How legitimate is S. N. Goenka's method of vipassanā meditation?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
paul
Posts: 1188
Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 11:27 pm
Location: Vietnam

Re: How legitimate is S. N. Goenka's method of vipassanā meditation?

Post by paul » Mon Jan 01, 2018 7:00 am

Piya Tan’s analysis of SN 47.3 reveals exactly what one would expect the Buddha to say to a beginner, “view that is straight” refers to the mundane right view of cause and effect:

“The Saṁyutta Commentary explains the phrase diṭṭhi ca ujuka (“the view that is straight”) as referring to the view of one’s ownership of karma (kamma-s,sakatā,diṭṭhi) (SA 3:199) [§3c], that is, we are responsible for our own actions. A fuller statement of this right view is given in a number of discourses, such as the Cūḷa Kamma,vibhaṅga Sutta (M 135)”—-Dharmafarers.

Putting this into a practical sense, we have two options in every situation, renunciation or indulgence. Indulgence brings immediate gratification, while renunciation brings long-term path progress. The connection between acts of renunciation and their results can never be seen without a belief and working knowledge of cause and effect, that’s why mundane right view is crucial to the beginning stage of the path.

Both mundane right view and superior right view are progressively developed:

“This right view that penetrates the Four Noble Truths comes at the end of the path, not at the beginning. We have to start with the right view conforming to the truths, acquired through learning and fortified through reflection. This view inspires us to take up the practice, to embark on the threefold training in moral discipline, concentration, and wisdom. When the training matures, the eye of wisdom opens by itself, penetrating the truths and freeing the mind from bondage.” —-“The Noble Eightfold Path”, Bikkhu Bodhi.
Last edited by paul on Tue Jan 02, 2018 9:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 20039
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: How legitimate is S. N. Goenka's method of vipassanā meditation?

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Jan 01, 2018 7:59 am

Greetings,

In relation to "view that is straight", we have this from the Sutta Pitaka itself... specifically MN 9: Sammaditthi Sutta: The Discourse on Right View
"'One of right view, one of right view' is said, friends. In what way is a noble disciple one of right view, whose view is straight, who has perfect confidence in the Dhamma, and has arrived at this true Dhamma?"

"Indeed, friend, we would come from far away to learn from the Venerable Sariputta the meaning of this statement. It would be good if the Venerable Sariputta would explain the meaning of this statement. Having heard it from him, the bhikkhus will remember it."

"Then, friends, listen and attend closely to what I shall say."

"Yes, friend," the bhikkhus replied. The Venerable Sariputta said this:......"
What follows are five different ways in which a noble disciple can be one of right view via "understanding" of either:

- The wholesome and the unwholesome (which accords with the commentarial analysis provided above by Paul)
- Nutriment
- The Four Noble Truths
- Paticcasamuppada (split by each component)
- Taints

However, no mention of Right View coming about via other means. This should be unsurprising, as the Buddha himself said...
AN 2.126 wrote:"Monks, there are these two conditions for the arising of right view. Which two? The voice of another and appropriate attention. These are the two conditions for the arising of right view."
Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

User avatar
robertk
Posts: 2825
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:08 am

Re: How legitimate is S. N. Goenka's method of vipassanā meditation?

Post by robertk » Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:42 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 7:59 am
Greetings,
(split by each component)
-
AN 2.126 wrote:"Monks, there are these two conditions for the arising of right view. Which two? The voice of another and appropriate attention. These are the two conditions for the arising of right view."
Metta,
Paul. :)
And here I thought it began with focussing on a spot on top of the head to feel the vibrations and sensations.
:tongue:

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 16426
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: How legitimate is S. N. Goenka's method of vipassanā meditation?

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:03 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 5:35 am
Greetings,
mikenz66 wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 5:27 am
There is clearly development of samadhi if he is free of hindrances.
Yet, there he is listening to a Dhamma talk, attaining nobility.
AN 5.202 wrote:"There are these five rewards in listening to the Dhamma. Which five?

"One hears what one has not heard before. One clarifies what one has heard before. One gets rid of doubt. One's views are made straight. One's mind grows serene.

"These are the five rewards in listening to the Dhamma."
:buddha1:

Metta,
Paul. :)
Ok. We obviously read that paragraph very differently. It's clear Upali develops significant samadhi during whatever instructions are being given, so I would hardly characterise it as just listening to a talk.

Mike

User avatar
SilaSamadhi
Posts: 30
Joined: Thu Sep 21, 2017 6:58 pm

Re: How legitimate is S. N. Goenka's method of vipassanā meditation?

Post by SilaSamadhi » Mon Jan 01, 2018 3:11 pm

paul wrote:
Sun Dec 31, 2017 9:11 pm
Mindfulness of feeling is seen to be central to the four foundations of mindfulness when they are simplified into three, i.e. body, feelings and mind (including both state of mind and phenomena or objects of mind), where feelings constitute a transition between body and mind. Although it is orthodox to begin with the body as the most easily-observed foundation, a practice must organically move to a more comprehensive awareness of all four foundations
Thank you for the detailed reply. You say the main problem with Goenka's method is that it only practices mindfulness of the body, but doesn't practice mindfulness of feelings or mind. That is, only 1 out of of the 3 simplified foundations of mindfulness.

Is there a different technique I could learn, that will address all 3 foundations?

paul
Posts: 1188
Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 11:27 pm
Location: Vietnam

Re: How legitimate is S. N. Goenka's method of vipassanā meditation?

Post by paul » Mon Jan 01, 2018 4:19 pm

Follow classical Theravada by reading books by Thanissaro and Bikkhu Bodhi, such as "The Noble Eightfold Path" (latter). There is no quick way, it consists of developing knowledge followed by verifying experiential penetration. The dhamma is an existing law and ultimately the practitioner must prove it for themselves. The Buddha said that the way is subtle, and he doubted the ordinary person's ability to comprehend it.

"Right view, as explained in the commentary to the Sammaditthi Sutta, has a variety of aspects, but it might best be considered as twofold: conceptual right view, which is the intellectual grasp of the principles enunciated in the Buddha's teaching, and experiential right view, which is the wisdom that arises by direct penetration of the teaching. Conceptual right view, also called the right view in conformity with the truths (saccanulomika-sammaditthi), is a correct conceptual understanding of the Dhamma arrived at by study of the Buddha's teachings and deep examination of their meaning. Such understanding, though conceptual rather than experiential, is not dry and sterile. When rooted in faith in the Triple Gem and driven by a keen aspiration to realize the truth embedded in the formulated principles of the Dhamma, it serves as a critical phase in the development of wisdom (pañña), for it provides the germ out of which experiential right view gradually evolves.

Experiential right view is the penetration of the truth of the teaching in one's own immediate experience. Thus it is also called right view that penetrates the truths (saccapativedha-sammaditthi). This type of right view is aroused by the practice of insight meditation guided by a correct conceptual understanding of the Dhamma. To arrive at direct penetration, one must begin with a correct conceptual grasp of the teaching and transform that grasp from intellectual comprehension to direct perception by cultivating the threefold training in morality, concentration and wisdom. If conceptual right view can be compared to a hand, a hand that grasps the truth by way of concepts, then experiential right view can be compared to an eye — the eye of wisdom that sees directly into the true nature of existence ordinarily hidden from us by our greed, aversion and delusion." ---"The Discourse on Right View", Nanamoli edited and revised by Bikkhu Bodhi.

The first dynamic to be proved is that of identifying the results of acts of renunciation according to the law of cause and effect.

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 20039
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: How legitimate is S. N. Goenka's method of vipassanā meditation?

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:09 pm

Greetings SS,
SilaSamadhi wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 3:11 pm
Is there a different technique I could learn, that will address all 3 foundations?
When you're blessed to know of the Satipatthana Sutta, which the Buddha taught, I'm puzzled by the desire to seek a "technique" which the Buddha didn't teach, which would essentially cover the same ground?

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

User avatar
rightviewftw
Posts: 1773
Joined: Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:50 pm

Re: How legitimate is S. N. Goenka's method of vipassanā meditation?

Post by rightviewftw » Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:44 pm

You could learn about the other Satipatthana based Burmese method and get a better Idea of what makes Satipatthana practice. Burmese method is practiced in Burma, Sri Lanka and parts of Thailand

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 16426
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: How legitimate is S. N. Goenka's method of vipassanā meditation?

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Jan 02, 2018 2:10 am

rightviewftw wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:44 pm
You could learn about the other Satipatthana based Burmese method and get a better Idea of what makes Satipatthana practice. Burmese method is practiced in Burma, Sri Lanka and parts of Thailand
And find a teacher you have confidence in, as per the tests described in the suttas.
https://suttacentral.net/en/mn95
Everyone recorded in the suttas who made progress had excellent instruction.

Mike

paul
Posts: 1188
Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 11:27 pm
Location: Vietnam

Re: How legitimate is S. N. Goenka's method of vipassanā meditation?

Post by paul » Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:38 am

The Visuddhimagga advocates finding a teacher, but the very fact that it is a meditation manual suggests it is intended to be used for independent study. In any case the advent of the internet and books being widely available supersedes the need for the physical presence of a teacher, and access to the best Theravada minds is directly available through those sources. Furthermore, the final certainty that a dhamma conceptualization is accurate comes not from any teacher or media, but from personal experiential realisation of it, which is founded on an observation of cause and effect.

Regarding the first foundation of mindfulness, this statement is made in the Satipatthana sutta, DN 22:

“In this way he remains focussed internally on the body in and of itself, or externally on the body in and of itself, or both internally and externally on the body in and of itself.”

“Body” includes all materiality, beginning with the physical body, but extending to external materiality since the four foundations are closely equated with the five khandha and there ‘corporality’ is defined as anything depending on the four primary elements (SN 22:56). In terms of the interrelationship between the four foundations, mindfulness of the body is described as the post to which the mind is tethered (SN 35: 206), and so that post can legitimately include external conventional reality and activities of the body as the subject on which the mind ponders, but this must be through the frame of renunciation, so employing the three components of mindfulness- attention, memory and effort.

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 16426
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: How legitimate is S. N. Goenka's method of vipassanā meditation?

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Jan 03, 2018 3:22 am

paul wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:38 am
In any case the advent of the internet and books being widely available supersedes the need for the physical presence of a teacher, and access to the best Theravada minds is directly available through those sources. Furthermore, the final certainty that a dhamma conceptualization is accurate comes not from any teacher or media, but from personal experiential realisation of it, which is founded on an observation of cause and effect.
Certainly books and the Internet has made it easier to get better access to some details, but what they don't do, and what a real-life teacher can do is call out the bullshit in the conceptualization of one's experience. That's not something one is likely to get from reading, listening to talks, or chatting on the Internet. Of course, in forums like this we see plenty of views on practice being thrown around, which I sometimes find interesting, but it's nothing like interactions with someone who really knows me, and who I really trust.

And, of course, noone here should trust my opinions... :tongue:

:heart:
Mike

User avatar
SilaSamadhi
Posts: 30
Joined: Thu Sep 21, 2017 6:58 pm

Re: How legitimate is S. N. Goenka's method of vipassanā meditation?

Post by SilaSamadhi » Wed Jan 03, 2018 3:25 am

paul wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:38 am
and access to the best Theravada minds is directly available through those sources.
Who, in your opinion, are the "best Theravada minds", both in general and in the field of meditation specifically?

Also, for those who advise I read the Satipatthana sutta myself: I respectfully submit that I am not qualified to understand it by myself, certainly not sufficiently to establish a proper practice based on my own reading of it.

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 16426
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: How legitimate is S. N. Goenka's method of vipassanā meditation?

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Jan 03, 2018 3:29 am

paul wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:38 am
“Body” includes all materiality, beginning with the physical body, but extending to external materiality ...
Yes, and I would add that it seems to be a Western philosophical and "sprituality" thing that divides experience into "mental" and "physical", with the "mental" or "spiritual" being the superior, important part. I don't really see that division in the suttas, though I've seen in claimed that the Commentaries tend to take that approach. Clearly, emotions involve both mental and physical aspects. One gets upset, gets hot and bothered, breaths harder, etc, etc. Besides citta may be reasonably translated as heart-mind.

Ironically, modern neuro- and other related scientists have mostly done away with the distinction, by considering the mind as just the functioning of part of the body (the brain). Perhaps that's a good thing - knocking the mind off it's pedestal.

:heart:
Mike

paul
Posts: 1188
Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 11:27 pm
Location: Vietnam

Re: How legitimate is S. N. Goenka's method of vipassanā meditation?

Post by paul » Wed Jan 03, 2018 4:57 am

The Satipatthana sutta should form the central focus and it can only be understood through reading the commentators, Bikkhu Bodhi, Ven. Analayo, Thanissaro Bikkhu, listed in the order they are easiest to read.

Saengnapha
Posts: 1350
Joined: Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:17 am

Re: How legitimate is S. N. Goenka's method of vipassanā meditation?

Post by Saengnapha » Wed Jan 03, 2018 6:20 am

SilaSamadhi wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 3:25 am
paul wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:38 am
and access to the best Theravada minds is directly available through those sources.
Who, in your opinion, are the "best Theravada minds", both in general and in the field of meditation specifically?

Also, for those who advise I read the Satipatthana sutta myself: I respectfully submit that I am not qualified to understand it by myself, certainly not sufficiently to establish a proper practice based on my own reading of it.
I think this question of 'best Theravada minds' is not so easy to answer. Personally, I find Bhante Punnaji's way of introducing Buddhadhamma and the ensuing path to be the clearest I have come across. He explains things very well and gets to the heart of the matter in a way that I don't hear other teachers bringing forth. He resides in Malaysia but still gets around at 89 years of age. Lots of good material on youtube with links to more. Buddhism is a lot more than Vipassana meditation. Without the correct orientation first, mediation will not be so effective. Good luck to you.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], form, Google [Bot], Yahoo [Bot] and 84 guests