upekkha wrote:Specifically, I remember SN Goenka wrote that he was afraid that Mahasi Sayadaw might offer him to try his technique..
SN Goenka was a very religious Hindu before he became a Vipassanist (for lack of a better word:), therefore he still carries this mentality with him, and that is apparent in the organizational structure and rules in the Goenka centres.
It usually suits those who wish to follow one teacher exclusively with a kind of blind religious devotion and adherence to rules, while some people find it great for a certain period of time and then expand their horizons.
That's right. I thought it was really nice of him that he didn't want to have to say no to Mahasi Sayadaw.
Now that you mention it. I suppose it is not unreasonable to speculate that Goenka's upbringing and family/cultural background had strongly influenced his approach towards Dhamma practice. For someone like him--who grew up in a tight, affluent Indian community to become a globetrotting industrialist by the 1950s (and who participated in the shift in Burma from colonialism to postcolonialism no less)--he must have been instilled with very strong conservative or traditional values. I'm not using the word 'conservative' in a derogatory sense here. I'm using it in the sense that as a conservative, Goenka is someone who strongly wishes to conserve or preserve or uphold certain traditional values. And I think there's something honorable about that, even if it can sometimes rub people off the wrong way or cause misunderstandings.
So yeah, his family and cultural background could be contributing factors. Though, I'd say that his regimented approach could be very effective without necessarily inducing blind devotional fervour. Take for instance Ben, who has been following the practice since the mid-80s. I probably shouldn't speak about him in his absence (my apologies Ben when you read this), but having interacted with him face-to-face, I'd describe him as someone who is 'straight down the line'-and I say this as a compliment and with utmost respect. I don't think Ben is someone who has blind devotion or who blindly adheres to rules. The strict, disciplined style of Goenka is exactly how I imagine the Dhamma resonates with Ben: straight down the line. (And for those of you here who are familiar with Ben, wouldn't you say that he is 'straight down the line'?)
But I get your point about how it can attract people who may have a tendency to be swayed by rules and unquestioning devotion. It doesn't help that with the way the organisation is spread out across the world, the only contact (if we can call it that) that most people would have with Goenka is via books, pictures and videos.
PeterB wrote:I learned both Goenka and Sayadaw and I am very grateful to both.
I think that is increasingly a common scenario.
In the first one and half years or so, when I was trying to establish myself in the Dhamma and before I attended my first Goenka course, I would attend a weekly group sit run by a Sayadaw from the U Pandita-Mahasi lineage. Incidentally, the Sayadaw is called U Pandita too! Then, after sitting my first Goenka course, I kept with that approach for several years. But in the last two years or so, I've come to adopt a more relaxed approach. This was prompted by my stay at a Forest Hermitage. Staying at the hermitage, I did not have to follow any strict timetable or instructions, and the one recurring question that the abbot would ask me was 'How are you keeping?' This made me realise that Dhamma practice is really not just about sitting, that it need not be segmented or compartmentalised. It made me realise that I had been too caught up in regimentation and expectations. For me, I can get quite caught up by projections about time. So it really freed up my practice to be in an environment where the concept of time (and timetables) reveals itself to be quite patently arbitrary!
So, without really planning for it to be so, I've sort of moved through the three lineages (Mahasi, Goenka, Ajahn Chah) that the IMS teaches. I recently began to visit again the Dhamma centre I used to go to for Mahasi meditation, and they now have a visiting monk from the Forest tradition. So things have somehow coincided nicely for me. Oh, and I should add that reading Ven. Analayo's book on the Sattipathana was a real eye-opener! It really explicated how each of the foundations of mindfulness really fold and unfold onto one another. His interpretation of the sutta really demonstrated that even if I choose to focus on one of the foundations, I'm not really cut off from the others.
Anyway, re: the topic of this thread... Depending on the circumstances I'm in, I find myself turning to each approach at different times. Sometimes I find it helpful to note thoughts, feelings, movements, etc... sometimes I find it helpful to scan the body.. at other times I find it helpful to just rest in general mindfulness. But of course I don't try to mix them up as such; I don't try to note and scan the body at the same time--that would just be confusing! In response to day-to-day scenarios, I turn to different approches to help me maintain continuity of practice (thanks to Goenkaji for burning this into my mind!). But having said that, I probably wouldn't be able to do this if I hadn't followed the one approach for a sustained period of time. And who knows, my life-practice might soon change such that I would again have to limit myself to one approach. Until then, I exert what effort I can to maintain continuity (sometimes the gaps in continuity are rather big, I must admit