Doubts about Goenka course! - Need advice please

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motivateman
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Doubts about Goenka course! - Need advice please

Post by motivateman » Tue Feb 08, 2011 8:54 pm

Dear All,

I'm booked onto a Goenka 10 day vipassana course next week in the UK and I'm having doubts now!

I've practiced the observing physical sensations vipassana technique before and think it is good.

However, I've been reading Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana. In his book he teaches Vipassana and it is mostly about understanding the thought process at the root level, which I find very interesting and would like to explore this more, and understand how I create emotions like fear, greed, anxiety etc.

I've read on another forum that Goenka's vipassana approach is about observing physical sensations only and not about analysing and understanding thoughts?

Is this true?

If so, I think Gunaratana's approach is better for me.

I'm confused as to whether I should go on this course.

I would appreciate any advice!

Best wishes,

mm

PeterB
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Re: Doubts about Goenka course! - Need advice please

Post by PeterB » Tue Feb 08, 2011 8:58 pm

Just go.... :anjali:

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Goofaholix
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Re: Doubts about Goenka course! - Need advice please

Post by Goofaholix » Tue Feb 08, 2011 8:59 pm

Go on the course, then if you can find a retreat teaching Gunaratana's method go on that one.

It's worth trying a breadth of techniques before you settle on one, trying one technique doesn't lock you in for life.

I've found Goenka's technique has helped me practice other techniques because a greater awareness of body sensation has helped me be more grounded and more sensative to subtleties.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

motivateman
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Re: Doubts about Goenka course! - Need advice please

Post by motivateman » Tue Feb 08, 2011 9:12 pm

Thanks for the comments guys!

Will the Goenka course teach me more about the creation of undesirable thoughts and emotions, and how these can be released?

Because these are the main things I need to work on in life at the moment!

I think I'm having pre-course jitters!

Thanks!

PeterB
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Re: Doubts about Goenka course! - Need advice please

Post by PeterB » Tue Feb 08, 2011 9:19 pm

Cold feet are common Motivateman...I get them most times...just acknowledge them and go anyway... :smile:

Jhana4
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Re: Doubts about Goenka course! - Need advice please

Post by Jhana4 » Tue Feb 08, 2011 9:26 pm

Go on the course. Decide for yourself whether or not you like the method. Either way the retreat will be a valuable experience. When you get home keep giving Venerable Gunaratan's method a try as well. Stick with what works for you.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

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daverupa
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Re: Doubts about Goenka course! - Need advice please

Post by daverupa » Tue Feb 08, 2011 9:53 pm

Goofaholix wrote:It's worth trying a breadth of techniques before you settle on one
Agreed, with a caveat: stick with one method for a month or three and stay focused on only that method for that time. It's the only way to isolate effective phenomenological variables amongst various methods.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

Jhana4
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Re: Doubts about Goenka course! - Need advice please

Post by Jhana4 » Tue Feb 08, 2011 10:06 pm

daverupa wrote:
Goofaholix wrote:It's worth trying a breadth of techniques before you settle on one
Agreed, with a caveat: stick with one method for a month or three and stay focused on only that method for that time. It's the only way to isolate effective phenomenological variables amongst various methods.
Translation: give each a good try and stick with the one that works best for you.

Friends don't let friends major in philosophy :).
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Doubts about Goenka course! - Need advice please

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Feb 08, 2011 10:19 pm

motivateman wrote:I'm booked onto a Goenka 10 day vipassana course next week in the UK and I'm having doubts now!

However, I've been reading Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana. In his book he teaches Vipassana and it is mostly about understanding the thought process at the root level, which I find very interesting and would like to explore this more, and understand how I create emotions like fear, greed, anxiety etc.
Its also essential to understand doubt, which is just another mental state.

IMO beginners need to do plenty of groundwork on observing the body and feelings before they can progress to observing conciousness and mental states. Start with what is gross, and work towards knowing what is subtle.
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Ben
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Re: Doubts about Goenka course! - Need advice please

Post by Ben » Tue Feb 08, 2011 10:27 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
motivateman wrote:I'm booked onto a Goenka 10 day vipassana course next week in the UK and I'm having doubts now!

However, I've been reading Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana. In his book he teaches Vipassana and it is mostly about understanding the thought process at the root level, which I find very interesting and would like to explore this more, and understand how I create emotions like fear, greed, anxiety etc.
Its also essential to understand doubt, which is just another mental state.

IMO beginners need to do plenty of groundwork on observing the body and feelings before they can progress to observing conciousness and mental states. Start with what is gross, and work towards knowing what is subtle.
Excellent advice!
Don't worry too much about giving attention to sensation rather than the thought process on your ten-day course. As you will learn, vedana (sensation) are connected to the deepest 'root' level of the mind where all phenomenology are interconnected. My advice is to just go, and to work as per the instructions.
Wishing you every success.

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Goofaholix
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Re: Doubts about Goenka course! - Need advice please

Post by Goofaholix » Tue Feb 08, 2011 11:31 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote: IMO beginners need to do plenty of groundwork on observing the body and feelings before they can progress to observing conciousness and mental states. Start with what is gross, and work towards knowing what is subtle.
This is very true.

Being able to observe and understand the sensations in the body when you have undesirable thoughts and emotions is the key to gaining freedom from undesirable thoughts and emotions.

If you try to work on undesirable thoughts and emotions directly you'll probably end up just applying a band aid but if you work on them at the level of sensations in the body that's when you have the opportunity to pull them out at the roots.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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legolas
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Re: Doubts about Goenka course! - Need advice please

Post by legolas » Wed Feb 09, 2011 7:22 am

motivateman wrote:Dear All,

I'm booked onto a Goenka 10 day vipassana course next week in the UK and I'm having doubts now!

I've practiced the observing physical sensations vipassana technique before and think it is good.

However, I've been reading Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana. In his book he teaches Vipassana and it is mostly about understanding the thought process at the root level, which I find very interesting and would like to explore this more, and understand how I create emotions like fear, greed, anxiety etc.

I've read on another forum that Goenka's vipassana approach is about observing physical sensations only and not about analysing and understanding thoughts?

Is this true?

If so, I think Gunaratana's approach is better for me.

I'm confused as to whether I should go on this course.

I would appreciate any advice!

Best wishes,

mm
If in doubt - go with the suttas. Bhante Gunaratana is a great modern day teacher whose teachings have aligned themselves more and more with the suttas as the decades have passed and less and less with commentarial works. If you already have a strong attraction to the Bhante's teachings, I would reccomend you go with that attraction. If a layperson is attracted to the Buddha's Dhamma it is only common sense to learn that Dhamma from the teaching lineage the Buddha started. Even then don't lose your discriminating mind - refer everything back to the suttas.

All the Best

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cooran
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Re: Doubts about Goenka course! - Need advice please

Post by cooran » Wed Feb 09, 2011 7:28 am

hello motivateman,

I'm really looking forward to hearing what you think of the course. :group:

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

rowyourboat
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Re: Doubts about Goenka course! - Need advice please

Post by rowyourboat » Wed Feb 09, 2011 8:18 am

Hi Motivateman,

It is important to bear in mind that vipassana is about being specifically aware of the arising and passing away nature of any and all phenomena. Samatha is removing or suppressing hindrances until you develop a concentrated mind. The latter also helps to reduce suffering in the here and now. The path to samatha/samadhi is to be mindful. At the Goenka retreat, if you simply remain mindful of body sensations you will achieve the same ends, as the mindfulness will give rise to samadhi (sati gives rise to samadhi, as per how the five spiritual faculties function) and the hindrances to happiness will be suppressed. As everyone above has noted, there will be benefits other than this. So I think overall, it will be to your advantage if you go. At the very least getting away from it all for 10 days you will develop mindfulness, samadhi and become aware of subtle body sensations which reflect what is going on in the mind to some degree. Then there is Goenkas discourses which you may learn from as well. You will learn what it is like to be on retreat, which will reduce the jitters for future retreats. I hear that being equnamous to unpleasant as well as pleasant bodily sensations are developed - this is a useful method to overcome aversion to painful experiences in life (not limiting it to the body) and reducing clinging to pleasurable experiences. I hope you learn to overcome suffering whatever method you choose.

With metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

PeterB
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Re: Doubts about Goenka course! - Need advice please

Post by PeterB » Wed Feb 09, 2011 9:08 am

Our discursive minds do not have independant existence
This does not stop them behaving as though they have.
They will wriggle and squirm and react to any perceived threat. Before I went to my first retreat my anxiety was about not having control over my environment, Not being able to decide what to eat and when. When to shower and so on.
After a retreat or two that faded. But" retreat fear" simply took on new forms.
The most common for me is..." I dont have the time...its selfish....I have these responsibilities" etc etc etc.

Within a few hours of arrival all this dies away to a quiet murmer....until the next time.

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