progress on this path is possible. Who intentionally makes his way into a situation which aim is to stoke unsettling and distrust, is depriving himself of this very base.

We only hope that Mr. Lindner finds a way which appeals more to him. And that he understands that it will be very negative for his own progress in Dhamma too, if he tries to unsettle others and to stoke doubts with his action - or to divert them from their chosen path.

To promote someone on this bad path, be it through contribution of his mail or active contributions to his action, one eventually harms him in this way - as well as oneself. Of this we are convinced. Surely those teachers who know him well will be able, with their experience and their metta, to advise him the best as they can.

So far our certain opinion. I hope it helps to a bit more clarity with those who didn't knew for sure what to do with this mail now. With the best greetings and Metta, Heinz & Brunhilde






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15

Tue, 04 Apr 2006

I don't know if you have noticed this email. I received it by ... I was quite shocked about its content, rather, the manner of its explanations. They sound like a 'kick-out', and remember me strongly to the methods with which the catholic church or 'sects' deal with ordained/members, who do not show themselves completely conform.

It certainly should be left to each one how one deals with doubts! Once again one can see a lack of human- and social-competence here. And a tendency to the effect that you should let others think for yourself, which I can not support at all.

Really alarming seems to me the sentence: "... that it will be very negative for his own progress in Dhamma too, if he tries to unsettle others with his action and stoke doubts - or to divert them from their chosen path..."!

In comparison your sentence: "As you've probably read in my letter, it is my intention to create a place where Vipassana-meditators can exchange their experiences and opinions without fears. I really believe - if that becomes possible - than many of our problems will be solved through mutual understanding very easily."

I strongly doubt in this context that your undertaking will bear fruits, if the 'authorities' of this organization have such a rigid opinion, rather reject every open dialog. Nevertheless, I am wishing you much luck! It is important that discrepancies and grievances are pointed out, only in this way something can change to the positive.






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34

Sat, 15 Apr 2006

I am an organic farmer & serve Dhamma as much as I can. I also serve as CCT = children course teacher. Good to hear that you've done long courses.

My vocabulary is limited & farming tasks don't allow much time to write, but I agree that the quest for clarity should be supported.

In your case no response from Goenkaji or competent subordinate Teachers is sad, what to say ? "kalam aagmeya" ?

Much m e t t a






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35

Sun, 16 Apr 2006

I guess a little bit over 10 years ago I had a seriously disturbing incident with one of Goenka's teachers in the USA. Since Goenka resolved the issue, since it was a long time ago, I will avoid mentioning any more details for now. One thing I learned from my experience which may help you is that Goenka's organization is not as unified as it seems.

My situation with Goenka's organization ended, after several years, with meeting Goenka in person when he traveled to my country and invited me to talk to him about the issue. Goenka made it clear that the teacher involved was inappropriately speaking and acting on his own views, not Goenka's. That same teacher was in the room when Goenka had this conversation with me.

When I met Goenka he was a man of very advanced years and delicate health. That was over 10 years ago. He also has a personal entourage tending to his affairs in addition to the huge organization around him. He may not be ignoring you, your communications may not have reached him or he may not be in a position to do anything about it yet.

> Of course I know what the Buddha taught on how to teach the Dhamma. But that is not what I want. I would have to keep silent if I follow the Buddha's advice - for example: not alluding to myself and others. Beside - that's not the point. I'm far away from the position to teach...<

I went through much of this 10 years ago. At the time I was fortunate enough to have a serious Sutta class near me. Avoiding divisive speech is not the same as complicity.

If your issue is truly important to you I would encourage you to pursue it, but you should be aware that its resolution will not be quick or pleasant. The situation I was involved with took years to resolve. In the beginning I did many of the things you did and had the same experiences. I had to do things to create pressure on the organization and I received a significant amount of hostility from many different sets of people before I saw results.

However, you should be aware that Buddhists and Goenka enthusiasts are still human beings. As flawed human beings we can often find ourselves in the situation of reacting with hostility to someone who is speaking the truth about something we hold close to our hearts, even if that person is trying to be constructive and trying to be kind. No matter what you decide to do about your issue - you should be prepared for this reaction. Good Luck





36

Sun, 16 Apr 2006

What a coincidence you experienced something similar 10 years ago. And I'm glad to hear, you could settle it then with Goenkaji himself.

> One thing I learned from my experience which may help you is that Goenka's organization is not as unified as it seems. <

This only lesson you mention from your experience is for me the very reason that makes it so important to create a place where disciples of Goenka have an opportunity to think independently. I really don't know if there is still enough time to get it across - but in the Sutta there would be enough guidance not to become fooled by possible successors.

Yes, this organization is not as united - and as soon as this teacher is gone it might very easily disintegrate in different fractions. I believe only by dependence on the Dhamma alone this can be avoided. And I will take it patiently to be called a 'divider of the Sangha', while pointing again and again to the Suttas in my attempt to unite.

I met him for the last time 5 years ago in Yangon - although his age made him look quite fragile - but when he spoke he still was very vigorous and clear. I read, since November he again had to struggle with his bad health ...






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37

Sun, 16 Apr 2006

... I meditate since 5 years with continual adherence to the daily meditation hours - and I am very pleased about the positive effects and changes which have come about by this special kind of meditation. I sat a 20-day course and a couple of Satipatthana-courses...

In respect to your honest exchange: Goenka says it in the 10-day courses very clearly that one is not forced to accept any theoretical background of the teaching at all - but should only accept that which correlates with one's own experience. That's why I really don't understand the teacher wanting to force you.

About ancient tradition: It is interesting that U Ba Khin taught verbalizations too. Were these verbalization taught to beginners who couldn't accomplish to concentrate on the breath alone? As a simplification right at the beginning, so to speak? How about Ven. Mahasi? If it actually was this way, this could mean that such a bridge to concentrate really could help some to practice better.

A friend - who sat three 10-day courses - told about particularly strong problems with concentration. Thoughts would beat her up while meditating, she told. She has a lot of stress in daily live too, that's why she cannot concentrate on a daily meditation either and has again given up a short time after. It would probably help her to use a simpler method to be able to concentrate at least a bit.

Giving Donations: Why you should work for 1 year for the Vipassana organization? We have to understand this as the penance in the Catholic Church, as in the middle age? Goenka says: Anybody can come from any background! Therefore you should be able to come further on - also if you have a critical opinion. Or is this now thought too simple? Or do you want to change the whole kind and manner, how the courses (especially the 10-day courses) are run?

Out of plain curiosity: Have you sat a course with Mother Sayama or Ruth Denison?...

Teachers, Teachings & Pupils: Goenka says that the extent of equanimity of someone is a sign of his progress on this path. Equanimity is purity, he says. And if this purity of equanimity has reached a certain high level, then compassion will naturally follow. But if one still recognizes craving and aversion within oneself that only means one has to work further. And why should this in any way be related to the years one has practiced Vipassana?!

It very well can be that one has to practice many more lifes to reach the stage of Sotapanna. Why this Achariya thinks that after 10 years one has to behave in a certain way? That appears almost ridiculous to me! Where has the Khanti-parami gone??? (tolerance and patience)

...You have described a lot and inspired me to investigate - and that is good this way. The teacher on my last 10-day course told me on Metta-day, when I asked him at lunch break about the stages to Arahatship - that he could not give me precise explanations because he himself hasn't realized the stage of a Sotapanna yet. He meditated for 30 years, he said. That was very instructive for me. I would really like to meet one who has realized it.

I am very, very much interested in an exchange of opinions. I believe I miss the sharing with other meditators just as well. Instead I read a lot, also a lot of secondary Buddhist literature to increase my understanding in general and particular. I will be glad to hear from you and I hope that you can make something out of my words. A lot of true Metta for you from the bottom of my heart





38

Wed, 19 Apr 2006

.. with that I already arrive at your question: If I would like to change everything about our 10-day courses? Not at all. What actually counts is the practice - and that I could do - if I would be allowed. Changed opinions wouldn't change anything about that. But what would be helpful - according to my humble understanding - for our practice-tradition to delay its future decay:.

that one aspires to live what one has taught (such things which should never have led to my exclusion).

so that certain co-meditators could get confidence again (those who can not trust in teachers - which can not emphasis or contradict themselves).

that one is allowed to follow those yardsticks in daily live - which have been experienced to be for one's own and others benefit by oneself.

that by all means one tries to understand one's own practice out of one's own refuge - for me with never-ending gratitude to Goenkaji - the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha.

that one commits oneself on all levels to truth - despite temporary backbiting or exclusion.

that the Dhamma is freely given - and not made available in exchange for money or work.

that other Vipassana traditions don't get discredited.

that one actively stands up against splitting the followers of the Buddha.

that in Vipassana centers the same standards for every ordinary meditator - as for friends of Goenka - are met.

that teachers who gives guidance in such serious meditation are really able - or educated - to recognize the mental state of a meditator sufficiently - and out of lack of alternatives, with psychological/client-oriented counseling methods (in some cases: by learning the language).

that a teacher has so much benefited by his practice and - through that encouragement - feels at home with the discourses in the Suttas too - and therefore is able connect these 2 areas to give inspiring Dhamma-talks.

that the progress in Vipassana is dependent on the development of Confidence, One-pointedness, Awareness, Effort and Wisdom in oneself - and the skillful guidance of a teacher - and not at all on a unexplainable Metta- or Nibbana-Dhatu .

that one can express and exchange ones experiences and opinions without fear of threats or sanctions.

... I myself have only practiced Vipassana the way Goenkaji teaches, although I have done many additional self-retreats. Among others - 2 years in a Burmese forest-monastery - where the same Anapana is practiced.

Concerning your wish to meet one day a Sotapanna: In the Sutta-commentaries there are stories in which monks lived for years together and couldn't even recognize an Arahat who lived with them! I believe you would be entirely disappointed. Because, from a worldly view, they are totally unspectacular.

One should be clear that in a monk's life the first 5 years are lived and meditated in apprenticeship under the guidance of a Thera. Therefore - years of meditation are quite relative - as you have found out yourself. Wishing you interesting lectures and in no case a slackening in your meditation






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47

Tue, 18 Apr 2006

Just as a solid rock is not shaken by the storm, even so the wise are not affected by praise or blame. (Dhammapada 81)






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55

Tue, 9 May 2006

I had written a fairly long response that I decided not to send because it fell into the trap of criticism (and others). When I find myself criticizing others in my practice and in my life, I point it inwards and ask the same question about myself. This usually moves me into a state of compassion or humbleness. Sometimes it starts a long line of thought and introspection.

I believe you are seeking answers/approval/acknowledgment from others, which is completely understandable. I have no answers for you, and don't know enough about your situation to either approve or disapprove of your choices/views/actions/beliefs.

It takes a lot to get beyond right and wrong, and I realized that criticism or praise would not help in that process. Metta





56

Fri, 12 May 2006

You wrote you fell in the trap of criticism. Further you more or less tell me - if I understood you right - after following your line of inquiry you end up with - what the Buddha called: Why this Dhamma is visible here and now.

Thanks for your compliment ;-) I am just kidding. But I really had the luck to observe that process already a few times with very sincere persons, who wanted to give me the criticism, I asked for. Honestly, that really makes me happy. Although I will never get myself criticized this way.

To go beyond right and wrong - to be able to make the other really understand how one is experiencing with ones own eyes - is very deep indeed and the concepts implied by praise or blame really have nothing to do with that. - It's Samma-vaca. I can think of many more silly things I do in my personal live, than to stumble and try and stumble again and again for reaching out for such depths. Thanks for your presence






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57

Tue, 9 May 2006

...I am now looking at other traditions on my own, trying to get back to the source as much as is possible, and letting go of the past experiences, which admittedly, is hard. It was nice to have the group, but the dynamics were such that it became impossible. And in the end, meditation is not a group sport.

And I love how people will say that speaking out causes dissent which is evil. That's just used to cover their tracks so they can collect new members and thus more money. And to keep the issues that need to be raised - i.e. accountability for their actions - from being raised.

Here's a list of things to watch out for: 'Warning Signs'





58

Sat, 13 May 2006

... until now I always thought the organization - I thank so much for - very malleable, because it's made by us, its members. And, because its leader soon will be no more, sort of urgent to create an awareness for the issues to be resolved. In your warnings the group (and not the individual) is taken at the same level of authority as the leader, and I - sadly - start to think, that the leader is really very difficult to think without the group and its ways. In the end they really can only be thought as interrelated.

But up to now, I still think it too early to give up my attempt to create an awareness exactly for these issues. The majority of the group-members - of those I know - would certainly never agree with such developments as you paint and I can see. Especially, because in the past - its leader did resolve such issues, as in ... example. I can't deny how much it helped myself - leaving aside all these power games. But I seem to end up writing a manual on how to utilize this organization for a helpful practice - and how to avoid its pitfalls.

It is possible that such helpful utilization might only work with very self-dependent, authentic persons. But on the other side - I only became that way with exactly the hindrances put up with the particular kind of such an organization! I still don't know any easy answer to all of it. Generally to warn from giving it a try - I see absolutely no point in it - as only after one could really know. Also yourself would probably not deny, how much it helped you at a certain point in your life






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75

Fri, 19 May 2006

Nice to see compassionate communication incorporated into your discussion. Good luck, with metta





76

Sat, 20 May 2006

I am happy to hear you appreciate compassionate communication as much as I do. I only feel a little bid sad, because I wasn't really able myself to incorporate it within my own text as I wanted to






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77

Sat, 20 May 2006

... I am truly sorry to hear that you have been struggling immensely with the organization, or certain members of it. I am not sure if you have been getting a lot of feedback, but ... advice seems to have made a lot of sense to me. It is very easy to lose the bigger picture when getting hyper-involved with the details. A balance between the two is essential if we are to walk the path of compassion (which is not just towards others, but towards oneself as well).

Some questions, I think, that are imperative to ask must concern your motivations and what you really intend on achieving by sending out a 70-page anti-Goenka rant mixed with Dhamma verses and commentaries. If this whole battle is truly worth the enormous headache (a wise person once told me: "You have two choices in life: to be right OR to be happy"), then I think a far more delicate approach is needed. If you want a real, interactive, liberating dialogue to occur, then you cannot begin from a place of angry (and vague) assumptions and accusations that most readers cannot relate to.

After filling the heart with love and compassion, perhaps begin with a clear description of what you think the problem is, what measures can be taken to prevent it from getting worse, and what solutions you envision on the horizon. This difficult process can not be done in an offensive manner; otherwise no one will pay attention and all your energy will have been wasted.

Perhaps once the blazing fire is cooled, START AGAIN and try contacting other senior teachers in your area or other areas or get in touch with Goenkaji personally (he is a busy man who receives hundreds of letters of every week, most of which I imagine are filtered). Alternatively, once the fire dies out, you may also realize that this whole pursuit may not even be worth your time. You know the practice... I truly wish you all the best





78

Sun, 21 May 2006

thanks for replying. Best to respond to the points you mention in your order: I have been struggling out of fear to slipper into wrong speech by speaking out what I thought. But since I became honest to my concerns - to unite what at the moment seems to disintegrate and to warn others from becoming excluded - I feel indeed more and more Metta flowing. Just after reading your letter I questioned myself again, sad an extra hour, and yes, it is.

I have included all received feedback in my page, except a few of those who seem to accuse me for attacking-sake and don't want to help me to understand, in which words of mine they see the defilement they accused me of (they have been added now). That's probably what you mean with compassion towards my self.

Motivations? - has been answered. Anti-Goenka? - please read again without the glasses of having to defend something I never questioned: Your own confidence in Dhamma. - No battle or headache here. Because I don't want to be right - but to be allowed to have my own opinions after conscientious investigations - as I respect everyone else to have. You are right - that's exactly why I am happy.

> angry (and vague) assumptions and accusations that most readers cannot relate to <

I delineate very clearly: - I have to believe blindly? - I have to give work in exchange for Dhamma? - I have to remain silent if the Sangha seems to be slandered? ... if first-time meditators are harmed? - I only ask - you have to give the answers to these questions to yourself if you are relating to them. Otherwise, where is the problem? I only ask those who feel concerned. If you wouldn't - why you didn't delete my note as I asked for?

I understand very well that you could not read my page in detail if you became so furious right away (now I am assuming as you did, to let you know how such feels yourself - and I apologize if I'm wrong). So you could not know that I repeatedly contacted Goenkaji? Why you have so much to fear from investigating truth?

> perhaps begin with a clear description of what you think the problem is, what measures can be taken to prevent it from getting worse, and what solutions you envision on the horizon. This difficult process can not be done in an offensive manner <

Please take a couple of deep breaths - and read the introduction of my page again. Then tell my how you would write only this one page for you not to appear offensive. I bet - you will never do - there are many who already accused my exactly the same, but being asked - till now only 1 Dhamma-friend gave extended and concise answers. For which I felt really grateful and incorporated many changes he recommended to me.

No fire here, time will show. All the best, in Dhamma





79

Mon, 22 May 2006

I would just like to say that your undertaking has not made me furious or fearful, I was simply empathizing with you (as dangers of sectarianism and dogmatism by those engulfed with wrong views have also concerned me in the past) and offering some suggestions and comments about the process that you have begun. With that said, I think that it would be helpful for you to find an English speaking editor. Not only do I have difficulty in understanding the meaning of what you are trying to say (which leaves a tremendous amount of room for misinterpretation), but you may also be misunderstanding what others are saying to you.

> I have included all received feedback in my page, except a few of those who seem to accuse me for attacking-sake and don't want to help me to understand, in which words of mine they see the defilement they accused me of. <

Where are other people's comments? I could not find them on your site. Also, if your goal is to have an open-forum, then everyone's opinions must be included, even those who attack you. Suppression of voice is another form of oppression, which is something I gather you are trying to knock down rather than perpetuate.

> That's probably what you mean with compassion towards my self. <

Not really. We westerners have a tendency to be too hard on ourselves, we often (not always) take ourselves too seriously and give ourselves too much importance. Self-compassion just means loving and laughing at oneself; it is accepting our beauty and ugliness, radiance and darkness, intelligence and foolishness. I find that when I give myself a hard time, I make myself even more miserable than I already am/was.

> Why you have so much to fear from investigating truth? <

If I had this fear, I would not have bothered replying to your original arguments or assumptions of how I think and feel. May your undertaking help the Dhamma Wheel continue to spin. Be Well





80

Tue, 23 May 2006

I am happy to hear that I was wrong in assuming you to be furious (for which I foresightedly apologized in my last letter). For me this impression came up, because in my page I only asked questions to avoid blind assumptions (which always could be wrong) and by trying to stick as much as possible to the description of situations.

While you didn't ask or described anything on which you based your assumptions of me being allegedly - I quote - > hyper-involved with the details < - > a 70-page anti-Goenka rant < - > whole battle not worth the enormous headache < - > from a place of angry (and vague) assumptions and accusations < - > an offensive manner < - > once the fire dies out, you may also realize < - > this blazing fire < - > whole pursuit ... not even be worth <

Sorry, you have every right to accuse me of these things if you also give me a chance to understand in which of my words you read this. - But you don't give me this kindness to make me understand, nor to you apologize with your words: 'That you only empathized' (with your assumptions?). These new words seem only to be used to divert that you again give me the fault for you having misinterpreted me! Without founding it on anything I said, again. (I did announce that I called you furious to make you understand, how such assumption of you do make me feel - and I instantly apologized for this experiment)

Well, I had my text edited by an American friend who lives nearby and earns his money by writing for an international business-journal. He was working for 10 hours non-stop on it, and during that time I had to work hard to calm him down, because it made him so upset to read how a spiritual organization is dealing with someone with such serious concerns. And how I still could offer a hand in friendship to them. (only small portions have been added unedited afterwards)

You understood my letter - but my edited website, not even the introduction - you could not? That is really interesting. And a good excuse for having lost my bet! A compassionate reader would take the time necessary, if he wants to understand what I wanted to say without feeling compelled to give suggestions blindly - out of not understanding. Before he would come to any conclusions - he certainly would ask how it was meant. You still don't ask? - Therefore: I still do believe: One needs a certain kind of colored glasses to misinterpret something so one-sidedly. But only you can really know yourself. And I - as always - could be wrong.

I put a link to general responses at ... Someone wrote, he could not even find my email address in my page - it really shouldn't be in these cases I guess. The main reason I hesitated to include general criticism which doesn't give any reverence to anything done or spoken is exactly because of this style, I find in your letters too. I probably will have to ask you again and again in every following letter: Where you see the things done - of which you accuse me of?

That's why my answers to such letters are often much longer and quite frank to get the writer off his buttocks and come forth with really concise explanations. Because only then I could improve - but that rarely seems the original intent of such criticizers. Usually the writers of such general accusation will just continue without responding to precise questions, they will say things like: 'Because they wanted your best'. In the end they stop responding without having given any answer on which grounds they accused me of so many things in the first place. The more considerate do apologize. I am simply bored of people playing such silly games.

In fact, you are the first complaining I would make it too difficult to include such silly speech. No, I really don't want to knock down right speech - you pretty misunderstood me there. For anyone to indulge in such speech there are plenty of open forums just to join at anytime. I still will include all replies - but those who seem to increase unwholesome states of mind only at the very last, so that readers who want to know everything ready-made without putting effort into conscious reading or writing, will hardly ever get there.

I understand that you are a committed member of Goenkaji's organization. So, if you would really be as much concerned about open speech as you say: Why you want me - now an outsider by being kicked-out for not believing blindly - to include every denunciation spoken of me? While Goenkaji's, your organization on the other side - doesn't seem to give me even the slightest space to clarify such public denunciations?

Though you can avoid giving my any answers to my questions again - I am just asking. And you will have to give the answer to yourself - if you want to remain true to yourself.

> May your undertaking help the Dhamma Wheel continue to spin <

Wow, now this turning point is really difficult for me to understand. Suddenly you did understand me perfectly? If this is really the case - then I take everything back, I said before.

> (as dangers of sectarianism and dogmatism by those engulfed with wrong views have also concerned me in the past) <

How was it for you? How did you overcome your concerns? There are many who would be interested how others could live with that too. Please take this sentence out of its brackets, because it makes it appear you still just suppress your concerns for truth with these very brackets.

Oops, now something very particular became clear about non-constructive letters ... seems I became the place to vent off all this dammed up speech - for which in Goenka's organization is not the slightest space given.

Well, I just join with all Indians, who most probably would say: 'No Problem!' :-)
As soon as this pressure is puffed off, real authentic and constructive things can sprout - I am sure - and it won't be a waste of time at all (and as always - good intentions never are). With much Metta





81

Wed, 24 May 2006

I did not refer to anything specifically or provide a point-by-point commentary because to be quite honest, I don't have the time and energy for such an endeavor right now. While I agreed with some of the arguments in your essay, I was not impressed with the overall aggressive and biased tone. I hoped that my general comments would suffice in letting you know that I felt that a clearer and less antagonistic approach would be helpful in overcoming the dilemma that you and others may face; I am sorry that they did not. In no way did I mean to insult or attack you.

How did I overcome my concerns of sectarianism and dogmatism you ask?

To be honest, I haven't yet and don't think I ever will. But that's OK. I realize that the organization is made up of unenlightened human beings who are prone to making mistakes - this is human nature. When I see errors being made, I try to approach the situation as an opportunity for cultivating wisdom and compassion by keeping a balanced state of mind because I am aware that my own negativity is worse (to me and others) than whatever the other person might be doing or saying.

I have faith that in the end, everything will be exactly as it is supposed to be. At this point, despite the faults I see with the organization, the gains far outweigh the costs: hundreds of thousands of people are getting a taste of the excellent Dhamma (even though a few might not benefit due to misdirection or clash of personality, which occurred during the Buddha's time as well) and I personally am getting the best opportunity available to serve both myself and others along the path towards liberation.

Wolfgang, my sincere wish is that you grow on the path of Dhamma - whether it is with Goenkaji's organization, another Teacher's organization, or no organization at all. Our human lives are short and precious, may we use them wisely. Yours in Truth





82

Sat, 27 May 2006

I feel much gratefulness for the part in your latest letter, where you finally became more true to yourself. So I will be honest as well: I don't want to impress anyone, certainly not as a writer. Nor do I claim any holy stages - and I do get upset if people are hurt. Everyone wishes a savior, a hero - intentionally I rather choose never to become. Because such heroes lead exactly to the mess of having all responsibility placed onto one. And further into the dilemma you finally also acknowledge Goenka-disciples can find themselves in: Having to bend the truth.

Your present situation reminds me to my own: I compared the costs to the gains too - and the later always felt far to outweigh: Me to shut up. I have the same faith that everything will come to its end as it should - if only stayed with - and with plenty of good intentions. Equally, I stayed with my 'negativities' - but then I could not perceive them worse than any others - as you still do. Further I found, never to become able to encompass others negativities with compassion - if I would fail already with my own.

Here we differ: What never seems to have concerned you - right from the beginning these were my burning questions: "What is the reason that makes this method so helpful for me? What do 90 percent differently, who never come to such courses again?" - Again: "Why is it failing so badly with some, who suicide right after their first?" - As time passed by - I did find answers by practice, with help of the Suttas and with counseling approaches.

In the end: It all changed, and now it's hart to understand how I ever conceived it - 'negativities'. Straight forward Dukkha it is, and keeping it down - pretending - really is what makes it negative. This got really curious: I only served little because the sharing during Dhamma-service made it so difficult for me to keep concerns down - compared to - in the silence of sitting. That made me suspicious and being frank, kicked-out. Only with John's exclusion - thanks to his gesture - it got its place to really be able to serve.

Here we seem to meet each other again: > and I personally am getting the best opportunity available to serve both myself and others along the path towards liberation. <

In my humble opinion - what would be helpful for our practice-tradition to delay its future decay:

• that one aspires to ... (click to read helpful advises)

I also can understand why you find my text too aggressive, too antagonistic, too biased - because: If you took my advises too idealistically - forgetting that humans always will remain prone to mistakes - you really could get the impression I would like to change the 10-day courses totally. And that must appear existentially threatening. - But for me the real change is only in the attitude. In the acceptance of Dukkha and allowing it to touch. First one's own - only after it becomes possible with others too. And then all my common-sense advises would become superfluous too.

Of course, my disclaimer at the end can intentionally be overseen and doubted. Especially if my sentences just before have been taken as a value judgment about one's own attainments in Dhamma . And by identifying with such - knowing no better help than to despise my of the spreading of doubts:

> If I wrote about the benefits of Vipassana practice - in its relation to the Dhamma - it would have become much a larger page. But I see no need to - as this is not suppressed in the same imbalanced way. The same applies to my gratefulness and respect to anyone teaching the Dhamma as good as he can! <

I am left now with nothing more than to depend on truth alone. No wonder that can appear too antagonistic for a few fencing off. What to do? - I will stick to it - and as you assure me, you do.

As honest as I am: Now you have written already your 3rd letter and you have not been able to give me only one page, just a small paragraph, 1 little sentence, even one tiny example - to point it out to me - what you accuse me of anew: - > overall aggressive < - > biased tone < - > antagonistic approach < - With 3 written pages you should since long have been able to give me merely one small example. But you simply could not. - Yet, I feel so glad to see your agitation to become so much less.

Now I want to ask you to do me a favor - maybe appearing quite amusing to you - and you are really free to do or not. And only do when you really feel secure and at ease: Could you please pass on my kindest regards to this somehow unpleasant feeling inside of you - and please don't call it 'negativity', 'cos then it will forever hide and sabotage. Just stay a bit with it, and give it Metta in my name - tell: I just appreciate the pain - finally say 'will see you again'. For a few minutes will do.

Thanks for so many good wishes - covering every possible case. With Karuna





83

Mon, 29 May 2006

...Brief comments to your questions:

> "What is the reason that makes this method so helpful for me?" <

It works!

> "What do 90 percent differently, who never come to such courses again?" <

90 is a high number. At our center in Quebec it is in the 60s. Nevertheless, many people find benefit and change their lives after one course but never feel like doing it again for whatever reasons. That is their business and it is rather arrogant to pass evaluation on them or on the organization for doing a poor job. Who are we judge things that we don't (and can't) understand, especially in such black and white terms such as success and failure (these terms are highly subjective).

The fact is that courses are full and (most) people are leaving happy, confident, and with a tool to help them in their daily lives. In addition, many people only do one course and then practice regularly or semi-regularly at home. As Goenkaji says, some people are coming to get the seeds and some are coming to get better established. The latter come for several courses and services and for the former, perhaps one course is enough intensive Dhamma instruction for that particular karma to handle in this lifetime.

> Again: "Why is it failing so badly with some, who suicide right after their first?" <

This is extremely rare. These people should not have attempted to do Vipassana at that stage of their lives. People with suicidal tendencies need proper psychiatric counseling, not a deep mental operation like a 10-day intensive course. This is why the application process in North America is becoming increasingly strict.

> "I did find answers by practice, with help of the Suttas and with counseling approaches." <

Great!

Wolfgang, all of your suggestions for improvement are very good. I am confident that serious practitioners try to implement them, but like I said before, we are all human and prone to mistakes. That's where the art of forgiveness comes in.

In answer to why I don't give specific examples is because I don't feel like searching your entire document again. When I say "overall" I mean "overall", try re-reading your entire document yourself while asking if there are less aggressive ways of saying the same thing. I wrote my initial letter to you suggesting that you improve your general approach, not waste your time attacking me with your frivolous insults or ranting about how misunderstood you are.

I wish you well and hope that you find your place once again along the path, whether with Goenka or without. I can no longer continue with these letters, not because I am afraid of the Truth or whatever other spiritual quality you may think I am lacking, but because my time is limited to other projects. I leave you with a piece of advice that a wise teacher once left me: "If you need to criticize, criticize yourself; if you need to praise, praise others". Take care





84

Wed, 31 May 2006

This time I want to answer your latest email in the backward order. And don't feel compelled to answer it again - if you don't want to - or out of lack of time. Having the last word never has any value in itself. From my side - you are really free.

Your last advice is actually what I used as a strategy for not to become hurt by criticism throughout my life. I have enough personal reasons out of my life's experience to really change this habit pattern - without wanting to go into details now. And I won't go into its opposite extreme either.

> When I say "overall" I mean "overall" <

A friend with whom I exchanged already twice as many letters as we did - and after so many pages accusing me of an overall egotistic-tone - finally I got him to give my at least one example: It was the word - 'despising' - which I mistakenly took for - 'suspecting'. I think, such words here and there could make it up for 'overall' - and therefore I still do appreciate it much, if anyone gives me such singular examples.
If my attempt - to get answerers with general criticism to become more particular - did make you feel 'attacked' or 'frivolous insulted', as you lately write - than I really apologize: That has never been my intent.

What appeared to you > 'ranting on about how misunderstood...' < - Is actually a way of speech found already in the discussions of the Buddha - and today again in counseling: With it I just repeat what I heard you say, and usually your next response will not only tell me if I understood you right or wrong - but you either will feel better understood and can proceed with what for you follows out of it. Or, if I misinterpreted you: Then you will be able to express it more to the point, and get an even clearer picture of it yourself. And I, as a listener, too. Which of course - does not work, if you don't want or have no time to. I didn't want to make it appear that I feel myself a victim - which I don't.

> "... who suicide right after their first?" - This is extremely rare... <

I met 3 in my first year of practicing - in total 10 - who came out of a first 10-day course in a much worse state of mind, than they have been before. Although that doesn't means it happens often - it certainly happens quite regularly. I heard such accidents happened right from the beginning since Goenkaji teaches. But only since the late 'nineties the application-forms have become juristically more precise. Because - as one Canadian A.T. has told me - such casualties as I experienced - in the United States could cause the financial ruin.

People come to take courses in 'the 4 noble truth' to come out of suffering, and most certainly lie on application-forms to be allowed to. As you say: 'Hundred of thousands' - come to take courses - and statistically about 1 out of 100 is prone to suffer schizophrenia at one point in his life. Altogether, assuming it low: Maybe 1 or 2 thousands? (here I mean: to get serious psychic-problems - luckily, the suicides I came to know of first-timers were all unsuccessful attempts)

The only way for us to come out of this dilemma is to get the A.T.s educated in basic counseling skills with which in the first interview of a 10-day course the mental-state of a student could easily be evaluated with only a few words. - But what instead is the state of the art? - Just recently I heard again of a western AT not listening to the advice of a Dhamma-server, who knew of one student's mental-problem - and which again ended in the psychiatric ward.

People do make mistakes and I am always ready to forgive. But 30 years of such mistakes - without learning anything out of it - is simply too much. In this point - and the longer it gets protracted - the more I will become aggressive. Not because I am - but, as Goenkaji says in his discourses: 'Some seem to need a strong language!'

90 percent was the figure given by the V.R.I. itself - for all the courses given all over the world since Goenkaji started to teach in India up to 1997, almost 30 years. Years later I was told the quote for the west is around 85 percent. If you claim it for Quebec only around 60 - I congratulate. But that would mean: Somewhere it would be ridiculously worse? - That's difficult to believe.

You say it seems arrogant to evaluate what I would not understand?
I talked to many people about Vipassana in a very balanced way - of its positive and negative sides. Despite the drawbacks, so many became inspired by my enthusiasm and went straight to take their first. - Of course, I also talked to those first-time students who thought not to come back - the reasons they gave: Allegedly it is too masochistic, too dogmatic, too hypnotic chanting, too much personality-cult and to much of a patronizing attitude of the teachers, for them. - That, in the end, they appear happy to be over with? What is there too difficult to understand?

So many more become disappointed after 3, 4 courses - and I know enough who, with 10 courses, still tell me: 'They come to these courses, because in them they can experience that this impermanent body is something different from the eternal soul!' ?!

The argument that people would get seeds of Dhamma would count, if they really would get established in 'Right View'. But such is only possible if meditation is assisted by precise study, discussion and questioning (according to the Buddha). Usually the minimum one learns - in a first 10-day course - is to experience one's own craving and aversion. (which of course, is an essential beginning)

Only in the Satipatthana-courses Goenkaji really starts to emphasis - and in the long courses it is taught: That the noble 8-fold starts with 'right view' - and right view has to be there with every of the following 7 limbs of this path. Without 'right view' it leads to nowhere, he says (well, after all, heaven - compared to worldly goods - is not to be despised either ...if it wouldn't be impermanent too...)

If people say - for everything not understood or if something appears to be a lucky miracle - "Dhamma works".
- I know such a belief is not what made Dhamma work for me!

The Buddha pointed out that there are indeed followers out of belief: 'Saddhanusaris' (in Goenkaji's view: "at least with my understanding I don't know how such could ever work"?!) - beside those who follow out of investigation: 'Pannanusaris'.

To come to a conclusion: I probably belong to the later - that's where I think our differences in approaching this issue comes from (already 8 letters are only testifying to it). But I do believe the Buddha that both are equally valid paths.

I only went on with my 'rant' - because you exaggerated so one-sidedly its alleged success. Wishing you much time for all your other projects, in Dhamma






--------------------------------------------------------------------------------





94

Sat, 1 Jul 2006

...Thank you, first of all, for your very interesting and informative Web site. It was fascinating to read how the jhanas and other elements of the practice are discussed in long courses.

Based on my understanding of this tradition, the "kick-out" that you experienced is par for the course. Are you aware that Goenkaji himself was expunged from the lineage in a dispute with Mother Sayama? He was kicked out. And how did he react? Apparently he did not react at all. He simply continued along the path.

Ruth Denison also was kicked out. This tradition is hilarious in that respect, with people kicking each other out, creating these illusionary divisions between "us" and "them," between "I" and "you." What is it about this Vipassana tradition that makes us love to kick people out?

Most importantly, Wolfgang, as I'm sure you know, your practice does not need to hinge on admission to 10-day courses or any course. Of course beliefs are not a prerequisite for practicing Dhamma. So they've kicked you out. My advice is to be grateful. What an insult to the ego. What a wonderful opportunity you now have to practice selflessness, to go deep into that feeling. Be there with it. That's my advice. Metta





95

Sun, 2 Jul 2006

thanks for you feedback. You really need not to worry about your identity. If there is one main aim with my website, then it is about stopping this 'us'- and 'them'-business - and no one ever to become kicked out again.

... you seem to be certain that, contrary to my information, Goenkaji was kicked out - and not as I thought - Mother Sayama and Ruth Denison? As I spread a possible misinformation - I would gladly correct it. - But for that, I would need some more precise details about it. If you would be willing to share. I, and all other readers, would really appreciate that.

You know, I must be really dull, I haven't even considered it as an insult to my ego. Otherwise, yours would have really been a very skillful consideration. Before, actually I felt the fear of becoming expunged for speaking up. However, now I feel quite glad becoming truer to myself.

As a layperson and through my life I am now in a situation where I consider it of utmost importance to stay skillfully truthful with my speech. - That for I was kicked out, and that for I recently lost my job. So I still have something to learn in respect to skillfulness, I guess...





96

Wed, 5 Jul 2006

I'm sorry to hear that you recently lost your job. I hope things work out for you.

This whole history of who kicked out whom is pretty confusing, and I'd love to hear an independent account from someone, if such an account exists. Do you know of one?

My information regarding Goenkaji's expungement from the lineage is taken from 'Dancing in the Dharma', a biography of Ruth Denison by Sandy Boucher. Ms. Boucher writes that Denison and Goenkaji both got the boot after conflicts with Mother Sayama and her husband.

Ms. Boucher writes that when Denison became a teacher, she originally was authorized to teach only women. When she began teaching men, and also mixing some Zen influence with her instruction, she came into conflict with Mother Sayama, according to the book. The book recounts how Denison was deeply troubled when she was kicked out, but decided to continue teaching nonetheless.

The book seems authoritative, but it does not give much detail on what happened between Goenkaji and Mother Sayama. Do you know whether anything has been written about their disagreement?





95

Thu, 6 Jul 2006

thanks for your reply. Of course, until now I can handle my life's situation. Thanks for asking.

As I wrote, I only heard it of different A.T.s that Mother Sayama and Ruth Denison

#18 RobertK

RobertK

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Posted 23 September 2006 - 04:58 AM

http://www.factnet.o...html?1132676262

was recomended this course by a friend.
-vipassana meditation course:Feb 2003
it was BRAIN WASHING PURITAN CRUD - very scary stuff really, I arrived on wednesday just after 6pm (ment to arrive between 2pm and
5pm) only a couple of people arrived after me! i walked up to the
building with my stuff and asked this guy where u register (having just
ignored the signs telling me) he showed me and told me this would be
his 3rd course, but he's been there for 2 months now - little alarm
bell as i new there was a course at the start of Dec and Jan so this
would be the 3rd, i registered and they asked for my car keys, i asked
why and was told they might need to move my car, other people gave
there keys in, i said i'd keep on to mine as i'd parked in the car park
and couldn't see any reason for it to be moved. i then had some lovely
vegitarian food and was taken to my roon, a large room with a bit of an
uneven floor, five beds in it, knowing we weren't going to be talking
for ten days i didn't want to share a room with four others but nobody
else had any stuff inside the room, and i didn't have to share :-) then
we had our introductory talk and was told it wasn't a religion but was
the same meditation technique that Budda used, it is for everybody
which is why its not religious but for the 10 days don't follow your
religion or use any other techniques as this has caused difficulty in
the past (this was never explained) but they used the analagiey of
riding one horse and trying to ride another horse without getting off
the first one (so trying one religion without leaving your original
one!) it was here we were told that the NOBLE SILENCE must start now
and last until half way through day 10.
Thursday (day 1): 4am GONG wakes u up go shower
4:30 - 6:30 meditate in the hall (u could meditate in your room at
this time but i figured i'd stay in bed if i ever did that)
6:30 - 8:00 was breakfast and from day 2 when i would shower (a second
gogng at 4:20 got me up!)
8-9 SITTING OF STRONG DETERMINATION this was the dodgy bit, an hour of
meditation where u can't move, and if you do u still can't leave the
meditation hall
9-11 meditate in your room or the hall, sometimes the teacher asked u
to stay in the hall ,splitting us into groups of old and new students
male and female so i only had to stay for the new male students bit
otherwise i was in my room.
11-12 lunch
12-1 rest/walk around/ talk to the teacher
1-2:30 meditate (always in my room hall was an option)
2:30-3:30 SITTING OF STRONG DETERMINATION
3:-30-5 hall or room meditate (always my room) sometimes teacher asked
your group to stay
5-6 tea (2 pieces of fruit - nothing for old students)
6-7 SITTING OF STRONG DETERMINATION (final one of the day but this made
30 in the ten days
7-8:30 Discourse - video of cult leader starts off "the 1st day is over
you have 9 more left" each day it counted down like that all taught by
S N Goenka, from Burma but found Vipassan in India, these videos are
from America made in the 1980's. They are used all over the world so
that no matter where you are you all get the same teaching - oddly what
they teach is that everything changes, it comes to be and passes away.
8:30-9 meditate in the hall
9 you could ask the teacher questions but i didn't do this ever because
he was stupid and only gave circular arguments.
then bed, lights out at 10
the first 3 days u just watch your breathing concentrating on the area
around your nostrals, day 4 we started vipassan, but first day 2 after
lunch i went to see the teacher to say i didn't think this course was
for me "why wouldn't you be entitled to this?" was my answer. My first thought was china saying to Taiwan "what have you done thats so terrible as to warrent you leaving the empire" when Taiwan first wanted independence. I then
said I don't hold with your preceps that ALL LIFE IS SUFFERING, this
is where all the cultness comes in and the brain washing but i hadn't
quite realised it yet, during the SITTING OF STRONG DETERMINATION just
before the end with aout 5 minutes to go some chanting starts and some
messages on breating in and out and messages on life is suffering and
this is the only way out of that suffering, 5 minutes on day 1 but this
is re inforced in the video's and 5 minutes on day 1 is actually 15
minutes because there are 3 sittings, plus you do get these messages at
other times in the hall like between 4:30-6:30 and 5 minutes on day 1
is about 25 minutes by day 10 so 1 and a half hours of listening to how all
life is missery and this is the ONLY solution.
Day 2 video tells us that day 2 is a very didicult day when Goenka did
the course he wanted to leave, day 2 and day 6 are the hardest
Day 4 Vippassan starts so let me tell you about the hall!
all the old students are at the front, guys on the left girls on the
right. 3 men isle 3 women, 10 rows, womens side is full new students at
the back guys side is almost full back 5 rows have nobody in the middle
seat and the back row only had one guy, i was second from the back on
the isle side, nobody behind me, you sat on a cussion on the floor but
you could have extra cussions and some people were sat on chairs at the
back if they couldn't stand sitting on the floor. the guy to my left
had dropped out by day 4 and the women on my right freaked out during
the second hour of strong determination running out of the hall not to
return again till the evening and than dropping out.
now there were rules for the hall, no lying down and don't point your
feet towards the chair of the teacher even if he is not in the hall,
naturally i did both. by day 7 these rules displayed in the lobby
where you leave your shoes and coats had been circled to bring extra
attention to them, this obviously worked as the 2 guys in front of me
to my left both started lying down and it seemed the girl to my right
(middle seat as the last one left) also pointed her feet to the
teachers seat - but they had to come into the hall from a different
door, (men and women were seperated throughout)
I was begining to find it to be a bunch of crud. the actual
meditation was concentrating your awareness into one part of your body
like a finger but slowly moving it all around your body from head to
toe and back up again, first time i did this it was like a pill rush
but we were told to do it slowly and make it happen over about 10
minites from head to to toe so i slowed it down to make it last more
than half an hour each way, but this was wrong on day 6 or 7 when the
teacher was asking us about it in groups of 4 the other 3 guys said it
was happening quicker even when they tried to slow it down, the teacher
said that would be happening naturally and that night discourse would
be talking about it, i realised they were slowly building up to a pill
rush over 10 days and thought i could have explained it in about an
hour! on day 8 i went to ask the teacher at lunch if i could put my
attention into the reiki energy - we had to suspend all over religious
or healing practices fot the 10 days to get vipasana in its purest form
a chance. I was told no they are not compatable at all, dont do both
when u go home decide which one you want to do. i was so pissed off i
stopped doing any meditation started reading my book i'd taken in with
me and doing exercise, thats when i noticed that in the SITTING OF
STRONG DETERMINATION people were in a trance and getting suggestions -
hypnotic suggestions, life is misery, u feel the misery, this is the
way out of that misery, purity and (wholesomeness or something) were
the ways and some other stuff in sanscript. this scared me a bit,
as i realised i'd had a week of it already. Friday day 9 - i decided
to leave and was gonna tell him at lunch but i saw the two guys who sat
infront of me talking at the edge of the field (past the course
boundry) so i went over and met them, D and T from london, T's
first words were if he ever wanted to brain wash anyone he'd hire
Goenka, this relieved me a bit, i told tham i was gonna leave and they
said they weren't cause its so near the end and then at least they know
they've completed it, i chatted to them for ages and got their insights
to the brain wahing of it all, how u got to hear Goenka's voice during
the day so u were used to it by the time u see the video, they didn't
talk to the teacher at all cause they assumed he would be closed minded
after witnessing one evening talk in the hall - i never stayed that
long. and how its so much easier to organise your thoughts when you
speak, you tend to remember it more and have it constructed and
formulated, D's girlfriend A was also on the course she'd done
all the research and picked it out. she'd snuck in chocolate and
managed to give D some in the meditation hall, quite a lot i gather
as that night he gave me some choclate shaped like an egg with a nut
inside! T had some fudge too which cheered me up! once we'd started
chatting it made it a lot easier to be there. we discussed the other
people - not knowing there names and having our own descriptions, some
named after people they remind us of, skin heads, hairy people crazy
people, lost people rude people ignorant people (not having spoke to
any of them) after the discourse another guy S started to talk to us
briefly - he'd gone from an avoid all eye contact to a talker in one
step - other people became eye contacters first then smilers before
little coments then talking - so no one else became talkers really! the
next day was the best hour for the SITTING OF STRONG DETERMINATION
thanks to the girl on my right (new since day 4 after the last one
left) she wasn't meditating either by now, i'd noticed while looking
around the room that a few people had stopped, when the chanting
started i smiled at her and she started giggleing which made me giggle,
suppressed laughter is the most infectious, she had to leave the hall
to go and laugh, when she came back in i'd just managed to stop moving
about and feel calm for about a second and the chanting stopped - for a
acouple of seconds i couldn't contain it any more, one of the old
students (male) had to walk out from laughing he had to walk past every
one, i had to leave along with this other guy and you could hear people
laughing inside :-) funniest moment! some of the true belivers thought
people were crying they didn't get how stupid it all was, the old
student was on his 9th course and had been told off for laughing in
Japan and 2 places in India. all the other old students seemed quite
brain washed and this guy wasn't, when i told him i thought there were
hypnotic messages he was like i've never thought abpout that but your
right and all those foreign words in the chanting are explained to us
in the evening video so our sub conshious will understand them too. all
the other students were like - you so don't get it Keith, this is the
only way to end your suffering. They also seemed very suprised that I wasn't in a troubled state of mind when i came on the course, Dhama comes to you when you need it most, Dhama is the path or natures way that vipassana claims it is. more than 1 old student said that after their first course they felt mentaly and emotionaly balanced for the first time. I pointed out that that meens they arrived feeling mentally and emotionally unballanced and prehaps that made them more suseptible to being brain washed. True believers however can not be got to by reson for they argue: you must not turn this into an interlectual argument or philosophical discussion you must truely experience it for your self - the very words we are given at the start of the course and a few times during it.
on the last night goenka informed us it was exactly 2500 years since
buddah when he was in India he does not know why it was exactly that
and not 2400 or 2600 but it weas 2500 and it was profecised he's be
reincarnated and spread his teachings over the world, yes you guessed it
our video tutor who brain washed us daily was the reincarnation of
Budda - i felt truely lucky and honoured. to help people all over the
world learn his teachings of getting rid of the ego he is building a
1km high temple and pagoda in India - not that this is a religion but
you will find it works and naturally abandon all your old beliefs. On the sunday when it was finished (day 11) there was meditation from 4:30-5 then chanting till 5:30 then the final fairwell video from Goenka, i woke up at 5:30 and missed a bit of the video. He told us that now we must leave we should continue to practice we have lived like a monk or nun for ten days (no religious reason) and should do this once a year even if you can't come back on a course you should do it at home. to try this now with your old belifs is fine but continue to give vipassana a chance and you will soon see it is all you need, if you don't like a bit of it take it out it wont work as well but after a while you will add it back as you see the meditation working, it was all very reassuring, this was where he also stated its not stuff, its not a religion, its not hypnosis, its not just for a select few, its for everyone, very briefly he mentioned hypnosis but it was the only time and he didn't mention suggestions! You must have an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening, it doesn't matter if you have less sleep as this is natural, you are opening up your conscious and unconscious so wont need as much sleep, deep sleep is the same as vipassana (so why do it?) everyone told me to give it 2 weeks and i'd see the diference. I definately wont be as on the final video it said if you don't do any vipassana for a year you will loose all the benefits so thats what i intend to do!

Once we started to talk I found out that I was the only person who didn't hand over their car keys or mobile phone or books. Except for A who kept a notebook to keep notes each day, once you speak or write stuff down you organise your thoughts so much better, i feel i learned a lot more about brain washing than I did about meditation. I was warned that when you leave you feel like you are the only calm person while everybody else is in chaos, its very strange to go home. I said I live with very chilled out people and wouldn't find this, When I drove out of the carpark I made sure I had my window down and the stero up loud - it was a bit odd not having heard much for ten days but I wanted to send a message to the brain washed! i went to see some friends when I got back home, they reckoned they singled me out for not giving my car keys in thats why I got my own room - it wasn't until day 4 that I realised other people were sharing rooms. Also there were no locks on the doors so they could go through your stuff, I had thought this but the brain washed people didn't seem like they had ill intentions, Goenka does tell you how to answer all your questions, he's only teaching morality, purity and generosity (especially in your donations) so nobody can have any complaints about that (cept me as I oppose purity and have my own morality) . however on about day 4 i found my door wasn't shut properly, I dont know that i did shut it properly but it seemed unlikely i wouldn't. nothing ever appeared to be moved, did find the zipped poket of bag unzipped but again can't say with certainty I did it up. One other thing, you know those barn doors which can be shut with a baracade of wood going across the door on two clips, the two clips were outside the door i could have been locked in!

When Goenka told us we were there on the charity of old students who wished us to experience what they had and we should give accordingly, a little from those who can't afford it is as much as a great deal from those who can afford it. Or even better give a donation of service, this will enhance your dhama, you can volunteer to be a server for a ten day course, if you are a server you can talk and you only attend the 3 SITTINGS OF STRONG DETERMINATION each day asat other times your in the kitchen or doing other work. Interestingly i notced on the board that if i wanted too I could stay on straight away, just ask the manager, otherwise I could do a work placement in september or december. I liked to point that notice out after telling people my brain washing theories.

#19 RobertK

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Posted 19 November 2006 - 12:59 PM

http://www.buddhanet...tudy/bvk22c.htm


Meeting Between Shri S N Goenka and K
(S. N. Goenka met K at KFI Rajghat in early 1970's.)

Question for Shri S. N. Goenka about his meeting with J Krishnamurti (K)
Location: Pune, India.
Date: 17 October 2000.
Occasion: public Q/A session after a public talk by Shri S N Goenka on Vipassana meditation.

Q. Krishnamurty did not believe in a technique or gurus. I believe you met him, did you discuss this?


Answer by S. N. Goenka:


Certainly, I met him. He was a very saintly person, and I very much understood why he is against technique and why he is against gurus. Because he observed the situation all over the country where gurus just exploit the people saying "Look I am your guru and you are my disciple, you are so weak, how can you liberate yourself ? Just surrender to me and I will liberate you. I will liberate you."


This is exploitation by gurus, this is against Dhamma and when you talk of technique that means you have got one object and you are just working with one object. It does not take you to the final goal.


Things are changing from moment to moment you are observing, you are observing. (This is Vipassana, this is not a technique, Vipassana is not a technique, it is a process of observation.)


So I discussed with him "Well in age you are an elderly person and in experience also you are an elderly person." It was 30 years ago when we met. "You are elderly so let me know if I am making any mistake. I am teaching Vipassana because I got benefit from it and I want to share my benefit with others. That is the only reason. If I am making any mistake please tell me''. then he (K) asked me "First day what you teach?''. (I replied and he said)


''Oh! This is not a technique''...second day... (K said) ''This is not a technique''.
....all the ten days I explained (and K said) "This is not a technique, you are observing the truth. The truth from moment to moment. Perfectly all right !''.


And guru? (I said) "I never say that I will liberate you, you have to work out your own liberation. A guru can only show the path then only sadguru. Otherwise if he tries to exploit then he is not a guru, he is harmful to the country." He said, "no this is not gurudom." He accepted both.



#20 RobertK

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Posted 25 November 2006 - 04:02 PM

http://www.vipassana...ssana_gays.html

Vipassana, means to see things as they really are!

A woman who learned that S.N. Goenka has very little room for homosexual meditation students
Seven years ago, I decided to learn to meditate. The word "depression" doesn't begin to capture the state of profound, spiritual despair I lived in. Other people decided what to wear each morning. I decided if I was going to live. I didn't think meditation would "cure" me. It was more that the counterbalance to my despair had always been my spiritual life. I had explored a wide array of spiritual traditions, and they all pointed to the same thing: I had to get out of my own way. Meditation seemed like a direct route on the path.

I chose the Vipassana Meditation Center in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts for two reasons. First, their introductory materials stated that, "The entire path (Dhamma) is a universal remedy for universal problems, and has nothing to do with any organized religion or sectarianism . . . There is absolutely no question of conversion." That was good, because I didn't want to be converted to anything. Second, they don't charge any money. The center runs entirely on donations. I figured if they could operate without charging a set fee, they were obviously doing something right.

So I sat my first 10 day course. It was hell. From 4 AM until 9 PM we did nothing but pay attention to the sensations of respiration. On the fourth day, we got to switch to the sensations on our whole bodies. I thought I was going to lose my mind.

But an amazing thing happened. A miracle, really. For the briefest second, I actually felt myself generating depression. I knew freedom in that moment. If I was doing it, I could stop doing it. There was a light at the end of the tunnel. Not a hope in a light, or a sheer, stubborn belief in a light, but an actual light. I had found what I was looking for. I dug in my heels and got to work.

The theory behind Vipassana is simple. Our minds react to sensory stimulation with craving or aversion. Over time, lifetimes, if you believe in rebirth, these reactions become more and more entrenched. The key lies in learning to observe our reactions with equanimity. When we are both aware of sensations and equanimous with them, old habit patterns of craving and aversion arise from deeper and deeper in our minds. By not reacting, we can eradicate these patterns, which are the cause of our suffering.

My anger was the first thing to go. I sat in the Dhamma hall with tears of relief streaming down my face. What had I been doing to myself ? Next went the night terrors/insomnia cycle. Then the panic attacks. And finally, the despair. Like people remember the date they got sober, or the birthdays of their children, I remember the day I chose life, permanently. I stepped out of my depression like it was a dried husk and never looked back.

It took five years. During that time my practice became the center of my life. I organized everything around my morning sit, my evening sit, and when I could go for another 10 day course. I told everyone I knew about this incredible technique, these discoveries about the source of my suffering. My sister sat a course, then my significant other, then my friends. I found myself incapable of certain behaviors, like killing mosquitoes or "not noticing" mistakes in my favor at the check-out counter. More and more, I was living a Dhamma life.

The next step was a long course. Serious students can sign up for a 20 day course, then 30, 45, and 90 day courses. A long course requires a weighty written application, and an interview with a teacher. I went into the Dhamma hall for my interview filled with anticipation, gratitude and joy. I was in love with the whole universe. I was on the path.

And the teacher told me no.
Why?
Because I'm a lesbian.
Early in my career as a meditator, I'd asked if my lesbianism was going to be a problem. I found a student - I'll call her Pauline, who was a friend of a friend. She was a very serious meditator, living in residence at the center.
"No, no," she assured me. "It's not an issue here."
Pauline wasn't lying to me. She didn't know. Nowhere in their literature does the center state their policy about gays and lesbians. Vipassana meditation, reads the VMC brochure, "can be practiced freely by everyone . . . without conflict due to race, community or religion." A bitter voice inside me adds, Everyone except the gays and lesbians.

VMC was founded by S. N. Goenka, a Burmese national of Indian extraction. He runs a number of centers around the world. Strict control is kept over the teachings. All courses are taught by audio and video tapes, with assistant teachers present to answer questions.

Goenka believes that people are gay because they were obsessed with sex in a past life. According to him, the gay community is rolling in a misery of licentiousness and promiscuity. Gays and lesbians are only allowed to sit long courses if they "admit" that they've been obsessed with sexual passion and renounce their sexuality. Needless to say, heterosexuals don't have to do anything like this. The teacher looked me in the eye and said that "this passion" was so strong, I would have to be given not just my own room but my own bathroom to keep me from all contact with other female meditators.

I left the Dhamma hall feeling like I needed a bath.

And I was devastated. It had been two years since I'd talked to Pauline, but I didn't know who else to call. Turned out she'd learned about the policy, too. She'd struggled long and hard with it. How could she participate in something that was so wrong? In the end, she told me, she decided to stay so she could be an agent for change. It was hard to take her at her word. It was hard not to be cynical.

I had started to make friends at the center. But now their letters went unanswered, their phone calls unreturned. Who were these people? Would the policy matter to them? Did they already know? Would they excuse it so they could keep going to the center? Or worse, would they defend it the way the teacher had? I couldn't bear to know.

Slowly, I began to find others. I listened to one lesbian describe how another woman had pulled her aside after a course. "Have you come out to anyone here?" she whispered. In small towns, in big companies, in churches, schools, the military, in institutions of every sort this is how gays and lesbians survive. Underneath the stories was a feeling too weary to be bitter. Why did it have to be like this? Why couldn't there be a sanctuary, a home, a place for us, too?

I also heard about grueling decisions to stay silent. Are these people lying?
Yes.
But what about the center?

In his teaching, Goenka puts a tremendous emphasis on sila, morality, on what in Buddhism is called the Five Precepts. Precept #4 is "to abstain from telling lies." If gays and lesbians are lying by withholding the truth, so is the center. At the very least, VMC needs to be open and honest to the public at large if they are going to continue to enforce this policy. People who would never support such a policy are unknowingly giving donations of time and money to the center. People who would be appalled are building a spiritual home there. Including people who, one day, will be turned away.

There's lots of debate about what the Buddha actually said about homosexuality. But I have a deeper question. Why are people so willing to give up their own moral agency to genuflect to someone else's authority? Isn't that called fundamentalism, or at its worst extreme, a cult? To hide behind what scripture, suttas, or a teacher says is ultimately moral cowardice: either you believe something or you don't. Like it or not we are all in the end responsible for the ethical frameworks we adopt. "Because my teacher said" is a defense of nothing but our own abdication.

What if the Buddha had condemned homosexuality? Unlike Christianity and Judaism, Buddhism isn't based on a revealed text. The point is emphasized in the Buddha's -- and in Goenka's teachings: don't accept something just because your teacher says it. Ultimately only your direct experience of reality can liberate you. The Buddha could have been wrong about something. So, for that matter, could Goenka.

Goenka is not the only teacher of this technique. There are other teachers who share his lineage, but not his bigotry. There are meditation centers where gays and lesbians sit long courses. There are also silent gays and lesbians sitting long courses at VMC. Without their own bathrooms. Do I actually need to say that "this passion" does not erupt into violence or sexual assaults?

In his book Cultivating Inner Peace, Paul Fleischman, a teacher at VMC writes:

"Vipassana can sound solitary and impersonal, but it's always a part of a community of teaching, learning, practicing together . . . From the upper level of a meditation pagoda in India, I once watched students far beneath me flowing slowly down the central aisle of the campus grounds, their white clothes rippling in the wind, and I realized they were current droplets in a river that has been, and will be, flowing for thousands of years . . . Through Vipassana I feel part of the flow of truth and peace."
I read these words and wept with the worse grief I've known. What about those of us who are excluded? That he is excluding? Has he faced students in the Dhamma hall and told them no, for you it ends here? How can he stand it?
I ran into Pauline on the street one day. I'd heard she'd been to India for six months. We exchanged small talk until the policy came up.
"It'll change," she assured me.
"The teacher said it might," I replied. "But he also said it would be a shame. He said it would be a pollution of the Dhamma."
She looked at me in horror.
"He said that?"
"Yeah. He said that."
For one second she met my eyes. Everything she'd ever wanted hung in the balance. The she turned her back on me and walked away.

She left me holding a lot of unanswered questions. Questions that people of faith have to come to terms with if they are going to be people of conscience, no matter what their teachers say, no matter how high the personal cost. Questions about power, justice, morality. Questions about courage.

Questions like, would you send your kids to a school that excluded Blacks? Would you belong to a club that excluded Jews? Why is it acceptable in your meditation center? If the 20th century can teach us anything, it must be this: all it takes for bigotry to win is for good people to do nothing.

My journey has been long and hard, as long and hard as everyone's. Human suffering does not draw distinctions. Neither does the Dhamma. If the Dhamma is a river, it was my destination, and I carried to it an unbearable thirst. But I am not allowed to drink.

Or maybe, as in Fleischman's telling, the river of Dhamma flows with people, with students and teachers in a living community. Doesn't the exclusion of some diminish the the whole? Or do practitioners of Vipassana really consider me "pollution"? These are questions that can break the heart. Yet despite the ragged history of the human race, despite my own bitterness, because of the Dhamma I have enough hope to keep asking them. Do you have enough to answer?