mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

On the cultivation of insight/wisdom
SarathW
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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by SarathW » Sat Dec 13, 2014 11:36 pm

Hi Mike
I think in walking meditation you can't move from Vitakka stage.
It is not a complete substitute for breath meditation.
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mikenz66
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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Dec 14, 2014 1:52 am

Hi SarathW
I'm not sure what what you mean by "Vitakka stage". Is it roughly momentary or access concentration"?

My understanding is that neither walking or focussing on the details of the breath, or motion of the abdomen, will lead to an absorption-type jhana, if that's what you mean. It seem that a stable, "conceptual" object is required for that level of concentration. However, absorbed jhana is not the aim of this mode of practice. The aim is the momentary concentration on the arising and vanishing of objects as in the sutta extracts I quoted above: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 40#p321631. Jhanic concentration "that, when developed & pursued, leads to a pleasant abiding in the here & now" is covered in the part of AN 4.41 that I didn't quote.

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ihrjordan
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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by ihrjordan » Wed Dec 17, 2014 4:42 am

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tiltbillings
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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Dec 17, 2014 5:23 am

ihrjordan wrote:I agree with what Sujato says in this video, and now I also see more drawbacks in the form of arguing over techniques...it's silly and unnecessary https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3tUCtwmVGY if we stuck with the meditation described in the suttas (Anapanasati) etc.
Now, there is the problem, isn't it? How we follow the descriptions is going to require that we develop techniques based upon our interpretations of the suttas in question.
rather than traditions that were created 60 years ago in Burma based on commentaries we wouldn't have these problems
That is utterly hilarious. We will just have problems based upon any number of interpretations developed in the 21st century.
it's essentially a marketing tool which is devised in order to mass produce meditation to people unwilling to change their lifestyle.
And what kind of changes in lifestyle are absolutely, completely totally required, according to your interpretation of the suttas??
>> 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.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

SarathW
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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by SarathW » Wed Dec 17, 2014 5:45 am

Here Ven. Sujato says something interesting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3tUCtwmVGY

- If you have only a hammer as you tool, the whole world appears to you like nails.
- If you go to Mc.Donalds expect to get a Mc.Donald
- He criticise the people who are claimed to be Sotapanna but do not even observe the five precepts.
I am not sure whether Ven. Sujato's comments reflect the true nature of these two great traditions.
But he give some food for thought.

:thinking:
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mikenz66
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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Dec 17, 2014 5:49 am

ihrjordan wrote:I agree with what Sujato says in this video, and now I also see more drawbacks in the form of arguing over techniques...it's silly and unnecessary https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3tUCtwmVGY if we stuck with the meditation described in the suttas (Anapanasati) etc. rather than traditions that were created 60 years ago in Burma based on commentaries we wouldn't have these problems...js
As far as I can see the Goenka and Mahasi approaches are just ways of implementing what is explained in the Satipathana Sutta and various other suttas. Similarly other modern teachers and commentators, such as Sujato, Brahm, Thanissaro, etc, etc, give us their way of understanding and implementing the instructions of various suttas.

So, naturally, I agree that there is no need to argue. The only thing I do argue with is any claim that one of these modern teachers has an interpretation that is any "better" or "more original" than any other...

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tiltbillings
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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Dec 17, 2014 5:58 am

SarathW wrote:Here Ven. Sujato says something interesting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3tUCtwmVGY

- If you have only a hammer as you tool, the whole world appears to you like nails.
Or you might make this.

Image
I am not sure whether Ven. Sujato's comments reflect the true nature of these two great traditions.
Likely not.
>> 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.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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mikenz66
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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Dec 17, 2014 6:01 am

SarathW wrote:Here Ven. Sujato says something interesting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3tUCtwmVGY

- If you have only a hammer as you tool, the whole world appears to you like nails.
- If you go to Mc.Donalds expect to get a Mc.Donald
- He criticise the people who are claimed to be Sotapanna but do not even observe the five precepts.
I am not sure whether Ven. Sujato's comments reflect the true nature of these two great traditions.
But he give some food for thought.
I've had quite a lot of instruction from unknown teachers who teach based on variations of the Mahasi approach. I've not encountered the sort of things he describes (going without sleep for days, overestimating attainments, etc).
However, it seems likely from various reports that such things do happen with some teachers of various backgrounds.

:anjali:
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SarathW
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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by SarathW » Wed Dec 17, 2014 6:10 am

tiltbillings wrote:
SarathW wrote:Here Ven. Sujato says something interesting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3tUCtwmVGY

- If you have only a hammer as you tool, the whole world appears to you like nails.
Or you might make this.

Image
:clap:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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ihrjordan
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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by ihrjordan » Wed Dec 17, 2014 2:41 pm

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VinceField
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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by VinceField » Wed Dec 17, 2014 3:34 pm

ihrjordan wrote:But that's just it, there isn't a need to develop techniques "based on the suttas" when it specifically and concisely tells you how to meditate in those same suttas
Hmmm. Do the suttas specifically and concisely tell you how to meditate? I believe the lack of detailed instructions is the reason why every teacher has his own particular methods carrying out the instructions and cultivating the states described in the suttas. If the suttas' instructions were specific and concise, there would be no need to develop unique strategies for the meditation. There is obviously that need.

As an example, the Anapanastai sutta instructs, "I will breath in sensitive to the entire body... I will breath in calming bodily formations." Alright, so it tells you what to do, but it doesn't tell you how to do it. It doesn't explain in what ways to think or how to move your awareness to achieve the goals of sensitizing to the body and calming bodily formations, and so these two instructions can be carried out in a potentially infinite number of ways.

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ihrjordan
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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by ihrjordan » Wed Dec 17, 2014 4:51 pm

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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by ihrjordan » Wed Dec 17, 2014 5:08 pm

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VinceField
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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by VinceField » Wed Dec 17, 2014 5:58 pm

ihrjordan wrote: I do see where you're coming from, but as you will see in my post below not whole heartedly. I can understand a teacher giving his or her students different skillful means of getting their mind to focus on the breath such as saying "Buddho" or "1,2,3.." and even controlling the breath at first, but these techniques in question go down another path than that of mere ways of teaching. They surreptitiously hold themselves to be higher than other traditions all the while thinking they're are practicing the True way, whether they admit to it or not, (with of course some exceptions).
None of the teachers that I follow believe that their particular method is superior to others. In fact, they admit that there are other just as valid skillful means for achieving the same states of mind. Of course, the fact that some teachers feel their method is superior to others does little to negate the fact that interpretations and developed strategies are necessary for taking on the Buddha's meditation instructions.
As an example, the Anapanastai sutta instructs, "I will breath in sensitive to the entire body... I will breath in calming bodily formations." Alright, so it tells you what to do, but it doesn't tell you how to do it.

You don't know how to breath? If you know what a "formation" is than you can find a way to calm it with the breath...
It's clearly not an issue of knowing how to breath. The issue is that there are instructions that are not explained in detail:

Breathe in sensitive to the entire body... it doesn't explain how to go about thinking and moving your awareness to gain this sensitivity to the entire body, so the practitioner has to develop their own strategy or follow the method of a practiced teacher, the latter probably seeming like a better option for most beginners due to lack of personal experience and faith in their teachers' experience and wisdom.

Breathe in calming bodily formations... it doesn't explain how to calm bodily formations, so a strategy is needed for accomplishing this that is not provided in the sutta itself. Sure, you can find a way to calm it, but again, this way is not detailed in the instructions.
It doesn't explain in what ways to think

Refer to my first post
how to move your awareness to achieve the goals of sensitizing to the body and calming bodily formations
I mean you can only get so specific before it's just assumed to be common sense.
The point is that the details are left up to interpretation. I don't believe there is much to debate here.

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mikenz66
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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Dec 17, 2014 6:30 pm

Clearly triumphalism exists, and we see it in posts on this forum (see below) but most of the teachers I've encountered (from various schools) are like the one's Vince describes:
VinceField wrote: None of the teachers that I follow believe that their particular method is superior to others. In fact, they admit that there are other just as valid skillful means for achieving the same states of mind.
I certainly don't find such triumphalism helpful:
ihrjordan wrote:I can understand a teacher giving his or her students different skillful means of getting their mind to focus on the breath such as saying "Buddho" or "1,2,3.." and even controlling the breath at first, but these techniques in question go down another path than that of mere ways of teaching. They surreptitiously hold themselves to be higher than other traditions all the while thinking they're are practicing the True way, whether they admit to it or not...
Unfortunately, this appears to be just another example:
ihrjordan wrote:Again, the clear knowing or "Vipassana" comes about almost naturally by focusing on the breath. The difference is that of a Clockwork orange and it's natural, organic counterpart; They both might taste good (Bring results) but one is more natural and bound with less mechanization (Blasting everything out of your mind with labels) and as a result of eating healthy (Developing Tranquilty and Insight in tandem) you wont get the Norovirus (Go crazy from suffering)
:anjali:
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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:36 pm

ihrjordan wrote:
Now, there is the problem, isn't it? How we follow the descriptions is going to require that we develop techniques based upon our interpretations of the suttas in question.
But that's just it, there isn't a need to develop techniques "based on the suttas" when it specifically and concisely tells you how to meditate in those same suttas
"Mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, brings the four frames of reference[1] to completion. The four frames of reference, when developed & pursued, bring the seven factors for Awakening to completion. The seven factors for Awakening, when developed & pursued, bring clear knowing & release to completion.
Now if you ask me this doesn't leave much room for interpretation. It's as clear as day, so now why do we have "techniques" when it specifically tells us how to meditate right here....in the suttas..."from the Blessed one's own lips" as the Ven Aananda would say
So, we don't control the breathing in anyway, or do we? We pay attention to the breathing at the back of one's throat, or just at the nostrils, or inside the nose, or with chest expansion and contraction, or with the sensation of the breathe filling up the body as one breathes in and out, or as one's breathes through the mouth, feeling the sensation on the lips or inside the mouth?

And since you are quoting MN 118, do we conceptually think this: He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to rapture.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to rapture.' ? Or not. And how does one breathe in and out being “sensitive to rapture? "Sensitive to rapture" is what exactly? Or He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on inconstancy.' Do that mean we need to be thinking about anicca as we breathe in and out? Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long' Do we manipulate the breath to breathe in long, or do we simply let the breathing happen and note if it is long or short? Seem opinions of modern teachers vary on these issues. And it really is not very clear. Apparently you know exactly what these instructions mean in detail, so do let us know.
That is utterly hilarious. We will just have problems based upon any number of interpretations developed in the 21st century.
Please refer to my above post, there isn't a need for interpretations when it's spelt out for you in the suttas, or do you consider the commentaries to be authoritative?
So, you know what is what? Tell us what the internal/external means in the Satipatthana Sutta. Commentaries are not the last word, but just because they are commentaries that does not mean that the authors of them always got it wrong.
Btw Theravada is the only Buddhist tradition that has these "2 techniques of meditation" no other Buddhist sect makes this distinction of Vipassana or insight over here and Samatha and magical powers over here...Not Dzogchen not Ch'an not Zen...you get my point.
You point is poorly taken. The Mahayana/Vajrayana traditions you are referring to here don’t make a distinction between vipassana and samatha, because they don’t they do not talk about these things, period (except for early Ch'an, maybe). The reality, of course that samatha is very much a part of the vipassana traditions. It is just that they do not advocate a focus on the jhanas, but keep in mind that the jhanas the they do not advocate are the type of jhanas found in the Visuddhimagga, though such jhanas are not absent in advanced practices. On the other hand it is recognized within the Mahasi Saydaw tradition that very high levels of samatha are achieved that are congruent with the jhanas as often described in the suttas.
All the while because we now have two types of meditation we also have groups within sects, e.g. Mahasi and Goenka sects which basically try to claim a monopoly on Insight and make claims that state if you're not doing this tradition of meditation you are practicing Samatha, you might fly around for a little but won't gain release.
You are referring to jhana practice here when you say samatha? Have you tried cultivating jhana? For some people it is relatively easy, but for most, it is very, very difficult. What the Burmese traditions have done is open up the possibility of a serious meditative practice for the masses that does lead to insight.
doesn't work because it did show results but then decided to do some research and everything pointed to the conclusion I come with today.
More research might not be a bad idea.
My question is: If Mahasi or Goenka is "Real Insight" then what were people doing before these techniques were invented? Anapanasati has been around for 2500 years and there was never a NEED in the first place to invent new techniques. Btw I'm glad I could make you laugh
Now it is just sadness at the conclusions drawn from too little actual information. You tell me what was being done for the last 2500 years concerning MN 118. Controlling the breathing, letting it move naturally, etc, etc?
And what kind of changes in lifestyle are absolutely, completely totally required, according to your interpretation of the suttas??
According to my interpretations? The changes don't have to be from my interpretations? They should be from what the practitioner feels is a reasonable standard for him or herself to strive for and from their own honest critique on how there practice is progressing, and what they feel is necessary to give up, to the best of their ability.
In other words, the practitioners interprets the requirements anew. So, we have new interpretations of the suttas going on all the time, and from what we have seen of the sutta only people’s interpretations that can vary wildly as what a text means. So, it is okay that we control our breathing and it okay that we don't control our breathing, and it is okay that we try to develop jhana first, and it okay that we develop both insight and concentration together as the Burmese methods teach.
Persistent attempts have been made to diminish the significance of
samatha’s role in Buddhist meditation in the never-ending search for a
shortcut to happiness, so typical of our restless times. We are told that it is
difficult in fast-paced modern times to find the tranquility of jhāna; which
is obviously true, and yet it merely underscores how important serenity is
for us, here & now. It is precisely because our postmodern world stresses
the utility of analytical intelligence so excessively that the complementary
holistic qualities of serenity and joy are sorely needed.
And who said this? It is a rather hamhanded mischaracterization of the Burmese traditions.
>> 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.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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tiltbillings
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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:43 pm

ihrjordan wrote:
[1] Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, he discerns, 'I am breathing out long.' [2] Or breathing in short, he discerns, 'I am breathing in short'; or breathing out short, he discerns, 'I am breathing out short.' [3] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.'
Again, the clear knowing or "Vipassana" comes about almost naturally by focusing on the breath. The difference is that of a Clockwork orange and it's natural, organic counterpart; They both might taste good (Bring results) but one is more natural and bound with less mechanization (Blasting everything out of your mind with labels) and as a result of eating healthy (Developing Tranquilty and Insight in tandem) you wont get the Norovirus (Go crazy from suffering)
So, unlike Ven Thanissaro and others, you do not advocate controlling your breathing. How do you come to that conclusion when learned monks differ?

As for your "blasting" characterization of the Mahasi method, either you have been poorly taught, or you simply were not paying attention to the instructions.
>> 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.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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ihrjordan
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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by ihrjordan » Thu Dec 18, 2014 2:13 am

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ihrjordan
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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by ihrjordan » Thu Dec 18, 2014 2:25 am

The point is that the details are left up to interpretation. I don't believe there is much to debate here.
You're quite right, my point is I don't see how you come to the conclusion of watching the stomach or the whole body posture thing in Goenka from any of the suttas, unless of course you're not following the suttas and you're rather looking to the commentaries as authoritative, even though the Buddha clearly said his dhamma was complete. It's one thing to use a mantra as a means of getting acquainted with the breath, it's a whole other thing entirely when you try to cram the whole of the Buddhas teaching into mindfulness. If that's not a prime example of post-modernization than I don't know what is.

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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by Mkoll » Thu Dec 18, 2014 2:57 am

ihrjordan wrote:
The point is that the details are left up to interpretation. I don't believe there is much to debate here.
You're quite right, my point is I don't see how you come to the conclusion of watching the stomach or the whole body posture thing in Goenka from any of the suttas, unless of course you're not following the suttas and you're rather looking to the commentaries as authoritative, even though the Buddha clearly said his dhamma was complete. It's one thing to use a mantra as a means of getting acquainted with the breath, it's a whole other thing entirely when you try to cram the whole of the Buddhas teaching into mindfulness. If that's not a prime example of post-modernization than I don't know what is.
You haven't read much of the commentary, have you? The Visudhimagga is very specific about only watching the breath at the nose tip or upper lip.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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