Reply To: Goenka´s Vipassana – Part 2


I went through the videos for Day 5 and Day 6. I think I have a good idea of what is involved in Goenka’s “vipassana.”

1. I was under the wrong impression that Goenka’s meditation sessions involved breath meditation. Thanks to the above videos posted by Lang, I now have a better understanding of why many people argued with me, saying that “no, it is about vipassana.”

  • Even though it is not breath meditation, it is not vipassana either. It is a “half-baked cake” with a lot of verses from the Tipitaka thrown around. 
  • Just like breath meditation, it CAN lead to calming of the mind and may even lead to pleasant “bodily sensations.” That is why people get fooled.

2. Day 5 video: I watched from 38 min mark. The theme that emerges is the following.

  • One can gain bodily “sukha” AND wisdom (paññā) by controlling bodily sensations. He says it is the responding to vedana that leads to suffering. So, he wants to suppress all vedana. (@49 mins, for example).
  • He says every sensation must be turned to paññā (by suppressing/ignoring the vedana?) According to him, that will lead to “avijja nirodha sankhara nirodha“!!
  • Just by this practice, all suffering can be ended! He says learning is not enough, and it is the practice that will get rid of sankhara (this theme is further explained with “rupa kalapas” in the Day 6 video.)
  • @54.40 mins, there is a flawed interpretation of the “Aniccā vata Sankhārā…” verse.

3. Day 6 video: I watched from 12 to 29 mins. The same theme, i.e., about “bodily sensations.”

  • This video got to the point of what sankhara are. 
  • There is a mundane explanation of the connection between anger, greed, etc., to the “four great elements” of pathavi, apo, tejo, and vayo.
  • He also gives an incorrect picture of “sankharas” being “rupa kalapas.” He seems to think that “sankharas” ARE “rupa kalapas.
  • The following seems to be the main point: Such “bad sankharas” lead to bodily sensations. Once you stop generating new sankharas, bodily sensations do not stop, because now “old sankharas” bring sensations. However, if one keeps practicing, eventually these “old sankharas” will also be depleted. Presumably, one attains Arahanthood at that point!
  • @26 mins, he directly says this practice leads to wisdom! No need to learn anything else.

4. If I missed anything critical or my understanding of “Goenka vipassana” is incorrect, please don’t hesitate to point them out. I want to be fully informed about this technique. I should have spent some time earlier. That would have saved a lot of arguing with people assuming that it was all about “breath meditation.” 

  • In a way, this is even worse than breath mediation. It gives the idea that these are the actual teachings of the Buddha. 
  • The point is that one must first get rid of the “ditthi anusaya” by understanding the worldview of the Buddha, i.e., how births in different realms arise due to “avijja paccaya abhisankhara.” One can seriously start “meditating” on removing defilements only after that. Otherwise, practices like these only SUPPRESS defilements. They DO NOT get rid of the anusaya. It is critical to see that one must get rid of the “ditthi anusaya” first: “Conditions for the Four Stages of Nibbāna.’
  • Please let me know if anyone has seen him refer to various types of anusaya and abhisankhara. I need to review them to see if there are any explanations of those terms.