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teaching styles - Dhamma Wheel

teaching styles

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
PeterB
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teaching styles

Postby PeterB » Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:28 pm

I would request politely that answers come only from members who have attended Buddhist retreats , including two day introduction retreats.

When attending retreats has it been your experience that the style of the instructors made a difference to the quality of your retreat ? If they were warm, cool, " spiritual " business like. Did it make a difference to you ?

householder
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Re: teaching styles

Postby householder » Mon Jan 10, 2011 7:35 pm


PeterB
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Re: teaching styles

Postby PeterB » Mon Jan 10, 2011 7:44 pm

So was "strict and professional" what you needed at that time householder ?

householder
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Re: teaching styles

Postby householder » Mon Jan 10, 2011 7:47 pm


PeterB
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Re: teaching styles

Postby PeterB » Mon Jan 10, 2011 8:33 pm

Interesting householder...thank you.

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Goofaholix
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Re: teaching styles

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Jan 10, 2011 8:38 pm


PeterB
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Re: teaching styles

Postby PeterB » Mon Jan 10, 2011 8:42 pm

Thats been my experience too Goofaholix.

householder
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Re: teaching styles

Postby householder » Mon Jan 10, 2011 8:47 pm

I like what you've written Goofaholix. Given I've only been on one retreat, I may well find on my next few retreats that I connect with a teacher with a different style. If it progresses my practice, then that's what matters, is it not?

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Goofaholix
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Re: teaching styles

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:02 pm


householder
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Re: teaching styles

Postby householder » Mon Jan 10, 2011 10:23 pm


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Ben
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Re: teaching styles

Postby Ben » Tue Jan 11, 2011 12:05 am

Hi Peter

I've practiced exclusively under the guidance of SN Goenka since 1985, so I'm not sure whether my observations will be of as much value to you than from someone who has practiced under the guidance of a number of teachers. My only other experience with non-goenka meditation was from attending a pan-tradition workshop at Chenrezig Inst. in Queensland nearly 25 years ago and non-Buddhist meditation as part of Aikido which I did over 25 years ago. Neither experience I would consider as serious.

As you know, the (introductory) ten-day courses have a strict code of conduct which I think benefited me greatly in developing a depth of practice as well as self-discipline in being able to maintain my practice in day-to-day life following the retreat. Goenka's teaching style of giving instruction at different times of the day as well as 'checking' practitioner's progress at regular intervals I think is excellent for new students and those struggling to get established in the practice. I think also the discourses where he throws humour into the mix is also good for the same reason. After a long day of silent meditation the mix of humour and Dhamma is a good combination to get people to relax but still be engaged.

The teaching style of the old-student-only courses and particularly the long courses is a little different. There is less of a hands-on approach by the teacher/assistant teacher and students are encouraged to work out their problems on their own (when appropriate) and only seek an audience with the teacher when its absolutely necessary. Goenka also encourages long course participants to be as independent as possible and to use their own judgement when it comes down to many things from what technique they use (dependent on their experiences) to how long they spend on breaks; "You are your own master now, you work it out!" The general tenor of the courses is much more serious than the ten-day course. Participants are reminded to 'work!' and to maintain focus on the meditation object for as long and as continuously as possible (24/7). Except for deep-sleep, one's awareness and sampajjana should be maintained continuously! Students are also given a meditation cell to work in so as to maintain intensive practice. Mind you, students who have completed a long-course are given a cell when they attend ten-day courses (if the centre has them).
The evening video discourse is replaced with an audio tape. Participants continue to meditate through the discourse and the content is on technical aspects of the Dhamma with the odd cautionary or explanatory tale taken from the suttas or commentarial literature.
The exception to the rule is that the Teacher's Self Course (where the teacher does a self-course and invites students to practice with him), there is no instruction and no discourses and one meditates exclusively in one's cell (no group sits). I did my TSC (15-day) with Goenka 20 years ago in Dhammagiri in India. It was an amazing experience.

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

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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Modus.Ponens
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Re: teaching styles

Postby Modus.Ponens » Tue Jan 11, 2011 12:21 am

Hello Ben :)

This is off topic, but could you create a new thread telling how was your experience in Burma, including the pilgrimage?

Metta
He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
(Jhana Sutta - Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation)

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Ben
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Re: teaching styles

Postby Ben » Tue Jan 11, 2011 12:26 am

“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

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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zavk
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Re: teaching styles

Postby zavk » Tue Jan 11, 2011 12:29 am

Yes, of course Peter. As I've shared in the other thread on the IMS, going from a background of a few years of Goenka practice (and having only attended Goenka courses) to a stay at a Forest Hermitage quite radically changed the way I approach my practice--not just towards formal meditation but my approach towards the Dhamma in general. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with Goenka's approach. As I have suggested in that thread it is a thoughtful approach which can be very effective for some. If anything, the problem lies with me. I have a tendency to get caught up in projections of time and hence, expectations. Goenka's approach was very helpful when I was starting out because, well, I needed the discipline of a strict timetable to establish myself in the Dhamma. If not for Goenka's courses it would've been hard for me to truly understand the importance of viriya.

At the hermitage, however, I wouldn't even call the abbot an instructor as such. He didn't 'instruct' me on anything. He was really there as a kind of supporting presence, as someone I could turn to for a listening ear should I need to speak to anyone whilst I spend time in solitude, exploring the Dhamma on my own terms in a secluded, natural environment. If anything, I learned from him not so much through 'instructions' but by observing his conduct. If he 'instructed' or 'taught', it was by example--by his behaviour, his presence more than anything else.

(Welcome home Ben! :hello: )
Last edited by zavk on Tue Jan 11, 2011 12:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
With metta,
zavk

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Goofaholix
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Re: teaching styles

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Jan 11, 2011 12:30 am


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Ben
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Re: teaching styles

Postby Ben » Tue Jan 11, 2011 12:44 am

“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

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

User avatar
Ben
Posts: 18442
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: kanamaluka

Re: teaching styles

Postby Ben » Tue Jan 11, 2011 12:48 am

“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

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

PeterB
Posts: 3909
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:35 pm

Re: teaching styles

Postby PeterB » Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:56 am



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