SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

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SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by pilgrim » Sun Apr 08, 2018 3:06 am

I was reading the bios of monastics at Abhayagiri, USA and was struck by the large number of monastics there whose introduction to the Dhamma was thru Goenka retreats. I found this is also true of many western monastics who encountered the Dhamma outside SE Asia (another eg, both the founders of the Belgium Bhikkhuni monastery were also Goenka introducees).

It is ironic that Goenka repeatedly stressed that he does not teach any sectarian religion but has unintentionally, become one of the most successful Dhammadutas of Theravada in the west. Without doubt, his strategy of teaching an orthodox meditation technique without the trappings of Buddhism made it attractive and accessible to thousands who may initially be uninterested in strange religions or who otherwise will not explore Buddhism. As a result his retreats act like a great Dhamma door ( to borrow a Mahayana expression).
:anjali:

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by DNS » Sun Apr 08, 2018 3:54 am

:thumbsup: I agree, he was very good for Dhamma propagation. Like any famous or semi-famous person though, he has detractors who disagree with his methods, see:
viewtopic.php?f=22&t=28041

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by JamesTheGiant » Sun Apr 08, 2018 3:54 am

Yes, as many as maybe 15% of monks I met in Australia had their first experience of meditation and semi-Buddhism through the Goenka vipassana courses, including me. Although only one of 50 or so still used the technique as Goenkaji taught it.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Apr 08, 2018 7:41 pm

My first longish, strict retreat was a Goenka retreat in Hong Kong. Since I already had a Buddhist practice, had been to several weekend events with famous and not so famous teachers, and had studied quite a lot, I was a little puzzled by the insistence that it "wasn't Buddhism", since the Dhamma talks seems relatively standard (Noble Tuths, 8-fold Path, Dependent Origination, etc). Of course, they had their own unique spin, just as talks by various other teachers do... And, as with some other teachers, the insistence that this was "the pristine method of the Buddha" was a little grating. However, it was great to have a well-organised retreat where one could just get on with practice. I learned a lot from the experience, but soon returned to my usual (Mahasi-style) practice.

There were a couple of Westerners on the course who had been in China for some time studying Tai Chi and so on, so had their own, somewhat different practice. At the end of the course (when you get to talk), they expressed surprise about how much Buddhist doctrine there was in the talks!

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by thepea » Sat May 12, 2018 12:55 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 7:41 pm
I was a little puzzled by the insistence that it "wasn't Buddhism “
I came to Goenka from a Theravada beginning. I was interested in meditation but found all the statues bowing chanting flowers incense, Sinhalese language, to be very foreign and off putting. It was a great distraction to me and I never had the feeling of belonging to this group. This is what I consider the religious aspects of Buddhism. I liked the Goenka way of eliminating this and also that it was in English, it seemed very practice orientated with out any additional stuff. It is very much Buddha’s teachings but not Buddhism. I know this view is difficult for many here to understand I also do not feel accepted here at dhamma wheel because I am not Buddhist.

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by Saengnapha » Sun May 13, 2018 3:47 am

thepea wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 12:55 pm
mikenz66 wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 7:41 pm
I was a little puzzled by the insistence that it "wasn't Buddhism “
I came to Goenka from a Theravada beginning. I was interested in meditation but found all the statues bowing chanting flowers incense, Sinhalese language, to be very foreign and off putting. It was a great distraction to me and I never had the feeling of belonging to this group. This is what I consider the religious aspects of Buddhism. I liked the Goenka way of eliminating this and also that it was in English, it seemed very practice orientated with out any additional stuff. It is very much Buddha’s teachings but not Buddhism. I know this view is difficult for many here to understand I also do not feel accepted here at dhamma wheel because I am not Buddhist.
I am not Buddhist, either. It doesn't mean we can't appreciate the wisdom of the buddha. You will not be accepted by Buddhists. Is it your limitation or theirs?

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by Saengnapha » Sun May 13, 2018 3:51 am

pilgrim wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 3:06 am
I was reading the bios of monastics at Abhayagiri, USA and was struck by the large number of monastics there whose introduction to the Dhamma was thru Goenka retreats. I found this is also true of many western monastics who encountered the Dhamma outside SE Asia (another eg, both the founders of the Belgium Bhikkhuni monastery were also Goenka introducees).

It is ironic that Goenka repeatedly stressed that he does not teach any sectarian religion but has unintentionally, become one of the most successful Dhammadutas of Theravada in the west. Without doubt, his strategy of teaching an orthodox meditation technique without the trappings of Buddhism made it attractive and accessible to thousands who may initially be uninterested in strange religions or who otherwise will not explore Buddhism. As a result his retreats act like a great Dhamma door ( to borrow a Mahayana expression).
:anjali:
I know someone who has been doing Goenka retreats in India for almost 50 years. He insists he is not a Buddhist and never studies Buddhist scripture as it is taught in Theravada.

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by Sam Vara » Sun May 13, 2018 6:37 am

Saengnapha wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 3:47 am
I am not Buddhist, either. It doesn't mean we can't appreciate the wisdom of the buddha. You will not be accepted by Buddhists. Is it your limitation or theirs?
"You will not be accepted by Buddhists": that's an interesting prediction that could do with a bit more analysis. What does "acceptance" mean in this context? And do you mean that Thepea will not be accepted by all Buddhists, or merely by some of them?

It's worth noting, for example, that one does not have to be "a Buddhist" to post here on DW. And non-Buddhists have always been accepted with kindness at monasteries and viharas I have known.

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by Saengnapha » Sun May 13, 2018 6:49 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 6:37 am
Saengnapha wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 3:47 am
I am not Buddhist, either. It doesn't mean we can't appreciate the wisdom of the buddha. You will not be accepted by Buddhists. Is it your limitation or theirs?
"You will not be accepted by Buddhists": that's an interesting prediction that could do with a bit more analysis. What does "acceptance" mean in this context? And do you mean that Thepea will not be accepted by all Buddhists, or merely by some of them?

It's worth noting, for example, that one does not have to be "a Buddhist" to post here on DW. And non-Buddhists have always been accepted with kindness at monasteries and viharas I have known.
Yes, sorry I didn't word that precisely enough for you. But you can choose which choice you think I meant, all, or merely by some of them. ;)

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by Sam Vara » Sun May 13, 2018 6:55 am

Saengnapha wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 6:49 am
Sam Vara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 6:37 am
Saengnapha wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 3:47 am
I am not Buddhist, either. It doesn't mean we can't appreciate the wisdom of the buddha. You will not be accepted by Buddhists. Is it your limitation or theirs?
"You will not be accepted by Buddhists": that's an interesting prediction that could do with a bit more analysis. What does "acceptance" mean in this context? And do you mean that Thepea will not be accepted by all Buddhists, or merely by some of them?

It's worth noting, for example, that one does not have to be "a Buddhist" to post here on DW. And non-Buddhists have always been accepted with kindness at monasteries and viharas I have known.
Yes, sorry I didn't word that precisely enough for you. But you can choose which choice you think I meant, all, or merely by some of them. ;)
I'd rather that you specified what you mean. Reading one's own interpretation into another person's words is a recipe for misunderstanding.

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by Saengnapha » Sun May 13, 2018 11:07 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 6:55 am
Saengnapha wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 6:49 am
Sam Vara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 6:37 am


"You will not be accepted by Buddhists": that's an interesting prediction that could do with a bit more analysis. What does "acceptance" mean in this context? And do you mean that Thepea will not be accepted by all Buddhists, or merely by some of them?

It's worth noting, for example, that one does not have to be "a Buddhist" to post here on DW. And non-Buddhists have always been accepted with kindness at monasteries and viharas I have known.
Yes, sorry I didn't word that precisely enough for you. But you can choose which choice you think I meant, all, or merely by some of them. ;)
I'd rather that you specified what you mean. Reading one's own interpretation into another person's words is a recipe for misunderstanding.
It seems you do that with all my posts. :cry:

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by thepea » Sun May 13, 2018 11:24 am

Saengnapha wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 3:47 am
I am not Buddhist, either. It doesn't mean we can't appreciate the wisdom of the buddha. You will not be accepted by Buddhists. Is it your limitation or theirs?
Yes I agree that Buddha’s teachings are for all and that they are not “Buddhist” the path has nothing to do with any organized religion.
Mr Goenka repeats this time and time again in discourses, along with many other non Buddhist ideologies. It is quite clear that he was not a Buddhist and had no desire to be equated with any organized religion.
But still buddhists either wish to separate themselves from his teachings or are very eager to incorporate these teachings as Buddhist and also garden variety theravaden.
This has been the prominent view here at dhamma wheel by past moderation and punishable by banishment if anyone opposed these views. Now those moderators are gone and I am once again expressing my opposition to this view that Goenka vipassana is Buddhism. As it is NOT and never will be no matter how much similarity it has to some theravaden religious teachings.

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by thepea » Sun May 13, 2018 11:49 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 6:37 am

It's worth noting, for example, that one does not have to be "a Buddhist" to post here on DW.
True but this does not mean that views are accepted and it is often stated as why a non Buddhist is here when this is a Buddhist forum.
But then why is Goenka vipassana considered Buddhist teachings when it is clearly stated by it founder that it is not?
Also viharas may be open to non buddhists but they are not open to ideas that unify religion. Most viharas are technique driven and oppose other techniques. At least this has been my experience with them. If membership is Sri lanken then a strong emphasis is placed on jhana before insight meditation. Usually in discussions there is a very studios outspoken member who controls the discussion and it can be difficult to share your own views which may conflict with theirs. I stayed for a couple years at a. Vihara and watched many Goenka meditators come and leave frustrated with the lack of open communication.

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by Sam Vara » Sun May 13, 2018 2:27 pm

Saengnapha wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 11:07 am
Sam Vara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 6:55 am
I'd rather that you specified what you mean. Reading one's own interpretation into another person's words is a recipe for misunderstanding.
It seems you do that with all my posts. :cry:
I don't think I do. I often ask for clarificatin, but if there is anything that I have misunderstood then feel free to provide a correction.

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by Saengnapha » Sun May 13, 2018 2:41 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 2:27 pm
Saengnapha wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 11:07 am
Sam Vara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 6:55 am
I'd rather that you specified what you mean. Reading one's own interpretation into another person's words is a recipe for misunderstanding.
It seems you do that with all my posts. :cry:
I don't think I do. I often ask for clarificatin, but if there is anything that I have misunderstood then feel free to provide a correction.
You seem to take offense at my 'corrections'. Do you think there is any possibility that you are wrong?

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by Sam Vara » Sun May 13, 2018 2:59 pm

Saengnapha wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 2:41 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 2:27 pm
Saengnapha wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 11:07 am

It seems you do that with all my posts. :cry:
I don't think I do. I often ask for clarificatin, but if there is anything that I have misunderstood then feel free to provide a correction.
You seem to take offense at my 'corrections'. Do you think there is any possibility that you are wrong?
I'm not taking offence at all. What makes you think that I am offended? But if clarifications don't provide any improvement on what went before, then I'll point that out too. I'm all for getting somewhere in debate, rather than just circling around without progress.

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by Saengnapha » Sun May 13, 2018 3:16 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 2:59 pm
Saengnapha wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 2:41 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 2:27 pm


I don't think I do. I often ask for clarificatin, but if there is anything that I have misunderstood then feel free to provide a correction.
You seem to take offense at my 'corrections'. Do you think there is any possibility that you are wrong?
I'm not taking offence at all. What makes you think that I am offended? But if clarifications don't provide any improvement on what went before, then I'll point that out too. I'm all for getting somewhere in debate, rather than just circling around without progress.
I don't think you are looking for clarifications. You seem to be looking for agreement with what you think. You don't accept any kind of clarification I may offer and answer questions with questions and are very vague when asking me any question, usually talking in generalities. I sense you are trying to prove a point but I cannot fathom what that point might be. If you are trying to discuss something specific with me, ask me a real question. I think my posts were in response to thepea's posts.

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by Sam Vara » Sun May 13, 2018 3:36 pm

Saengnapha wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 3:16 pm
I don't think you are looking for clarifications. You seem to be looking for agreement with what you think. You don't accept any kind of clarification I may offer and answer questions with questions and are very vague when asking me any question, usually talking in generalities. I sense you are trying to prove a point but I cannot fathom what that point might be. If you are trying to discuss something specific with me, ask me a real question. I think my posts were in response to thepea's posts.
I am indeed looking for clarifications. I've not offered any position on what I think regarding Goenka. I am merely questioning your prediction/hypothesis that you - and others who do not count themselves as Buddhists - will not be accepted by Buddhists. It seems an odd thing to say, so I am asking for the obvious clarification as to whether you mean all Buddhists, or some. I'd be more than happy to accept a clarification on that "all or some" issue, but you do seem very coy about a very simple question.

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by Saengnapha » Sun May 13, 2018 4:01 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 3:36 pm
Saengnapha wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 3:16 pm
I don't think you are looking for clarifications. You seem to be looking for agreement with what you think. You don't accept any kind of clarification I may offer and answer questions with questions and are very vague when asking me any question, usually talking in generalities. I sense you are trying to prove a point but I cannot fathom what that point might be. If you are trying to discuss something specific with me, ask me a real question. I think my posts were in response to thepea's posts.
I am indeed looking for clarifications. I've not offered any position on what I think regarding Goenka. I am merely questioning your prediction/hypothesis that you - and others who do not count themselves as Buddhists - will not be accepted by Buddhists. It seems an odd thing to say, so I am asking for the obvious clarification as to whether you mean all Buddhists, or some. I'd be more than happy to accept a clarification on that "all or some" issue, but you do seem very coy about a very simple question.
Again, I thought I clarified that but I guess I overestimated you. Not all buddhists, only some can accept. I'm not even sure some can accept non-Buddhists, although they say they do. So I will give the benefit of the doubt to them. It's kind of like nationalism, if you know what I mean. This is quite clear on the board in many threads. This is a by-product of the religious mind, which is conditioned. It's not hard to observe this. No insight is needed!

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by Sam Vara » Sun May 13, 2018 5:28 pm

Saengnapha wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 4:01 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 3:36 pm
Saengnapha wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 3:16 pm
I don't think you are looking for clarifications. You seem to be looking for agreement with what you think. You don't accept any kind of clarification I may offer and answer questions with questions and are very vague when asking me any question, usually talking in generalities. I sense you are trying to prove a point but I cannot fathom what that point might be. If you are trying to discuss something specific with me, ask me a real question. I think my posts were in response to thepea's posts.
I am indeed looking for clarifications. I've not offered any position on what I think regarding Goenka. I am merely questioning your prediction/hypothesis that you - and others who do not count themselves as Buddhists - will not be accepted by Buddhists. It seems an odd thing to say, so I am asking for the obvious clarification as to whether you mean all Buddhists, or some. I'd be more than happy to accept a clarification on that "all or some" issue, but you do seem very coy about a very simple question.
Again, I thought I clarified that but I guess I overestimated you. Not all buddhists, only some can accept. I'm not even sure some can accept non-Buddhists, although they say they do. So I will give the benefit of the doubt to them. It's kind of like nationalism, if you know what I mean. This is quite clear on the board in many threads. This is a by-product of the religious mind, which is conditioned. It's not hard to observe this. No insight is needed!
You certainly overestimate me if you think that the phrase
you can choose which choice you think I meant, all, or merely by some of them
clarifies anything for me. That looks like prevarication to an ordinary non mind-reading mortal such as myself!

You don't exactly come down unequivocally on one side or the other, but you now seem to be saying that some Buddhists don't accept you, or other non-Buddhists. You also say it's quite clear here on DW. Could you give examples? Have you ever been banned, or told that you are not welcome here? Of course, there are probably some Buddhists somewhere in the world who don't accept you, but where is that evidenced here on DW?

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