Vipassana movement

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom
greggorious
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Vipassana movement

Postby greggorious » Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:41 am

Does the Vipassana movement differ a lot from orthodox Theravada? From what I've read it does. At the moment I'm reading 'The wise heart' by Jack Kornfield. He talks extensively about his time with Ajahn Chah, but he also talks a lot about Buddha nature, being a Bodhissatva etc. I know Gil Fronsal is another who was once a zen priest who turned to Theravada, but incorporates elements of Zen into his practice. Then there's the 'One Dharma' book by Joseph Goldstein, trained as a Theravada Monk but now incorporates Zen and Tibetan. Is this all part of the Vipassana movement?
"The original heart/mind shines like pure, clear water with the sweetest taste. But if the heart is pure, is our practice over? No, we must not cling even to this purity. We must go beyond all duality, all concepts, all bad, all good, all pure, all impure. We must go beyond self and nonself, beyond birth and death. When we see with the eye of wisdom, we know that the true Buddha is timeless, unborn, unrelated to any body, any history, any image. Buddha is the ground of all being, the realization of the truth of the unmoving mind.” Ajahn Chah

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Re: Vipassana movement

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jul 27, 2012 1:43 am

Hi Greg,

It depends what you mean by a "vipassana movement". Some would say that the ultimate aim of any Buddhist practice is vipassana, so it is the aim of any Buddhist path, and a rather useless term. Some would apply it to approaches that emphasise mindfulness and developing insight without necessarily developing jhanic concentration. That would include a huge range from the secular to the traditional (from those who don't mention Buddhism at all, through to what you might call traditional: Goenka, Mahasi Sayadaw, U Pandita, etc). Others would apply it to the more secular teachers.

:anjali:
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Re: Vipassana movement

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Jul 27, 2012 5:46 am

You'll find many western Theravadin monks are almost as eclectic, I think it's a western thing as much as a vipassana movement thing. Of course the other vipassana movement (Goenka) is the opposite in this respect.

Just take what you find useful and leave what you don't.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah

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Vipassana movement

Postby MartyP » Fri Jul 27, 2012 5:50 pm

I do not understand the joining together of the word "vipassana" and the word
"movement."

Vipassana, as the word is used in the context of Insight Meditation (it has two other meanings)
is a meditation teaching and practice which is laid out in fine detail in the Tipikata (Pali Canon), as
taught by Siddhattha Gotama (Pali) Buddha. Of course, Mindfulness, as a daily activity outside Meditation
practice, is treated extensively in Buddha's teachings and are also laid out extensively in the Tipikata (Pali Canon), as first
taught by Siddhattha Gotama (Pali) Buddha. These extensive teachings can be read in English, as translated
from what is now call the "Pali Language."

See this site: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/index.html

As you can read on that page: The Tipitaka (Pali ti, "three," + pitaka, "baskets"), or Pali canon, is the collection of
primary Pali language texts which form the doctrinal foundation of Theravada Buddhism. The Tipitaka and the
paracanonical Pali texts (commentaries, chronicles, etc.) together constitute the complete body of classical Theravada texts.



Theravada Buddhism and Vipassana go hand and hand. There are other schools of Buddhism engaged in different
meditative practices, e.g., zazen, samatha, etc. If you go online and try to nail down the various forms, variations,
and type of Buddhsit meditation pratices, it is easy to get lost, as there are various types of Buddhist schools.
Tibetan Buddhism has four types of schools and there are variations.

So, back to Vippassna, Theravada, and the Movement.

The Western Modern Secular Movement?

In 1975, Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg, Joseph Goldstein, Jon Kabat-Zinn, and others, after having studied and
practiced abroad and here, met up in some fashion and formed the non-profit "Insight Meditation Society,"
and in 1976 purchased real property and opened a retreat in Barre, Massachusetts.

It appears to me that their object was to bring Mindfulness Meditation, Insight Meditation/Vipassna
to the US in a secular manner, so as to avoid the religious connotations, and thus avoid the "religious" Buddhist
teachings and such aspects that would alienate a large portion of the population who would thus be deprived
of the benefits of what appears to be, if one would stop at the beginners stage, "mindfulness meditation lite."
See Kornfield's book:
http://www.amazon.com/Meditation-Beginn ... +beginners.
You can read parts of the book by placing the title in the search box here: http://books.google.com/bkshp?hl=en&tab=pp

Of course, this makes sense. As time passes, and the population grows, culture changes, demographics allow for greater acceptance,
the canonical enters the teachings. See this very good beginners insight work book by Goldstein and Salzberg:
http://www.amazon.com/Insight-Meditatio ... n+salzberg

Gil Fronsdal is a Soto Zen Priest, was a Theravadan monk in Burma, was trained as a Vipassana teacher by Jack Kornfield,
has a Ph.D., in Buddhist studies from Standford, and has practiced Soto Zen and Vipassana since 1975. See his wikipedia site.
Gil and Andrea Fella are great teachers and their dharmma talks and meditation teachings are excellent and free online,
and fill in the cracks of this movement question. Just another place, teaching vipassana as they were trained, educated,
and studied.

Gil: http://www.audiodharma.org/teacher/1/
Andrea: http://www.audiodharma.org/teacher/2/
there are numerous other teachers there that can be accessed by hitting the drop down button
at the top left "select teacher."

Goenka, Mahasi Sayadaw, U Pandita, Thanissaro Bhikkhu, Bhikkhu Bodhi and many others have varied CVs, backgrounds,
and views and trainings.

There is an un-adopted non-formulated movement, but NOT in vipassana per se.
It is a WESTERN MODERN THERAVADAN movement (and most people have little idea they
are part of it) whereby - FOR THE MASSES - small parts of Theravadan/Pali Canonical teachings,
including OR Not including mindfulness, vipassana, insight, mindfulness meditation, mindfulness
meditation lite, (or even variations on all of it which western studio owners create), and the
creation of this WESTERN MOVEMENT is in its infancy, and its formulation, quasi establishment, and recognition are far
from categorization.

Masses, little idea? I have spoken to people who have been practicing what they believe is insight meditation
and had no idea that it was a component of Buddhist practice, never heard the word Thervadan, and had no
ides from whence arose the five hindrances they were taught to deal with during meditation.

I met a gentleman this past month, who had been meditating for less than a month, who was seriously considering
going on a 10 day Vipassana retreat in Jesup, Georgia. This sounded quite unusual as a teaching technique.
I wonder if this is part of the movement.

If there is a movement, or movements, and one were to use the various ingredients of my post and the three
posted, it is emblematic of the arrival of something quite special from which those who
make great skilled effort to study, learn, practice, read/read/read and study, learn and practice, practice,
practice, can benefit greatly. In there lies a spectacular movement.

MartyP

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Re: Vipassana movement

Postby Ben » Fri Jul 27, 2012 10:08 pm

What the "vipassana movement" refers to is the modern manifestation in the west of the Burmese Mass Lay Meditation Movement that had as its genesis a response to British Christian missionary activity in colonial Burma of the 19th Century. It has an interesting history. Anyone interested should read "Burma's Mass Lay Meditation Movement" by Ingrid Jordt.
Within Burma, the 'traditions' of Mahasi, U Ba Khin/Goenka are considered to be orthodox Theravada.
kind regards,

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

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Vipassana movement

Postby greggorious » Fri Jul 27, 2012 10:47 pm

What tradition do you follow Ben? As usual I'm confused with what I'm doing. As I mentioned before I enjoy Vipassana meditation but am not into all the Tipitaka quotes that goes on here. People usually presume that I'm atheistic, but actually it's the other way, I kind of believe in God...not in the picturebook old man with a beard, but as an energy that resides in all things.
"The original heart/mind shines like pure, clear water with the sweetest taste. But if the heart is pure, is our practice over? No, we must not cling even to this purity. We must go beyond all duality, all concepts, all bad, all good, all pure, all impure. We must go beyond self and nonself, beyond birth and death. When we see with the eye of wisdom, we know that the true Buddha is timeless, unborn, unrelated to any body, any history, any image. Buddha is the ground of all being, the realization of the truth of the unmoving mind.” Ajahn Chah

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Re: Vipassana movement

Postby Ben » Fri Jul 27, 2012 11:31 pm

Hi Greg,

I am a student of SN Goenka and have been practicing exclusively under his guidance since 1985. One becomes a 'student' of SN Goenka by attending a residential ten-day 'course' or retreat of vipassana meditation at one of his centres: www.dhamma.org and maintaining the practice in daily life.
Sayagi U Ba Khin was SN Goenka's teacher and was a famous lay meditation teacher in Burma from 1950s to 1971. There are a small number of centres aligned with International Meditation Centre (IMC) in Yangon and what they teach is almost identical to what is taught at Goenkaji's VMC centres. http://www.internationalmeditationcentre.org/
kind regards,

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

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia
e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com

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Re: Vipassana movement

Postby danieLion » Fri Jul 27, 2012 11:45 pm

Is the vipassana "movement" just Buddhist Modernism run amok?

In this video Rev. Sujato challenges:

"I don't think anybody who seriously considers what the Buddha said in the suttas, or who has any appreciation for the historical context of the Buddhist scriptures, can seriously maintain that the Buddha taught a path of pure vipassana" (5:42-6:02).



OR

Is it a movement with real substance?

In his article, "Insight Meditation in the United States: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness", Gil Fronsdal asks:

Many interesting questions can be asked about the future development of the vipassana movement. Having already lost much of its Theravada identity, how thoroughly will it maintain its Buddhist identity? If it remains pragmatically orthopraxical, will the mindfulness teachings be contextualized in any traditional Buddhist framework, or will a new doctrinal frame-work be developed in the West? When such central Buddhist tenets as no-self (anatta) can he reformulated so that at least one American teacher can refer to a “true self,” will the movement eventually lack a uniform enough doctrinal foundation to hold it together, even loosely (Jack Kornfield, in the chapter discussing self and no-self in his book, A Path with Heart, has a section titled “From No Self to True Self.”)? If the movement has minimal shared doctrinal, ritual, or institutional underpinnings, can shared spiritual practices create a cohesive enough identity for it to remain an identifiable movement? And what do the demographics of its teachers and practitioners say about the movement’s long-term viability?
http://www.insightmeditationcenter.org/ ... happiness/


Or...?

Best wishes,
Daniel

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Re: Vipassana movement

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jul 27, 2012 11:49 pm

danieLion wrote:Or...?
Are we going to just generalize and comment without really having a clue?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Vipassana movement

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Jul 28, 2012 12:03 am

danieLion wrote:In this video Rev. Sujato challenges:
"I don't think anybody who seriously considers what the Buddha said in the suttas, or who has any appreciation for the historical context of the Buddhist scriptures, can seriously maintain that the Buddha taught a path of pure vipassana"

He's right. And I've never met a Buddhist teacher who claims that he did, so it's a non-issue as far as I can see... :redherring:

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Vipassana movement

Postby danieLion » Sat Jul 28, 2012 12:11 am

tiltbillings wrote:
danieLion wrote:Or...?
Are we going to just generalize and comment without really having a clue?

Hi tilt,
We? Who, exactly, do you think is clueless?

Kind wishes,
Daniel

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Re: Vipassana movement

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jul 28, 2012 12:15 am

danieLion wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
danieLion wrote:Or...?
Are we going to just generalize and comment without really having a clue?

Hi tilt,
We? Who, exactly, do you think is clueless?

Kind wishes,
Daniel
Ven S in the comment you quoted. I'll respond at a bit more length later tonight.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Vipassana movement

Postby danieLion » Sat Jul 28, 2012 12:16 am

mikenz66 wrote:
danieLion wrote:In this video Rev. Sujato challenges:
"I don't think anybody who seriously considers what the Buddha said in the suttas, or who has any appreciation for the historical context of the Buddhist scriptures, can seriously maintain that the Buddha taught a path of pure vipassana"

He's right. And I've never met a Buddhist teacher who claims that he did, so it's a non-issue as far as I can see... :redherring:

:anjali:
Mike

Hi Mike,
Me neither. But I do know at least one practitioner who claims to do "dry insight" to the exclusion of samatha and jhana.
Best,
Daniel

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Re: Vipassana movement

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Jul 28, 2012 12:46 am

Well, yes, I'm sure there are some, but as far as I can see, this dichotomy tends to be in the minds of those who complain about it. The ancient Theravada tradition, and the teachers I'm familiar with, all teach development of both concentration and mindfulness, though there are clearly variations in how different teachers and practitioners approach the process.

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Vipassana movement

Postby danieLion » Sat Jul 28, 2012 1:56 am

Tilt,
Thanks for clarifying. Looking forward to your insights per usual.
Best,
Daniel

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Re: Vipassana movement

Postby danieLion » Sat Jul 28, 2012 2:00 am

mikenz66 wrote:...this dichotomy tends to be in the minds of those who complain about it.

That's quite possible. He speaks quite derisively of samatha, but only in the context of talking about how his attempts at it failed.
Best,
Daniel

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Re: Vipassana movement

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jul 28, 2012 7:17 am

greggorious wrote:Then there's the 'One Dharma' book by Joseph Goldstein, trained as a Theravada Monk but now incorporates Zen and Tibetan. Is this all part of the Vipassana movement?
There are 372 talks by Goldstein here. One will find here not some warm fuzzy, airy-fairy, feel-god hodgepodge mixture of different schools; rather, what one finds in Goldstein's talks is a highly skilled, a highly practiced and highly studied teacher deeply grounded in the Buddha-Dhamma of the Pali/Theravada. As a matter of of wanting to understand the various other traditions of Dhamma, he worked with teachers of these traditions, finding with in them value, but at his core his commitment is to the Dhamma. Goldstein did not train as monk, and being a monk does not, in and of itself, make one a better teacher.

MartyP wrote:In 1975, Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg, Joseph Goldstein, Jon Kabat-Zinn, and others, after having studied and
practiced abroad and here, met up in some fashion and formed the non-profit "Insight Meditation Society,"
and in 1976 purchased real property and opened a retreat in Barre, Massachusetts.
"Kabat-Zinn and others" are not founders of IMS.

MartyP wrote:It appears to me that their object was to bring Mindfulness Meditation, Insight Meditation/Vipassna
to the US in a secular manner, so as to avoid the religious connotations, and thus avoid the "religious" Buddhist
teachings and such aspects that would alienate a large portion of the population who would thus be deprived
of the benefits of what appears to be, if one would stop at the beginners stage, "mindfulness meditation lite."
Having attended 3 three-month retreats at IMS, I can say that this is, to understate it, not an accurate description. One need not be a Buddhist to attend retreats there, but the teachings are within a Buddhist context. Nothing "mindfulness meditation lite" about the practice and the teachings at IMS.


MartyP wrote:I met a gentleman this past month, who had been meditating for less than a month, who was seriously considering
going on a 10 day Vipassana retreat in Jesup, Georgia. This sounded quite unusual as a teaching technique.
I wonder if this is part of the movement.
It is a Goenka retreat center: http://courses.dhamma.org/en-US/schedules/schpatapa

danieLion wrote:Is the vipassana "movement" just Buddhist Modernism run amok?

In this video Rev. Sujato challenges:

"I don't think anybody who seriously considers what the Buddha said in the suttas, or who has any appreciation for the historical context of the Buddhist scriptures, can seriously maintain that the Buddha taught a path of pure vipassana" (5:42-6:02).
I would not dare speak for all the "vipassana teachers" out there, but the teachers that I have worked with would never have made this mistake. It is not in the suttas, the commentaries, the Visuddhimagga, the teachings of Ledit Sayadaw, Mahasi Sayadaw, U Pandita, U Ba Khin, all of which are the foundation of the "vipassana movement."

danieLion wrote: But I do know at least one practitioner who claims to do "dry insight" to the exclusion of samatha and jhana.
The problem with that is that in actual practice the "dry" practice is not so dry. "Dry insight" is something of a theoretical construct, but in actual practice, as it is carefully looked at we see something a bit different, which is why the idea of "vipassana jhanas" has been put forth to better characterize the practice: http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/96/talk/305/

Modern Western/American Vipassana Meditaion is a whipping boy for some purists out there, but far more often than not the characterization is a generalized caricature.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Vipassana movement

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Jul 28, 2012 8:47 am

Is this thread about the meditation movement which calls the method they use vipassana (such as Goenka) or the technique of vipassana?
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."

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Re: Vipassana movement

Postby danieLion » Thu Aug 02, 2012 6:17 am

tiltbillings wrote:
danieLion wrote: But I do know at least one practitioner who claims to do "dry insight" to the exclusion of samatha and jhana.
The problem with that is that in actual practice the "dry" practice is not so dry. "Dry insight" is something of a theoretical construct, but in actual practice, as it is carefully looked at we see something a bit different, which is why the idea of "vipassana jhanas" has been put forth to better characterize the practice: http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/96/talk/305/

Modern Western/American Vipassana Meditaion is a whipping for some purists out there, but far more often than not the characterization is a generalized caricature.

Hi Tilt,
I've listened to this talk a few times now. IMHO, it shares the perspective, with the likes of Gil Fronsdal and Rev. Thanissaro that while jhāna requires some persistence and effort it's not that hard and is to be expected (Corollary to this is the idea that the jhānas are part of ordinary human psychology and experience, and that their augmenting and re-organizing in tandem with the Buddha's teleology is the practicing of--as opposed to theorizing about--jhāna .). This has the advantage of sidestepping the rather almost purely academic debate as to what jhāna actually is. We have the stock sutta description and the Buddha's own injunction to DO jhāna, but I'm not aware of anywhere where the Buddha can be found debating the meaning of jhāna.
Kind regards,
Daniel

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Re: Vipassana movement

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Aug 02, 2012 7:32 am

danieLion wrote:Hi Tilt,
I've listened to this talk a few times now. IMHO, it shares the perspective, with the likes of Gil Fronsdal and Rev. Thanissaro that while jhāna requires some persistence and effort it's not that hard and is to be expected (Corollary to this is the idea that the jhānas are part of ordinary human psychology and experience, and that their augmenting and re-organizing in tandem with the Buddha's teleology is the practicing of--as opposed to theorizing about--jhāna .). This has the advantage of sidestepping the rather almost purely academic debate as to what jhāna actually is. We have the stock sutta description and the Buddha's own injunction to DO jhāna, but I'm not aware of anywhere where the Buddha can be found debating the meaning of jhāna.
Kind regards,
Daniel
I think that is a reasonable assessment. As for the Buddha and the suttas on jhana, I suspect that the monks at the time of the Buddha worked with their preceptors/teachers, as the Buddha advised. What is described in the suttas is an outline, and the teachers fleshed out the jhana in terms of directing their students this way or that as needed. After the death of the Buddha the tendency seems to have been to push jhana to deeper levels. And this is pretty much the argument Leigh Brasington makes this point in his interview with Richard Shankman: viewtopic.php?f=17&t=9016&p=140097&#p140097

On a personal note: I was taught jhana by a teacher trained by Mahasi Sayadaw. It was certainly jhana in in terms of the Visuddhimagga. For a number of reasons I dropped any concern with jhana and certainly with cultivating concentration to the VM levels of jhana. Quite frankly I don't give a rat's ass about jhana, and I certainly don't give a rat's ass obtaining this or that level of anything and I certainly don't give a rat's ass obtaining ariya status. It is all too easy to get lost in that stuff. For me I simply do the practice. Paying attention sometimes flows with ease and grace, and other times it takes considerable persistence and constancy. What I like about the idea of the vipassana jhana model is that, as you indicate, these factors are just part of the practice of paying attention.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson


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