I'm not a follower of his tradition but I've done two Goenka-retreats and in my opinion the biggest drawback is the assistant teachers. When I have asked them questions at retreats in the past it has become obvious that their knowledge is very limited to what Goenka has told them and that they often are not capable of discussing some of the finer points of the technique, or even acknowledging experiences and thoughts that don't fit into their/Goenkas thought world. I had an email conversation with a regional AT at one point and his serious lack of knowledge of some very basic teachings in the suttas has only reinforced this impression. This has caused me some grief in retreats because it virtually makes you feel like you are on your own with a bunch of tapes, and I sincerely question the over-reliance on tapes and videos to the exclusion of psysically present teachers - the AT's are in my experience not competent enough - for the reason of spreading a sort of package buddhism as far and wide as possible.
Sure, it's Theravada, but it's a neatly packaged, multimedia form of Theravada without reliable teachers.
Regarding Thanissaro critiquing Goenka: He never speaks of Goenka as a person and he admits that he doesn't have much experience with the tradition, but I've listened to talks of his where he strongly criticizes the notion of burning off old sankharas (i.e old khamma!) through the body, and rightly so.
Last edited by Goob
on Wed Mar 27, 2013 8:32 am, edited 4 times in total.