Sutta Support for "Goenka's method" ?

On the cultivation of insight/wisdom
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Dmytro
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Re: Sutta Support for "Goenka's method" ?

Postby Dmytro » Thu Feb 17, 2011 10:29 am

Hi Spiny,

Spiny O'Norman wrote:Thanks, that's interesting. I'm not sure what is meant by "perceptual image of air", could you say a bit more about this?


It's easier to do this that to explain.

In a few words - samadhi is when the totality (kasina) of perception is coloured by the basis (arammana) of concentration, as described in Kosala sutta:

"There are these ten totality-dimensions. Which ten? One perceives the earth-totality above, below, all-around: non-dual, unlimited. One perceives the water-totality... the fire-totality... the wind-totality... the blue-totality... the yellow-totality... the red-totality... the white-totality... the space-totality... the consciousness-totality above, below, all-around: non-dual, unlimited. These are the ten totalities."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

For practical descriptions of how this can be done, in the case of air, see:

De-perception by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ption.html

Anapanasati chapter of Vimuttimagga
http://www.archive.org/details/ArahantU ... reedom.pdf

One has to tune in the "airiness" of the air, and gradually spread it all over the body, as Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo describes:

"When you see that a nimitta has appeared, mindfully focus your awareness on it — but be sure to focus on only one at a time, choosing whichever one is most comfortable. Once you've got hold of it, expand it so that it's as large as your head. The bright white nimitta is useful to the body and mind: It's a pure breath that can cleanse the blood in the body, reducing or eliminating feelings of physical pain."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/lee/inmind.html

The initial perceptual image of the air, thanks to which such 'colouring' of the perception can be done, is called 'nimitta'. This term is mentioned in the suttas in the context of jhana, as for example in the Gavi sutta:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

and elsewhere - see the thread:
viewtopic.php?f=23&t=2770

Unfortunately, later the sense of the term 'nimitta' was pretty much lost. But it has been regained, for example, in the Pa Auk Sayadaw lineage.

This is not the only way to practice Anapanasati, but just the one devoted to samadhi practice.

The difference between samatha and vipassana practices of Anapanasati is explained on the page 23 of the book "In This Life Itself" by Ven. Dhammajiva:

http://www.vipassana.com/meditation/dha ... /index.php

Metta, Dmytro

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Spiny O'Norman
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Re: Sutta Support for "Goenka's method" ?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Thu Feb 17, 2011 12:14 pm

Dmytro wrote:Hi Spiny,

Spiny O'Norman wrote:Thanks, that's interesting. I'm not sure what is meant by "perceptual image of air", could you say a bit more about this?


It's easier to do this that to explain.


Thanks for your helpful reply, I'll investigate the links you've suggested.

Spiny

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Re: Sutta Support for "Goenka's method" ?

Postby fijiNut » Fri Feb 18, 2011 1:54 am

There is an academic text which trawls through the Suttas surveying what the Buddha taught in regards to vedana (sensations/feelings).
(requires registration)
http://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/handle/2123/2075

Hope this is useful to the original post(er).

Korpo
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Re: Sutta Support for "Goenka's method" ?

Postby Korpo » Tue Feb 21, 2012 10:53 am

I remember reading somewhere that the Goenka method is meant to help establish awareness of the whole body over time, starting out with "doable bits" by passing from body region to body region. If awareness of the whole body would be the result of practicing this, wouldn't that count as progressing into becoming aware of all bodily fabrication, IIRC mentioned in the Anapanasati Sutta? The method would then not be described, but it would be one possible approach of how to practice what is laid down in the sutta.

Here:

He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.' [4] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.'[3] He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.'
(from: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.118.than.html)

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Buddha Vacana
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Re: Sutta Support for "Goenka's method" ?

Postby Buddha Vacana » Thu Aug 11, 2016 8:36 am

There is also another noteworthy article by Ven. Analayo:

With the present paper I investigate how key aspects of insight delineated in the early discourses have been approached in modern day Theravāda meditation practice. In order to illustrate one of the ways in which such practice has been undertaken, I take as an example what at present appears to be the most widely practiced Theravāda vipassanā method. This is the vipassanā tradition of the Burmese lay meditation teacher U Ba Khin (1899–1971), in the form as it is taught by his Indian disciple S.N. Goenka (1924). My study proceeds through the following topics:

II.1 "Tranquillity and insight" examines the relationship between samatha and vipassanā.
II.2 "Vipassanā meditation as taught by S.N. Goenka" provides a brief survey of this particular form of insight practice.
III.1 "The significance of dependent arising" summarizes different interpretations of the doctrine of paticca samuppāda.
III. 2 "Sankhāras in the context of dependent arising" explores the recurrent reference made by S.N. Goenka to "eradicating past sankhāras".
IV.1 "The interrelation of the four satipatthānas" investigates how these four aspects of mindfulness practice relate to each other.
IV.2 "Contemplation of vedanā and the four satipatthānas" illustrates that contemplation of feeling can be used to develop all four satipatthānas.
V.1 "The three characteristics" examines how in the discourses insight into impermanence leads on to insight into the other two characteristics.
V.2 "Full awakening" surveys the role of contemplation of vedanā in relation to the attainment of full awakening by the two chief disciples of the
Buddha: Sāriputta and Mahāmoggallāna.

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Re: Sutta Support for "Goenka's method" ?

Postby practitioner » Fri Aug 12, 2016 2:18 am

In my humble opinion, the body scan method is not one Buddha taught.

The sutta refers to contemplating body parts not body sensation. The body scan method can develop equanimity but not correct for vipassana.

Vipassana is observing rising and falling away mental and material phenomenon. You observe the breathe, then when prominent sensations from any where in the body arise, you note its arising and stay with it until it disappears. It is passive observation of bodily sensations, feeling, mind changes, and dhamma nature.

Body scan is active vipassana. I have done qi (or chi or prana) practice. In Taoism, the mind's intention leads qi flow which leads blood flow. When my mind tries to feel my hand, I can feel active energy movement in my hand. Yoga Nidra is active body scan. With active body scan, the mind is inducing energy flow which creates sensations. We want to observe whereever it comes from, and not to direct or induce the arising of sensation in an orderly fashion.

It is fine for training equanimity but I dont feel it is true vipassana. After having done body scan for two months, I reverted back to anapanasati because the body scan made my mind noisier.

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Re: Sutta Support for "Goenka's method" ?

Postby Buddha Vacana » Fri Aug 12, 2016 10:03 am

practitioner wrote:The body scan method can develop equanimity but not correct for vipassana.

Goenka says in his ten-day discourses that what he teaches there is "the kindergarten of vipassana".

The document I just linked above says:
During longer courses taught to advanced practitioners, the systematic scanning evolves into a more static and passively receptive form of observation that also includes awareness of the flux of the mind

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Re: Sutta Support for "Goenka's method" ?

Postby practitioner » Fri Aug 12, 2016 12:47 pm

Then the more advanced course makes more sense; however, I dont consider the first 10 days course vipassana rooted in Buddha's teaching.

I used to do a meditation to cultivate qi. This meditation uses the mind to direct qi to flow from the tip of left hand to the heart then to the tip of right hand. At first you feel nothing, then after few practices you can feel something inside moving in synchronicity with the mind.

I know Taoism through direct experience that mind's intention leads qi movement which leads blood movement.

I thought one was supposed to attain access concentration before doing vipassana; however, Goenka doesnt emphasize that. Only when your mind is agitated he says to do anapanasati to calm down. I would do anapanasati and know my mind is very calm; however, the body scan causes more and more thoughts to arise the more body scans I do in each session.

I followed Buddha's advice that I should know from direct experience if a teaching is true for me or not. After having given body scan 3 months and meditation just got worse, I switched back to anapanasati. I will wait until i attain jhana then switch to do passive vipassana and do both in tandem, using jhana to do vipassana.

For me, the principle is that it has to be passive. During the day I do vipassana. I am always in passive awareness. Every thought affects the body, so when you apply attention to a spot or an area in the body you will induce sensation. You wait for blind spot. You are making active decision if the wait has been long enough or not, and if it is time to go to the next area. However quiet the decision is, it is an activity of the mind which makes the mind active.

When you visit an area that had sensation before, memory can very well induce faux sensation or memorized sensation.

The first insight is to teach the subconscious mind that there is no self. By being aware how things just arise and disappear one learns the first insight. One learns all phenomenon are happening without a self. His first level retreat is teaching equanimity not vipassana. I would have to do many retreats and practice that style to get to his real vipassana retreat.

I am still a preacher for his retreat for non meditators because he makes it possible for people to learn about meditation and cure psychosomatic issues. They can still keep practicing anapanasati.

I consider the body scan more like Qi practice. I can have wave of sensation going up and down my arm by doing body scan on my arm. That is not vipassana. Mental intention induce qi flow. Every night when I sleep I relax my body and when my mind intents to feel certain part of body I can feel energy movement there. It is not vipassana.

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Re: Sutta Support for "Goenka's method" ?

Postby Buddha Vacana » Fri Aug 12, 2016 5:08 pm

You do realize this is very idiosyncratic, I hope. Other people may have the opposite experience.
Also, it's not because you may feel more agitated that you are not making progress at that time.
In the end, it all depends on what you are really looking for.

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Re: Sutta Support for "Goenka's method" ?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Aug 13, 2016 4:09 am

practitioner wrote:I thought one was supposed to attain access concentration before doing vipassana;

Goenka isn't the only teacher who doesn't teach that...
practitioner wrote:however, Goenka doesnt emphasize that. Only when your mind is agitated he says to do anapanasati to calm down. I would do anapanasati and know my mind is very calm; however, the body scan causes more and more thoughts to arise the more body scans I do in each session.

That's not my experience. I mostly do Mahasi-style practice, but the body scanning I learnt at a Goenka retreat is useful for calming down.
practitioner wrote:I consider the body scan more like Qi practice. I can have wave of sensation going up and down my arm by doing body scan on my arm. That is not vipassana. Mental intention induce qi flow. Every night when I sleep I relax my body and when my mind intents to feel certain part of body I can feel energy movement there. It is not vipassana.

I suspect that because you have done Qi practice you are reading it into such techniques, and automatically invoking your Qi practice.

Most "vipassana" techniques focus attention in some way. The Mahasi approach is to focus on abdominal motion, or touch, or some other object as a "primary" or "grounding" object, then note other sensations, thoughts, feelings as they come and go. Goenka's approach moves the focus through the body. In either case, the point, to me is that one becomes aware of changing sensations, feelings, reactions, and thoughts.

There are numerous ways of implementing the Satipatthana instructions. These are two of dozens...


:anjali:
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Re: Sutta Support for "Goenka's method" ?

Postby practitioner » Sat Aug 13, 2016 2:46 pm

There is a technique that fits someone. Works for some and not for others. Body scan is no exception to that. Though I am not a fan of body scan, I am a passionate preacher for Goenka retreat whenever I talk to people because it is a good opportunity for non-meditators or beginners to get started. It does train equanimity.

A general guidance that I would advise people is that if a technique is making it worse then try a different technique.

Body scan not only causes my mind to become noisier but also causes my body to unconsciously change posture.

When the mind directs its attention to an area and then move to the next area, it is not developing insight into anatta instead it is deveolping equanimity to train the mind to treat plesant and unplesant sensations equally.

The first insight is to see how sensations arise and disappear. In body scan, the minute you feel sensation you move on, exactly the opposite of the principle. When the mind is waiting for blind sensation, it is training the mind to cultivate qi. There is also the case of people remembering previous sensation as the current sensation in the current scan.

Passive vipassana does not create expectation or induce fabricated sensation. You focus on tummy or nostril. When prominent sensation arise from anywhere, you observe until it fades away. You dont even think about where it comes from. The very fact that the mind has to travel up and down to visit areas sequentially is not in tune with the principle of vipassana.

Vipassana is to observe as is and see that whatever arises also disappears. This first insight develops knowledge about anatta. In body scan, you are not observing the arising and disappearing of sensations; instead you move on to the next area as soon as you think you are feeling sensation there. To me, it is more of Tao meditation than vipassana.

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Re: Sutta Support for "Goenka's method" ?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Aug 13, 2016 9:32 pm

practitioner wrote:Body scan not only causes my mind to become noisier but also causes my body to unconsciously change posture.

In my experience, that can happen as a result of any kind of increased concentration, not just body scanning.
practitioner wrote:When the mind directs its attention to an area and then move to the next area, it is not developing insight into anatta instead it is deveolping equanimity to train the mind to treat plesant and unplesant sensations equally....

Any of these techniques are actually capable of developing all kinds of things. The body scanning, or using breath/abdomen/etc deepens both concentration and mindfulness. Any technique tends to develop equanimity, since otherwise the sitting or walking would become unbearable.

It's been a while since I was at a Goenka retreat, but the rise and fall of sensations was quite apparent to me when doing that technique. The "vipassana" techniques that involve paying careful attention to sensations, etc, are, I think, trying to get to anatta via anicca. Clearly different people take different things from the various techniques.

:anjali:
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Re: Sutta Support for "Goenka's method" ?

Postby practitioner » Sat Aug 13, 2016 9:42 pm

Smile. Definitely different technique works for different people.

When I look at what goes on in my arm, there is energy flow so there is impermanence and therefore rise and fall; however, this is mind induced. Intention is followed by qi.

In passive vapissana, nothing is induced by the mind. The mind is focusing on the breath. Sensation can come from anywhere; thus, naturall sensation is observed. The rise and fall is observed for that sensation from beginning to end.

In body scan, you notice the sensation then move to the next area right away. How can you say that you observed the falling away of that sensation? The sensation can last for more than 15 seconds, but your mind already moved on to another area in 1second so you never saw the falling away of that sensation.

If it is highly effective, who do you not continue doing it?

Body scan has its purpose which is highly effective in equanimity training but not for gaining first insight. Sure, real passive vipassana maybe taught in the advanced course, but the first course does meet the principle of attaining the first insight.


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