Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

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vidar
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Post by vidar » Sun Jan 29, 2012 7:55 pm

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.
Well said Goofaholix :clap:
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 8:23 pm

vidar wrote:
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.
Why must they? there is more than equanimity in the practice, I believe they done well getting through the parts they didn't like, and managing the aversion the best they could and then going back for more! this is their first one or two goes at intensive retreat. I know people who lasted only a few days and left.
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.
Well I though it funny, just thinking of a person in front of me tucking their ears inside out is a funny thought!
but they may of needed something else to help them, not everyone needs group instruction and maybe some one on one assistance may of been better?

I was in a 2week full group practice period of a three month retreat having panic attacks and had to be offered permission to not attend afternoon sits, (heaven forbid I requested to attend a 10day+ retreat after that!) so I didn't get any benefit out of that in the same way some may expect or believe a retreat experience should yield fruit, but it was still beneficial, maybe time and perspective are needed to see it, or not? but no need to say they didn't understand, maybe their experiance wasn't the norm, but maybe they need assistance seeing the benefit of it.
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Brizzy
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Post by Brizzy » Sun Jan 29, 2012 8:36 pm

David2 wrote:
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).

I am sorry but at my time of life learning the dhamma is enough without having to learn another language. Also how can one actually benefit from hearing the original pali without somehow translating it?

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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Post by Brizzy » Sun Jan 29, 2012 8:38 pm

vidar wrote:
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.”

Maybe in your experience one can escape the chanting, bit in mine it is piped through the buildings.
It is a common practice for people to be accused of lack of understanding or having aversion, when those same people raise concern or issue with others religious beliefs. It would be better if those concerns were addressed or debated rather than cast aspersions.
If you cannot remember that Mr Goenka talks about creating good vibrations through chanting and that it is his role as a teacher to do this and we should not worry our heads about it, then you cannot remember you did indeed miss that part.
As for being an authority on what the Buddha did or did not teach, you may be right. I only have the suttas, teachers and my own discernment to guide me. If I get it wrong it is my fault.

Metta

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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Post by Brizzy » Sun Jan 29, 2012 8:39 pm

vidar wrote:
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.
Well said Goofaholix :clap:
I'll have mine to go.

Metta

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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Post by Anagarika » Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:07 pm

The whole idea of these lengthy Goenka retreats is interesting. I know that many have benefited greatly from completing the retreats, and others have had different experiences.

Having not attended one, I can't really have an opinion. A Thai monk with whom I was meditating did suggest that the Goenka path was not what he, the Bhikkhu, considered a proper practice of meditation as he saw it being taught within Theravada practice. I believe he saw these Goenka retreats as being akin to a marathon that people enjoyed completing for the sake of the experience. I know that he very much did not consider them to be part of the Dhamma practice that he was teaching.

Another of my teachers has commented that in Thailand, chanting is popular with the public, and that the public will attend the Wat for an evening of chanting, but that to get them to attend an evening of sitting meditation is much more difficult. Perhaps Goenka adds the Pali and Hindi chanting as a way to romanticize or energize the experience.

The hard part of practice is the meditation. It is also the beautiful part, the calming part, the insightful part.

I'd love to run a 26.4 K marathon just to say that I did it. But at the end of the day, if 20 minutes of walking meditation allows me to be just a little kinder, a little more compassionate that day, then the 20 minutes works for me.

Again, what works for others is always interesting to hear, and that's why I'm glad for this forum.

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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Post by Goofaholix » Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:19 pm

BuddhaSoup wrote:The whole idea of these lengthy Goenka retreats is interesting. I know that many have benefited greatly from completing the retreats, and others have had different experiences.
Lengthy? 10 days is hardly lengthy when you consider the task being undertaken is awakening.
BuddhaSoup wrote:Perhaps Goenka adds the Pali and Hindi chanting as a way to romanticize or energize the experience.
That's the only conclusion i can draw, it seems to not fit with the importance he places on what he is teaching being non-sectarian/religious.
“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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Ben
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Post by Ben » Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:21 pm

BuddhaSoup wrote:The whole idea of these lengthy Goenka retreats is interesting. I know that many have benefited greatly from completing the retreats, and others have had different experiences.

Having not attended one, I can't really have an opinion. A Thai monk with whom I was meditating did suggest that the Goenka path was not what he, the Bhikkhu, considered a proper practice of meditation as he saw it being taught within Theravada practice. I believe he saw these Goenka retreats as being akin to a marathon that people enjoyed completing for the sake of the experience. I know that he very much did not consider them to be part of the Dhamma practice that he was teaching.
I would say that your Venerable friend may be mistaken with his impressions of a ten-day course in the Goenka tradition. The real marathon is maintaining practice in daily life. Certainly some people go for "the experience", but for others it is the establishment of their practice and subsequent retreats are a merely an opportunity to practice deeply for a period of time. Also, you will find that within Myanmar what is taught by SN Goenka at his centres is considered mainstream Theravada.
Another of my teachers has commented that in Thailand, chanting is popular with the public, and that the public will attend the Wat for an evening of chanting, but that to get them to attend an evening of sitting meditation is much more difficult. Perhaps Goenka adds the Pali and Hindi chanting as a way to romanticize or energize the experience.
Despite how it has been characterised in this thread by those who have a negativity in relation to SN Goenka, there is little chanting in a ten-day course. As others have noted if one were to spend any time near a monastery in Myanmar they would find that the chanting and instruction in Pali and Burmese goes on almost continuously from 3.30am to 11pm at night.
Durng one of SN Goenka's ten-day courses: apart from about one hour in the morning, the remainder of the chanting is interspersed during the day and would not total more than half an hour in total (1.5 hours per day). The reason why chanting is there is partly traditional but also to help create a meditative ambiance.
The hard part of practice is the meditation. It is also the beautiful part, the calming part, the insightful part.
I agree.


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Ben
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Post by Brizzy » Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:28 pm

BuddhaSoup wrote:The whole idea of these lengthy Goenka retreats is interesting. I know that many have benefited greatly from completing the retreats, and others have had different experiences.

Having not attended one, I can't really have an opinion. A Thai monk with whom I was meditating did suggest that the Goenka path was not what he, the Bhikkhu, considered a proper practice of meditation as he saw it being taught within Theravada practice. I believe he saw these Goenka retreats as being akin to a marathon that people enjoyed completing for the sake of the experience. I know that he very much did not consider them to be part of the Dhamma practice that he was teaching.

Another of my teachers has commented that in Thailand, chanting is popular with the public, and that the public will attend the Wat for an evening of chanting, but that to get them to attend an evening of sitting meditation is much more difficult. Perhaps Goenka adds the Pali and Hindi chanting as a way to romanticize or energize the experience.

The hard part of practice is the meditation. It is also the beautiful part, the calming part, the insightful part.

I'd love to run a 26.4 K marathon just to say that I did it. But at the end of the day, if 20 minutes of walking meditation allows me to be just a little kinder, a little more compassionate that day, then the 20 minutes works for me.

Again, what works for others is always interesting to hear, and that's why I'm glad for this forum.
Now thats not fair!

There should be rules about posting a polite, gentle and balanced posting like yours immediately after my little rants. :heart:

It makes me look bad :tongue:

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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Post by Mr Man » Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:37 pm

There is a clip of Goenka chanting here (I haven't embeded the clip because I think it possibly shouldn't be on youtube):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpklk6FuGsM" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Ben what is he chanting here?
He has a fairly traditional rythem at times but it is also rather idiosyncratic. I am actually rather a fan of chanting :) .

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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:39 pm

I'd echo several of the above posts by saying that a Goenka retreat is no more (or, necessarily, less) a marathon than a retreat of a week or more in the style of other Theravada teachers (such as Mahasi Sayadaw/U Pandita, Pa Auk Sayadaw, etc, etc). To me the Goenka retreat I sat a few years ago was quite standard Theravada. Goenka has his particular interpretation of the Suttas (as do all teachers), teaches a particular style of meditation (as do all teachers), and has a particular chanting style. Some could quibble with some technical details of interpretation (as they probably could with all teachers), but as I recall, the Dhamma talks were rather standard 4NT, 8FoldPath, etc.

Hmm, that sentence got rather complex. The point is that in my view the differences between Goenka and other Dhamma teachers is no wider than the general differences between Theravada teachers.

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vidar
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Post by vidar » Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:58 pm

Brizzy wrote:It is a common practice for people to be accused of lack of understanding or having aversion, when those same people raise concern or issue with others religious beliefs. It would be better if those concerns were addressed or debated rather than cast aspersions.
The problem is not the raise of concerns or issues, the problem is the ill talking and the untruthful things.
If you cannot remember that Mr Goenka talks about creating good vibrations through chanting and that it is his role as a teacher to do this and we should not worry our heads about it, then you cannot remember you did indeed miss that part.
You said that the phrase 'creating good vibrations' is used "often" in the discourses by Goenkaji, and that simply is not true.
As for being an authority on what the Buddha did or did not teach, you may be right. I only have the suttas, teachers and my own discernment to guide me. If I get it wrong it is my fault.
Good. The suttas, the teachers and my own discernment, are also the guide for me.
Last edited by vidar on Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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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Goofaholix
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Post by Goofaholix » Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:05 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hmm, that sentence got rather complex. The point is that in my view the differences between Goenka and other Dhamma teachers is no wider than the general differences between Theravada teachers.
The biggest difference, a bit off topic for this thread, is how he structures his organistation and teaching etc.

Other groups have new teachers and new dhamma talks coming through all the time, Goenka has had the same tapes for at least the last 16 years. I find it's not uncommon for thai forest, mahasi, insight medtation groups, etc to cooperate have teachers from other groups come and teach etc, and experiment with different techniques, I've never seen this with Goenka.
“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 tiltbillings » Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:24 pm

BuddhaSoup wrote:The whole idea of these lengthy Goenka retreats is interesting.
The 10- day retreats?
Having not attended one, I can't really have an opinion. A Thai monk with whom I was meditating did suggest that the Goenka path was not what he, the Bhikkhu, considered a proper practice of meditation as he saw it being taught within Theravada practice. I believe he saw these Goenka retreats as being akin to a marathon that people enjoyed completing for the sake of the experience. I know that he very much did not consider them to be part of the Dhamma practice that he was teaching.
While you may not have an opinion, that does not stop you from voicing an opinion of an unnamed monk about whom we know know nothing. The unnamed, unknown monk's opinion seems to be a fairly shallow appraisal of what Goenka-ji is offering us.
The hard part of practice is the meditation. It is also the beautiful part, the calming part, the insightful part.
And this what the 10 day courses are about.
I'd love to run a 26.4 K marathon just to say that I did it. But at the end of the day, if 20 minutes of walking meditation allows me to be just a little kinder, a little more compassionate that day, then the 20 minutes works for me.
Again, you are, in the comparison, unnecessarily laying a bit of negativity upon the Goenka style of practice.
>> 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: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Post by tiltbillings » Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:26 pm

Brizzy wrote: The phrase 'creating good vibrations' is used often by Mr Goenka in the discourses.
And your source for this claim?
>> 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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