How many of you are solitary Buddhists?

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No_Mind
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How many of you are solitary Buddhists?

Post by No_Mind » Thu Apr 13, 2017 4:43 pm

Solitary Buddhist is a person with no access to a Buddhist temple, no access to a teacher (even by Skype), no access to a sangha, and one who is almost completely self taught Buddhist (through internet and books.)

A solitary Buddhist may or may not have attended a retreat but if they have attended more than two retreats or more than 20 days it disqualifies them .. because they have come into contact with other Buddhists and hence are not solitary/isolated anymore (e.g someone who stays in Hebrides near Scotland but attends four, one week long retreats in Sussex every year is not a solitary Buddhist).

I personally live in Calcutta, about 1,000 miles from nearest Buddhist (in Bangkok). All my understanding of Buddhism is from books, YT videos, this forum and blogs. There are no serious Buddhists in my city. I am completely alone in my practice.

Please share your story here as an inspiration for rest of us solitary Buddhists.

:namaste:
I know one thing: that I know nothing

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Lucas Oliveira
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Re: How many of you are solitary Buddhists?

Post by Lucas Oliveira » Thu Apr 13, 2017 4:57 pm

Itivuttaka: The Buddha’s Sayings
The Section of the Threes

92. The Hem of the Robe

This was said by the Lord…

“Bhikkhus, even though a bhikkhu might hold on to the hem of my robe and follow close behind me step by step, if he is covetous for objects of desire, strongly passionate, malevolent, corrupt in thought, unmindful, uncomprehending, unconcentra­ted, of wandering mind and uncontrolled faculties, he is far from me and I am far from him. What is the reason? That bhikkhu does not see Dhamma. Not seeing Dhamma, he does not see me.

“Bhikkhus, even though a bhikkhu might live a hundred leagues away, if he is not covetous for objects of desire, not strongly passionate, not malevolent, uncorrupt in thought, with mindfulness established, clearly comprehending, concentrated, of unified mind and controlled faculties, he is close to me and I am close to him. What is the reason? That bhikkhu sees Dhamma. Seeing Dhamma, he sees me.”

Though closely following behind,
Full of longings and resentment,
See how far away he is—
The desirous one from the desireless,
One unquenched from the quenched,
A greedy one from the one without greed.

But a wise person who by direct knowledge
Has fully understood the Dhamma,
Becomes desireless and tranquil
Like a calm unruffled lake.

See how close he is to him—
A desireless one to the desireless,
One quenched to the quenched,
The greedless one to the one without greed.

https://suttacentral.net/en/iti92


:anjali:
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Lucas Oliveira
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Re: How many of you are solitary Buddhists?

Post by Lucas Oliveira » Thu Apr 13, 2017 5:14 pm

If he attends the Dhamma Wheel forum he is not a lonely Buddhist.
I personally live in Calcutta, about 1,000 miles from nearest Buddhist (in Bangkok). All my understanding of Buddhism is from books, YT videos, this forum and blogs. There are no serious Buddhists in my city. I am completely alone in my practice.
You live in India, the land of the Buddha.

Try to approach these Buddhists who are not serious in your city, at least it will be less lonely.

I'm not very social myself. But in order not to be too alone I go to "spiritualist groups" (Spiritist centers, Tibetan Buddhist center and try to go to the catholic church at the weekend).

Just a few tips Are not very serious.


:namaste:
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http://www.acessoaoinsight.net/

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Sam Vara
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Re: How many of you are solitary Buddhists?

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Apr 13, 2017 7:06 pm

No_Mind wrote: Please share your story here as an inspiration for rest of us solitary Buddhists. :namaste:
You are an inspiration to those of us who are lucky enough to practice with others. How many of us would still be practising if we were in your more difficult situation?

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Re: How many of you are solitary Buddhists?

Post by Goofaholix » Thu Apr 13, 2017 7:19 pm

No_Mind wrote:I personally live in Calcutta, about 1,000 miles from nearest Buddhist (in Bangkok).
That's not quite true, there's quite a few Buddhist or Insight Meditation centres in India, even Calcutta;
http://www.buddhanet.info/wbd/province. ... nce_id=335
http://www.insightmeditation.org/world-wide-centres
https://www.dhamma.org/en-US/locations/directory#ganga
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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Re: How many of you are solitary Buddhists?

Post by SarathW » Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:04 pm

No_Mind wrote:Solitary Buddhist is a person with no access to a Buddhist temple, no access to a teacher (even by Skype), no access to a sangha, and one who is almost completely self taught Buddhist (through internet and books.)

A solitary Buddhist may or may not have attended a retreat but if they have attended more than two retreats or more than 20 days it disqualifies them .. because they have come into contact with other Buddhists and hence are not solitary/isolated anymore (e.g someone who stays in Hebrides near Scotland but attends four, one week long retreats in Sussex every year is not a solitary Buddhist).

I personally live in Calcutta, about 1,000 miles from nearest Buddhist (in Bangkok). All my understanding of Buddhism is from books, YT videos, this forum and blogs. There are no serious Buddhists in my city. I am completely alone in my practice.

Please share your story here as an inspiration for rest of us solitary Buddhists.

:namaste:
I do not consider myself as a solitary Buddhist as I have access to internet resources. I have never attended a retreat or never observe the Uposatta save I participated a school program. (The difference is I wore white clothes instead of the school uniform)
I have many temples around me but I go to a temple just to give some donations or as a recreation activity.
Having said these I spent most of my waking hours contemplating Buddha Dhamma.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: How many of you are solitary Buddhists?

Post by BasementBuddhist » Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:54 pm

I Consider myself solitary, though that may soon be coming to an end. I usually have to drive an hour to the temple, and the hours that they keep makes it difficult for me to attend, with work and such. I usually go about once a month, or when I run into something that I really don't understand about the Dhamma. The rest of 30 days of the month, I am alone in practice.

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Re: How many of you are solitary Buddhists?

Post by paul » Thu Apr 13, 2017 10:33 pm

There's a stage that you go through where you benefit from attending monasteries and discussing dhamma but eventually you develop enough understanding to be fully occupied with your mindfulness practice every moment of the day and there's no need to be asking questions, so it's solitary practice by choice as you have more than enough raw material to cope with. Once you've internalised dhamma principles you don't need the external structures for support so much. On the other hand the frustration beginners feel is due to a sense of imbalance between understanding and experience.
There is a centre in Myanmar which has all the training facilities a lay meditator needs, it would benefit your understanding to spend some time there:
http://www.paaukforestmonastery.org
Last edited by paul on Fri Apr 14, 2017 12:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Will
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Re: How many of you are solitary Buddhists?

Post by Will » Fri Apr 14, 2017 12:36 am

Does not seem that Calcutta is bereft of Dharma temples:

https://rangandatta.wordpress.com/2016/ ... -calcutta/
Distrust everyone in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!
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Jetavan
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Re: How many of you are solitary Buddhists?

Post by Jetavan » Fri Apr 14, 2017 12:47 am

Calcutta is also where the only known copy of the Code Sutta is located.

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No_Mind
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Re: How many of you are solitary Buddhists?

Post by No_Mind » Fri Apr 14, 2017 12:53 am

Sam Vara wrote: You are an inspiration to those of us who are lucky enough to practice with others. How many of us would still be practising if we were in your more difficult situation?
I am not worthy of this praise. I will try and live up to it in future.
Goofaholix wrote:
No_Mind wrote:I personally live in Calcutta, about 1,000 miles from nearest Buddhist (in Bangkok).
That's not quite true, there's quite a few Buddhist or Insight Meditation centres in India, even Calcutta
Will wrote:Does not seem that Calcutta is bereft of Dharma temples:

https://rangandatta.wordpress.com/2016/ ... -calcutta/
There is a Goenka center about 20 miles from where I live. It is the only vipassana centre in Calcutta. But I doubt if a Goenka vipassana centre can be called a Buddhist Sangha. Students are taken through basics of Buddhism (bare bones basics .. say a page long intro to Buddha's life and very basic teachings of 4 NT) but the training itself is secular. There are no monks ..

There is a tiny Theravada Buddhist community in Calcutta (about 500 strong .. they are Bengalis from Assam state*). They have a tiny Buddhist temple to attend to their religious needs as a Buddhist. Every Buddhist temple in the world where Mangala Sutta is chanted in the evening does not discuss paticcasamuppada or Kamma Vibhanga Sutta!! Very few do.

In same way, there are nine Hindu temples in New York but that does not mean the priest will be able to guide you to understand the Advaita Vedānta. The priest would know how to perform puja of Ganesh, Shiva and Krishna.

About a mile from my home there is a Nichiren temple .. but the Japanese monks there do not speak .. (nor am I interested in Nichiren).

There are large number of members of an international Buddhist organization who gather together and chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. But they are clueless about anything to do with Buddhism .. anything.

*few from this community have become monks after doing M.A in Pali from Calcutta University (I mean they have become scholar monks) .. but stay at monasteries in Thailand or Sri Lanka because the scope of learning Buddhism is greater there.

:namaste:

On a different note -- I think it is high time Western Buddhists introduced terms to indicate different categories of Theravada monks. Some Westerners assume all monks are same but that is not so. 99% Buddhist monks (Bhadanta or Bhante) are plain monks or priests .. stay at a temple/monastery, perform Buddha Vandana, can perform rituals .. but do not meditate or understand theoretical analysis of Dhamma.

Hinduism made this distinction long back. A purohit is the ritual guy, a pandit is the theory guy (well versed in Sanskrit, Vedas, Upanishads), a sadhaka or yogi is the meditation guy. The three roles may or may not overlap depending on personal inclinations but purohits generally do not have any understanding of philosophical segments of Hinduism or meditation.
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Re: How many of you are solitary Buddhists?

Post by SarathW » Fri Apr 14, 2017 2:55 am

On a different note -- I think it is high time Western Buddhists introduced terms to indicate different categories of Theravada monks.
Good idea. But how and who is going to decide this?
Hypothetically can you put us into these categories?
For example who I will be, assume I am a monk?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: How many of you are solitary Buddhists?

Post by No_Mind » Fri Apr 14, 2017 3:12 am

SarathW wrote:
On a different note -- I think it is high time Western Buddhists introduced terms to indicate different categories of Theravada monks.
Good idea. But how and who is going to decide this?
Hypothetically can you put us into these categories?
For example who I will be, assume I am a monk?
That is for you to define.

You may be all three.

All I wanted to say is even seasoned Western Buddhists like Goofaholix and Will have trouble understanding that a Buddhist temple does not necessarily mean there is someone there who can at least say the name of 12 Nidanas let alone explain them .. (not to sound snide Will and Goofaholix). Converse with a random monk in Bangkok and ask what is said in MN 55 .. let me see how many can answer (no offence to Bhantes)

:namaste:
Last edited by No_Mind on Fri Apr 14, 2017 3:31 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Dharmic
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Re: How many of you are solitary Buddhists?

Post by Dharmic » Fri Apr 14, 2017 3:21 am

No_Mind wrote:Solitary Buddhist is a person with no access to a Buddhist temple, no access to a teacher (even by Skype), no access to a sangha, and one who is almost completely self taught Buddhist (through internet and books.)
:namaste:
Hi No_Mind,

Hmm... I haven't thought about learning from a teacher through Skype.
I'm a solitary Buddhist. And also a closet Buddhist. Sometimes I think whether I can be a Buddhist without taking refuge formally.
I feel it would be easier to learn and practice if there is a community around.
Please share your story here as an inspiration for rest of us solitary Buddhists.
Whatever I learned is from Internet resources and e-books.

Had I been born a century ago this wouldn't have been possible. Historical accounts say that people traveled all the way from Sri Lanka to India or from India to Sri Lanka, from Japan to China, from China, Korea etc. to India traveling mostly on foot to study Buddhism, some even died during the journey. At times the situation was very unstable and there was rampant violence and lawlessness. Some other times there was persecution or monks had flee or those who remained gave up their beliefs. Most of the renowned ancient sites are still in ruins.

Today most of the teachings is translated into English and provided for free online. I think we are in a comparatively better situation now and I feel grateful that I encountered Buddhism.

I'm not the perfect lay Buddhist. :embarassed: I try to follow whatever I can.
I read a set of five verses that inspire me to practice.

These were written by Nāgārjuna in his letter to a King.
Not sure if it is ok to post them, if it is a violation of ToS I'll delete them.

Many things can damage your life: it’s more impermanent than a bubble on a river, tossed by the wind. Any respite (from death) you may have –to breathe in (after) breathing out, and to awaken from having fallen asleep – that’s utterly amazing.

bahubādhaṃ tu jīvanaṃ vāyūdbhūtajalabudbudavadanityaṃ ca /
āścaryaṃ jāgarteḥ kṣaṇamidaṃ niḥśvāsocchvāsanidrābhyaḥ //

Since even more difficult than the meeting of a turtle and the hole in a solitary yoke located on the ocean is the attainment of a human state from that of a creeping creature, make that (attainment) with human faculties be fruitful through practicing the hallowed Dharma.

mahārṇavayugacchidre hi kūrmagrīvārpaṇācca mānuṣaṃ janma /
tiryagādisudurlabhaṃ saphalīkuru saddharmābhyāsānnarendra //

(Now,) you possess the four great wheels: you live in a land that’s conducive (for Dharma), you rely on hallowed beings, by nature you’re prayerful, and in the past, as well, you’ve built up positive force.

pratirūpadeśavāsaḥ satpuruṣasamāśrayaḥ śubhapraṇidhānaṃ ca /
svakīyapūrvakuśalaṃ hyetaccakracatuṣkaṃ hi vidyate tvayi //

What need to counsel (you) more, Fearless One? The (most) important advice that’s of benefit is this: tame your mind! The Vanquishing Master (Buddha) has proclaimed, “Mind is the root of (all preventive measures) of Dharma.”

cittaṃ hi dharmamūlaṃ bhagavatoktamatastadapi sādhu damayecca /
bho nirbhaya, kiṃ bahunā kathanena yato 'yameva hitopadeśaḥ //

Whatever guidelines there are for you in those words would be difficult even for a monk to carry out perfectly. (So, try to make as) the essential nature of your conduct whatever (aspects) of these (that you can), and by entrusting (yourself) to the good qualities (coming) from that, make (this) lifetime meaningful.

yanmayopadiṣṭaṃ tatsaprayāsairapi bhikṣubhirduḥsādhyam /
caryāguṇān sevasva śikṣāmācara jīvanaṃ ca kuru sārtham //

:anjali:
Aho! Buddho! Aho! Suddho! Aho! Saṃsuddhamānaso!
Aho! Aho! Mettāsindhu! Buddhaṃ taṃ paṇamāmyahaṃ!


Natthi me saraṅaṃ aññaṃ Buddho me saranaṃ varaṃ
For me there is no other refuge, the Buddha is my excellent refuge.

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Re: How many of you are solitary Buddhists?

Post by DNS » Fri Apr 14, 2017 3:26 am

No_Mind wrote: Hinduism made this distinction long back. A purohit is the ritual guy, a pandit is the theory guy (well versed in Sanskrit, Vedas, Upanishads), a sadhaka or yogi is the meditation guy. The three roles may or may not overlap depending on personal inclinations but purohits generally do not have any understanding of philosophical segments of Hinduism or meditation.
I think in Buddhism the monks have also gone into these 3 distinct roles with many just specializing in one of the three and some doing well in all three. A monk at an urban temple might mostly focus on pastoral duties, making him more of a ritual monk. Another at a rural retreat center might be more of a yogi, great meditator. And another monk who does great translation work, writing Dhamma books, might be a scholar-monk. In some cases a monk does all three roles.

Lay people don't do pastoral duties (normally) but can still work hard to get accomplished at Sutta studies and meditation practice.

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Re: How many of you are solitary Buddhists?

Post by paul » Fri Apr 14, 2017 9:56 am

In Thailand the scholar and temple monk wear an orange robe while the forest monk wears a brown one.

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Re: How many of you are solitary Buddhists?

Post by Goofaholix » Sat Apr 15, 2017 8:09 pm

No_Mind wrote:There is a Goenka center about 20 miles from where I live...
It sounds like Calcutta is much like any other city in a country where Buddhism is a minority... what's different is the glass half empty perspective.

If you need something that Calcutta can't provide then travel, like lot of people do.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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Re: How many of you are solitary Buddhists?

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Apr 15, 2017 8:33 pm

Hi No_Mind,
No_Mind wrote:There are no serious Buddhists in my city. I am completely alone in my practice.
Like Goofaholix, I tend to think this is a "glass half full" attitude. Goofaholix and I live in much smaller cities, with far fewer Buddhist centres, and that statement would be completely false for both of us.

I suspect that your definition of a "serious Buddhist" is so narrow that you would find it difficult to locate one anywhere.

I don't follow Goenka's approach, but I did do a Goenka retreat ten years ago and, in my opinion, ten days at a Goenka (or almost any other Buddhist-related retreat) would be enormously beneficial to your practice, as long as you approached it with an open mind, with the idea of learning something about yourself and the practice, not with the idea that "these are not real Buddhists", which would, of course, make a retreat completely pointless.

I find this idea that we should categorise different types of bhikkhus (and lay people?) quite amusing. At my local Wat there are some bhikkhus who act primarily as social workers. However, there are others who have done intensive meditation practice and have some very deep knowledge (though language is a barrier to me in some cases). Similarly with the lay people. Some, who are the sort that I believe you would dismiss as "not serious", clearly have a very strong practice once I have got to know them, and I feel privileged to spend time with such people.

:heart:
Mike

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Re: How many of you are solitary Buddhists?

Post by R1111 » Sat Apr 15, 2017 8:57 pm

Be very happy if you are a solitary Buddhist with access to SuttaCentral, Youtube, Accesstoinsight, Dhammawheel & various free online courses.
The only thing is that you should get in touch with some teacher who holds Right View and will teach you meditation, for some sort of Association with a Good Person is important.
Maha-suññata Sutta: The Greater Discourse on Emptiness
"Ananda, a monk does not shine if he delights in company, enjoys company, is committed to delighting in company; if he delights in a group, enjoys a group, rejoices in a group. Indeed, Ananda, it is impossible that a monk who delights in company, enjoys company, is committed to delighting in company; who delights in a group, enjoys a group, rejoices in a group, will obtain at will — without difficulty, without trouble — the pleasure of renunciation, the pleasure of seclusion, the pleasure of peace, the pleasure of self-awakening. But it is possible that a monk who lives alone, withdrawn from the group, can expect to obtain at will — without difficulty, without trouble — the pleasure of renunciation, the pleasure of seclusion, the pleasure of peace, the pleasure of self-awakening.

"Indeed, Ananda, it is impossible that a monk who delights in company, enjoys company, is committed to delighting in company; who delights in a group, enjoys a group, rejoices in a group, will enter & remain in the awareness-release that is temporary and pleasing, or in the awareness-release that is not-temporary and beyond provocation. But it is possible that a monk who lives alone, withdrawn from the group, can expect to enter & remain in the awareness-release that is temporary and pleasing, or in the awareness-release that is not-temporary and beyond provocation.

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Re: How many of you are solitary Buddhists?

Post by No_Mind » Sun Apr 16, 2017 4:58 am

Goofaholix wrote:
No_Mind wrote:There is a Goenka center about 20 miles from where I live...
It sounds like Calcutta is much like any other city in a country where Buddhism is a minority... what's different is the glass half empty perspective.

If you need something that Calcutta can't provide then travel, like lot of people do.
I am a poor man, stuck in a dead end job who looks after his geriatric mother and has disturbed sleep every night due to giant rats wandering about his home. If I could I would by this time have visited and spent time in Amaravati Monastery or Wat Pah Nanachat.

I am not complaining about being solitary Buddhist. You made a leading statement along with Will .. by suggesting names of places in Calcutta .. which required my response.

In response, I explained that when I visited those places I was told no Buddhist teaching/learning (of the type I want .. look below at Ajahn Jayasaro video) is possible in Calcutta .. most of all I was told by a member of Maha Bodhi Society (at least the impression I got was that he was a member and we were conversing on premises of Maha Bodhi Society .. maybe he was not a member .. but sure seemed so).

So why this glass half full accusation.

Why do you guys accuse so much? I asked a simple question .. why can you not respond like Aloka did .. to the point.
mikenz66 wrote:Hi No_Mind,
No_Mind wrote:There are no serious Buddhists in my city. I am completely alone in my practice.
Like Goofaholix, I tend to think this is a "glass half full" attitude. Goofaholix and I live in much smaller cities, with far fewer Buddhist centres, and that statement would be completely false for both of us.

I suspect that your definition of a "serious Buddhist" is so narrow that you would find it difficult to locate one anywhere.
This is a "real" retreat .. I know it sounds odd

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyXQFsDcGmA

I believe what I am referring to is interaction between a learned guru and learned sangha

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywN_WmtbDQ0

The biggest obstacle to Dhamma is having an attitude. Some may be lucky enough to be born without one but quite a few in this forum (including me) have an attitude (or ego). To break that you need a good guru. If you have seen my posts after the "dripping blood" fiasco a month ago you would find I am starting to develop Right Speech but still lacking right attitude.

Problem with self taught Buddhists is most often they mistake being weak and submissive as being a Buddhist. That is as much a fault as assertiveness. And quite a few here display extreme meekness (probably tending to gravitate unconsciously towards Beatitudes due to their Christian upbringing).

Buddha's teachings are highly nuanced .. and walks a fine line between righteous war against a-Dharma being good Karma as suggested by Hinduism and extreme meekness being good Karma as suggested by Christianity (early Christian martyrs, Perpetua and Felicity, helping Roman soldiers to thrust a sword into their neck when the soldiers hesitated).
I don't follow Goenka's approach, but I did do a Goenka retreat ten years ago and, in my opinion, ten days at a Goenka (or almost any other Buddhist-related retreat) would be enormously beneficial to your practice, as long as you approached it with an open mind, with the idea of learning something about yourself and the practice, not with the idea that "these are not real Buddhists", which would, of course, make a retreat completely pointless.
I am not saying Goenka retreats are pointless. Of course they are good. I am saying they focus on only two of the Eight Fold Path, Right Mindfulness and Concentration. There are six others.

Understanding what is the right way to live .. always the middle way between extremes. That can only come from a proper guru and proper sangha.

There is of course a distinction between real Buddhists and unreal Buddhists. You probably have not met those who chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo at top of their voice and claim they are Buddhists (referring to ever growing numbers of an international religious organization) who infest meditation retreats .. at least in India that is the case .. I do not know much about Buddhism and with my attitude of a pit bull do not appear to be a Buddhist but my heart is in the right place and I know my Cula-sihanada Sutta from my Diamond Sutra. I do not believe chanting a mantra loudly at 7 PM everyday will align me with cosmic laws.

In India many attend a meditation retreat as something to be put on a curriculum vitae (literally .. every little bit helps in a competitive job market). It is like a fashion accessory here .. a talking point at dinner parties .. "I did a vipassana course and I feel so calm."

Not to say there are no serious Buddhists In India but how many .. about thirty logged into DW in past six months .. but none of them wrote a single word. Means they do not have a clue or because Buddhism is a phase they are passing through.
I find this idea that we should categorise different types of bhikkhus (and lay people?) quite amusing. At my local Wat there are some bhikkhus who act primarily as social workers. However, there are others who have done intensive meditation practice and have some very deep knowledge (though language is a barrier to me in some cases). Similarly with the lay people. Some, who are the sort that I believe you would dismiss as "not serious", clearly have a very strong practice once I have got to know them, and I feel privileged to spend time with such people.
I do not need such categorization, you do not, David does not, Sarath does not .. but 80 percent of Western Buddhists do. They assume any person in an ochre robe with shaven head can meditate like Venerable Pesala and possesses expert knowledge of scriptures like Venerable Dhammanando.

In fact once I got into an argument with a newly ordained monk (four months ordained) from US because he kept referring to himself as an Ajahn. I said you are not an Ajahn .. he said well the monks who ordained me said I am an Ajahn!!

:namaste:
I know one thing: that I know nothing

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