Reply To: Suggestion about Sotapanna stage and kamma and meditation


Cubibobi (Lang) has not been able to post a comment. He emailed me the following comment. Thus there are still some issues with posting.

Hi all,

I just saw this forum which mentions two teachers I used to follow closely, so I’d like to share a few experiences.

With S. N. Goenka (known to us as Goenkaji), I took a few 10-day meditation courses and one 7-day course that taught the Satipatthana Sutta. In the forum about Goenka’s vipassana, I did my best to describe a 10-day course:

Goenka’s Vipassana

I’m not now practicing that way, but hearing a phrase like “burning/eradicating old sankharas� brings back memory, some of which unpleasant.

I suppose many who went through the courses can recall times of sitting through difficulties in the mind (from past sankharas coming up, manifesting as sensations on the body), mustering mental strength to get through emotional “storms”, because this was how purification took place, like letting pus out of a wound. I suppose this is what Invo meant by �dark night of the soul�.

I recall wondering at times: “How do we eradicate past sankharas since they are infinite, given that samsara has no beginning?”

With Ajahn Brahm, I had a great time listening to his numerous talks on YouTube: a gentle, laid-back, humorous teacher. His talks were gems, but a few of them gave me some discouragement, where he emphasized that jhana was prerequisite to liberation.

He also made it clear in one of his books:

Mindfulness, Bliss, And Beyond

On page 127, he made this point very clearly. The first paragraph on that page read:

“In the original Buddhist scriptures there is only one word for
�meditation� and that is jhana. According to the fully enlightened
Ven. Ananda in the Gopaka-Moggallana Sutta (MN 108,27) the only
kind of meditation that the Buddha recommended was jhana.Thus jhana
designates Buddhist meditation proper, where the meditator�s mind is
stilled of all thought, secluded from all five-sense activity, and is radiant
with otherworldly bliss. Put bluntly, if it isn�t jhana then it isn�t true
Buddhist meditation! Perhaps this is why the culminating factor of the
Buddha�s noble eightfold path, the one that defines right meditation, is
nothing less than the four jhanas.”

I must admit I felt a bit discouraged since I had a “nagging feeling” that I would not get into jhana in this lifetime.

I continued searching and learning and “stumbled” into (or perhaps when a student is desperate the teacher appears?)

It was eye-opening, and I felt great joy in learning true meanings of Pali words, such as anicca, dukkha, anatta, and the keyword “san”. Here, there is no getting “through mental storms” to get to the “beyond”; reading, and oftentimes rereading, a post, and contemplating it afterwards bring only joy, and more importantly, a kind of faith that sotapanna magga phala is possible.

I hope those with similar past experiences as mine find something beneficial here.


P.S. Writing to here, I recall another book in the style of Goenka’s vipassana:

The Quiet Mind

As you know, Goenkaji supposely taught vipassana in the style of Sayagi U Ba Khin. Sayagi U Ba Khin had other students besides SN Goenka, one of whom was John Coleman, the author of this book, which describes his spiritual search.

In chapter 17 of the book, he described his enlightenment experience. On page 171-172 he described the “wild dance of electrons” throughout his hand, how he experienced the “atomic theories” in his own body. Also on page 172, he alluded to the burning of old kammas through this intense experience.

In Goenka’s method, there’s mentioning of the stage of bhanga, where one experiences the dissolution throughout the physical body through rapidly changing sensations, and I figured that John Coleman was describing this stage, or even beyond.

Again, similar to reading Ajahn Brahm, I felt somewhat discouraged while reading this, due to the “nagging feeling” that I would not experience this stage.