Sorry to hear it didn't work for you Alan.
I think part of the problem is that some of the assistant teachers, and many of the volunteers in 'management' have never experienced anything outside of Mr Goenka's tradition and some of them a rudimentary exposure to the Tipitaka. So, the 'only way' is taken literally, and not understood as "upaya" (skill in means). And for many new "old students" the extraordinary retreat experience becomes a vehicle that generates the same kind of blind faith, devotion and zeal that Mr Goenka actually warns against. When I was in India in 1989/90 I attended the winter season of long couses at Dhammagiri and served Mr Goenka. I witnessed him a number of times actively discouraging students from engaging in guru-devotion. While it seems to be a bit of a cultural norm in India, he wouldn't accept it from his western students and actively discouraged their attempts at adopting sycophantic devotional behaviours. During the long courses, Mr Goenka states that part of the role of the teacher is to lead students from dependence on a teacher, to independence - self-dependence. He encouraged his students to try and work things out for themselves and only resorting to speaking to him (or an AT) only if it was absolutely necessary.
But like you, over a 25 year period, I've met my fair share of acolyte-wannabes. But my impression is that that phenomenon is the result of whats going on inside the heads of some of the people who attend, rather than it being the fault of the teacher.
“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 3.725Compassionate Hands Foundation
(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global Relief
e: [email protected]