10-day goenka retreat

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Re: 10-day goenka retreat

Postby sattva » Mon Dec 26, 2011 6:15 am

cooran wrote:
I'm booked for another Goenka retreat 26 Dec - 6 Jan at Pomona Queensland -


Unfortunately, family circumstances have made it necessary for me to withdraw from the course this time. But, at least I've made someone on the waiting list very happy. :-)

with metta
Chris


mudita at its best! :anjali:

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Re: 10-day goenka retreat

Postby delf7 » Tue Feb 14, 2012 2:28 pm

where does the time go?
my 1st retreat is only a few short weeks away now. i'm a little nervous, not knowing exactly what to expect, but i am also very excited to be taking this step on the path. just out of curiosity, i was wondering if any of you have been to the center in northern illinois, usa, "dhamma pakasa"? if so, can you tell me about the experience? what's the food like? are the people friendly? etc....
kind regards,
delf

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Re: 10-day goenka retreat

Postby Ben » Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:34 pm

Relax, delf - you will be fine!
I haven't been to the Illinois Centre though I know people who have.
Apparently its a nice location. The food will be a basic vegetarian menu.
Wishing you all the best with your coming course!

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: 10-day goenka retreat

Postby delf7 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:55 pm

well, that was fun! so fun i left after 5 days. i won't go into any goenka-bashing, as i know there are many here who are fans of his "method", but i was creeped out. if i had wanted to spend 10 days in prison i would have commited some petty crime, and i've studied enough psychcology to know when i'm trying to be hypnotized. it's classic mind controll; keep the subject under-fed, tired, physically drained and/or in pain, not allowing him to speak or even make eye contact with his fellow inmates, kept in a darkened room for hours at a time while being fed audio suggestions and/or commands. the vibe of the place was such that i just had to split. and boy, they don't like it if you decide to leave.
these people that were so nice before-hand turn into real A-holes when you tell them you want out. i mean, just jerks.
they basically tell you "get your stuff packed up and get the F outta here !"
all i can say is, to anyone thinking of going to one of these "boot camps", i hope you have done more research than i did, because once i got out, i found ALOT of stuff about these prisons that i wish i would have read before going in.
sorry if this post offends anyone, as that is not my intent. i am only trying to say "make sure you know what you're getting into."
metta,
delf

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Re: 10-day goenka retreat

Postby David2 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 2:36 pm

well, that was fun!


Retreats are not for fun. Retreats are for working. Didn't you read the informations on the dhamma.org website before going to the retreat?

The course requires hard, serious work.

http://www.dhamma.org/en/vipassana.shtml

so fun i left after 5 days.


I'm sorry to hear that.

i've studied enough psychcology to know when i'm trying to be hypnotized.


Seriously, Goenka retreats have absolutely nothing to do with hypnotism or anything like that.

they basically tell you "get your stuff packed up and get the F outta here !


Well, I'm sure you are exaggerating.
Don't forget: You have signed a contract before the beginning of the course that you stay the whole 10 days.
Of course they are not happy if one wants to leave because he does not get all of the benefit of the course.

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Re: 10-day goenka retreat

Postby delf7 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 6:11 pm

when i said "that was fun!" i was being sarcastic. i understand that "fun" is not what the retreat is all about, i get that, but i have never in my life been around so many unhappy people. the 20 or so fellas i was there with all looked like zombies. a person can get "serious work" done and still have a smile on his face, can he not?
i'm not exaggerating when i say everyone there had the same look on thier faces - like the faces of men you see in photos from world war 2 peaking out through the barbed wire of a p.o.w. camp. tired, helpless & defeated.
as far as the "mind controll" aspect of the retreat- i will just say i disagree with you. the whole place is run in such a way as to break you down physically & mentally. that is an opinion shared by many. do an internet search on "goenka retreat - mind control" and you will find a wealth of articles on the subject.
this well written critique for example:
http://harmanjit.blogspot.com/2007/07/c ... -mr-s.html

regradless, the good news is the retreat has not turned me off my path. and in the 5 days i was there, i did learn alot. the meditation sessions were productive and i enjoyed much of the taped discourses. too bad the "teacher" (or as i would call him "the guy who operates the dvd player") did not do any teaching. i thought there would be more instruction. i signed up to meet with him 3 times and all 3 times he gave me the impression that i was wasteing his valuable time.
to make a long story short, the place had a very "cult-ish" vibe that i found quite disturbing. i will continue my studies and my practice, just not with mr. goenka as my guide.

so, like the buddha said... "see for yourself".
i did.

metta,
delf

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Re: 10-day goenka retreat

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:11 pm

delf7 wrote:. . .
You left after 5 days of a 10 day course, and you are blaming everyone but yourself, even though you claim you got some good out of the course. The problem may not be what you are saying but with what you are not saying. It happens. At least you want to entertain that possibility.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: 10-day goenka retreat

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:56 pm

Hi delf7,

Sorry to hear you had a bad experience. I've only been on one Goenka retreat, and that was five years ago. It was tough and did bring up various aversions. I'm a little surprised that the servers and assistant teacher we so unhelpful in your case. The Goenka retreats do have a rigid feel owing to, I think, the rather centralized organisation. But a strict retreat of any school is no picnic and will probably also seem like boot camp. Frankly, on a retreat I'd rather have too much rigidity than slackness (talking, people wandering in and out, and, in particular, people wanting to ask me questions...).

But for an inexperienced retreatant I think that it is important to have a teacher who can maintain and/or restore confidence. I had a couple of unnerving meditation experiences on my retreat and the teacher was very helpful in that case.

I'm pleased to hear that you are not put off the whole idea, and I hope you can find a retreat style that suits you.

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: 10-day goenka retreat

Postby delf7 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:36 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
delf7 wrote:. . .
You left after 5 days of a 10 day course, and you are blaming everyone but yourself, even though you claim you got some good out of the course. The problem may not be what you are saying but with what you are not saying. It happens. At least you want to entertain that possibility.


i'm not "blaming" anyone for anything. there is nothing to put any blame on. i have no hard feelings toward the retreat, those who run it or those who support it. nor do i regret attending. i also do not regret leaving when i did. sometimes you gotta go with your gut, and my gut told me "something ain't right with this place" so i bolted. or maybe, as i think tilt is suggesting, "i wasn't right for that place."
my only regret is that it did not work out for me.
my intent is not to spark a debate on pros & cons of the whole "goenka experience", or to dissuade anyone from attending a goenka retreat. i am only relaying my experience so others who are thinking of attending may think twice, do some research to make sure they know what they are getting in to and be better educated about goenka's methods that i was.
i remain suspicious of the manner in which these retreats are run, but... to each his own.
i am confident that my path will eventually become clear.

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Re: 10-day goenka retreat

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:45 pm

delf7 wrote:i am confident that my path will eventually become clear.

:anjali:

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Re: 10-day goenka retreat

Postby Monkey Mind » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:21 pm

delf7 wrote: i have never in my life been around so many unhappy people. the 20 or so fellas i was there with all looked like zombies. a person can get "serious work" done and still have a smile on his face, can he not?


Smiling doesn't begin until day 6. It's all smiles scheduled for days 8 and 9. :tongue:
"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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Re: 10-day goenka retreat

Postby Ben » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:30 pm

Greetings Delf7,

I'm sorry you had a less than optimal course experience. As Mike said, these retreats can bring all sorts of extremely difficult dhammas to the fore. And I know from personal experience just how deeply confronting and difficult it can be. I have been practicing in this tradition (exclusively) since 1985 and on my last long-course earlier this year I had to leave. After many years of practice and many ten-day and longer courses, it is the first time that I felt compelled to leave during a course.
So, I know what its like. If one isn't in the right frame of mind (for whatever reason) or something difficult comes up - its just too intense at that point in time.
If you feel its something you never want to return to or try again - then I am sorry. At least, as you said, it did not turn you off the path.
with Metta,

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: 10-day goenka retreat

Postby vidar » Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:06 pm

delf7 wrote:well, that was fun! so fun i left after 5 days...


I'm sorry that you had a bad experience, certainly my experience was very different and my first 10 day course was one of the best things I've done.
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)

By degrees, little by little,
from moment to moment,
the wise purify themselves,
as a smith purifies silver.
—Dhammapada 239

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Re: 10-day goenka retreat

Postby Brizzy » Sat Mar 24, 2012 12:34 am

Hi Delf7,

It is a courageous decision to do what you feel is right despite group pressure and condescension from authority. People may say that the problems that arose are part of the path, this is an issue for you alone to determine. I personally think that retreats and indeed the path should be a joyful journey. You might be interested in visiting Bhante Vimalaramsi's site for a different take on what constitutes a Buddhist retreat.

http://www.dhammasukha.org/

Metta

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Ignorance is an intentional act.

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Re: 10-day goenka retreat

Postby SamKR » Sun Mar 25, 2012 2:31 am

the good news is the retreat has not turned me off my path [...] i will continue my studies and my practice, just not with mr. goenka as my guide.


Hello delf7,
I like Goenkaji's method, and I was impressed in my first course (though I disliked it for the first few days of the course because of the rigor it demands and because it was quite different from my expectations) which I took 12 years ago. But I think I can understand what you're feeling about the course. I believe that this method/tradition may not be perfect for everyone. I would even say that any single method or tradition within Theravada may not be suitable for everyone. There are so many methods and traditions and many good teachers within Theravada, and most probably one of them might be suitable for you. And it's very good to know that you are not turned off your path and you will continue your practice.

i won't go into any goenka-bashing, as i know there are many here who are fans of his "method"

Certainly there are. For many people it's working great.

if i had wanted to spend 10 days in prison i would have commited some petty crime,

So your experience of a popular meditation course was just like that of a prison? In that case, I guess there's a huge gap between your expectations and the actual method and objectives of the course.

and i've studied enough psychcology to know when i'm trying to be hypnotized. it's classic mind controll; [...] the place had a very "cult-ish" vibe...

I don't think so...Not a bit.
do an internet search on "goenka retreat - mind control" and you will find a wealth of articles on the subject.
this well written critique for example:
http://harmanjit.blogspot.com/2007/07/c ... -mr-s.html

I have gone through this website in the past. And that is not an unbiased and fair critique because of many reasons.
they don't like it if you decide to leave.

It's not because they lost a "customer". It's because they think that you didn't complete the full course to give it a fair trial, and you didn't get the benefits you are supposed to get.
all i can say is, to anyone thinking of going to one of these "boot camps", i hope you have done more research than i did, because once i got out, i found ALOT of stuff about these prisons that i wish i would have read before going in.

You are totally right in saying that you need to do some research and understand what it is about before joining the course. It's really a hard and serious work (for good), not a retreat in a resort. But to tag them as "boot camps", which they are not, is unfair and just exaggeration.
i understand that "fun" is not what the retreat is all about, i get that, but i have never in my life been around so many unhappy people. the 20 or so fellas i was there with all looked like zombies. a person can get "serious work" done and still have a smile on his face, can he not?

Most probably you would have seen smiles in the faces had you stayed for full 10 days. I know many people look unhappy in the beginning of the course but they start smiling towards the end of the course. It's not because they are now free from the "prison" but mostly because of the effect of the meditation (including Metta meditation), and a sense of satisfaction that they have got a new perspective and a method to getting rid of Dukkha.

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Re: 10-day goenka retreat

Postby Brizzy » Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:54 am

Hi Delf7,

I think one of the problems stems from the fact that any defence of Goenka tends to come from his disciples and not the man himself or his organisation. Mr Goenka's organisation is a closed book that refuses to engage with other traditions or directly engage with accusations made against them or defend their own highly original interpretations of the suttas and the teachings. The reasoning I have seen for this attitude is that 'we have got it right, why should we engage in dispute with others'. If the Buddha had this attitude then his Dhamma might not have lasted beyond a century. This attitude is also found in organisations that are more overtly 'cultist'.

BTW As for smiling, well again you make your own mind up. Joy is an enlightenment factor, if you found that this was a factor that was not cultivated on your retreat then the question to be asked is why? The smiles one sees on day 11 are indeed the smiles of relief as of a prisoner released (IMO).

Metta

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Ignorance is an intentional act.

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Re: 10-day goenka retreat

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:57 am

Greetings,

Brizzy wrote:The smiles one sees on day 11 are indeed the smiles of relief as of a prisoner released (IMO).

Yes, I'm sure the remaining defilements breathe a huge sigh of relief once it's over.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: 10-day goenka retreat

Postby Brizzy » Sun Mar 25, 2012 4:10 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Brizzy wrote:The smiles one sees on day 11 are indeed the smiles of relief as of a prisoner released (IMO).

Yes, I'm sure the remaining defilements breathe a huge sigh of relief once it's over.

Metta,
Retro. :)


Think of it more that the mind & body having been crushed for 10 days via asceticism is freed. A prisoner when released may have been rehabilitated or may not, either way the joy of release is very real.

Metta

:smile:
Ignorance is an intentional act.

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Re: 10-day goenka retreat

Postby SamKR » Sun Mar 25, 2012 4:40 am

Hello Brizzy,
Brizzy wrote:I think one of the problems stems from the fact that any defence of Goenka tends to come from his disciples and not the man himself or his organisation.

Isn't it true for almost all disciples and organisations? And I don't think it's a problem.

The smiles one sees on day 11 are indeed the smiles of relief as of a prisoner released (IMO).

Well, yes some smiles could be because of relief of a "prisoner" released (if the method is not suitable for them). But certainly not all; many are because of meditation method itself.
And, I think this is true for any long course.
Probably the number of "prisoners" depends upon locality or country, and their cultural background or other factors.

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Re: 10-day goenka retreat

Postby Brizzy » Sun Mar 25, 2012 5:14 am

SamKR wrote:Hello Brizzy,
Brizzy wrote:I think one of the problems stems from the fact that any defence of Goenka tends to come from his disciples and not the man himself or his organisation.

Isn't it true for almost all disciples and organisations? And I don't think it's a problem.

The smiles one sees on day 11 are indeed the smiles of relief as of a prisoner released (IMO).

Well, yes some smiles could be because of relief of a "prisoner" released (if the method is not suitable for them). But certainly not all; many are because of meditation method itself.
And, I think this is true for any long course.
Probably the number of "prisoners" depend upon locality or country, and their cultural background or other factors.


Hi SamKR,

What is your view on this view?............

................ Mr Goenka's organisation is a closed book that refuses to engage with other traditions or directly engage with accusations made against them or defend their own highly original interpretations of the suttas and the teachings. The reasoning I have seen for this attitude is that 'we have got it right, why should we engage in dispute with others'. If the Buddha had this attitude then his Dhamma might not have lasted beyond a century...............


Metta

:smile:
Ignorance is an intentional act.


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