mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

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

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Dec 18, 2014 4:01 am

Hi ihfjordan,
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,...
It's straight out of the Satipatthana Sutta.

Mahasi: The motion of the abdomen could obviously be interpreted as just the mindfulness of breathing at a place where it is particularly easy to follow. Alternatively, it can be interpreted as paying attention to the wind (motion) property/element:
“Again, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu reviews this same body, however it is placed, however disposed, by way of elements thus: ‘In this body there are the earth element, the water element, the fire element, and the air element.’ Just as though a skilled butcher or his apprentice had killed a cow and was seated at the crossroads with it cut up into pieces; so too, a bhikkhu reviews this same body…by way of elements thus: ‘In this body there are the earth element, the water element, the fire element, and the air element.’
That's how Mahasi categorizes it (as wind element). Ironically, this is probably so as to not to be criticised for not following the commentarial interpretation of anapanasati (Mahasi was seen as a bit of a rebel in that regard...).

Clearly walking meditation is in the Satipatthana and other suttas, and that's typically half of the practice time in the Mahasi approach.

Goenka:
“And how, bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu abide contemplating feelings as feelings? Here, when feeling a pleasant feeling, a bhikkhu understands: ‘I feel a pleasant feeling’; when feeling a painful feeling, he understands: ‘I feel a painful feeling’; when feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he understands: ‘I feel a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling.’
OK, so Goenka suggests you look for the feeling by scanning and that exact idea is not in the suttas, but there are no such specific instructions on the use of any of these objects in the suttas, so if you want to do contemplation of feelings you'll also have to make up something that's not specifically in the suttas...

Perhaps you'll decide to focus on feeling when some feeling happens to become prominent (Mahasi's approach)...

In any case, you're free to make up your own method. But claiming that what you've made up is an authentic method and the others you mention are not is not particularly convincing, and seems to be exactly what you are accusing others of.

:anjali:
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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Dec 18, 2014 4:33 am

ihrjordan wrote:
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.
Mahasi doesn't develop concentration and insight together? Well at least not to the extant necessary to be rid of lust.
Is that a question or a statement? If it is a question, then I think that the answer is that the Mahasi approach develops both concentration and insight.

It is not designed to develop concentration quite to jhana level (if you interpret jhana in the highly-absorbed Visuddhimagga or Ajahn Brahm sense), but jhana is the culmination of just one factor of the 8-fold path, so that's hardly a ground for criticism. No meditation practice develops right livelihood, for example...

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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by ihrjordan » Thu Dec 18, 2014 4:42 am

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Last edited by ihrjordan on Thu Dec 18, 2014 5:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Dec 18, 2014 4:57 am

ihrjordan wrote:
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.
I'm sorry I fail to see how this holds any relevancy to what you quoted or what I've said...
I think the point may have been that Mahasi's use of abdominal motion seems to disagree with the Visuddhimagga (if abdominal motion is interpreted as mindfulness of breathing). Hence his description of it as "contemplation of air element", which may seem a little forced.

See this quote from U Pandita:
Moreover, I remained puzzled as to the correct answers for the questions:

“Why did Mahāsi Sayādaw ignore ānāpānassati, which was directly taught by the Buddha, but introduced the rising-falling method?”

“Is ānāpānassati the same in essence as vipassanā and meditating on rising and falling, and able to lead to magga-phala and nibbāna?”

In answering these questions, Paṇḍitārāma Sayādaw explained the teachings of the Mahāsi Sayādaw as follows.

Ānāpānassati can take two directions. If the meditator strives to be mindful of the form or manner of the in-breath and the out-breath, then it is samatha meditation and leads to one-pointedness of mind. On the other hand, if the meditator notes the sensation of the in-breath and out-breath as it moves and touches, then it is vipassanā meditation. The element of wind or motion (vāyo-dhātu) is matter (rūpa), while the awareness or consciousness of the sensation is mind (nāma). Therefore, ānāpānassati can be considered as vipassanā, and can lead to high levels of insight wisdom. However, in the Visuddhimagga, in the section on mindfulness of the body (kāyānupassana), fourteen objects of meditation are discussed, and further subdivided into objects for tranquillity (samatha) and insight (vipassanā) meditation. In the Visuddhimagga, ānāpānassati is presented as an object of tranquillity meditation. Consequently, if we are to instruct meditators to develop ānāpānassati as part of insight meditation, we will be inviting much unwanted and unwarranted criticism and controversy. And neither Mahāsi Sayādaw or myself would want to argue here that the Visuddhimagga, the rightly venerated classic, is at fault here.

It has been said that by noting the rising and falling of the abdomen, meditators are distancing themselves from the teachings of the Buddha. The answer to this is a firm and definite “no.” Quite apart from the success that meditators have achieved by noting rising-falling, there is much solid evidence in the Buddhist scriptures, such as the Saḷāyatana Vagga Saṃyutta, to show that the method is very much a part of the Buddha’s teachings regarding mindfulness of the body, mindfulness of the elements (dhātu), and mindfulness of the five aggregates (khandha).
http://aimwell.org/questions.html
The highlighted part perhaps suggests that he feels that some are too attached to a particular commentarial interpretation, and that the "air element" explanation is given to pacify those conservatives...

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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Dec 18, 2014 5:03 am

ihrjordan wrote:
Clearly triumphalism exists
Call it what you like, I'm just pointing out the obvious and I may have gotten carried away with it as I actually hold a lot of respect for this technique, it gave me results and I appreciate it, but nonetheless whats true is true.
Carried away? Pretty much. A bit more context for the quote, which gives us a different take than the harsh one you are trying to portray:
    • We observe the breath, or rather the sensations caused by breathing, in order to bring a moment-to-moment concentration. This calms the heart-mind because it is a neutral object. There are various places where people feel the sensations of breathing more acutely—at the nostrils or upper lip, at the rising and falling of the chest, and in the abdomen. All of these places are valid in terms of vipassana meditation. The Mahasi, however, favoured the abdomen as a place of observation.
      Observing the abdomen is related to slow walking. Just as we observe and experience the foot rising and falling, so we experience the abdomen rising and falling. This means that for the better part of the day, a meditator is aware of the characteristic of transience in a very obvious way. Transience or impermanence (anicca) is one of the ways in which the Buddha asks us to investigate ourselves. Is there anything we experience which is permanent? Two other avenues of investigation are unsatisfactoriness (dukkha) and not-self (anatta). Insights into these Three Characteristics of Existence lead to liberation from all suffering.

      The Mahasi did not teach the method of placing one’s attention on the breath at the nostrils because by this means there is a tendency, by way of concentration, to lose contact with the body. That is why observing the breath at the nostrils is a popular and effective way of achieving those higher states of concentration known as the Absorptions (jhana). When concentration becomes locked into one-pointedness on a single object, the effect is to suppress everything else, and this stops the process of purifying the heart, our emotional life. This is not to say that concentration practice cannot go hand in hand with vipassana. Indeed, it is well supported in the discourses. Rather, the Mahasi espoused the direct path of vipassana only (ekayano maggo) as it is taught in the Discourse on How to Establish Mindfulness (satipatthanasutta MN 10). Nor does this mean that observing the breath at the nostrils is not a valid technique in vipassana meditation. Indeed, although the Mahasi preferred the abdomen as a place of primary observation, he did not ban anyone from observing sensations at the nostrils.
What is italicized is, of course, the problematic issue, and it is a matter of debate among the various factions advocating jhāna. Even among sutta only-ists what constitutes jhāna is debated. And the heavy duty style commentarial/Visuddhimagga jhāna does, indeed, suppress certain mental factors, which can be seen as a basis for wrong views that can arise from jhāna, as the suttas point out.

Simply, what Mahasi Sayadaw was trying to do is open the practice up in a way that it would become accessible the laity using principles that are found within the Theravada.
And who said this? It is a rather hamhanded mischaracterization of the Burmese traditions.
Ven. Sujato. "hamhanded"? How so?
The McDonalds business neatly makes my point.
Numerous other teachers have said the same thing, for example Thanissaro, Ajahn Chah, Ajahn Brahm, Ajahn Lee, Bhikkhu Bohdi. Need I say more?
Exacty the same thing? Need you say more? Yes. Prove it. As for Thanissaro, you can look here, but let us see the words of these others supporting your opinion. As for Ven Bodhi, I served him at a 3 month vipassana retreat he attended at IMS in 1981. I seriously doubt that he will be as ugly about the Mahasi practice as Sujato and you.
if you look directly at the Pali discourses — the earliest extant sources for our knowledge of the Buddha's teachings — you'll find that although they do use the word samatha to mean tranquillity, and vipassana to mean clear-seeing, they otherwise confirm none of the received wisdom about these terms. Only rarely do they make use of the word vipassana — a sharp contrast to their frequent use of the word jhana.
they depict the Buddha telling his disciples to go meditate, they never quote him as saying "go do vipassana," but always "go do jhana."
Let us not forget, however, context is everything in what a word means and how it used. “Go do jhāna” can simply mean, go meditate. It does not always mean a specific highly concentrated state of mind.

Again, the vipassana vs jhāna business has to be understood in its context, where jhāna was understood as being an intense form of one-pointedness. Also, we need to keep in mind that the Mahasi Sayadaw practice cultivates a considerable level of meditative concentration. It was a teacher who was directly trained by Mahasi Sayadaw that taught me jhāna practice during a 3 month retreat in the 80's. For an experienced vipassana practitioner jhāna is not terribly difficult.
Just because you can't find the time to practice Jhana doesn't mean "We need a more stream lined approach", it means you need to change your life around so you Do find the time.
Oh? Change your life around. That might be easy enough when your 19, but in the real world “changing your life around” not really that easy for everyone.
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.
If this is the case, then why are you arguing against the Burmese methods? You have just blownup your own argument here.
Mahasi doesn't develop concentration and insight together? Well at least not to the extant necessary to be rid of lust.
Says you? You know that from actual experience? And your experience is unquestionably applicable to everyone else who might practice Mahasi practice?
One still bound by sensual desire will be reborn in the sensual realms (kamaloka), while one who attains jhana will be reborn in the Brahma realm. There is no "Access Realm" Sums it up quite nicely.
Sums it up nicely? Not at all, for it totally misses the positive kamma/merit that results from the practice and the insight. And who cares about being born in a brahma realm? The Buddha placed far more value on human birth. Being born in a brahma realm was considered by the Buddha to be of much less value.
tilt wrote: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?
Can't say I follow you. I can't remember once saying "All the information I gathered was from one sutta and I came to these conclusion based on reading this sutta" And yeh give or take 2500 years Anapanasati has been around. Is there really any debating that?
All right, let us try this again. How did people practice MN 118 2500 years ago? You don’t know, but you don’t seem to understand that MN 118 is going to looked at by various teacher who will, based upon their various experience, put MN 118 into practice as they see fit and teach it so. And we seen examples of that happening now. You claim: ’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’ does not carry any weight that you have shown. Developing techniques is what teachers do, and is what someone who reads MN118 ends up doing as they try to figure what it all means. Also, I noticed you did not answer my questions to you about MN118:
  • 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?
And this:
  • Thee: "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?" Me: "So, you know what is what? Tell us what the internal/external means in the Satipatthana Sutta."
I would really like to see your ability here to handle these questions.
tilt wrote:More research might not be a bad idea.
It would be a very good idea, and particularly not trying to justify your own biases.
tilt wrote:What the Burmese traditions have done is open up the possibility of a serious meditative practice for the masses that does lead to insight.
They've streamlined insight. As Sujato said : "If you go to Mcdonalds, you're gonna get Mcdonalds."
Sujato being hamhanded. This is an ugly characterization, showing no real understanding or nuance.
With that being said it might keep you alive but it sure isn't healthy and it leads you to say words like "Nubbie" apparently.
The “Nubbie” business was a misplace posting. See here.
Btw you don't think lay people during the time of the Buddha had busy lives? You never heard of them stream lining insight meditation did you? Go ahead I'll wait...
Of course there is the Bahiya Sutta, but there is also the Satipatthāna Sutta, which the naughty commentary says was widely practiced among Kuru people, and interestingly there is no direct mention of jhāna practice in the Satipatthāna Sutta. It is not a matter of streamlining the practice. It is a matter of working with what is already clearly there, which is what the Burmese teachers have neatly done.
tilt wrote: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
I can't tell if your on my side or no?
tilt wrote:they don’t they do not talk about these things, period
That's exactly the point, they don't make distinctions of this nature. They practice meditation rather than prioritizing and stream lining just a fraction of the practice. Just as the Buddha and his eminent disciples practiced Jhana. They didn't practice "Insight Jhana" with "Access Concentration"
Do you know what the vipassana jhānas are about? Apparently not. For someone who supposedly has practiced Mahasi practice, you seem to have very little actual understanding it.
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.
Can one see/experience rising and falling of one’s experiences in watching the breathing by paying attention to the breathing at the diaphragm? Also, if the details are open to interpretation, you really have not much of a point to make at all.
>> 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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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Dec 18, 2014 5:13 am

ihrjordan wrote:
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.
I'm sorry I fail to see how this holds any relevancy to what you quoted or what I've said, and yes I have read the Visuddhimagga and I'm aware that it says that. Side note: Why is it that when someone makes a post on here criticizing something that a mod finds agreeable, instantly every other mod and a few choice regulars feel it's their obligation to defend that viewpoint and that mod. Also why get so defensive in the first place? If an outsider were to read the responses on this board you were swear I was making an attack on your life. My purpose in even posting here in the first place was not to argue, or make an attack on anybody's livelihood (As responses would have one think) but simply to provide the OP with a broad range of information. No need to get all feisty and call me a "Nubbie" (<--That will get deleted) we all friends here, or no?
No one called you a Nubbie. That was a misplaced posting and has been moved to where it belongs. Mike and I both practiced for quite some time with Mahasi Sayadaw teachers, so we have something to say about the Mahasi style of practice. Our participation in this thread has not a thing to do with being moderators. If there are issues that arise in this thread, since I am a participant in it, I would refer those issues to another moderator, and so with Mike. You might want to give some consideration to how you have come across in your criticisms the Mahasi style of practice. It is, indeed open to criticism, but it would help if the criticism were carefully framed, carefully thought-out.
>> 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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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by Mkoll » Thu Dec 18, 2014 5:21 am

ihrjordan wrote:
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.
I'm sorry I fail to see how this holds any relevancy to what you quoted or what I've said, and yes I have read the Visuddhimagga and I'm aware that it says that.
Uh, you said, "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" (my emphasis added)

Kinda hard to not see the relevance there. :roll:
ihrjordan wrote:Side note: Why is it that when someone makes a post on here criticizing something that a mod finds agreeable, instantly every other mod and a few choice regulars feel it's their obligation to defend that viewpoint and that mod.
Now you're accusing me of being a sheep? I come into debate over views with mods all the time. IDC what color a person's name is as far as discussing views. That's what a forum is for.

In this case, right now, in this thread, I happen to agree with everyone here, not just mods, who disagrees with your senseless bashing.
ihrjordan wrote:Also why get so defensive in the first place? If an outsider were to read the responses on this board you were swear I was making an attack on your life. My purpose in even posting here in the first place was not to argue, or make an attack on anybody's livelihood (As responses would have one think) but simply to provide the OP with a broad range of information. No need to get all feisty and call me a "Nubbie" (<--That will get deleted) we all friends here, or no?
Are you serious? All of your posts today have been about s$%#&!@g on respected teachers' meditations instructions. If you honestly didn't expect that to stir up argument, you really are clueless.

Also, you must be completely new to forums if you're gonna hyperbolize this is an "attack on your life." These are probably the most tame forums I've ever been seen, especially as far as religious ones go.

I think you're just having a bad day or something and you're venting your spleen here. Reason: I don't recall your previous posts being so caustic. If so, that's fine, everybody has bad days and they pass.
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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by Sweet_Nothing » Mon Dec 22, 2014 11:23 am

I was at Goenkajis cremation.

There were many Bhikkhus in attendance along with many lay people and assistant teachers. Before the electronic cremation, people who were allowed inside were just sitting there - some meditating.There was a salute by the Indian guard, after which the Bhikkhus recited verses in Pali from the Tipitaka.

The cremation was electronic and the recitation lasted till the end, after which someone from the Goenka family thanked us for joining them and we all left.

Around 1 month before Goenkaji died, he had completely withdrawn from social activities and delegated his responsibilities with the organization. He completed all the literature which were pending approvals or corrections. He began systematic "Sangha Dana" at his home and just a few days prior to his passing away, he stopped taking medicines. At dinner before his passing away, he was very quiet and spoke little. His ashes were immersed in a river in Mayanmar.


Regarding technique and teachings :

I do not want to make any comparisons. My own belief is that, Goenkaji was a being of very high paramis - which is why he is able to disseminate the pure teaching to such a large number of beings. This could not have been possible if he was a monk, because in India - where it all started, people are extremely apprehensive of ascetics - and in general such people enjoy a poor reputation. Even if the greatest Burmese monk would come to India, he would still not be able to reach across all the diverse social classes, sects and communities of India.

Buddhism does not enjoy good repute in India today, because many people considered 'Untouchables' were converted to Buddhism as a way of liberating them from the cruelty of the class system. Most of these people are Buddhist in name, and they do even know what is Shila or Samadhi. They are not even involved in steady "merit making".

By some Indians, Lord Buddha is seen as a Hindu God who was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He has inevitably become what he refused to be identified with in his lifetime.

There is a great danger in the word "Buddhist" or "Buddhism".

I do not consider myself a Buddhist, because Buddhism is not a religion. Religion is just a human concept. It is an attachment.
The noble eightfold path is not an attachment, it cannot fit into the concept of religion. It is the path that frees us from all attachment, all identifications. I will never call myself a "Buddhist", and will always remain a follower of Buddha's teachings.

Nowhere in the texts, is there any reference to "Buddhism". There are simply monks, and there are laypeople. There are blind worldlings, there are those who have heard the dhamma, those who have recognized the dhamma, those who have partially understood the dhamma, and those who have fully understood the dhamma. No other distinction is necessary, and it is very dangerous.

I believe what the Goenka organization teaches is completely undiluted and pure - as far as the student can receive. As we go for more retreats, the discourses and instructions change. In public interviews Goenakji has always stressed in the universality and secularity of the teaching to avoid discouraging individuals who can benefit from Dhamma, but they would refrain from it because of their biases or prejudices. As the students ripen in Dhamma, they get to learn more and more deeply and there is lesser and lesser ambiguity.

Another reason to be so careful in interviews and public speeches is that - when people (who have not recognized dhamma) hear more than they need to, then they simply go into intellectual analysis and conceptualizing without ever practicing and receiving or knowing the fruits they are intellectualizing about - like the blind men and the elephant.
1. Who are at present the teachers of the Goenkaji System? Is there anywhere on the Internet available a list of teachers with their qualifications and some bio information? Are there any Buddhist monks or nuns among them? If not why not?


There is a list of Sr. teachers and Teachers, but I dont know if it is available online. Most of these teachers are self sustaining lay people who assist as a service in their free time. I dont know what kind of qualifications or bio will be helpful in evaluating the aptitude of a meditation teacher. The things that matter : their purity of intention, understanding of dhamma, development in meditation - cannot be written down and evaluated for general public. There maybe some non lay teachers or resident monks, but there are many regular monks and nuns who attend his 10 day, 7 day, 20 day, 30 day and longer courses.
Last edited by Sweet_Nothing on Wed Dec 24, 2014 6:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Dec 22, 2014 1:45 pm

Sweet_Nothing wrote: . . .
Thank you for this lengthy and very informative posting. It is appreciated.
>> 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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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by Mr Man » Mon Dec 22, 2014 8:07 pm

Hi Sweet_Nothing what do you mean by "pure teaching"? Do you mean the teaching as presented in the sutta or are you referring to the system of meditation as taught by Goenka.

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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by Sweet_Nothing » Tue Dec 23, 2014 6:32 pm

Thanks Tiltbillings.
Mr Man wrote:Hi Sweet_Nothing what do you mean by "pure teaching"? Do you mean the teaching as presented in the sutta or are you referring to the system of meditation as taught by Goenka.
Hi Mr Man.

By "Pure Teaching", I mean that the essence of Shakyamuni Buddha's discovery (Dhamma) has been preserved without any dilution.

In Buddhas lifetime, he spoke to many beings using many different words, depending on the listener. All of them benefited in the same direction, ie. towards complete awakening but not all of them reached there in Buddha's lifetime. He mostly spoke about things that were necessary for the listener to attain enlightenment, and refused to dwell into subjects that were of no consequence or only served as a topic for intellectual entertainment.

However, he did go into intellectual depths unless there were doubts that could not be solved otherwise.

Sometimes, beings were not ready to comprehend the 4 noble truths - so he had to form mundane parables and convey the noble truths in ways that the audience will eventually come to see the 4 noble truths.

If you meet a friend who knows nothing about the Buddhas teaching - and then you tell him that Jesus was not god (or son of), and you directly enter into a discussion about Dependant Origination, rebirth, etc - they are unlikely to benefit from it and might even be steered away. If you tell him, Jesus was a cool guy who had very good values that we should emulate, and these values (brahma viharas) are also in sync with what Buddha taught - then he is more likely to be receptive.

This is about the theoretical, or intellectual aspect. What the discourses say are tailored for specific audiences in mind, and the content changes with more advanced courses. The Satipathana course is based word to word on the Satipathana Sutta, and there is a detailed expounding of the entire Sutta during the course.

Goenkaji focuses much more on the practical aspects, rather than the philosophical or metaphysical aspects.With development in meditation, the latter automatically becomes clear.

As for the Meditation technique : I cannot claim it to be 100% what the Buddha taught. However, I claim that there is no disagreement between what the Buddha must have taught and what is taught in the Goenka courses. There is some improvisation which is later discarded. It's like, how while riding a cycle for the first time - you may use training wheels or have someone support you/push you or use training wheels so that you dont fall - or while learning how to swim you use floats - Goenkaji makes use of systematic scanning. Other than the instructions to observe in a "systematic manner", I dont think there is any difference in what is taught in Maha Satipathana Sutta and what is practiced.

There is often criticism that the emphasis on Vedana, or Sensations is too strong. There is a very good explanation why it is so, which is given at length in the Satipathana course. This does not mean that the other 3 aspects are negated. They are also observed, but the greater emphasis is on sensations and feelings because they are the closest link, where the chain of dependent origination can be severed.
Homage to the triple gem.

practitioner
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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by practitioner » Sat Aug 20, 2016 2:59 am

Goenka should be praised for establishing free meditation retreats around the world allowing many to be exposed to meditation. Of course, being free has its flaws but the benefit one can obtain out weighs the flaws.

[A paragraph badmouthing traditions and their teachers removed by staff]

Body scan is a very mind active technique. It arouses active qi flow. Sometimes one cannot tell if sensation is authentic or remembered sensation from previous spotting. It is more about making one becoming more sensitive to bodily sensations. The immediate effect is the development of equanimity. The long term effect is sensitization of awareness of bodily sensation for observation of impermanence.I know assistant teacher who has practiced this for 30 years with no observable transcendence. His conversational topics reflect the lack of any dhamma practice.

In a way, the discourse tends to over sell this technique or create a sense impression that this technique is only thing one needs to practice to attain enlightenment.

Mental noting is more in alignment with the principle of satipatthana.

In truth, one should practice dhamma principle, do satipatthana, and do samatha/vipassana in tandem all at once. Sitting meditation alone takes forever and eadily subject to derailment.
Last edited by retrofuturist on Sat Aug 20, 2016 6:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

dhammasati
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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by dhammasati » Wed Apr 25, 2018 3:59 pm

For anyone interested in a summary of the differences between Mahasi and SN Goenka Vipassana
https://www.mindfulmess.net/blog/vipass ... si-sayadaw
Mahasi vs SN Goenka Vipassana

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