Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Postby Mr Man » Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:58 am

Goofaholix wrote:
Brizzy wrote:Is that really the purpose of a retreat? To put oneself in a situation which is unpleasant, we are not tudong monks :smile:


Absolutely!

That's exactly what a reatreat is for, to observe unpleasant, to observe pleasant, to observe neutral, and to let go of the obsessive compulsion to try and get rid of one and get more of the other.


As I understand that is not the purpose of a retreat in the Goenka sub-tradition. As I understand it the student is meant to submit completely to the technique.
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Postby Goofaholix » Wed Jan 25, 2012 8:16 am

Brizzy wrote:As far as what is a suitable retreat environment, we need look no further than the sutta's...


For the first sutta if you look 2 paragraphs down you'll see this;

"Certainly, Master Ananda, the Bamboo Grove is delightful, quiet, free of noise, with an air of isolation, remote from human beings, & appropriate for retreat because of venerable ones who are endowed with mental absorption (jhana), who make mental absorption their habit. You venerable ones are both endowed with mental absorption & make mental absorption your habit."


So this recommendation is for those who wish to practise mental absorption (jhana), and for that of course the more prefect and quiet and sublime the conditions the better. Remember, though, that Goenka teaches insight meditation for which quiet and perfect conditions are not necessary.

Now if you have a natural ability for that, or have a few months or years to spare, or perfect conditions then I'd say go for it, otherwise better to work on insight which is the topic of this thread.

The end of the first paragraph of the second quote ends with;

"Now tell us, sir, the practice:
the code of discipline & concentration."


Reading through the quote it's obvious the code of discipline refers to the monks vinaya as the passage is very oriented towards monks, and of course it mentions concentration there also, aka mental absorption (jhana). So yes if you want to cultivate concentration a monks life would be a good one, but I'm not sure you can make all that happen with a 10 day retreat which is why most retreats are insight meditation oriented.

Of course it's true that insight and concentration go hand in hand and developing one leads to the other but it's only if you want to develop jhana that idyllic conditions are needed I think.
"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- aversion towards Chanting

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Jan 25, 2012 8:17 am

Mr Man wrote:As I understand it the student is meant to submit completely to the technique.
Should not one do whatever practice wholeheartedly?
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.

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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Postby Ben » Wed Jan 25, 2012 8:29 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Mr Man wrote:As I understand it the student is meant to submit completely to the technique.
Should not one do whatever practice wholeheartedly?

What Mr Man is referring to is during the preliminary formalities, SN Goenka asks students to "surrender to the current teacher". Surrender is explained that one merely does as instructed. Leaving aside any previous practices and devoting oneself exclusively to the practice of Vipassana as taught by SN Goenka for the period of ten days. But surrender is not the point of a ten-day course. The point of a ten-day course is to learn and develop some depth of experience in sila (five precepts), samadhi (samatha variant of anapana-sati) and panna (vipassana via vedananupassana).
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- aversion towards Chanting

Postby Mr Man » Wed Jan 25, 2012 8:30 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Mr Man wrote:As I understand it the student is meant to submit completely to the technique.
Should not one do whatever practice wholeheartedly?

My point is that the rationalization given is outside of the scope of the technique.
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Postby Goofaholix » Wed Jan 25, 2012 6:26 pm

Mr Man wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Mr Man wrote:As I understand it the student is meant to submit completely to the technique.
Should not one do whatever practice wholeheartedly?

My point is that the rationalization given is outside of the scope of the technique.


So you are saying the technique is not to "to observe unpleasant, to observe pleasant, to observe neutral, and to let go of the obsessive compulsion to try and get rid of one and get more of the other"? I think you'd better pay more attention to the instructions.
"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- aversion towards Chanting

Postby Mr Man » Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:21 pm

Goofaholix wrote:So you are saying the technique is not to "to observe unpleasant, to observe pleasant, to observe neutral, and to let go of the obsessive compulsion to try and get rid of one and get more of the other"? I think you'd better pay more attention to the instructions.

Do you mean the Goenka technique?
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:27 pm

Goofaholix wrote:So you are saying the technique is not to "to observe unpleasant, to observe pleasant, to observe neutral, and to let go of the obsessive compulsion to try and get rid of one and get more of the other"?

That's certainly the message I heard on a Goenka retreat...

Juuuusssstttt Obbbbseeerrrrvveeeee..... :meditate:

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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Postby Goofaholix » Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:40 pm

Mr Man wrote:
Goofaholix wrote:So you are saying the technique is not to "to observe unpleasant, to observe pleasant, to observe neutral, and to let go of the obsessive compulsion to try and get rid of one and get more of the other"? I think you'd better pay more attention to the instructions.

Do you mean the Goenka technique?


Indeed.
"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- aversion towards Chanting

Postby Mr Man » Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:55 pm

Goofaholix wrote:
Mr Man wrote:
Goofaholix wrote:So you are saying the technique is not to "to observe unpleasant, to observe pleasant, to observe neutral, and to let go of the obsessive compulsion to try and get rid of one and get more of the other"? I think you'd better pay more attention to the instructions.

Do you mean the Goenka technique?


Indeed.


Well I have only done retreats with Mother Sayama / Saya U Chit Tin (from the U Ba Khin tradition) and it was some time ago but as I remember it the teaching was Anapana Sati and the sweeping technique. As I remember it there wasn't really much work with mental states going on. The observation was always very active rather than passive and the focus was very much towards body sensations.

Not sure if there was a hidden teaching for "advanced" students.

:)
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jan 25, 2012 8:01 pm

Didn't they say to regard the vedana with equanimity? That's what goofaholix and I are taking from it.

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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Postby Goofaholix » Wed Jan 25, 2012 8:04 pm

Mr Man wrote:The observation was always very active rather than passive and the focus was very much towards body sensations.


Were some of those body sensations pleasant? some unpleasant? some neutral? and were you instructed to observe without reactivity?
"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- aversion towards Chanting

Postby Mr Man » Wed Jan 25, 2012 8:23 pm

Goofaholix wrote:Were some of those body sensations pleasant? some unpleasant? some neutral? and were you instructed to observe without reactivity?

If we go back to the beginning of the thread it was about a mental reaction to chanting. Now possibly the advice given about learning from aversion etc. is good but I'm not sure if it is in line with the technique or with the advice that would be given on a course. As I said in my previous post there didn't seem to be much work with mental states going on.
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Postby Goofaholix » Wed Jan 25, 2012 9:45 pm

Mr Man wrote:If we go back to the beginning of the thread it was about a mental reaction to chanting. Now possibly the advice given about learning from aversion etc. is good but I'm not sure if it is in line with the technique or with the advice that would be given on a course. As I said in my previous post there didn't seem to be much work with mental states going on.


You're right there isn't much work with mental states with this technique, but there is a lot of work with vedana or feeling.

In the scheme of things feeling is not mental states and it is not body, it's part way between.

When something you don't like happens do you feel an unpleasant sensations in the body? when something you like happens do you feel pleasant sensations in the body? This is the technique.

Now just apply it when you are listening to chanting but would rather be in concentrated bliss, it's not just a story about chanting and me not wanting it but there are unpleasant sensations in the body, this is what you need to observe and not react to.
"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- aversion towards Chanting

Postby Ben » Wed Jan 25, 2012 9:55 pm

Goofaholix wrote:
Mr Man wrote:If we go back to the beginning of the thread it was about a mental reaction to chanting. Now possibly the advice given about learning from aversion etc. is good but I'm not sure if it is in line with the technique or with the advice that would be given on a course. As I said in my previous post there didn't seem to be much work with mental states going on.


You're right there isn't much work with mental states with this technique, but there is a lot of work with vedana or feeling.

In the scheme of things feeling is not mental states and it is not body, it's part way between.

When something you don't like happens do you feel an unpleasant sensations in the body? when something you like happens do you feel pleasant sensations in the body? This is the technique.

Now just apply it when you are listening to chanting but would rather be in concentrated bliss, it's not just a story about chanting and me not wanting it but there are unpleasant sensations in the body, this is what you need to observe and not react to.


Actually, vedanas do correspond very closely with mental states. By observing vedana one is indirectly observing mind. By not reacting with craving and aversion to vedana and observing with objective equanimity one is changing the way one relates to oneself and the world around us.
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- aversion towards Chanting

Postby Mr Man » Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:41 am

Ben wrote:
Actually, vedanas do correspond very closely with mental states. By observing vedana one is indirectly observing mind.

Ben



Not sure about that. By vedanas do you mean the physical sensations in the body? Yes no doubt mind states can manifest physically and we can sometimes free our selves from negative mental states by focusing on the physical (like focusing on the hands when in the dentist) but we can also work with mind states more directly (work with the cause rather than the symptom).
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:04 am

Ben wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Mr Man wrote:As I understand it the student is meant to submit completely to the technique.
Should not one do whatever practice wholeheartedly?

What Mr Man is referring to is during the preliminary formalities, SN Goenka asks students to "surrender to the current teacher". Surrender is explained that one merely does as instructed. Leaving aside any previous practices and devoting oneself exclusively to the practice of Vipassana as taught by SN Goenka for the period of ten days. But surrender is not the point of a ten-day course. The point of a ten-day course is to learn and develop some depth of experience in sila (five precepts), samadhi (samatha variant of anapana-sati) and panna (vipassana via vedananupassana).
kind regards,

Ben
Out of context it can be made to sound bad.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Postby vidar » Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:23 pm

Mr Man wrote:
Goofaholix wrote:Were some of those body sensations pleasant? some unpleasant? some neutral? and were you instructed to observe without reactivity?

If we go back to the beginning of the thread it was about a mental reaction to chanting. Now possibly the advice given about learning from aversion etc. is good but I'm not sure if it is in line with the technique or with the advice that would be given on a course. As I said in my previous post there didn't seem to be much work with mental states going on.

Observing vedana and metal states with equanimity is completely in line with the technique as S.N. Goenka says in the discourses of the 10 day introductory courses:

"The technique therefore is the exploration, by direct experience, of the real nature of the phenomenon that one calls "I, mine". There are two aspects of this phenomenon: physical and mental, body and mind. The meditator begins by observing the reality of the body. To experience this reality directly, one must feel the body, that is, must be aware of sensations throughout the body. Thus observation of body--kayanupassana--necessarily involves observation of sensations--vedananupassana. Similarly one cannot experience the reality of the mind apart from what arises in the mind. Thus, observation of mind--cittanupassana--necessarily involves observation of the mental contents--dhammanupassana.
(...)
One uses the gross, unpleasant sensations as tools with which to eradicate the old stock of sankhara of aversion; one uses the subtle, pleasant sensations as tools with which to eradicate the old stock of sankhara of craving. Thus by maintaining awareness and equanimity towards every experience, one purifies the mind of all the deep-lying complexes, and approaches closer and closer to the goal of nibbana, of liberation.
(...)
In every case, however, in every situation, equanimity is essential, based on an awareness of sensations. Sankhara arise from the point of physical sensation. By remaining equanimous towards sensation, you prevent new sankhara from arising, and you also eliminate the old ones. Thus by observing sensations equanimously, you gradually progress towards the final goal of liberation from suffering."

Now, regarding the "surrender to the technique" , Goenka is also very clear about it:

"Next you surrendered to the Buddha and your present teacher for the ten days of the course. This surrender was for the purpose of giving a fair trial to the technique. Only someone who has surrendered in this way can work putting forth full efforts. One who is full of doubts and scepticism cannot work properly. However, surrendering does not mean developing blind faith; that has nothing to do with Dhamma. If any doubt arose in the mind, you were encouraged to come to the teacher as often as necessary for clarification.

The surrender was also to the discipline and timetable of the course. These were designed, based on the experience of thousands of previous students, to enable you to work continuously so as to derive the greatest possible advantage from these ten days.

By surrendering you undertook to work exactly as you were asked. Whatever techniques you might have been practising previously you were asked to lay aside for the period of the course. You could obtain the benefit and judge the value o the technique only by practising it exclusively, in the proper way. Mixing techniques, on the other hand, could have led you into serious difficulties"

If somebody feel aversion towards Chanting the best thing to do is maintain equanimity ( which is part of the training too), or simply he/she can stay in the room or in the meditation cell.
All the world is on fire, All the world is burning, All the world is ablaze, All the world is quaking. That which does not quake or blaze, That to which worldlings do not resort, Where there is no place for Mara:That is where my mind delights. (SN 5.7)

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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Postby Mr Man » Fri Jan 27, 2012 9:57 am

vidar wrote:If somebody feel aversion towards Chanting the best thing to do is maintain equanimity
Do you mean just observe the aversion and work with that (focusing on the mind space and thought proliferation)? Or should one return to the object of meditation, be that anapana sati or focusing on physical sensations in the body?
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Re: Goenka retreat- aversion towards Chanting

Postby David2 » Fri Jan 27, 2012 10:09 am

Mr Man wrote:
vidar wrote:If somebody feel aversion towards Chanting the best thing to do is maintain equanimity
Do you mean just observe the aversion and work with that (focusing on the mind space and thought proliferation)? Or should one return to the object of meditation, be that anapana sati or focusing on physical sensations in the body?


You should continue your meditation if aversion arises.

You are observing the aversion when you are observing the sensations in the body.
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