Is this a fair critique of goenka?

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hermitwin
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Is this a fair critique of goenka?

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tiltbillings
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Re: Is this a fair critique of goenka?

Post by tiltbillings »

No.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

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Mkoll
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Re: Is this a fair critique of goenka?

Post by Mkoll »

Another guy who calls the Buddha "Mr"? Is this a new trend?
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
randall
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Re: Is this a fair critique of goenka?

Post by randall »

no, it's not a fair critique.
Bakmoon
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Re: Is this a fair critique of goenka?

Post by Bakmoon »

To be rather blunt about it, I think that the author's critique really fails to understand very much about how the Goenka method relates to Buddhist principles. He organizes it saying:
Vipassana meditation as taught by Mr Goenka and his appointees is a highly selective and subjective interpretation of Mr Siddharth Gautam’s teaching.

There are strong memetic and cultist aspects in the organization established by Mr Goenka and in the retreats held by it.

There are very serious shortcomings with the technique itself. The technique can precipitate and exacerbate Depersonalization, a dissociative disorder (as defined in DSM-IV)

There is a high degree of theory and orthodoxy in the description and rationalization of the technique.

As in any institution promising evolution, people quickly organize themselves into a hierarchical and comparative setup and it is quite evident in Vipassana.

The benefits claimed to be the results of this technique need to be re-examined.
I don't think any of that is really fair. All meditation instructions are going to be subjective because they involve matters of interpretation and are usually based on either one's own personal experience, or the accumulated experience of a teaching lineage. The Buddha taught in general terms and left individuals to apply them to their own meditation practice as they saw fit. Goenka's technique is a perfectly sensible application of mindfulness of the body, Kayagatasati.

I really think it's unfair to cast aspersions on Goenka as being part of some cult. They are a bit centralized in their structure, but that doesn't make them a cult. The Catholic Church is strongly centrally organized too, but I don't think you can call the Catholic Church a cult. Cults do more than just have a particular style of administration. Cults control and restrict their members, and quite often push them into giving them a lot of money as well. As for being memetic, I don't see how that's really a criticism. Memetic just means that something is an idea that spreads from person to person, which includes all kinds of teaching.

As for depersonalization, I'll say that is not anything that Buddhism doesn't already know about. It's talked about in the Visuddhimagga starting with knowledge of dissolution, and it's a part of the meditation practice that goes away over time.

I don't see how the rest of it can be really considered criticism even.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.
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mikenz66
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Re: Is this a fair critique of goenka?

Post by mikenz66 »

Bakmoon wrote: I don't think any of that is really fair. All meditation instructions are going to be subjective because they involve matters of interpretation and are usually based on either one's own personal experience, or the accumulated experience of a teaching lineage. The Buddha taught in general terms and left individuals to apply them to their own meditation practice as they saw fit. Goenka's technique is a perfectly sensible application of mindfulness of the body, Kayagatasati.
I totally agree. "This exact sequence of actions is not in the Suttas" applies to every teacher and commentator from the Buddha's time to the present day. Sadly, despite the obvious sillyness of the idea, I could probably find that same criticism of almost every Buddhist teacher somewhere on this Forum.... :?

:anjali:
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Ben
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Re: Is this a fair critique of goenka?

Post by Ben »

Mkoll wrote:Another guy who calls the Buddha "Mr"? Is this a new trend?
I suspect it's the same guy.
As to the OP, the only relevant critique is one's own. "Ehi passiko" and all that...
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Mkoll
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Re: Is this a fair critique of goenka?

Post by Mkoll »

Ben wrote:
Mkoll wrote:Another guy who calls the Buddha "Mr"? Is this a new trend?
I suspect it's the same guy.
As to the OP, the only relevant critique is one's own. "Ehi passiko" and all that...
We must be thinking of different people. ;) The one I'm thinking of appeared to revere Mr. Goenka and his technique as much as (or more than) the Buddha so I doubt he'd write a critique of him. Views do change though...
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
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Ben
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Re: Is this a fair critique of goenka?

Post by Ben »

Mkoll wrote:
Ben wrote:
Mkoll wrote:Another guy who calls the Buddha "Mr"? Is this a new trend?
I suspect it's the same guy.
As to the OP, the only relevant critique is one's own. "Ehi passiko" and all that...
We must be thinking of different people. ;) The one I'm thinking of appeared to revere Mr. Goenka and his technique as much as (or more than) the Buddha so I doubt he'd write a critique of him. Views do change though...
Perhaps you are right, James.
I am recovering from a week trekking in the mountains and am still fatigued.
With metta,
Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..
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Dhammanando
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Re: Is this a fair critique of goenka?

Post by Dhammanando »

Mkoll wrote:Another guy who calls the Buddha "Mr"? Is this a new trend?
It's actually a longstanding habit among those Dalit Buddhists who have a limited command of English. In their native tongues they refer to our teacher as Śrī Buddha (Hindi: श्री बुद्ध), which is respectful enough, as śrī in a religious context is about the equivalent of 'lord'. But in everyday usage śrī and śrīmatī mean Mr. and Mrs.
Svākkhātaṃ brahmacariyaṃ, sandiṭṭhikam’akālikaṃ,
Yattha amoghā pabbajjā, appamattassa sikkhato.


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directly visible, immediate,
Where not in vain is the going forth
of one who trains heedfully.”
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Mkoll
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Re: Is this a fair critique of goenka?

Post by Mkoll »

Dhammanando wrote:
Mkoll wrote:Another guy who calls the Buddha "Mr"? Is this a new trend?
It's actually a longstanding habit among those Dalit Buddhists who have a limited command of English. In their native tongues they refer to our teacher as Śrī Buddha (Hindi: श्री बुद्ध), which is respectful enough, as śrī in a religious context is about the equivalent of 'lord'. But in everyday usage śrī and śrīmatī mean Mr. and Mrs.
Interesting! Thanks for that bit of info, Bhante.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
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anjali
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Re: Is this a fair critique of goenka?

Post by anjali »

Mkoll wrote:
Dhammanando wrote:
Mkoll wrote:Another guy who calls the Buddha "Mr"? Is this a new trend?
It's actually a longstanding habit among those Dalit Buddhists who have a limited command of English. In their native tongues they refer to our teacher as Śrī Buddha (Hindi: श्री बुद्ध), which is respectful enough, as śrī in a religious context is about the equivalent of 'lord'. But in everyday usage śrī and śrīmatī mean Mr. and Mrs.
Interesting! Thanks for that bit of info, Bhante.
That is interesting. When I think of "Mr. Buddha", I think of Buddha in a business suit.
mrbuddha.jpg
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:) Off topic, but fun. Now back to your regularly scheduled program.
hermitwin
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Re: Is this a fair critique of goenka?

Post by hermitwin »

Would any bikkhus care to chip in?
Esp concerning how goenka preaches the superiority of his 'technique'.
Is it consistent with the suttas?
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mikenz66
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Re: Is this a fair critique of goenka?

Post by mikenz66 »

hermitwin wrote:Would any bikkhus care to chip in?
Esp concerning how goenka preaches the superiority of his 'technique'.
This is hardly unique to Goenka. Unfortunately seems to be an undercurrent in the statements of many teachers, including a number of Bhikkhus...
hermitwin wrote: Is it consistent with the suttas?
The basics involve mindfulness of breathing, and mindfulness of sensations and feelings. Since the suttas don't go into any details of how exactly one should be mindful of feelings, I think that it would be difficult to argue that scanning for feelings was any less consistent with the suttas than some other way of being mindful of feelings that one could dream up...

:anjali:
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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Is this a fair critique of goenka?

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala »

hermitwin wrote:Would any bhikkhus care to chip in?
The right path (the Noble Eightfold Path) is found in the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta. That discourse includes numerous techniques for developing concentration and mindfulness — mindfulness of respiration, clear comprehension of all daily activities, mindfulness of the four postures, contemplation of the 32 body parts, contemplation of corpses in various states of decay, analysis of the body in terms of the four elements, mindfulness of feelings, thoughts, and mental objects. Different meditation objects suit different individuals. One does not need to use all of the meditation techniques included in the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta — one should select a suitable object to develop concentration.

In the introduction to that discourse, the Buddha says this is the only path (or the direct path) for attaining the right method (ñāyassa adhigamāya), namely: the four foundations of mindfulness. That is, without being mindful it is not possible to find the right path.

There are several famous meditation methods that have acquired a significant following in modern times. Any of these may be taught well or taught badly, any of them may be practised well or practised badly. The student's responsibility is to make a thorough investigation to ensure that the method being taught complies with the Buddha's instructions and then to follow the teacher's instructions if they are authentic.

If a teacher says, “Only practise with me. Do not visit other teachers,” then that is a strong indication that the teacher is a leader of a cult, or very insecure about his or her own understanding of the Dhamma. If a teacher says, “If you want to practise with me, please follow my instructions carefully, and don't mix my instructions with other methods,” then that is not the sign of a cult.

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