Goenka Retreat?

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Goenka Retreat?

Postby ashtanga » Mon Apr 19, 2010 1:49 pm

I have booked myself on the Goenka Retreat in Sep (UK). Can anyone give me some feedback as to whether its a worthwhile move etc...?

Thanks!

Tony...

Apologies if this has been done before - I'm in work and can't really search.
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Re: Goenka Retreat?

Postby Moggalana » Mon Apr 19, 2010 1:54 pm

Haven't done one yet, but others here have. So until they post here, you could check out this thread:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 49&start=0
or this
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 61&start=0
Let it come. Let it be. Let it go.
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Re: Goenka Retreat?

Postby PeterB » Mon Apr 19, 2010 2:20 pm

I have no doubt that it is worthwhile Ashtanga. Are you going to the place in Herefordshire ?
I wont say too much because I think it is important to go with a minimum of expectation, we are all different..
But I am sure that you wont regret taking advantage of a real opportunity to grow Dhammically..each days retreat is the equal of a year thinking about these things.

Hope it goes well. I hope also that you tell us how it went.

:anjali:
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Re: Goenka Retreat?

Postby Ben » Mon Apr 19, 2010 8:48 pm

Hi ashtanga
I've participated in at least 30 retreats under the guidance of SN Goenka in the last 25 years.
And I keep going back. You're welcome to pm me any specific questions you may have.
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: Goenka Retreat?

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Apr 20, 2010 5:03 am

ashtanga wrote:I have booked myself on the Goenka Retreat in Sep (UK). Can anyone give me some feedback as to whether its a worthwhile move etc...?

Thanks!

Tony...

Apologies if this has been done before - I'm in work and can't really search.


I've done about 6 Goenka retreats, depending on your attitude some people find them very difficult. His teaching style is very much to push people to work harder the trouble is us westerners can often get all uptight when we hear that kind of instruction over and over again.

My advice is for you to relax, you want to maintain a consistent relaxed effort not an uptight trying to force something to happen effort, if you maintain that you'll find it worthwhile I'm sure.
"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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Re: Goenka Retreat?

Postby Brizzy » Tue Apr 20, 2010 9:47 am

ashtanga wrote:I have booked myself on the Goenka Retreat in Sep (UK). Can anyone give me some feedback as to whether its a worthwhile move etc...?

Thanks!

Tony...

Apologies if this has been done before - I'm in work and can't really search.



Welllllllllll.................... :smile:

I will desist from saying anything new, however if you look up my posts you might get my answer.

It is your decision :anjali:

:smile:
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Re: Goenka Retreat?

Postby living peacefully » Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:00 pm

I sat my first 10 day retreat last month at the SE Center in Jesup, GA, US. I am still processing the experience. No regrets! :namaste:
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Re: Goenka Retreat?

Postby Ben » Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:08 pm

Well done, living peacefully!
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
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Re: Goenka Retreat?

Postby Clayton » Sun Apr 25, 2010 5:23 pm

Highly Recommended... I sat my first retreat last december. Sitting another one next month...
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Re: Goenka Retreat?

Postby oceanmen » Sun Apr 25, 2010 8:50 pm

done one Goenka retreat in 2005...changed my life.....self confrontation......good luck!!

:namaste:
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Re: Goenka Retreat?

Postby alan » Mon Apr 26, 2010 2:43 am

Some respond well to his method. I didn't, but that may have had something to do with the sycophants around him, who just bugged me. Oh well. Give it a shot, just realize it is not the only game in town.
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Re: Goenka Retreat?

Postby cooran » Mon Apr 26, 2010 2:52 am

Hello alan,

Did you actually go to a Retreat where Goenka-ji was personally present?

with metta
Chris
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Re: Goenka Retreat?

Postby alan » Tue Apr 27, 2010 3:33 am

No, I was hoping to meet someone real, but was stuck with his C grade acolytes. Perhaps that was all they could get to come up to Kathmandu, where I was living at the time--this would be 1986 or so, when I was a long haired hippie. (The retreat was sold as if he would be there).
I would say to ashtanga that if you are not already sitting a few hours a day or more the schedule will probably be very difficult. At that time at least, they were very strict on insisting that his was the Only Way. I was busted for stretching, for instance, and got a "stern lecture" from a guy I had trouble respecting--no need to create negative feelings but lets just say he scolded me because "Yoga conflicts with Goenka's teaching."..blah blah blah. Ok then, but how about I stretch my legs? Is that a sin?

My experience might not reflect what is going on now. And I know there are people who have benefitted from it. But I have found that establishing good concentration takes long enough, and is rewarding enough, to be worth a lot of time. Goenka wants you to go right to his own system. For me at least, it did not work.
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Re: Goenka Retreat?

Postby Ben » Tue Apr 27, 2010 4:02 am

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.
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
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Re: Goenka Retreat?

Postby Joseph » Tue Apr 27, 2010 4:51 am

I attended a 10 days retreat this past month in Sutton, Quebec. I started meditating in June last year, for about 8 minutes each morning. Up until I went to the retreat I gradually increased my sittings, up to 20 minutes, sometimes twice a day, sometimes only once and at other times I just got discouraged and didn't sit at all.

For me, the 10 days retreat was one of the hardest thing I've ever accomplished but it was also probably the single most transforming event of my life. So much so that I'm going back for another one in July.

Since the retreat, I sit for one hour, mornings and nights. Sometimes I have some difficulties with the wild mind and poor concentration but I'm determined to just sit and try my best to observe what is. It's great now because I have the time to dedicate to meditation. I'm starting school this coming week and hope to be able to carry on this journey...

metta...
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Re: Goenka Retreat?

Postby alan » Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:31 am

Like to make it clear that retreats are valuable. Even though the Goenka bit did not work out (in terms of following that method), time spent in intensive study is always good. How to avoid the problems inherent in this--like the tendency (for some) to give up yourself to a Guru--well that I don't know... other than to be very cynical and question everything, of course. Oops, that does seem to be my attitude towards teachers now...perhaps it was formed way back then?? Hmm, something for me to think about.
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Re: Goenka Retreat?

Postby Ben » Tue Apr 27, 2010 6:04 am

Hi Joseph
Joseph wrote:For me, the 10 days retreat was one of the hardest thing I've ever accomplished but it was also probably the single most transforming event of my life. So much so that I'm going back for another one in July.


That pretty much sums up my experience on my first ten-day course as well. just keep plugging away at the daily sits as best you can without giving yourself a hard time if you can't sit for as long as you would like or if your concentration isn't happening for you.
One thing I've had to do in order to integrate my practice with a young family, was to meditate in the early morning before everyone wakes up, and again after everyone went to bed at night. It was worth the effort and discipline. These days, as the kids are a little older, they'll be quiet if I tell them I want to meditate for a while during the day or in the evening.
Also, don't forget to check out your regional vipassana meditation website to see if there is a group-sit close to you. I was a coordinator for a group-sit in regional victoria (Australia) for over four years and my co-practitioners reported that a weekly group sit was incredibly beneficial to their practice.
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: Goenka Retreat?

Postby PeterB » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:05 am

Any properly constituted retreat is a challenge, Goenka retreats are not different in this respect.
Clearly some approaches suit a given individual more than others..but for many people a retreat represents a watershed in their practice, and in their understanding of Dhamma.
My own experience of a Goenka retreat was that I consider my internalisation of Dhamma to begin during it.
There is my understanding BR ( before retreat ) and AR..it was that formative for me.
I know that the same is true of many others, the nature of the retreat might vary, but for many many people a Vipassana retreat marks the point at which a complex of ideas and opinion and models resolves into a clear direction, a path.
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Re: Goenka Retreat?

Postby Ben » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:55 am

Well said, Peter!
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: Goenka Retreat?

Postby Monkey Mind » Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:52 pm

Peter expressed exactly how my retreat experience was. Before, Dhamma was in my head, afterwards Dhamma is a heart-felt practice.

It was easily the hardest thing I have ever done, far more difficult than the sports camps I attended as a teenage athlete. It was also the most worthwhile thing I have ever done. I plan to do many more. Best wishes to you in your efforts.
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710
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