rowyourboat wrote:I hope I wont be penalized for expressing my honest opinion.
I hope everyone feels free to express their honest opinions as you have, in a helpful, informative way. The Goenka-taught retreats are not going to be everyone's cup of tea. There are far more experienced meditators out there that me, but I'd like to share a few thoughts in response to what you have offered.
With regard to vedana, my understanding is that Mr. Goenka describes it in connection with physical sensations in the body because those sensations are the object of this technique. But I don't have the impression that we're meant to understand that vedana only means sensations in the body and nothing else. See here
rowyourboat wrote:another is his usage of the term sankhara to denote defilements. Sankhara has a broader definition within the suttas- karmically whoelsome, unwhole or neutral dhammas.
I agree with you that the term "sankhara" as presented in the Goenka discourses can easily be misunderstood, but Mr. Goenka seems to emphasize more that it refers to our "habit patterns," our habitual reactions stemming from ignorance.
rowyourboat wrote:As far as the practice goes there is nothing mentioned in the suttas or the commentaries about sankharas arising and being dispelled. This is more in line with the western freudian concepts of releasing of repressed psychological trauma.
I don't think Mr. Goenka encourages any effort at "dispelling" sankharas in some active, deliberate way. Rather, reactions come up seemingly coupled with sensations, and instead of compounding the reaction or building upon it, the idea is to observe it and understand it's nature, which is to arise and then pass way. It is anicca.
This is related to a point that Ven. Dhammanando made brilliantly in this thread
, namely, that it is not self that breaks these links between vedana and sankhara:
Dhammanando wrote:The normal tendency of pleasant objects to generate attachment and unpleasant ones to generate aversion can be broken. But it is not 'we' who do it (i.e. it can't be done in any controlled, deliberative fashion, with a supposed self directing affairs), but rather, it's the effect of developing paññā that makes it possible.
A final minor point:
rowyourboat wrote:'Bhangha' is another term- possibly with new usage with the tradition. It is said to denote a point where all body sensations disappear.
I don't think that's what Bhangha means at all. It's not the point at which body sensations disappear, and I don't think that's ever taught in any discourse by Mr. Goenka (but I won't mind being corrected if I'm wrong).
I have seen a fair amount of criticism of (as well as praise for) the technique as taught by Mr. Goenka, and I encourage anyone to decide for themselves. Different strokes for different folks. For me personally, Mr. Goenka's approach has been very helpful.