Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Postby Gregor » Fri Jun 10, 2011 6:49 am

Dear members,

I would like to get some response from those of you who did at least a few retreats in Goenka tradition.
The thing is, chanting, instructions and evening discourses don't change, they are the same on every 10 day retreat. You hear the same thing when you do your first retreat and when you do 100th retreat. If you come from a non-english speaking country as me than you hear same thing in two languages.

When I did my first retreat I found talks and chanting inspiring, it helped me not to give up when it was hard. However, on my second retreat I felt like "I've already heard this so now it's boring instead of inspiring".

I only did 2 retreats by now. Searching the DhammaWheel forum I discovered that some members here did many retreats. So, this question goes mostly to them- How do you handle with hearing same instructions, chanting and evening discourses over and over again?

With regards, Gregor
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towords Chanting

Postby cooran » Fri Jun 10, 2011 7:24 am

Hello Gregor,

Thank you for asking this. I've done three or four 10 day retreats, a three day retreat, and a couple of one dayers. I also felt aversion at hearing the same thing over in each retreat. I'd love to hear from long time Goenka students. whose practice I admire, about this topic.

with metta
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towords Chanting

Postby legolas » Fri Jun 10, 2011 8:56 am

If my memory of the discourses serves me right, the chanting produces "vibrations" which are said to be beneficial to the meditator.
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towords Chanting

Postby Ben » Fri Jun 10, 2011 9:06 am

Hi Gregor
On my second retreat I actually expected to hear fresh discourses. My reaction was WHAT THE ???
But then after my initial reaction, I found that re-hearing the instruction and discourses very beneficial. And for years afterwards there were new things that I got out of the discourses and instruction. In later years, I just meditate while the discourses are going on. The discourses being played in ten-day courses around the world are the same ones that were played when i did my first course in 1985.
I've never really had an aversion issue with the chanting - except when I first heard the chanting. But by the end of my first ten-day course, I actually liked the early morning sessions with the chanting tapes being played. Over the last twenty years I've used chanting CDs and audio-files at home during my daily sittings as they prove to be effective time pieces as well as helping to establish a meditative atmosphere.
Also keep in mind that what you are experiencing is common and it is just aversion fixing on an object and manifesting. And you know what the instruction is - what ever is arising, does so to pass away. Remain aware! Remain equanimous!
All the best with your practice.

Ben
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towords Chanting

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:09 am

I've done half a dozen Goenka retreats and yes each time I have aversion to the chanting but each time it matters less.

After all if aversion comes then up we have the chance to learn how aversion works and if we practise right that slowly leads to freedom from it.

The attitude that I've heard it all before and been there done that, nothing new here, is just the kind of attitude that blocks us from fully experiencing the present moment. If we can embrace each moment like it is new and fresh then we are fully experiencing life and have the opportunity to learn. Having things boring and predictable gives us the opportunity to learn to let go of our compulsion to be always craving for something new and exciting.

Think of it as Groundhog retreat.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Postby Gregor » Fri Jun 10, 2011 11:48 am

Thank you guys.
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Postby Monkey Mind » Fri Jun 10, 2011 3:25 pm

I was not a fan of the chanting at first. It occurred to me that I would enjoy the chanting if I knew what the subject material was (especially since Goenkaji chants in 2 different languages interchangeably). The chantbook is on the website, & there is a DVD or mp3 download available that has the chanting audio and the subtitles and translations across the screen. I didn't have the chants memorized for my last retreat, but I knew what the subject material was and that made a huge difference for me. I found myself looking forward to certain days, e.g. "today he's going to chant the Maha Sattipatana".
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Postby Monkey Mind » Fri Jun 10, 2011 3:44 pm

The other thing that helped was serving. New instructions, different discourses, different chanting.
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Postby wizi » Sat Jun 11, 2011 2:48 pm

I have only done the retreat 3 times, and each time, the discourse throws up something more profound and more relevant. It's as if I am hearing them for the first time all over again.

In the non-center where I was sitting, we would not only have the morning chantings in the dhamma hall, but the same day's chant would be replayed in the dining hall during breakfast. I noticed that the chantings would bring about a more meditative state during breakfast. But this practice was stopped by the teacher at the last course where I served who felt that culturally, it's an overkill to have the chantings played during breakfast. Our non-center has many indian old students who relish the chanting.

I believe the chanting is a cultural thing. Either you are used to it cuz you grew up with it in your community, or you just never get used to it. :quote:
All beings like yourself are responsible for their own actions. Suffering or happiness is created through one's relationship to experience, not by experience itself. Although I wish only the best for you, I know that your happiness or unhappiness depends on your actions, not on my wishes for you.
May you not be caught in reactivity.
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Postby Monkey » Fri Jul 08, 2011 10:29 am

Regarding the teachings:

“In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few”

Try not to set any boundaries by telling yourself that you know all the teachings already. Try to listen to them with an open mind and attitude and I'm pretty sure that you'll hear something new every time you listen to them. Try to listen to them with this beginner's mind, an open and spacious attitude :).

Regarding the chanting:

I don't think Goenka will ever become a famous singer ^^..
Nevertheless, I love his chantings. He tells that it are good vibrations and you can hear that I think. The way he chants so low until the air in his lungs is gone takes a very relaxed body (therefore, a very relaxed mind). I guess you'll pick that up knowingly or unknowingly.
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Postby hermitwin » Sat Jul 16, 2011 3:01 am

The recordings played at the retreat are not proper chanting.
Its a lot of mumbling and moaning by Goenka,
I found it very disturbing.
Does anyone have the recording?
We should ask a knowledgeable monk what the content is.
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Postby Ben » Sat Jul 16, 2011 3:11 am

hermitwin wrote:The recordings played at the retreat are not proper chanting.
Its a lot of mumbling and moaning by Goenka,
I found it very disturbing.
Does anyone have the recording?
We should ask a knowledgeable monk what the content is.


Dear me, what a nasty and ignorant thing to post.
SN Goenka has been a Pali scholar for excess of 50 years.
I do have all of the recordings and there is no need to ask a knowledgeable monk what the content is.
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Postby cooran » Sat Jul 16, 2011 6:11 am

Hello Ben,

I was told that some of the chanting is not in Pali, but in another indian dialect ....? Maybe that's what is confusing hermitwin about Goenka-ji.

with metta
Chris
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Postby Ben » Sat Jul 16, 2011 6:39 am

Some, very few, are dohas composed by SN Goenka and are in Hindi.
The vast majority of the chants on a ten day - or longer course - are in Pali.

10-day course Morning Chantings:

Attanatiya Sutta
Ratana Sutta
Karinaya Metta Sutta
Jayamangala Attagatha
Patthana
Paticca Samuppada
Udana gatha
Bojjhanga Paritta
Mettanisamsa
Mangala Sutta
Metta Bhavana

Formalities In Vipassana Courses


Pali Passages & English Translations






Pali Passages Spoken English Translation Of Pali Passages



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sarana-Gamanam

Buddham saranam gacchami
Dhammam saranam gacchami
Sangham saranam gacchami

Taking Refuge

I take refuge in the Buddha;
I take refuge in the Dhamma;
I take refuge in the Sangha.





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

Atthasila-Samadanam

Panatipati veramani
sikkhapadam samadiyami.


Adinnadana veramani
sikkhapadam samadiyami.


Abrahmacariya veramani
sikkhapadam samadiyami.


Musavada veramani
sikkhapadam samadiyami.


Sura-meraya-majja-pamadatthana
veramani sikkhapadam
samadiyami.


Vikala-bhojana veramani
sikkhapadam samadiyami.


Nacca-gita-vadita-visukadassana
mala-gandha-vilepana-dharana-
mandana-vibhusanatthana
veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami.


Uccasayana-mahasayana veramani
sikkhapadam samadiyami.

Taking the Eight Precepts
I undertake the rule of training
to abstain from killing living creatures.


I undertake the rule of training
to abstain from taking what is not given.


I undertake the rule of training
to abstain from incelibacy.


I undertake the rule of training
to abstain from wrong speech.


I undertake the rule of training
to abstain from intoxicants, which
are causes of intemperate behavior.


I undertake the rule of training
to abstain from untimely eating.

I undertake the rule of training
to abstain from dancing; singing; instrumental music;
attending entertainments; adorning oneself with garlands,
perfumes or cosmetics; and wearing jewelry.


I undertake the rule of training
to abstain from using high or luxurious beds.







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

Surrender

Imaham bhante attabhavam
jivitam Bhagavato pariccajami.


Imaham bhante attabhavam
jivitam ¾cariyassa pariccajami.
Surrender

Sir, I herewith surrender my
person and life to the Buddha.


Sir, I herewith surrender my
person and life to the Teacher.







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

Request for Dhamma

Nibbanassa sacchikaranatthaya,
me bhante Anapana
[Vipassana] kammatthanaa dehi.

Request for Dhamma

For the sake of witnessing nibbana,
Sir, grant me the meditation object
of Anapana [Vipassana].

The only hindi chantings that occur are at the beginning of the three group sits each day and last for a couple of minutes each. The closing chants on the group sits are in Pali. Here below:

Beginning Chantings

Ananta punya-mayi, ananta guna-mayi,
Buddha ki nirvana-dhatu,
dharma-dhatu, bodhi-dhatu!

Sisapara jage pratiksana,
hidaya men jage pratiksana,
anga-anga jage pratiksana!


Ananta punya-mayi, ananta guna-mayi,
Dharma ki nirvana-dhatu,
gyana-dhatu, bodhi-dhatu!


Sisapara jage pratiksana,
hidaya men jage pratiksana,
anga-anga jage pratiksana!


Ananta punya-mayi, ananta guna-mayi,
Sangha ki nirvana-dhatu,
dharma-dhatu, bodhi-dhatu!


Sisapara jage pratiksana,
hidaya men jage pratiksana,
anga-anga jage pratiksana!

Beginning Chantings

Source of endless merit, of endless benefit [are]
the Buddha's vibrations of nibbana,
of Dhamma, of enlightenment!

May they arise on the [top of the] head every moment,
in the heart every moment
in every particle of the body every moment!


Source of endless merit, of endless benefit [are]
the Dhamma's vibrations of nibbana,
of wisdom, of enlightenment!


May they arise on the [top of the] head every moment,
in the heart every moment
in every particle of the body every moment!


Source of endless merit, of endless benefit [are]
the Sangha's vibrations of nibbana,
of Dhamma, of enlightenment!


May they arise on the [top of the] head every moment,
in the heart every moment
in every particle of the body every moment!





--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pali Chantings English Translation Of Pali

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Closing Chantings

Anicca vata sankhara
uppadavaya-dhammino.
Uppajjitva nirujjhanti,
tesam vupasamo sukho.


Aneka-jati samsaram
sandhavissam anibbisam,
gahakarakam gavesanto
dukkha-jati-punappunam.


Gahakaraka! Diµµhosi,
puna geham na kahasi.
Sabba te phasuka bhagga,
gahakutam visankhitam.
Visankhara-gatam cittam,
tanhanam khayamajjhaga.


Sabbe sankhara anicca'ti.
Yada pannaya passati,
atha nibbindati dukkhe.
Esa maggo visuddhiya.

Closing Chantings

Impermanent truly are sankhara,
by nature constantly arising and vanishing.
When they arise and are eradicated,
their cessation brings true happiness.


Through countless births in the cycle of existence
I have run, in vain
seeking the builder of this house;
and again and again I faced the suffering of new birth.


Oh housebuilder! Now you are seen.
You shall not build a house aagain for me.
All your beams are broken,
the ridgepole is shattered.
The mind has become freed from conditioning;
the end of craving has been reached.


"Impermanent are all compounded things."
When one perceives this with insight,
then one turns away from suffering;
this is the path of purification.


Day Nine Only Chanting

Yato yato sammasati
khandanam udayabbayam,
labhati piti-pamojjam.
Amatam tam vijanatam.


Sabbesu cakkavajesu
yakkha deva ca brahmano,
yam amhehi katam punnam,
sabba sampatti s±dhikam.
Sabbe tam anumoditva,
samagga sasane rata,
pamada rahita hontu
arakkhasu visesato.


Punna bhagamidam c'annam,
samam dadama karitam.
Anumodantu tam sabbe,
medini thatu sakkhike.

Day Nine Only Chanting

Wherever one directs one's attention
within the body, one is aware only of arising and falling.
One experiences ecstasy and bliss;
then one apprehends the Deathless.]


May the yakkhas, devas and brahmas
of all the universes
rejoice in this wholesome deed performed by us,
which is productive of all happiness.
May they all,
unitedly devoted to the Teaching,
be without negligence,
especially in [giving] protection.


We share [with them] equally the merit
of this and other wholesome deeds.
May they all accept with joy [our sharing of merit],
and may the earth stand witness [to it]!
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Postby cooran » Sat Jul 16, 2011 8:20 am

Thanks Ben1

with metta
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Postby Gregor » Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:42 am

Thanks Ben for the effort, I will copy/paste and study this so that next time I'm on the retreat I know which chanting is 'on the menu'.
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Postby Ben » Fri Jul 22, 2011 9:10 am

No problem, Gregor.
Though, next time you're on retreat, I recommend that you maintain your focus on the meditation rather than worry about something else.
Aversion to craving is actually very common among those new to Goenka retreats. When you're involved in a very intense vipassana retreat, negativity rises to the forefront of the mind and it virtually takes any object. If its not the chanting, then its the food or its the accommodation or the bathrooms or the fact that men and women are segregated. For the vast majority of old students who make it to the long courses, they find that instead of dealing with aversion they begin to deal with craving - which is far more insidious and difficult to deal with.
kind regards

Ben
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Postby Sidney » Sun Jul 24, 2011 3:36 pm

I suppose the chantings are done to protect you from interference when you do meditation seriously in courses.
They are rituals that you need to bear with, a duty of a teacher to protect his pupils from unseen interferences.
Since you may be new to this culture the course organiser should let you know ahead what are they meant for.
You need to be patient as they are meant for your protection. If you are a serious meditator you will know what I meant to say, but for new yogis from different background, indeed they are boring and may not have experienced any interference yet.
I myself felt the same when I first heard the chanting tapes many decades ago, even though I came from such a background. I am not a pupil of Goenkaji but I am writing this as I know the purpose of these chantings.
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Postby James the Giant » Sun Jul 24, 2011 4:54 pm

I used to hate the chanting, but now after 9 courses I find it surrounds and enfolds me like a warm noisy blanket in the cold pre-dawn darkness.
It both soothes me and carries me along in a torrent of sound and vibration, through those two difficult hours between waking and eating.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Postby ertner » Tue Jan 24, 2012 2:31 pm

wow... it was great reading all these responses. i just came back from my first course two days ago and have to admit that Goenka's chanting (his english instruction as well) was the absolute number one reason that i feel as though i missed out on vipassana completely and might have wasted 10 days of my time... it was far, far, far too distracting for me and it prompted me to do anything BUT focus on becoming established in the practice.

i realize that this sounds ignorant, but it was my honest experience at the time: sitting there in the dhamma hall, cut off from everything i know and allowed to talk to no one... it almost felt to me like he was putting on a show and kinda hamming it up a bit. i didn't want to hear a relatively lengthy bit about "start again, start again".... i just wanted to, well... start again.

it greatly affected my mental silence.

hopefully, vipassasa will start to make sense after the fact. but, i wish i'd known about the pervasiveness of the chanting and was able to steel myself for it long before i made the trek out there.

i hope this doesn't sound like i'm hating... i'm just very confused by what i just experienced.

thanks and feedback is appreciated.
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