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.

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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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Sam Vara
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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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