Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

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Cittasanto
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Post by Cittasanto » Sat Jan 28, 2012 12:19 pm

Hi Gregor,
I have never done any Goenka retreats, but maybe another experiance may go someway to give a context/perspective of 'anoyance' of it?
Repetition is common in my experience, sure the exact same talks would/could grind a nerve or two, but there is benefit in it, particularly in this instance.

it gives time to capture the whole of the context/nuances of meaning, many teachers say the same thing over and over again, it is common, they only teach one thing, and may use different ways to do this, and this has its benefit, but Goenka naturally can not be everywhere at once, so the recordings are used.
the plus side is that you can hear what is being said in a new light, with further experience, and hopefully a more refined sense of the practice.
I heard of one person hearing a sutta being read out, it said
in the seen there is only the seen
(it is in Ud2.10 I think??
but he understood
in the scene there is only the scene
completely misunderstanding it, but he did have quite an interesting insight.
there is also a practice which I engage in from the christian tradition known as lecio devinia (spelling??) or devine reading, and I gleam new information on every reading of a text over the space of a week or month that I am using a text. the repetition can be an object for watching both the mind and strengthaning Satisampajana, mindfulness & clear knowing, just the same way as watching the breath is. and as you have to hear the same thing in two languages there may be a nuance in a word not in the other which could be good to explore.

The Chanting can be dull (I dislike the morning chanting myself as it is a short version of the evening chanting, although I preferred the alternative version for the morning) and one can think of many ways to escape the repetition of saying something particularly if you don't understand it, but one can also look at the meaning of what is being said and focus on what the meaning means to you, like what is it to be the perfectly enlightened one, who actually are the sangha to me, or who is my sangha, and why is the Dhamma complete in the Beginning middle & end/how is it practised rightly? [edit = also chanting can help with breathing, as in the long and short breath of the anapana practice instructions found within the suttas, and chanting has its own tradition, mantra recitation, or mantra yoga, and even the nada yoga, or sound of silence found in other Buddhist circles & also taught by Ajahn Sumedho is related to this.
but from a textual point of view the section of the Satipatthana sutta known as clear knowing (after the posture section) is directly part of the practice you have had discomfort with.

Like I said I have not done a goenka retreat, and know people here and elsewhere have benefited from them, but there is a way of attending anything which can make it beneficial or not.
Hope this Helps
Manapa
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Post by Goofaholix » Sat Jan 28, 2012 7:00 pm

Mr Man wrote:When I said "How about focusing directly on the sound of the chanting as it resonates?" what do you think I meant?
I think you meant exactly what you said, sound happens outside the body so to focusing directly on the sound of the chanting as it resonates is to take the attention to an object outside the body which is not consistent with the technique.
“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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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Post by Mr Man » Sat Jan 28, 2012 9:36 pm

Goofaholix wrote:
Mr Man wrote:When I said "How about focusing directly on the sound of the chanting as it resonates?" what do you think I meant?
I think you meant exactly what you said, sound happens outside the body so to focusing directly on the sound of the chanting as it resonates is to take the attention to an object outside the body which is not consistent with the technique.
Our experiance of sound is always within the body/mind. The sound comes to us. It makes contact with our eardrum. Without that contact there is no experience of sound. We cannot listen to the source of a sound. I think you are trying to create a difference where there isn't one. With respect.

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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Post by Goofaholix » Sat Jan 28, 2012 10:27 pm

Mr Man wrote:Our experiance of sound is always within the body/mind. The sound comes to us. It makes contact with our eardrum. Without that contact there is no experience of sound. We cannot listen to the source of a sound. I think you are trying to create a difference where there isn't one. With respect.
I think you'd best experiment to see if there is a difference between placing your attention internally or externally, in my experience in meditation subtle differences of emphasis make a big difference. I think it's pretty common when for people when they first hear the instruction to use sound as a meditation object to place there attention out there where the sound is coming from.
“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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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Post by Sunlily » Sun Jan 29, 2012 11:19 am

ertner wrote:wow... it was great reading all these responses. i just came back from my first course two days ago and
have to admit that Goenka's chanting (his english instruction as well) was the absolute number one reason that i feel as though i missed out on vipassana completely and might have wasted 10 days of my time... it was far, far, far too distracting for me and it prompted me to do anything BUT focus on becoming established in the practice.
:goodpost:

I am so very relieved to hear this as my experience and feelings were exactly the same,
Didn't know my earlobes could fit into my ears and help block out sound until I did this course.

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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Post by vidar » Sun Jan 29, 2012 1:00 pm

Sunlily wrote:
ertner wrote:wow... it was great reading all these responses. i just came back from my first course two days ago and
have to admit that Goenka's chanting (his english instruction as well) was the absolute number one reason that i feel as though i missed out on vipassana completely and might have wasted 10 days of my time... it was far, far, far too distracting for me and it prompted me to do anything BUT focus on becoming established in the practice.
:goodpost:

I am so very relieved to hear this as my experience and feelings were exactly the same,
Didn't know my earlobes could fit into my ears and help block out sound until I did this course.
Definitely is your experience, for me was completely different. And if in the course you only continued reacting with disliking or aversion towards chanting or anything else, then you don't understand nothing about what the practice really is.
All the world is on fire, All the world is burning, All the world is ablaze, All the world is quaking. That which does not quake or blaze, That to which worldlings do not resort, Where there is no place for Mara:That is where my mind delights. (SN 5.7)

By degrees, little by little,
from moment to moment,
the wise purify themselves,
as a smith purifies silver.
—Dhammapada 239

Brizzy
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Post by Brizzy » Sun Jan 29, 2012 1:37 pm

vidar wrote: Definitely is your experience, for me was completely different. And if in the course you only continued reacting with disliking or aversion towards chanting or anything else, then you don't understand nothing about what the practice really is.
It is quite possible to have a preference for silence rather than being chanted at in Hindi (a language I have absolutely no knowledge of) or Pali (without translation) without being accused of aversion or a lack of understanding. I am afraid to say that the idea of 'magical words' or should I say 'creating good vibrations' does not really sit well with me. The phrase 'creating good vibrations' is used often by Mr Goenka in the discourses. The Buddha never made such claims, the Buddha seemed to generate goodness through his teachings which were understood by others and not through special chanting or languages that were unintelligible to his audience. I can deal with a small amount of chanting in pali (with English translation) morning & night but beyond that it begins to strike me as a rather fruitless exercise. Being heavily involved with Tibetan Buddhism in my early years, I have seen the utter ludicrousness of large groups of westerners chanting & being chanted at, in a language totally alien to them and totally believing that this is a mystical language bringing its blessings. If it was a sutta being chanted in English THEN I could believe its effects, not through the language but through its MEANING.

Metta

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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Post by David2 » Sun Jan 29, 2012 1:49 pm

Brizzy wrote:If it was a sutta being chanted in English THEN I could believe its effects, not through the language but through its MEANING.
Of course old students can study what the chanting means, so they will also benefit of the meaning of the chanting in their following courses.

The advantage of chanting not in English but in Pali and Hindi is obviously that the meaning of the suttas and the traditional chanting does not change (through translation).

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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Post by vidar » Sun Jan 29, 2012 4:56 pm

It is quite possible to have a preference for silence rather than being chanted at in Hindi (a language I have absolutely no knowledge of) or Pali (without translation)...
The long chant is only in the morning not all day. If anyone has a “preference for silence” he/she can meditate in the pagoda cells or in his/her room during the day.
...without being accused of aversion or a lack of understanding
Continuing reacting with aversion towards chanting or anything else instead of try to maintain equanimity shows a lack of understanding of the technique and the instructions given in the discourses.
I am afraid to say that the idea of 'magical words' or should I say 'creating good vibrations' does not really sit well with me
Goenkaji never said that his words are "magical".
The phrase 'creating good vibrations' is used often by Mr Goenka in the discourses.
Really? The phrase 'creating good vibrations' is used "often" in the discourses? I don't remember, maybe I missed that part.
The Buddha never made such claims, the Buddha seemed to generate goodness through his teachings which were understood by others and not through special chanting or languages that were unintelligible to his audience
The discourses with the Dhamma teachings and the meditation instructions are given in a language intelligible to the audience not in pali or hindi. And by the way you hardly are an authority in what the Buddha taught or not.
Being heavily involved with Tibetan Buddhism in my early years, I have seen the utter ludicrousness of large groups of westerners chanting & being chanted at, in a language totally alien to them and totally believing that this is a mystical language bringing its blessings.
There is nothing mystical in Goenkaji chants and certainly he never said that the chanting will help you to become liberated. Liberation comes only with your personal effort, as he says:

“Dhamma is Dhamma only if it makes us self-reliant. So it is the duty of every Vipassana teacher to teach people to become self-reliant. "Attā hi attano nātho" You are your own master and no one else. "Attā hi attano gati" You make your own future, both wholesome and unwholesome and also the state of full liberation beyond all conditioned states. If you understand this properly, no teacher will be able to harm you in any way. Then if any teacher says, "Sit in front of me for one hour, I will give mettā and suck out all your sins," you will get up and walk away because you don't want this kind of mettā.”
All the world is on fire, All the world is burning, All the world is ablaze, All the world is quaking. That which does not quake or blaze, That to which worldlings do not resort, Where there is no place for Mara:That is where my mind delights. (SN 5.7)

By degrees, little by little,
from moment to moment,
the wise purify themselves,
as a smith purifies silver.
—Dhammapada 239

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Cittasanto
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Post by Cittasanto » Sun Jan 29, 2012 5:13 pm

vidar wrote:Definitely is your experience, for me was completely different. And if in the course you only continued reacting with disliking or aversion towards chanting or anything else, then you don't understand nothing about what the practice really is.
sometimes being with the aversion is the practice, and it can be very useful, there is Dukkha and it is to be apprehended, so maybe your understanding is at fault, not that of others.
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Post by vidar » Sun Jan 29, 2012 5:24 pm

Cittasanto wrote:
vidar wrote:Definitely is your experience, for me was completely different. And if in the course you only continued reacting with disliking or aversion towards chanting or anything else, then you don't understand nothing about what the practice really is.
sometimes being with the aversion is the practice, and it can be very useful, there is Dukkha and it is to be apprehended
So you're saying that one must continuing reacting with aversion?
so maybe your understanding is at fault, not that of others.
Maybe, although I doubt of the understanding of somebody who says "Didn't know my earlobes could fit into my ears and help block out sound until I did this course."
All the world is on fire, All the world is burning, All the world is ablaze, All the world is quaking. That which does not quake or blaze, That to which worldlings do not resort, Where there is no place for Mara:That is where my mind delights. (SN 5.7)

By degrees, little by little,
from moment to moment,
the wise purify themselves,
as a smith purifies silver.
—Dhammapada 239

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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Post by Cittasanto » Sun Jan 29, 2012 6:47 pm

vidar wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:
vidar wrote:Definitely is your experience, for me was completely different. And if in the course you only continued reacting with disliking or aversion towards chanting or anything else, then you don't understand nothing about what the practice really is.
sometimes being with the aversion is the practice, and it can be very useful, there is Dukkha and it is to be apprehended
So you're saying that one must continuing reacting with aversion?
so maybe your understanding is at fault, not that of others.
Maybe, although I doubt of the understanding of somebody who says "Didn't know my earlobes could fit into my ears and help block out sound until I did this course."
one can have aversion for along time, so long as there is dosa there is the possibility of aversion at some level if something for whatever reason provides a foothold for it!
and do note they did not say they ran out of the room screaming, or anything of the sort, shows some patient endurance, the foremost austerity, and will come in useful when it is needed. this is a gradual path and knowing Dukkha is just as much part of it as any other, not that there aren't other things to do in that regard.
however, did you ever think that they were joking about the ear thing?
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Post by Goofaholix » Sun Jan 29, 2012 7:23 pm

At the root of the aversion to the chanting is the belief that "this should not be happening", if one didn't have this belief then the aversion wouldn't grow. For example a large flock of birds could be making just as much noise as the chanting but nobody would create as much aversion to that because everybody knows this is natural and beyond our control.

Goenka retreats are like the McDonalds of the retreat world, you can attend a retreat anywhere in the world and know exactly what you are going to get, unlike McDonalds though where you can take the pickles out you can't do this with a Goenka retreat. So if you can't cope with the chanting don't sign up for another retreat.

If you do sign up for a retreat then you know you are going to be meditating at times when the circumstances are totally quiet and other times when it's noisy, the mind settles much more easily when it's quiet but meditating when it's noisy builds strength of mind and an ability to meditate under a variety of circumstances. The ability to meditate under a variety of circumstances is a good skill to have, if you have to wait until conditions are perfect your meditation practise will be much poorer, if you have to learn this at home it will be harder than if you learned it on retreat.

I've done a lot of retreats in SE Asia and in many centres there are loudspeakers, music, dogs, roosters, spitting monks, and all manner of noise throughout the day, I can assure you Goenkas chanting is quite sublime by comparison.
“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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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Post by cooran » Sun Jan 29, 2012 7:30 pm

:goodpost:

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 ---

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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Post by vidar » Sun Jan 29, 2012 7:39 pm

Cittasanto wrote:one can have aversion for along time, so long as there is dosa there is the possibility of aversion at some level if something for whatever reason provides a foothold for it!
you're right, but I never said that one must not feel aversion, what I said was that if aversion or craving arises due to unpleasant or pleasant sensations/sounds one must be aware and try to maintain equanimity.
and do note they did not say they ran out of the room screaming, or anything of the sort, shows some patient endurance, the foremost austerity, and will come in useful when it is needed. this is a gradual path and knowing Dukkha is just as much part of it as any other, not that there aren't other things to do in that regard.
however, did you ever think that they were joking about the ear thing
Yes I know it was a joke (a bad one), but if they say that the aversion towards chanting caused that they missed out on vipassana and "wasted 10 days of they time",I suppose they didn't understand the instructions correctly.
All the world is on fire, All the world is burning, All the world is ablaze, All the world is quaking. That which does not quake or blaze, That to which worldlings do not resort, Where there is no place for Mara:That is where my mind delights. (SN 5.7)

By degrees, little by little,
from moment to moment,
the wise purify themselves,
as a smith purifies silver.
—Dhammapada 239

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