SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

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Sam Vara
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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by Sam Vara » Sun May 13, 2018 5:46 pm

thepea wrote:
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.
It might be setting the bar a little high to insist that all views are accepted on a forum. Is there any forum on the web where that happens? Of course, people will disagree with views and opinions that are offered here. But that happens between people who self-identify as "Buddhist" as well as those who claim not to be. What about views which are plainly self-contradictory, harmful, or just plain daft? Presumably, you would at least disagree with some of them. Many people would say that because his teachings contain so much orthodox Theravada, it doesn't really matter what he or his followers call them. "If it walks like a duck and it quacks, etc...". Others might want to go with the self-appellation.
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.
Yes, I've known both approaches. The vihara I'm most familiar with has a lot of resident liberal (in the original Millian sense) progressive Westerners, so they fall over themselves to find points of similarity with other religions. There is a lot of formal inter-faith dialogue at the Cathedral or local mosques. Significantly - as has been said above - lots of Western monastics included the Goenka courses in their early practice, and some continue to recommend it.

Overall, my view is that what we call Goenka-style practice is not so important. What is most useful is to avoid or ameliorate those unfortunate situations of being dominated and ignored which you refer to.

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by thepea » Sun May 13, 2018 6:26 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 5:46 pm

Overall, my view is that what we call Goenka-style practice is not so important. What is most useful is to avoid or ameliorate those unfortunate situations of being dominated and ignored which you refer to.
Like I said it does seem different here now as far as moderation is concerned.
If Goenka states that this is not Buddhism then why is it so important for buddhists to label it as such. There are so many different types of religions with just a subtle difference in belief structure that seperates them. Buddhism is not exempt from this. I think it’s quite refreshing and brave of Goenka to teach dhamma and not affiliate this teaching with any organized religion.
I disagree and feel it is important to call this what mr Goenka intended “the dhamma” this is non religious and is free from any beliefs.
I am fine with continuously restating this fact over and over again, to those unfamiliar with this teaching and yes
It is important that bullying and dominating by moderators and members does not prevent everyone from having a voice and expressing themselves freely in a respectful manner.

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by Sam Vara » Sun May 13, 2018 7:08 pm

thepea wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 6:26 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 5:46 pm

Overall, my view is that what we call Goenka-style practice is not so important. What is most useful is to avoid or ameliorate those unfortunate situations of being dominated and ignored which you refer to.
Like I said it does seem different here now as far as moderation is concerned.
Ah, sorry - I thought you were referring to the viharas. Either way, it is unfortunate.
If Goenka states that this is not Buddhism then why is it so important for buddhists to label it as such.
I don't know. I guess some people just like to have a nice tidy little world-view with everything neatly defined and labelled, and it offends them if things are not in the correct box!
I disagree and feel it is important to call this what mr Goenka intended “the dhamma” this is non religious and is free from any beliefs.
I am fine with continuously restating this fact over and over again
Yes, I don't mind either way, really! The ideal situation for the avoidance of needless conflict is for Buddhists not to care about what Goenka-dhamma practitioners call things; and conversely for the Goenka-dhamma practitioners not to care what other people call them.

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by mikenz66 » Sun May 13, 2018 7:24 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 5:46 pm
Many people would say that because his teachings contain so much orthodox Theravada, it doesn't really matter what he or his followers call them. "If it walks like a duck and it quacks, etc...". Others might want to go with the self-appellation.
That was certainly my impression. And the impression of some of the non-Buddhists on the retreat I did in Hong Kong a decade ago, some of whom felt that they had been misled by the "non-Buddhist" label (they were Qi Gong practitioners). All of the ingredients of (Commentary era) Theravada Buddhism seemed to be in the Dhamma Talks.

Many people other than Goenka say "I'm not a Buddhist, I just follow the Buddha's teachings" so it's not a particularly special statement, and one that I tend to, therefore, pay little attention to.

He has his own spin on the details of technique, but, then, so do many other teachers.

What is different about Goenka is how he managed to create such an amazing organisation to propagate the Dhamma that didn't rely on a monastic community.

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by Sam Vara » Sun May 13, 2018 7:32 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 7:24 pm
And the impression of some of the non-Buddhists on the retreat I did in Hong Kong a decade ago, some of whom felt that they had been misled by the "non-Buddhist" label (they were Qi Gong practitioners). All of the ingredients of (Commentary era) Theravada Buddhism seemed to be in the Dhamma Talks.
Indeed. As someone who had attended Cittaviveka for several years prior to my first Goenka retreat, the only things missing were the Buddha-rupas. And the teaching was, if anything, clearer and much more systematic; obviously the product of careful reflection. As I said, though, although I can understand both sides of the debate, I don't see any value in forcing an issue of semantics.
What is different about Goenka is how he managed to create such an amazing organisation to propagate the Dhamma that didn't rely on a monastic community.
Yes, I met him once and although he was impressive, he didn't immediately compel attention and a sense of charisma. My guess is that a very fine product creates its own loyal customers.

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by thepea » Sun May 13, 2018 9:08 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 7:08 pm

Yes, I don't mind either way, really! The ideal situation for the avoidance of needless conflict is for Buddhists not to care about what Goenka-dhamma practitioners call things; and conversely for the Goenka-dhamma practitioners not to care what other people call them.
All right then since you buddhists are all about non conflict we shall from this day forth call Goenka vipassana as he intended the dhamma as to not disrespect him.
Just as we call mahasi sayadaw teaching Burmese theravaden Buddhism.

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by Sam Vara » Sun May 13, 2018 9:15 pm

thepea wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 9:08 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 7:08 pm

Yes, I don't mind either way, really! The ideal situation for the avoidance of needless conflict is for Buddhists not to care about what Goenka-dhamma practitioners call things; and conversely for the Goenka-dhamma practitioners not to care what other people call them.
All right then since you buddhists are all about non conflict
Who are "you Buddhists"? We've both attended Goenka's Vipassana retreats, and both on a website that is avowedly for Buddhist topics. Whence the label?
we shall from this day forth call Goenka vipassana as he intended the dhamma as to not disrespect him.
Just as we call mahasi sayadaw teaching Burmese theravaden Buddhism.
Good for you! You can call anything by any name you want. I might get confused and ask for clarification, but I won't get angry and ask for an apology!

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by thepea » Sun May 13, 2018 9:31 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 9:15 pm

Who are "you Buddhists"? We've both attended Goenka's Vipassana retreats, and both on a website that is avowedly for Buddhist topics. Whence the label?
“You buddhists” are the ones who need to have everything in the CORRECT box. It is clear from mr Goenka and stated many times that he is not teaching Buddhism. But Buddhist mistakenly wish to lump this teaching into theravaden Buddhism. Because there are “some similarities” there are an incredible number of subtle differences which seperates this organization from theravaden Buddhism.
It would make more sense and be more accurate to create another dhamma wheel for this organization separately rather than trying to force it in with theravaden Buddhism.
There is a huge difference between the vihara I would attend and the Goenka Courses people attend.
The walking like a duck and quacking like a duck must be a duck is an incredibly ignorant and disrespectful view.

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by Sam Vara » Sun May 13, 2018 9:43 pm

thepea wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 9:31 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 9:15 pm

Who are "you Buddhists"? We've both attended Goenka's Vipassana retreats, and both on a website that is avowedly for Buddhist topics. Whence the label?
“You buddhists” are the ones who need to have everything in the CORRECT box. It is clear from mr Goenka and stated many times that he is not teaching Buddhism. But Buddhist mistakenly wish to lump this teaching into theravaden Buddhism. Because there are “some similarities” there are an incredible number of subtle differences which seperates this organization from theravaden Buddhism.
It would make more sense and be more accurate to create another dhamma wheel for this organization separately rather than trying to force it in with theravaden Buddhism.
There is a huge difference between the vihara I would attend and the Goenka Courses people attend.
The walking like a duck and quacking like a duck must be a duck is an incredibly ignorant and disrespectful view.
Again, why do you include me in those people who must have everything in the correct box, when I merely presented it as a possible reason for some people labelling Goenka as Theravadan? At no time did I ever say that I thought like that.
But Buddhist mistakenly wish to lump this teaching into theravaden Buddhism. Because there are “some similarities” there are an incredible number of subtle differences which seperates this organization from theravaden Buddhism.
It would make more sense and be more accurate to create another dhamma wheel for this organization separately rather than trying to force it in with theravaden Buddhism.
There is a huge difference between the vihara I would attend and the Goenka Courses people attend.
That's great - you see the situation as being one way, other people see it as being another way. Some, like you, emphasise the differences, whereas others ("Buddhists", apparently!) emphasise the similarities. Me, I don't mind either way. I tend to think that labels (Buddhist or not Buddhist?) are just labels.
The walking like a duck and quacking like a duck must be a duck is an incredibly ignorant and disrespectful view.
Then if I were you, I wouldn't subscribe to that view. Adopt a different view, and save yourself from what you consider ignorance and disrespect.

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by thepea » Sun May 13, 2018 10:12 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 9:43 pm
thepea wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 9:31 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 9:15 pm

Who are "you Buddhists"? We've both attended Goenka's Vipassana retreats, and both on a website that is avowedly for Buddhist topics. Whence the label?
“You buddhists” are the ones who need to have everything in the CORRECT box. It is clear from mr Goenka and stated many times that he is not teaching Buddhism. But Buddhist mistakenly wish to lump this teaching into theravaden Buddhism. Because there are “some similarities” there are an incredible number of subtle differences which seperates this organization from theravaden Buddhism.
It would make more sense and be more accurate to create another dhamma wheel for this organization separately rather than trying to force it in with theravaden Buddhism.
There is a huge difference between the vihara I would attend and the Goenka Courses people attend.
The walking like a duck and quacking like a duck must be a duck is an incredibly ignorant and disrespectful view.
Again, why do you include me in those people who must have everything in the correct box, when I merely presented it as a possible reason for some people labelling Goenka as Theravadan? At no time did I ever say that I thought like that.
But Buddhist mistakenly wish to lump this teaching into theravaden Buddhism. Because there are “some similarities” there are an incredible number of subtle differences which seperates this organization from theravaden Buddhism.
It would make more sense and be more accurate to create another dhamma wheel for this organization separately rather than trying to force it in with theravaden Buddhism.
There is a huge difference between the vihara I would attend and the Goenka Courses people attend.
That's great - you see the situation as being one way, other people see it as being another way. Some, like you, emphasise the differences, whereas others ("Buddhists", apparently!) emphasise the similarities. Me, I don't mind either way. I tend to think that labels (Buddhist or not Buddhist?) are just labels.
The walking like a duck and quacking like a duck must be a duck is an incredibly ignorant and disrespectful view.
Then if I were you, I wouldn't subscribe to that view. Adopt a different view, and save yourself from what you consider ignorance and disrespect.
I wasn’t directing my comments at anyone in particular it is more of a generalization.

As for how I see the situation it has changed, coming from a theravaden beginning and then finding Goenka vipassana I too after sitting my initial course felt that this was theravaden Buddhism. Visiting the vihara and sharing this teaching I realized this was not accepted there.
But the real change was when I brought some theravaden dhamma books to a Goenka retreat when I was doing service, I was distributing them to some students when the acharia teacher approached me and asked that I remove them from the centre as they were teaching something different to what they were teaching.
I now see that this is very different.

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by Saengnapha » Mon May 14, 2018 3:50 am

Sam Vara wrote:
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


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?
You love to hear yourself argue, Sam. It's kind of like an endless loop. I'm not interested in continuing this, if you don't mind.

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by mikenz66 » Mon May 14, 2018 5:08 am

thepea wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 10:12 pm
As for how I see the situation it has changed, coming from a theravaden beginning and then finding Goenka vipassana I too after sitting my initial course felt that this was theravaden Buddhism. Visiting the vihara and sharing this teaching I realized this was not accepted there.
But the real change was when I brought some theravaden dhamma books to a Goenka retreat when I was doing service, I was distributing them to some students when the acharia teacher approached me and asked that I remove them from the centre as they were teaching something different to what they were teaching.
I now see that this is very different.
My impression is that the Goenka group is much more closed than other Buddha-Dhamma groups. Various monks, such as Bhikkhu Analayo, a Malaysian teacher whose name I forget right now, and one of my early teachers, have sat a number of U Ba Khin/Goenka retreats and were very happy to use aspects of that approach in their teaching. Bhikku Analayo's guided Satipatthana meditation here: http://dharmaseed.org/teacher/439/talk/26718/ makes heavy use of the body-scanning approach.

So, in my experience, it's the Goenka organisation that is very keen to dissociate itself from other Buddha-Dhamma groups, rather than the other way round. They seem to have an efficient organisation, so good luck to them.

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by Sam Vara » Mon May 14, 2018 6:23 am

Saengnapha wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 3:50 am
Sam Vara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 5:28 pm
Saengnapha wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 4:01 pm

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?
You love to hear yourself argue, Sam. It's kind of like an endless loop. I'm not interested in continuing this, if you don't mind.
If you gave straight answers - in this case explaining the simple hypothesis or prediction that you will not be accepted by Buddhists - then I wouldn't bother. The alternative is to let statements that I consider to be wrong or misguided to stand unchallenged. If they were true, they could surely withstand a bit of mild questioning.

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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by Saengnapha » Mon May 14, 2018 8:06 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 6:23 am
Saengnapha wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 3:50 am
Sam Vara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 5:28 pm


You certainly overestimate me if you think that the phrase

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?
You love to hear yourself argue, Sam. It's kind of like an endless loop. I'm not interested in continuing this, if you don't mind.
If you gave straight answers - in this case explaining the simple hypothesis or prediction that you will not be accepted by Buddhists - then I wouldn't bother. The alternative is to let statements that I consider to be wrong or misguided to stand unchallenged. If they were true, they could surely withstand a bit of mild questioning.
I've always given straight answers. They don't seem to be the answers you are looking for. This is the only issue here, Sam. Why do you want to argue with everything I say? It's your nature, Sam. You enjoy this kind of dialogue. It's your entertainment. Like I said, I am not going to continue this so let's just end it, okay?

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Sam Vara
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Re: SN Goenka - Theravada Dhammaduta extraordinaire

Post by Sam Vara » Mon May 14, 2018 8:17 am

Saengnapha wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 8:06 am
Sam Vara wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 6:23 am
Saengnapha wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 3:50 am

You love to hear yourself argue, Sam. It's kind of like an endless loop. I'm not interested in continuing this, if you don't mind.
If you gave straight answers - in this case explaining the simple hypothesis or prediction that you will not be accepted by Buddhists - then I wouldn't bother. The alternative is to let statements that I consider to be wrong or misguided to stand unchallenged. If they were true, they could surely withstand a bit of mild questioning.
I've always given straight answers. They don't seem to be the answers you are looking for. This is the only issue here, Sam. Why do you want to argue with everything I say? It's your nature, Sam. You enjoy this kind of dialogue. It's your entertainment. Like I said, I am not going to continue this so let's just end it, okay?
I don't think you have always given straight answers. Look above in this thread and see whether you could have answered more straightforwardly than asking an interlocutor to choose which possible interpretation they want. That looks like prevarication where a simple answer would suffice. I can give lots more example from other threads.

You seem to have taken refuge in ad hominem criticisms of me, rather than talking about the issues here. I disagree with those criticisms, as well as pointing out that they are generally unhelpful. I'm just trying to get to a substantial point here, and acquiescing with points with which I disagree might falsely imply that I agree with them.

Of course you can end this, and any other exchange. But if I see something that you post that I think merits a response, I might well respond.

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