Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby Ben » Tue Nov 02, 2010 9:30 pm



Venerable Matara Sri Nanarama Mahathera!
I remember reading his Seven contemplations of Insight some years ago.
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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Nov 02, 2010 11:21 pm

rowyourboat wrote:I will attempt to explain this in a bit more detail. But you really need to download that booklet from my link, as the Venrable does a much better job than I can. Hope your internet speed is back up again. It is valuable reading IMO.. . . .
Just curious about this msg and discussion which brought to mind an interesting msg I had fogotten but that at the time raised some questions: http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=62&p=73467#p73467 Two things seem to be implicit in these msgs. One is that there seems, in both exchanges, to be something of a criticism of the Goenka technique and both this and the linked msg, in particular, raises the question of how do you know if the people you claim became sotapanna? There seems to be a suggestion that recognotion of a sotapanna requires being at least a sotapanna - Aithníonn cíaróg cíaróg eile, One beetle recognizes another beetle. Or can one teach beyond the level of one's experience?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby Phra Chuntawongso » Wed Nov 03, 2010 9:29 am

tiltbillings wrote:
rowyourboat wrote:I will attempt to explain this in a bit more detail. But you really need to download that booklet from my link, as the Venrable does a much better job than I can. Hope your internet speed is back up again. It is valuable reading IMO.. . . .
Just curious about this msg and discussion which brought to mind an interesting msg I had fogotten but that at the time raised some questions: http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=62&p=73467#p73467 Two things seem to be implicit in these msgs. One is that there seems, in both exchanges, to be something of a criticism of the Goenka technique and both this and the linked msg, in particular, raises the question of how do you know if the people you claim became sotapanna? There seems to be a suggestion that recognotion of a sotapanna requires being at least a sotapanna - Aithníonn cíaróg cíaróg eile, One beetle recognizes another beetle. Or can one teach beyond the level of one's experience?

Hi Tilt.For what its worth,all of my teachers have said that one CANNOT teach beyond the level of ones experience.
I am sure that there are those who may have a different opinion on this,but the way I see it,is if someone teaching meditation has not realized certain stages on the path then they may easily mistake what a meditator is explaining for something else.
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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby louhi » Wed Nov 03, 2010 11:35 am

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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby rowyourboat » Thu Nov 04, 2010 7:47 am

Hi Tilt,

Your concerns are understandable.

However it might be worthwhile noting that I have no criticisms against any other internationally known method of vipassana. My objection is with those teachers who are likely to confuse those who know less about this complex subject of insight knowledges. I have no problems with those who teach 'buddhist meditations' because that does not cause 'psuedo-gold' issues.

You dont have to take my word for this. You are welcome to disregard it.

You might also want to consider this:

"And what is the right view that has effluents, sides with merit, & results in acquisitions? 'There is what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed. There are fruits & results of good & bad actions. There is this world & the next world. There is mother & father. There are spontaneously reborn beings; there are priests & contemplatives who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is the right view that has effluents, sides with merit, & results in acquisitions.

I cannot say that this applies to me, nor can I say that it doesn't. Because I cant prove either stance to your satisfaction. So let that be.

However you might want to consider what this means for your practice if it is by some chance true. Goenka is keen to have his students commit to his method and you are going to be stuck in it for a long long time without much opportunity for learning about new methods which might be helpful for you to progress into stream entry. I'm not saying that the Goenka method wont be able to bring this about, but that it is extremely inefficient in my experience at doing that. Considering its world wide reach, that leaves me concerned. Those people who have enough causes for them to become stream entrants in this lifetime may well loose that opportunity.

I don't prescribe to that 'all methods lead to the same goal' type of thinking because that is just a lack of understanding of a particularly complex subject of how a person is propelled through the insight knowledges and of how certain ways of holding mindfulness sends the practitioner down a samatha path and another, down the vipassana path.

In any case it is best to read the likes of Mahasi Sayadaw and Ven Matara Nanarama and the numerous suttas and commentaries they draw upon in their research into the matter. They dont differ even a hundredth on their views on a matter. They may not comment on their views of the Goenka method, clearly.

I feel Goenka is doing some kind of service introducing meditation to the masses but it is limited. I have just read the manual of vipassana by Ledi sayadaw here : http://www.dharmaweb.org/index.php/The_ ... di_Sayadaw

There is no mention of the body scan, nor is there any evidence of having progressed through the vipassana knowledges except of nama-rupa paricceda nana as far as I can see. I am saying this as someone who has been teaching this. It is possible to determine what level of insight a person has by how/what they come and report back about their practice. All I see in this work is scholarship and a bit of practice to a basic level, I'm sorry to say. Comapare that with Mahasi Sayadaw of the same country:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... gress.html and I see a clear world of difference. The latter is just devoted entire to the practice and the practical unfolding of the vipassana nanas in graphic detail, combining that with just he right amount of indepth scholarship. If I were to hedge my bets I would feel safer not committing to anything in terms of long term practice. Goenka in my opinion is introductory practice. The next step is via the Visuddhi camp, whoever they might be. Mahasi sayadaw and Pa uk are probably safe bets in my opinion.

Good luck,

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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby Ben » Thu Nov 04, 2010 10:31 am

rowyourboat wrote:Goenka in my opinion is introductory practice.


Well, that's an interesting comment.

A couple of quotes to ponder...

From Day 3 of the ten-day course:
SN Goenka wrote:May all of you be successful in taking the first steps on the path of liberation


From Day 4 of the ten-day course:
SN Goenka wrote:You have taken a first step on the path to liberation...

...You have started taking dips in the Ganges of Dhamma within,


From Day 9 of the ten-day course:
SN Goenka wrote:You have taken a first step towards eradicating your defilements


From Day 11 discourse:
SN Goenka wrote:In ten days one can get only a rough outline of the technique; one cannot expect to become perfect in it so quickly. But even this brief experience should not be undervalued: you have taken the first step, a very important step, although the journey is long—indeed, it is a lifetime job...

...A seed of Dhamma has been sown


In part of the instructions of a ten-day course, Goenkaji says "this is the kindergarten of Dhamma". And as can be seen from above, SN Goenka doesn't claim that what he teaches, in a ten-day course, is anything but an unequivocal introduction. That point would have been clear to you had you ever done a ten-day course.

Matheesha, we have known each other a number of years both here and formerly at E-Sangha. During that time, I have noted your simmering aversion to SN Goenka and yet your criticisms of his, or more correctly U Ba Khin's, method is based on ignorance. Its not a very strong position in which to criticise another teacher and it only highlights your own inadequacies.

BTW, Ledi Sayadaw's Vipassana Dipani - it isn't exactly a meditation manual.
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Nov 04, 2010 10:47 am

There is a major problem in this debate with you rowyourboat. The fact is that you hold a very clear view of the teachings of Goenka which is not a positive view. However temperament or sensibility or your interpretation of Right speech holds you back from making a clear statement of your view. You are therefore reduced to joining any or most threads on Vipassana and adding your observation which never quite say what I think you clearly want to say.
Which is your prerogative within the T.O.S of the forum.
However there are a number of very experienced practitioners on the forum who do not share your view of Goenka. In fact they have after mature reflection taken quite he opposite view.
I think you might want to consider whether your frequent interventions on this topic are likely to be fruitful. Or whether they might be counterproductive.
I suggest that you might further want to consider the advantages in seeing that this forum is pluralistic in terms of schools and methods..and that this unlikely to change.
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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby rowyourboat » Fri Nov 05, 2010 7:09 am

Hi Sanghamitta

I am stating my objections as clearly as I can. As you say I am entitled to it. I am not always thinking of how to voice my opinion of Goenka all the time as I do have other things to do. So please do not paint me as a 'serial simmerer'. :tongue:

Ben, yes we have known each other for sometime. It still allows me to have a different opinion from you I hope. You a valuable member in all these groups. I do not air my views out of malice, but out of concern. I hope I can share my understanding so that all of us here can have a decent discussion and I am open to being corrected as well.

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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby Sanghamitta » Fri Nov 05, 2010 8:11 am

Do you discuss Rowboat..or do you appear much of the time when any mention is made of Goenka, fire a salvo and then disappear off into the brush ?
Sometimes raising points which you are then asked to expand on...which you do days later, sort of, having in the meantime fired salvos on other threads.
Personally I long ago stopped taking your anti Goenka stance seriously, having initially reflected on the points that you were raising.. and I suspect that I am not alone....

People who are interested in the Goenka approach are either reaping its benefits, or they are deciding for themselves whether to investigate further.

Maybe you could print a formal warning like on cigarette packets, which you post at regular intervals and leave folk to decide for themselves.
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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby rowyourboat » Fri Nov 05, 2010 8:02 pm

Hi Sangamitta

Your name sake, a few hundred earlier, brought the sapling of the original Bodhi tree to Sri Lanka. Sri Lankans have benefitted from having this symbol in their country. However when there are weak branches I believe they are sacrificed for the strength of what is left behind- the main trunk.

It is unfortunate that you have seen my posts only replying to Goenka threads. I suggest you sample some of my 367 posts on this site, only a handful of which have been anything to do with Goenka. I am not mad, not a stalker, not some cyber criminal. I have valid objections against this method and I am just airing my views. I hope the moderators are able to understand that I am none of the above. I value their impartiality knowing fully well that they are sometimes full time Goenka students.

Incidentally I answer other threads earlier on my mobile because I dont have to go to much detail in those answers- so you might see me answering earlier on some threads. This thread, I answer from home after work. Sorry, if it threw you.

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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby Sanghamitta » Sat Nov 06, 2010 8:27 am

The issue is not my perception. And it is not just me.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby Ben » Sat Nov 06, 2010 9:03 am

Hi Matheesha,
rowyourboat wrote:It still allows me to have a different opinion from you I hope.

I don't have a problem with anyone having a different opinion from me. If I did, I wouldn't participate on a discussion forum. In fact, I think I am nothing but very supportive of anyone - regardless of who their teacher is - to engage in practice. My objection is that your opinion, from my humble perspective, has been formulated without any direct experience and very little knowledge of Goenka and what he teaches, and that opinion is packaged, no doubt unintentionally, within an appeal to authority of your position as meditation teacher. Despite my attempts to explain aspects of Goenka's teaching to you, it appears that you had already developed a view with regards to what you believe is a defective method.

rowyourboat wrote:You a valuable member in all these groups.
Thank you, as i also consider you here.
rowyourboat wrote:I do not air my views out of malice, but out of concern.
I understand.
rowyourboat wrote:I hope I can share my understanding so that all of us here can have a decent discussion and I am open to being corrected as well.
Absolutely.
with metta

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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby rowyourboat » Sun Nov 07, 2010 10:07 am

Hi All

For my final post on this thread (clearly this is too controversial for some..) I thought I would summarize my concerns. Feel free to critizice/comment/question. I may answer if there is a genuine concern.

1) One and a half days of anapanasati is not enough to get to citta visuddhi- to develop a hindrance free samadhi. It takes atleast 3-5 days in my experience. So you are starting off with not enough samadhi, having to develop it while doing the body scan which is very active (due to sweeping) not creating the optimum environement for the development of samadhi. People also take different lengths of time to develop samadhi. So I think whether a Goenka practitioner develops samadhi is hit or miss.

2) Ditti visuddhi- Nama- rupa paricceda nana. Over a period of time one may develop the ability to differentiate between nama and rupa components using this method. However I have my doubts whether this would happen within one 10 day retreat, as different people have different developmental trajectories in meditation. Therefore any taped statements from Goenka about the general development of a group of students on retreat is likely to be rather inacurate.

3) Cause and effect (khankaviatharana visuddhi, paccaya parigghaha nana). - This is likely to be missed. It maybe possible to see nama and rupa, but to note how one gives rise to the other to a degree enough to give rise to anatta is going to be rather difficult without intentionally focusing on that aspect... -and certainly not within one retreat. No hanga nana without going past these.

4) Tilakkana (this is sammassana naana). Without seeing cause and effect, without seeing the mind which most people equate with the self (for some it is the body) it wont be possible to dispel the myth of anatta. Any method which focuses on only the body and leave the mind to chance is likely to miss out greatly as there will be all kinds of attachment to mental states which are not fully explored, leading to all kinds of attachments/avijja still remaining, making it impossible to come to the end of a cycle of vipassana (ie magga phala).

5) Not seeing the ending (impermanence) of vinnana (consciousness) -apart from Nama- Rupa. Most people consider awareness or consciousness as being closely linked to them selves. Without actually seeing how this arises and passes away (rather than just knowing the theory) it will be very difficult to get over the idea of vinnana as the self or that vinnana is permanent. This is also at the sammassana level. This is also very inefficiently done by focusing on the body.

6) Udaya vyaya- when seeing a mass of vibrations arising and passing away you will see some degree of anicca and sunyata, but without focusing on one object completely arising and completely falling into dissolution at a time, it will be again difficult to get to proper udayabyaya which can lead to bhanaga nana. This is because as long as there is something to see- another vibration vibrating away somewhere nearby a subtle delusion of permanence still remains. Seeing it in this way is not limited to a one time event (falling asleep for example is not bhana even though everything vanishes nor is all the body vibrations disappearing once - a point where some assistants have described bhanga nana as- see more descriptions of it in the next point) but it must be something one sees moment by moment over hours- days. The practitioner would need to go past the vipassana upakilesa as well (samadhi, piti, upekka, light, delusions of insight and magga-phala etc)

6) Finally we arrive at bhanga nana (and not Bhanga- the latter which simply means passing away- anyone can see that in anything quite easily and doest require buddhist practice or the progressive development of the faculties). The practitioner must be sh...ing himself when he sees this. It is quite scary. Some people feel like running away from the monastery. Everything feels like it is breaking apare or empty (not actually seeing a change in what one sees, but the awareness becomes inclined in this way to feel it like this) others feel like stopping the meditation. They might even think they are hallucinating or be quite distressed. If you hear statements like 'bhanga (nana) is the reason why people keep coming back' you would know in an instant that that statement has nothing to do with bhanga nana. This is one of the methods we use to see if a yogi has truly attained these stages of insight-understanding. There must be a negative emotional reaction. This emotional reaction also embeds the insight knowledge deeply in the unconscious making it possible for the cascade of insight knowledges to progress further. The changes which happen in vipassana cannot be willed. They need to unfold by themselves. I hope this is clear.

Bhanga nana cannot be arrived at without passing the other gates first. These are gates in the sense you cannot get to an insight knoweldge further along the line, without having passed them first. So in a nutshell these are my concerns re the Goekna method in its inefficiency to help the practitioner along these lines. Personally the method might help a person to develop some good faculties like samadhi over a period of time, but when it requires commitment ('this method and nothing else') and considering how expanded it is internationally it can cause a great deal of damage by shutting the door to a vast number of practitioners from progressing further. However I see on other forums as well, the idea of starting with Goenka and moving on to Mahasi/other traditions is gaining currency.

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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Nov 07, 2010 10:18 am

Greetings RYB,

I hope you'll recant your earlier statement of non-participation at least long enough to answer the following query...

rowyourboat wrote:6) Udaya vyaya- when seeing a mass of vibrations arising and passing away you will see some degree of anicca and sunyata, but without focusing on one object completely arising and completely falling into dissolution at a time, it will be again difficult to get to proper udayabyaya which can lead to bhanaga nana.

This sentence brings to mind the recent discussion on "something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval", in which most participants were of the opinion that there isn't anything which "endures unchanged for at least a certain interval". If that is so, does it matter greatly if there is movement in the area of focus, when remaining stationary for only the briefest moment would be required to see the arising and cessation?

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby Ben » Sun Nov 07, 2010 10:26 am

rowyourboat wrote:One and a half days of anapanasati is not enough to...



Kindly get your facts straight, Matheesha!
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

Sayagyi U Ba Khin


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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby rowyourboat » Sun Nov 07, 2010 4:25 pm

Hi Ben

Oh looks like you found a mistake :smile: You are correct. Is it 3 days rather than 1 and half? That sounds about enough time for what is attempted in a 10 day course. Do you do it for more in longer retreats? Does Goenka ever train students in jhana, since you have mentioned longer retreats, I am curious.

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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby fijiNut » Sun Nov 07, 2010 11:26 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:The issue is not my perception. And it is not just me.


I think RYB's advice provides a good sounding board for Dhamma practice, but then again, thats just my perception.
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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby Hanzze » Mon Nov 08, 2010 2:55 am

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby Phra Chuntawongso » Mon Nov 08, 2010 5:03 am

Hanzze wrote:Wouldn't it be great if we would also able to bring so much benefit to others like Goenka and people right next to us. A big bow in front of all teachers putting there patient, compassion and time for developing our minds. :bow: :bow: right livelihood at its highest level

namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

:thumbsup: Well said Hanzze.No matter what tradition they are, there are indeed many good people out there whose only desire is to help others.
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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby jd84 » Mon Nov 08, 2010 4:51 pm

rowyourboat wrote: If you hear statements like 'bhanga (nana) is the reason why people keep coming back' you would know in an instant that that statement has nothing to do with bhanga nana.


hi RYB, I think I read the post that you are quoting from and I think there might be some crossed wires somewhere. I could be wrong but I get the impression that what that guy was talking about (the reason why people keep coming back to goenka courses) is a dissolution of the surface of the body ie "a free flow of sensations from head to feet." This of course isn't bhanga nana but is a very pleasant experience (so I have been told) that people can attain quite quickly if they take well to this technique.

And to clear another thing up.... I think Goenka says that around one third of a retreat should be dedicated to anapana.

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