Goenka´s Vipassana

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    • #13340
      Anonymous

      Hi!

      I would like to start a new forum concerning “Goenka´s Vipassana”, the reasons being that it operates in the framework of Theravada, and it has a fantastic worldwide infrastructure of free intense meditation courses and therefore is personally interesting for me to make use of AND has an enormous outreach and impact on presumably hundred thousands of people.

      I would like this suggested forum to be about the advantages and the shortcomings of operating in this framework.

      Personally I have taken four ten day courses. From course one on, I had my difficulties about the specific slant in which the Buddhas´s teaching is being presented BUT the technique works to clear my mind.

      Is this a permissable forum theme? Is anybody else interested?

      Kind regards,
      D

    • #13344
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Yes, D. This forum topic is a good. Thanks for starting it.

      I am familiar with this particular meditation technique through his book, even though I have not attended one.

      Based on what I have read, one gets to samatha with breath meditation and then is supposed to do vipassana meditation.

      1. Could you elaborate on what is involved in vipassana? What does one meditate on during the vipassana?

      2. Breath meditation is not the anapana meditation taught by the Buddha:
      Is Ānāpānasati Breath Meditation?
      Has anyone questioned the instructors of this issue? Any others who have attended can comment too. I am just curious.

      Kind Regards, Lal

    • #13361
      Tobias G
      Participant

      I was on a 10 day course. “Vipassana” there means to slowly scan your body (surface) and to observe the sensations, as they come, as they go. There is no other meditation object than the breath and the body sensations.

      Before one starts the “vipassana” one is trained over 3 days in “anapana” (observing of the breath, in/out). This is to calm down the mind.

      One learns also the mundane version of metta bhavana… “may all beings be happy …”

      At the end of each day is a dhamma discourse with more or less mundane explanations e.g. about a “store of sankharas”, which have to be removed. I do not know the details anymore. It is a course for beginners and the content should be easy to grasp I guess.

      As I was new to the matter, I did not ask the teacher about any details.
      After the course I had so many questions that I searched through the web and found Lal’s website, which enabled me to gain real insight.

    • #13447
      Anonymous

      Hi

      I have completed 2 Vipassana retreats. What I wanted to add, is that the technique of Vipassana – i.e. the observation of sensations arising and passing through the body, allows the meditator to observe the relationship between mind and matter at the experiential level, this is key and what makes this approach so successful. This means that a practitioner is left without a shadow of a doubt, as to how thoughts impact the creation and dissolution process of matter directly.

      For example when a gross and unpleasant sensation arises, one has two choices: 1) To react with aversion, which in fact has the effect of intensifying the sensation or 2) To remain equanimous. That is to simply observe the sensation without valuing or devaluing it. This allows the sankaras to rise to the the surface and be dissipated. If a pleasant sensation arises and one starts to crave and cling to it, then when the sensation passes, the meditator will react with aversion when unpleasant sensations – sooner or later – again rise, as he/she naturally only wants the pleasant sensations.

      The practice of Anapana for the first 3 days, concentrating on breath and the sensations of a small part of the body; in and around the nostrils and above the upper lip, helps the meditator to develop a concentrated mind that will be able to detect the very subtlest of sensations.

      Vipassana as taught by S.N. Goenke really is, as he puts it, a deep personal surgical operation that allows one to operate on one’s own psyche and, if performed properly, facilitates the removal of defilements from the mind. After completing around 100 hours of intense meditation over 10 days, practitioners will have uncovered a lot about themselves through direct experience. From my personal experience this technique is only advantageous. Presumably because Goenke dispels any notions of the technique being sectarian, according to conservative Theravadic traditions, by pointing out that the technique is universal.

      As far as the assistant teachers of this technique are concerned, there does appear to be a general lack of clarity on the specifics, but maybe that’s because each one’s experience is unfathomably complex and personal.

      My final point is that the technique basically speaks for itself without words needing to be spoken. Each meditator is thus allowed to persue his/her own truth pertaining to their own experience. Sound theoretical information such as found on this Pure Dhamma platform, provides me with a fascinating backdrop for a deeper analysis of my meditation experiences.

      Many Thanks

    • #13448
      Tobias G
      Participant

      Now I remember: according to Goenka the sankharas are stored in the body (or mind) and come to the surface as sensation. Thus if one looks long enough at the sensations the store will be emptied and the mind is purified in this way. I wonder where this way is explained in the Tipitaka or by the Buddha. I guess nowhere.

      Sankhara (=san+khara) is action by the mind which leads to kamma depending on the defilement/avijja involved. Kamma is stored as energy in mano loka. If actually kamma is meant to come to the surface via the body, then the Goenka technique teaches to eliminate all kamma in order to attain Nibbana. That would also be in contrast to Buddha Dhamma which says to remove defilements/gathi/tanha/asava in order to attain Nibbana.

      The technique involves no contemplation and comprehension of the Tilakkhana which the Buddha revealed to the world. The question is how one can attain Nibbana without comprehension of the Tilakkhana?

    • #13456
      Lal
      Keymaster

      1. There is no doubt that breath meditation can calm the mind. What it does is to keep the mind focused on a neutral object: in this case the breath, but in kasina meditations it is the kasina object like a colored disk. Since those thoughts are devoid of greed and hate, if the focus is kept for extended times, the mind does calm down.

      This technique had been perfected by ancient yogis and they had achieved even supernormal powers. But the problem is that it does not do anything to get rid of the avijja or ignorance about the true nature of this world or even to get rid of one’s bad gathi (habits and character qualities). Therefore, if a strong sense input comes, old bad gathi will be re-surfaced and that samadhi WILL BE broken. There are many stories about such yogis losing those supernormal powers by the sight of a sensual object.

      I know it is hard to discard the ability to be able to get to a calm state of mind with breath mediation. But in the end it is no better than getting “high” with drugs or alcohol. It is a temporary solution to a deeper problem of suffering associated with the rebirth process. That is what Tobias was trying to explain with the statement, “The technique involves no contemplation and comprehension of the Tilakkhana which the Buddha revealed to the world. The question is how one can attain Nibbana without comprehension of the Tilakkhana?”.
      Also, see the post: “A Buddhist or a Bhauddhaya?

      2. Another point is that it is good idea to first figure out what is meant by key words like sankhara.
      Chigstarrr said: “For example when a gross and unpleasant sensation arises, one has two choices: 1) To react with aversion, which in fact has the effect of intensifying the sensation or 2) To remain equanimous. That is to simply observe the sensation without valuing or devaluing it. This allows the sankaras to rise to the surface and be dissipated.

      Sankhara are thoughts. They come and go. If the thoughts are on the breath, then there is less opportunity for greed or hateful thoughts to arise, and that is what makes the mind to calm down. The statement, “This allows the sankaras to rise to the surface and be dissipated.”, does not make any sense for explaining what happens. That is just a catch phrase.

      But bad thoughts (apunnabhisankhara) are really bad vaci sankhara done by one’s conscious thoughts. They are a form of kamma and can bring bad kamma vipaka in the future. So, the permanent solution for the problem involves the mind to get rid of wrong views, habits, and to stay away from immoral deeds (dasa akusala). One aspect of this is discussed in “Correct Meaning of Vacī Sankhāra

      3.The real vipassana is about analyzing why such greedy or hateful thoughts arise, see their bad consequences and to get rid of them. Just by getting the mind off of such thoughts by focusing on breath is not a real solution. If bad consequences of hateful thoughts, for example, sink in the mind, then such thoughts will gradually cease to arise. That is the more permanent solution. This is what is explained in the “Maha Satipatthana Sutta”.

      4. So, if one’s goal is to achieve temporary “a peace of mind”, then such meditation retreats will serve that purpose. But if one really needs to understand the key message of the Buddha, one first needs to understand what that is. This is explained in the post: “A Buddhist or a Bhauddhaya?” and in, “Buddha Dhamma – In a Chart” among others.

    • #13488
      Anonymous

      I am not aware of Goenke’s teachings claiming to get rid of all karma, but they do correctly claim to reduce suffering, if practised properly. This is my experience. The answer to the question of “How Nibbana can be achieved without comprehension of Tilakkhana?” I think lies in ones ability to perceive and one certainly doesn’t have to know how to read to perceive or comprehend, although theory is certainly helpful. Which is why I reiterate that through experiencing the effects of the technique, one could come to their own conclusions without the need for any external references or validation. Nibbana is right here right now in the core of one’s being and it always has been, it is these filters and sankaras which prevent people from seeing the true nature of reality. Mind (is) The Gap translates that mind, or the thought-process, is what separates a person from their authentic self which in reality is not a self at all, but a composite of the macrocosmic whole.

      By sankara I mean thought or reaction, which are intertwined. I’ll elaborate on how the process of releasing sankaras works. Bear in mind also that thoughts create matter and vice versa. By observing sila – the 5 precepts in a dhammic environment; a vacuum is created that prevents new sankaras from being generated, which in turn allows the “old stock” of sankaras to rise and be dissolved. Again I am speaking from my own experience, not based on fleeting unquantifiable theories, which may or may not be true. Or maybe they were true then, but are not necessarily true now. In any case the surest way to discover truth is through direct experience, otherwise why would any being bother to incarnate in the first place? That’s the game-changer – the experiential aspect.

      “The real vipassana is about analyzing why such greedy or hateful thoughts arise, see their bad consequences and to get rid of them. Just by getting the mind off of such thoughts by focusing on breath is not a real solution” – Lal

      Perhaps, but on the deepest levels, it is effectively achieved when gross unpleasant sensations – in particular, are experienced. In the process of observing them, one realizes intuitively, via their energetic language/signature their consequences – directly. Of course one will also have many opportunities in-between meditating to reflect on what has been shown to them.

      I wrote:“The practice of Anapana for the first 3 days, concentrating on breath and the sensations of a small part of the body; in and around the nostrils and above the upper lip, helps the meditator to develop a concentrated mind that will be able to detect the very subtlest of sensations.”

      On day 4 the meditators are introduced to Vipassana, once the mind has been sufficiently concentrated to detect the subtlest of sensations. The body is then swept from head to foot, foot to head, if there is a free-flow of sensations or at a slower pace part by part – back and forth “patiently and persistently” observing the full gamut of sensations that will now be more easily perceivable. If the mind becomes agitated, the meditator returns to anapana until balance is restored and then reverts to Vipassana.

    • #13687
      vilaskadival
      Participant

      I have been following both explanations – Lal and Chigstarrr on Goenka retreat.

      Chigstarrr is right on the process followed for 10 day retreat which provides a person with his own experience to see what the vedana which arises, stays and passes away means in reality.

      Anapana sati done in Goenka Vipasanna helps a novice to see what vibrations / sensations are arising for first 3 days near the nasal area and lip region and from 4th day to 9th day, the person would be able to experience for himself/herself on feelings which keep on arising, staying and passing away which can be heat, sweat, cold flashes, trembling etc.,

      After that, one can really get into pure teachings to observe these sensations and not react to them, but to take action the way Lal has been stating on the actual dhamma practice.

      These sensations can be of lobha, dosa or moha as they bring up all those experiences which has happened with one person and what to do with them in that retreat helps the person to observe and hence when he is provided with pure dhamma as medicine, he/she can really develop very will.

      This has infact happened with me and there is marked changes in every aspect including the way I’m able to take death of my mother which happened on 23rd December, 2017 where I’m able to focus on the citta, asavas, gati and the vedana it brings in. There has not been a single instance right now of any kind of sorrow which I believe is the effect of following the path provided by Goenka and supplemented by Lal through Pure Dhamma.

      Actually, in my opinion sankara’s arise as feelings and they come and go and in that way, suit the experience of what one undergoes in Goenka retreat. If we were to accept to them, then in seems like these Sankara’s will get exhausted if the vedana is just observed.

      While just breath meditation might not provide actual vipasanna, but one can see that observation of feelings (vedana) as defined in Mahasatipattana sutta would certainly enable a person to get rid of many sankara’s which arises on body as vedana.

      Conclusion: Goenka’s Vipassana course will put a person on the right path followed by Pure Dhamma by Lal would really help a person to achieve Sotapanna stage and beyond which seem to have become reality for me as I can see for myself tremendous changes which has happened due to both of them.

      • #14356
        Anonymous

        Vilaskadivalou it’s a good sign that you were able to integrate your experiences of Vipassana with the passing of your mother. This is a great example of the kind of detached response, the technique allows the serious practitioner to internalise over time. This kind of detachment shouldn’t be confused with aloofness, but rather is a detachment rooted in an awareness and appreciation of the true nature of anicca,

        On a side-note. A major challenge with the technique, is that a small minority of Vipassana meditators get caught up in playing the ‘game of sensations, ‘ as Goenka puts it; where they simply develop craving or aversion for their sensations and thus generate new sankaras, which is of course counter-productive.

        Personally l have found that since l started applying this technique in the day to day. l am able to side-step virtually any external, as well as internal “triggers” that might otherwise compromise my energy levels in any given moment – just by observing & not reacting to them. Or by responding mindfully – in a detached manner. Simply because the process by which new sankaras are generated, is now in my field of awareness on the subtlest levels. It has actually become an object of interest for me to intercept any defilements of the mind, as they get flagged by my consciousness. What, in effect, the technique has empowered me to do, is direct the potential outcome of any unwanted situation before it develops, or blows out of proportion.

        It helps me to identify sensations, that would under ‘normal’ circumstances, evade detection, sabotaging me and perhaps anyone nearby. Or from a position of ignorance, trigger a Pavlovian style response. In other words, a response from my ego-self which would almost certainly want to assert itself as ‘right’ – left to its own devices. This practice effectively subdues the ego, to a position where it begins to work in harmony with the personality, rather than in opposition to it.

        The final component of Vipassana as taught by S.N. Goenka is the regular practise of metta, which provides the proverbial cherry on the cake. Laying the foundation for favourable energetic conditions to manifest for all beings.

    • #14316
      Embodied
      Spectator

      a)When i focus on breathing there are very few thoughts arising.b)The same when i focus on body sensations (this latter method is part of Chan Buddhism training which i followed for 3 years – they use it as a trick to let go of mindstream). By the way one can read in the Sutta Piṭaka “mindful of the body in and of itself” but it is not said that just that will lead to valuable insight. Such awareness should be completed by the recollection of “everything decadent & “repulsive” related to the body which implies Anicca , Anatta and Dukkha – somewhat at least.
      So both a) and b) experiences brought me to study Satipatanna according Nyanaponika Thera which meets Lal methodology.
      Summing up alot…

    • #14323
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Embodied said: “a)When i focus on breathing there are very few thoughts arising.”

      Is that a good thing?
      The goal of meditation is a calm mind, not a mind devoid of thoughts.

      The mind should be devoid of BAD thoughts (with greed, hate, or ignorance); that is what makes the mind calm in the long term. It happens when one stops such BAD thoughts from arising. That is Anapana or Satipatthana.

      One should be able to think much clearer about Dhamma concepts (i.e., GOOD thoughts) when in meditation.

      • #14360
        Johnny_Lim
        Participant

        Hi Lal,

        If someone who is doing sitting meditation could contemplate on deep dhamma concepts like Tilakkhana and Paticca Samuppada for an hour or more, with little to no other stray thoughts, is he considered to be in Samadhi? Sort of like delivering a dhamma lecture to oneself in that meditation session. And after the meditation, one feels recharged.

    • #14324
      Embodied
      Spectator

      Lal,

      I don’t know if it’s good or bad – it’s what happens.There are only some neutral, misty images in a let’s say “subliminal” way. And usually bad thoughts do not arise. Which allows me to contemplate essential Dhamma concepts without being disturbed by inadequate mindstream.

      • #14361
        Embodied
        Spectator

        Johnny,

        Interesting subject.
        And seeing that whatever the domain there is always a way of doing that is more effective than another, your question made me wonder about what is the best way of contemplating a Dhamma concept : images, words or both? Let’s wait for Lal’s expertise.

        Thanks

    • #14325
      Lal
      Keymaster

      ” Which allows me to contemplate essential Dhamma concepts…”

      OK. That means you are able to think. That is good.

      • #14331
        Embodied
        Spectator

        Indeed for example I’m able to contemplate a cooling down while relating it to Anicca, Anatta, Dukkha. Often the most effective cooling downs in terms of insight come from interacting with the opposite sex.

    • #14358
      Anonymous

      The response above that I directed to Vilaskadival, dated March 6th, was actually meant for the main thread. Sorry!!!

      I also apologize for misspelling your name. The message was typed on my phone, it appears auto-spell check got the better of me.

    • #14363
      Lal
      Keymaster

      I see new comments by Chigstarr, Embodied, and Johnny at various places above. I think it is essential to understand what is meant by samadhi, jhana, and “peace of mind”.

      Johnny asked: “If someone who is doing sitting meditation could contemplate on deep dhamma concepts like Tilakkhana and Paticca Samuppada for an hour or more, with little to no other stray thoughts, is he considered to be in Samadhi?”

      Short answer is, YES.

      But it needs to be understood what is meant by samadhi:
      What is samādhi? – Three Kinds of Mindfulness“.
      Samadhi can be thousands of different types. There are micca samadhi too, which are opposite of samma samadhi. Samadhi means “the mind gets pulled into that direction”. Normally, one’s mind will become peaceful when one’s mind gets pulled in the “moral direction” since that makes the mind less cluttered with akusala or sensual thoughts.

      Samadhi is not necessarily jhana. Jhana are really mental states of beings in rupa and arupa realms. So, when one is in a jhana, it feels much better overall since they are higher mental states mostly devoid of akusala and sensual thoughts:
      Samādhi, Jhāna, Magga Phala – Introduction“.

      One can get to magga phala via Samma Samadhi and also via jhanas:
      Samādhi, Jhāna (Dhyāna), Magga Phala

      @Chigstarr: So, when one does any type of common meditations, one’s mind could become peaceful, and I said so in my previous comments. I never said otherwise. During the time of the Buddha, Devadatta attained even supernormal powers with such techniques, but he lost all that at the end. He never understood Tilakkhana.

      The message of the Buddha is not just to go after a calmed mind (or even jhanas or supernormal powers), but to attain magga phala and get out of the suffering-filled rebirth process. But that idea may not be even palatable to many people. That is because they don’t have an understanding of Tilakkhana (anicca, dukkha, anatta). So, there is no point in discussing this issue if one has already decided that all one needs is a “peace of mind”. What this website is focusing on is magga phala, and specifically the Sotapanna stage, which will stop future rebirths in lower realms. Therefore, the bottom line is that: if one can show that Goenka’s techniques can lead to magga phala, we can have a discussion on that.
      Also, “A Buddhist or a Bhauddhaya?” and “Buddha Dhamma: Non-Perceivability and Self-Consistency“.

    • #14368
      Embodied
      Spectator

      Hi Lal,

      Understood yet my query – for now – it’s merely a “technical” one :
      – It’s recalling through images and words, based upon a “personal” experience, the best way of contemplating a Dhamma concept?
      – When i say experience sometimes it can be experience of the opposites of Anicca, Anatta & Dukkha and of the cooling down (Tilakkhana-inspired) that allowed to rectify one’s behaviour…thus the repetitive contemplation of such moments of insight will progressively allow the definitive integration of Tilakkhana as “preconditions (prerequisites) in order to be able to follow the Noble Path”…?

      Thanks

    • #14370
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Embodied said: ” what is the best way of contemplating a Dhamma concept : images, words or both?”

      This is probably an issue of expressing oneself (you and me both).

      I think contemplation/thinking/analyzing/seeing whether some idea makes sense, etc. all fit in to that category.

      By the way, that is same as the “conscious thinking” component of vaci sankhara: “Correct Meaning of Vacī Sankhāra“.

      When one grasp an idea or a concept one’s sanna on that will change according to that. Then that sanna will be in effect automatically.
      See, “What is Sañña (Perception)?“.

    • #14374
      Embodied
      Spectator

      Lal,

      Seeing the clarity of your answer to my last query,i don’t see any serious issue with us expressing ourselves.

      I’ve recently downloaded Pure Dhamma the whole PDF book…questions will follow at a good rhythm!

      thanks again

    • #15236
      cubibobi
      Participant

      Hello,

      I joined the puredhamma.net forum recently, and am happy to come upon this forum. Starting in 2003, I attended courses, read (and reread) Goenka’s discourses and books related to this tradition, got to know many “teachers” well and the training they went through.

      I put “teachers” in quote not out of disrespect, since the only teacher was SN Goenka (affectionately known among students as Goenkaji). I’ll elaborate at the end as I describe the format of the course (for those who have not attended one).

      I’d like to give a brief description of the technique taught in the course, the rationale behind it (as I understand it), and then I really want to get your take on it as to whether the rationale is sound.

      —DESCRIPTION OF TECHNIQUE
      Most courses are residential 10-day courses (there are other courses of varying lengths).

      The course starts on Day 0 with the formalities: taking refuge in the Triple Gems, taking the 5 precepts, and making a formal request to the teacher to teach the technique.

      — Days 1-3: “anapana” practice.
      I put “anapana” because it is taken as breath meditation here. Goenka calls it respiration – natural, pure, uncontrolled respiration, nothing but respiration.

      A few points about the “anapana” phase:
      — Observation is at the nostrils, of natural respiration (exclusively); no imagination, no inner verbalization (such as a mantra). And also, no controlling the respiration of any kind (such as in pranayama)
      — Gradually, observation turns to physical sensations (if any) in the small area below the nostrils, above the upper lip.

      Attention is kept at the nostrils area to sharpen the mind; the smaller the area, the sharper the mind. The abdomen, for example is too big an area.

      This phase is also considered the samadhi part of the eightfold path, along with sila, which is observing the 5 precepts.

      — Days 4-9: “vipassana”

      In the afternoon of day 4, we switched to “vipassana”, and this is considered entering the part of paññā. In vipassana according to this course, the object of observation is physical sensations (at first on the surface of the body) from the top of the head to the tips of the toes.

      One moves his attention in order, from the top of the head, part by small part, to the tips of the toes. The reason for this is to eventually feel sensations, gross and subtle, all over the body. Also, one observes with an attitude of equanimity – no craving for pleasant sensations nor aversion toward unpleasant sensations.

      What is the basis for this technique, and how is all this related to tilakkhana?

      This is based on the mahasatipatthana sutta, and for practice, kāyānupassī, vedanānupassī, cittānupassī, dhammānupassī are reduced to vedanānupassī, and vedanā is taken to be physical sensations.

      For kāyānupassī, observing kaya means observing what arise in kaya, and that is physical sensations. For the other 2 (citta and dhamma), observing physical sensations imply observing (indirectly) citta and dhamma, because of this verse:

      “vedanā-samosaraṇā sabbe dhammā”, translated as “Everything that arises in the mind starts flowing with a sensation on the body.”
      (See this verse in the satipathanna discourses in below, in the “Sources” section).

      For this technique, anicca means the arising and passing of physical sensations – pleasant and unpleasant. Gross, unpleasant sensations arise, stay for some time, and disappear. For pleasant sensations, they are ultimately tiny wavelets, bubbles, arising and passing very rapidly. (Just do a search for “wavelets” in the link to the satipatthana discourses).

      At this stage, one realizes that there is no “I”, “mine”, “myself” behind these wavelets, and hence anattā (here meaning “egolessness”).

      Finally, the mind can be so sharp that it transcends this field of sensations to go “beyond” – to non arising and passing. Nibbana!

      This is just a summary of the technique (leaving out many details, even though I’m already long-winded), but I hope I got the gist of it, and now I can’t wait to ask my question (a question also asked of me many times):

      Is there potential in this technique in removing defilements? Is there a sound foundation for it in the tipitaka?

      — Day 10: metta
      Students keep “noble silence” during the course from days 1-9: no talking to each other (asking the teacher questions is ok), no reading, no communication with the outside world. Roughly 10 hours a day are spent in sitting meditation, starting the day at 4:30 am.

      On day 10, students break silence and learn metta bhavana. On day 11 they leave the course.

      —FORMAT OF COURSES
      Lal asked whether anapana was brought to the teacher as being other than breath meditation.

      In the course, meditation instructions are audio from SN Goenka, who is really THE teacher. The people sitting in the front, on the “Dhamma Seat”, are assistant teachers (ATs) who conduct the course by playing the tapes of instructions and answering questions about the technique itself.

      These ATs are from various backgrounds (e.g. the AT in my area is Hindu). They answer questions mostly about the technique, with or without mentioning Buddha Dhamma at large. Some even have just canned answers such as: “Just set that aside, just observe sensations with equanimity”, etc. On the question of anapana, all the ATs I personally know take that to mean breath meditation.

      The most common course is the 10-day course. Another course is the Satipatthana course (7 days), in which students learn the sutta as explained by SN Goenka. (See the discourses on Satipatthana below). There are longer courses too: 20-day, 30-day, 45-day, 60-day courses. In these courses, oftentimes a third (typically the 1st third) is spent on “anapana”.

      —SOURCES
      I was a little hesitant to put these links here, since non students are not encouraged to read these without attending the courses (no context), but since these are in the public domain from VRI, I feel better.

      Discourses on Satipatthana
      http://www.vridhamma.org/Printversion/Discourses-on-Satipatthana-Sutta

      Discourses in a 10-day course
      http://www.vridhamma.org/The-Discourse-Summaries

    • #15237
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Thanks to Cubibobi (Lang) for providing a detailed description. This clarified to me what is done in the Goenka “Vipassana sessions”.

      1. Lang said: “vedanā-samosaraṇā sabbe dhammā”, translated as “Everything that arises in the mind starts flowing with a sensation on the body.”
      2. Vedana is not just “body sensations” involving just kaya or the body.; see, “Vēdanā (Feelings) Arise in Two Ways“.
        – Each and every thought is initiated by a sensation received by any of the six indriya (or ayatana): cakkhu (seeing), sota (hearing), ghana (a smell), jivha (a taste) ,kaya (body sensation), and mano (dhamma coming to the mind).

      3. Then the mind starts automatically generates mano sankhara based on how that sense input matches with one’s gati.
      4. – For example, classical music may trigger joyful mano sankhara in an older person who loves classical music, but may generate irritating thoughts in a teenager who loves loud music. Then one may generate more vaci sankhara (good or bad). In another example, a habitual thief may see a valuable item, may get attached to it instantaneously (mano sankhara) and decide to steal it (vaci sankhara), which in turn lead to kaya sankhara to grab the item and flee.

      5. So, the critical step here in Vipassana (or Anapana or Satipatthana) is to be aware of those mano sankhara that automatically arise due to one’s gati (based on sense inputs from ALL SIX senses), and not to let “bad vaci sankhara” to take hold.
      6. – The second aspect is to cultivate any good mano sankhara that arise – Both can be investigated based on Tilakkhana, as one’s understanding of Tilakkhana grows.

      7. To look at it from a different angle: the mind starts making good or bad judgments based on initial “vedana” as described by Paticca Samuppada: “salayatana paccaya phassa”, “phassa paccaya vedana”, vedana paccaya tanha, tanha paccaya upadana, upadana paccaya bhava, bhava paccaya jati.
      8. – Here “salayatana” means “six ayatana“: cakkhu, sota, ghana, jivha, kaya, and mano.
        – These “bhava” are the energies created by the mind for future births, and dhamma in this context is another term for “bhava”; see, “What are rūpa? – Dhammā are rūpa too!“.

      9. Again, the point is that not only “kaya vedana” but vedana due to all six senses lead to the mind making good or bad decisions, which end up in “sabbe dhamma” in the above verse, “vedanā-samosaraṇā sabbe dhamma”, which now we can translate as, “all types of vedana coming together to lead to each and all dhamma”.
      10. – Now it should be clear to those who have studied Pure Dhamma posts on these subjects that there is a definite answer to Lang’s second question: “Is there potential in this technique in removing defilements? Is there a sound foundation for it in the tipitaka?”

      11. Just by being aware of body sensations, one cannot remove defilements (greed, hate, and ignorance, where ignorance includes both removal of the 10 types micca ditthi and then comprehending Tilakkhana). That should be obvious even without such a lengthy and deeper explanation given above.

      So, I can say without any doubt that such kind of “vipassana” cannot lead to Nibbana.

      • #15247
        Embodied
        Spectator

        Definitely. One wonders about the consistency of Goenka’s, how could he implement an whole practice based only upon body sensations and so on. Even somatisation can’t justify it.

    • #15260
      Embodied
      Spectator

      Hello

      Rectification on my previous post.The following might “explain” Goenka’s Vipassana and also Zen/Chan Buddhism sati premises :

      “Normally we just say saṅkhāra in the place of abhisankhāra. But it is only abhisankhāra that lead to rebirth. Thus an Arahant does saṅkhāra, but not abhisankhāra, i.e., there is no“upādāna” or “clinging”. This is discussed in the posts on “san” and “saṅkhāra“.But an ordinary person generates greedy, hateful, or ignorant thoughts and generates (abhi)saṅkhāra when experiencing external objects, and thus has pancaupādānakkhandha.”

      The above mentioned premises are: not sticking/stopping (unfreezing mind) at whatsoever sanna or vedanna. Briefly noticing /moving on / briefly noticing / moving on and so on.
      Thus no spacetime to trigger abisankhara ?

    • #15261
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Embodied said: “Briefly noticing /moving on / briefly noticing / moving on and so on.”

      Let us take an example. Suppose you are sitting cross-legged at one of these meditation retreats. You start feeling pain in your legs. That is a vedana. What would be your response? Do you just notice that and move on without doing anything to get relief from that pain?

      Anyone else can ask any question about how they deal with any specific type of “vedana” experienced during meditation. Rather than talking theory, it would be more beneficial to discuss actual situations.

    • #15263
      Embodied
      Spectator

      Lal
      It’s not about theory.
      It depends on the pain intensity. If not too intense by moving on one overcomes pain. As much as one integrated (thus above mere intelectual understanding) that the body is but a transient expression, then a certain degree of pain can be easily overcomed.
      Now I’m not saying this is effective for insight. Yet,it brings relief, it’s even used to overcome insomnia. Back to practice and / or theory…I’m not a theoretic one which doesn’t mean that my practice(s) are all correct. Always open to improvement and rectification.

    • #15265
      Lal
      Keymaster

      I am trying to understand what you mean by ““Briefly noticing /moving on / briefly noticing / moving on and so on.”

      What are some examples?

      Regarding my example mentioned earlier:“Suppose you are sitting cross-legged at one of these meditation retreats. You start feeling pain in your legs.”

      I have heard that in some of these meditation retreats people are told to “just bear the pain and it will get better”.
      – The painful sensation is generated by the nervous system because (for someone who is not used to be in that position for long times), the blood flow to certain body parts is cut off. It is a warning to say, “shift the leg to allow blood flow’. If one ignores that signal one of two things may happen: (i) Most of the time it may get a better, because the body may get used to it, especially if one increases the time gradually,
      (ii) if one over does it and tries to maintain the position for too long in one setting, it may even cause damage to those nerves.

      Even if someone gets used to that position over time, that is a “mundane progress”. It is not any different from learning to swim or doing a 100 yard dash within a certain time.
      – It has not done anything to get rid of greed, hate, ignorance. Thus there is no “spiritual progress”.

      • #15275
        Embodied
        Spectator

        Lal,

        The subject(s) in question were approached simply because they aren’t incompatible with the forum guidelines as far as i understood the following: – “Any question even remotely connected to Buddha Dhamma (Buddhism) is welcome. There are people of very different levels of exposure to Buddhism.” And also:”But I encourage everyone to participate because there will be people who can benefit from information at different levels.”

        From the above i infer that one can refer to Buddhism history and different trends. But perhaps i inferred wrongly?

        As for objective spiritual progress, i agree with you.

        With Metta

    • #15268
      Embodied
      Spectator

      1.Sitting virasana or siddhasana (my 2 favorite postures for any kind of formal session) in a silent place (relatively…not so easy to get nowadays) I get into in a state of global receptiveness to whatever sanna surfaces.
      2. One should switch between environment and body sannas.
      3. So let’s suppose that i start by noticing i.e. the distant noise of a car – I listen to it for some seconds (usually not more than 5) but don’t elaborate on it meaning why it pleases me or not pleases or neither.
      4. Then i turn my attention/focus to the body and notice the nature of the contact between my pelvis/tighs and the floor, which may include sensations of temperature, softness or hardness,etc doesn’t matter in fact, i simply notice it for not more than 5 secondes and move on to an “external”/environmental sanna i.e. :light nuances let’s suppose…
      5.then again back to the body i notice my breathing-rhythm without interfering with it. And so on.

      There are also sannas related to energy between the skin and more or less 3 mm around it (can this be the gandhabba?) but whatever the sanna one shouldn’t stick (starting elaborate on it based upon memory or expectations) to any in particular.

      This technique includes also citta-sanna : when something pops-up one should proceed same as above.

      Practiced in Chan Buddhism. This is the Chan way of not getting entangled in and by vacisankhara.

      At first sight it may look strenuous but in fact after 15 minutes one starts noticing i.e. that the body is much more relaxed than at the beginning of the session.

      It can be also practiced extra formal sessions.

    • #15269
      Anonymous

      Embodied said “then a certain degree of pain can be easily overcome.” From Norman Doidge’s book The Brain’s Way of Healing there’s a lot of research that shows how the brain can alter itself (neuroplastic growth/elimination) to turn off pain via mind exercises which is what vipassana means…“sort out and get rid of undesired thoughts that come to the mind”. I wouldn’t say “easily” though. It takes work.

      The mind creates permanent brain neural pathways that keep pain signals firing long past the trauma and healing process. Pain is there to alert you that you’re injured or injuring yourself. What I’ve noticed is this creating of mind/brain functioning goes with any behavior (gati), belief, defilements, etc. This is the dirt in the mind with the reinforcement of brain neural pathways (actual brain areas seen in scans) to keep it going. Like the dirt that settles (asavas, gati) at the bottom, the brain’s neural tissues are still there just waiting to flourish. That’s why when you abstain without change to new sobhana cetaskika (beautiful thoughts) and corresponding brain pathways you fall hard right back into old gati and asavas.

      Ultimately, You’ve got to create new thoughts, new neural pathways by seeing the truth about anicca, dukkha and anatta to rid gati and asavas. Everything is in constant flux, so “wanting” something to be according to one’s liking is impossible…and you have to be okay with that. Otherwise, you’ll suffer. If one constantly tries to make it to one’s liking, then you suffer even more, creating more kamma vipaka via abhisankhara. It’s the understanding of this constant flux (anicca nature) that one can’t let tip the apple cart over (suffer).

      I work in a grocery store where the anicca nature is high. The constant replenishment and elimination of product on the shelves along challenging customers makes some employees suffer a lot. I’ve come to realize not “wanting” the store to be any particular way allows me not to suffer. I do the best I can and let it go (move on) so as not to create new kamma beeja. This peace and calm allows me to perform well and in an efficient manor.

      With metta,
      Donna

      • #15272
        Embodied
        Spectator

        Donna wrote:
        “I wouldn’t say “easily” though.” Easily time helping, of course. It requires some practice.

        “I’ve come to realize not “wanting” the store to be any particular way allows me not to suffer. I do the best I can and let it go (move on) so as not to create new kamma beeja. This peace and calm allows me to perform well and in an efficient manor.” Precisely.

    • #15271
      cubibobi
      Participant

      In a Goenka’s course, there is something that can be characterized as “Briefly noticing /moving on / briefly noticing / moving on”, although this is probably not what Embodied meant.

      This technique takes physical sensations as meditation objects. We start from the top of the head (around a 2-in diameter circle), notice any sensations there; then we move attention down the body, in a certain order, part by part (each part around 2,3 inches).

      When we notice a sensation in a part, we move on to the next part, and see what sensations manifest in this next part. On and on through the body, round after round.

      The point is not to get “stuck” in a particular part of the body, not to linger there, even if it’s a pain. The next time around to that part, that pain may have changed in nature to something else.

      A review of the format of the course for a moment: Day 4 introduces “vipassana” (this body sweeping technique), and from this point on, we are encouraged to sit with determination (Adithana). This means sitting for 1 hour without a major body movement. For example, opening the legs while sitting cross-legged is a major body movement; therefore, a pain in the knee will just be observed continually, round after round. Of course, not all students can do this.

      “Theory” is that an intense pain may appear so solid, but underneath that is really vibration. When the mind is sharp enough, it can “dissect” the body to feel the subtlest level of body sensations, which is nothing but vibrations, and then go “beyond”.

      We were also cautioned not to “look for any vibrations”, because that would be craving. We were told to observe a sensation as it is (yathabhuta), not as we’d like it to be. In a discourse, the teacher has to mention possible “stations” in case some people in the group are experiencing them.

      This is a thread about Goenka’s vipassana, so I thought I’d offer one version of “Briefly noticing /moving on / briefly noticing / moving on” as it applies to physical sensations.

      I have also heard of this attitude of “Briefly noticing /moving on / briefly noticing / moving on” applied to other meditation objects (such as thoughts), in other meditation techniques.

      Best,
      Lang

    • #15273
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Embodied said:
      “1.Sitting virasana or siddhasana (my 2 favorite postures for any kind of formal session) in a silent place (relatively…not so easy to get nowadays) I get into in a state of global receptiveness to whatever sanna surfaces.
      2. One should switch between environment and body sannas.
      3. So let’s suppose that i start by noticing i.e. the distant noise of a car – I listen to it for some seconds (usually not more than 5) but don’t elaborate on it meaning why it pleases me or not pleases or neither.
      4. Then i turn my attention/focus to the body and notice the nature of the contact between my pelvis/tighs and the floor, which may include sensations of temperature, softness or hardness,etc doesn’t matter in fact, i simply notice it for not more than 5 secondes and move on to an “external”/environmental sanna i.e. :light nuances let’s suppose…
      5.then again back to the body i notice my breathing-rhythm without interfering with it. And so on.”

      How is this going to remove greed, hate, ignorance from one’s mind?

      I have no doubt that it will calm down one’s mind. But how is this, by itself, going to make progress in removing defilements from one’s mind and change one’s gati for the better?

      • #15282
        Johnny_Lim
        Participant

        Hi Lal,

        This is the same as a lineage that places very strong emphasis on concentration. I seriously have my doubts over this kind of practice. If concentration alone can remove defilements, then there is absolutely no need for a Buddha to appear. The ancient yogis are more than qualified for this job. Moreover, the lineage heavily relies on materials from Visuddhimagga. My intent is not to discredit them. But to let fellow practitioners know there are such teachings out there and let them decide for themselves what is the right teachings of the Buddha.

        I quote some text from the author:

        “These days, even in predominantly Buddhist countries, there are many learned Buddhist scholars who maintain that it is not possible to discern rūpa kalāpas and mental processes, and base and object. In saying so, they are not lying, in the sense that what they assert is true from their point of view. From their standpoint, such discernment is impossible. This view of theirs proliferates because they hold fast to well-known teachers and lineages that at some point have introduced the idea that concentration is not necessary for realising the Four Noble Truths. Teachers like these fail to encourage their disciples to develop concentration. Herein lies the fault. They go on to replace the First and Second Noble Truths with their own interpretations and so do not teach them as the Buddha taught them. In such circumstances, it is indeed impossible to discern ultimate truth. In order to see the Four Noble Truths as they really are, one must heed the admonition of the Buddha: ‘Bhikkhus, develop concentration. One who is concentrated knows and sees the Four Noble Truths as they really are.’ The First Noble Truth is ultimate mentality and ultimate materiality. Ultimate materiality is of twenty-eight kinds, eighteen of which are real and the objects of vipassanā.”

        Seriously, the first Noble Truth is all about ultimate materiality and mentality? How does discerning these 2 things help to get rid of greed, hatred, and delusion? There are many accounts in the sutta that mentioned followers of the Buddha attained Sotāpanna just by listening to discourses. I don’t think there is any mention in the sutta of people attaining Sotāpanna by developing concentration and discerning the 4 elements and their derivatives in order to gather unshakable faith.

        The author further explains:

        “If one discerns four elements systematically, one will see an improvement in one’s concentration. When concentration improves, the body disappears. One sees just a block of four elements; one’s whole body becomes just a block of four elements. One does not see a face, a hand, or a leg. At this point the perception of being, satta-saññā, disappears. This means the meditator has attained right view to a certain extent. If one continues discerning these twelve characteristics in that block of four elements, concentration further improves, and the body will emit light – beginning with grey light, which gradually becomes white, until finally the whole body becomes a block of bright light. That block of bright light is actually just a group of rūpa kalāpas. It has not been broken down into small particles, so the meditator sees them as a group; and because there is colour in every kalāpa, they are perceived as a block of bright light. Now one needs to continue discerning four elements in that block of bright light in order to break it down into very tiny particles. If one continues discerning four elements in that block of bright light, it will finally break down into very small particles, which might be called sub-atomic particles. Some meditators may encounter difficulty when they try to break the block of bright light down into very small sub-atomic particles. In that case, they are instructed to see the space element (ākāsadhātu). The space element functions as a sort of border line; it is the space between rūpa kalāpas. When the meditator looks at the space element, the block of light will dissolve, and the meditator will then see very tiny particles. The Buddha said that this whole world is made up of very tiny sub-atomic particles. If the block of light dissolves while one is practising together with many other practitioners, one can discern four elements in those who are sitting nearby or far away, and one will see everyone be come nothing more than small particles. One does not see man or woman or anything else; everything becomes the same – just very tiny particles which are arising and perishing very rapidly all the time. If one discerns four elements in the floor or the cushion on which one is sitting or a Buddha statue or any other object, everything becomes very small particles. Everything becomes the same.”

        The author further said:

        “Whether one regards mountains, trees, flowers, living things, or non-living things, everything becomes the same – nothing more than tiny particles that constantly arise and perish. When this happens, one will agree with the Buddha and cease to disagree with or doubt Him. Sometimes we are inclined to disagree with the Buddha. Here we see men, here we see women; why then did the Buddha say there are no men, there are no women? There are! Why did the Buddha say that men and women do not really exist, and that there is only ultimate reality? We think this way sometimes. However, with the attainment of concentration and insight, one sees for oneself that there are no men, no women, no trees, no mountains, no Buddha images; instead, there are only very small particles. When one sees this, one will agree with the Buddha. These are not my words. The Buddha Himself says, ‘I do not argue with the world; it is the world that argues with me.’ The world dares to argue with the Buddha because the world is blind. Only when people arrive at a true un derstanding will they no longer dare to argue with the Bud dha. The Buddha is the One Who knew what lies beyond the scope of the naked eye. If one develops concentration and then practises four elements meditation systematically, one will know and will see what the Buddha taught.”

        • #15312
          Lal
          Keymaster

          Hi Johnny: There are so many misinterpretations in the texts that you quoted. I just don’t have time to go through them, so I will just point out a couple in order to illustrate the point that how bad Buddha Dhamma (per Tipitaka) has been misinterpreted.

          For example: “Bhikkhus, develop concentration. One who is concentrated knows and sees the Four Noble Truths as they really are.”
          – What they translate as “concentration” is the Pali word “sati”. The closest transaltion of “sati” is probably “mindset”. That becomes clear when you understand what is meant by “samma sati” (“san” +”ma” means to remove “san” or defilements). – Thus, samma sati is the mindset needed to remove defilements from the mind, which is basically a comprehension of Tilakkhana.

          Another is: “When concentration improves, the body disappears. One sees just a block of four elements; one’s whole body becomes just a block of four elements. One does not see a face, a hand, or a leg.”
          – That is just pure fiction. Didn’t the Buddha (or all those Arahants) see and recognize people?

          Same thing with the statement, ““Whether one regards mountains, trees, flowers, living things, or non-living things, everything becomes the same – nothing more than tiny particles that constantly arise and perish.”

          By the way, who made these statements (or translations)? You should always provide a link to the source.

          • #15320
            Johnny_Lim
            Participant

            Hi Lal,

            The source is The Truth Taught by All the Buddhas – Bhikkhu Revata

            Not sure whether you guys can view it via the link above. A full version copy can be purchased at $0.00 though.

            Pages 56, 57, 81, 118 are some of the references that might be of interest to fellow readers.

            From page 118:

            “The Buddha instructs us next to stand somewhere, develop concentration, and then start walking with close eyes. Wherever one goes, there is sound. It impinges on one’s ear-door and mind-door. Ear-door mental process and mind-door mental process arise. One’s eyes are closed, but one sees one’s whole body as just very small sub-atomic particles arising and perishing very rapidly. When the sound impinges on the ear and mind-doors, one sees the mental processes arising and perishing very rapidly. Then one does not see one’s body; one sees only ultimate mentality and materiality arising and perishing very rapidly all the time. If one walks for an hour, one sees only this. If one pays attention to external persons, one sees nothing other than this. The Buddha instructs us to reflect at that time that there is no man, there is no woman, there is no deva, there is no brahmā, there is no permanent en tity, there is no permanent soul, there is only ultimate mentality and materiality. One understands what the Buddha meant. One agrees with the Buddha that no such things exist. There is only ultimate mentality and materiality.”

    • #15274
      cubibobi
      Participant

      Thank you, Lal, very much for a detailed explanation in response to my post, especially the explanation of “vedanā-samosaraṇā sabbe dhammā”. In this case, dhammā is synonymous with bhava, then?

      After about 10+ years of practicing this, I started having doubts about whether it could remove defilement, by observing behaviors in me and in those in my group. I then had doubts about vedana being explained in this particular way to suit this technique. Your explanation clarifies a lot.

      Lang

    • #15278
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Lang said: “.. especially the explanation of “vedanā-samosaraṇā sabbe dhammā”. In this case, dhammā is synonymous with bhava, then?”

      To be precise, it is dhammā that give rise to bhava. But they are essentially the same, both are kammic energies built up by vinnana or desires/hopes. Of course, desires/hopes must be connected to dasa akusala in order to qualify. For example, if one is planning to steal something, he/she will be thinking about it with vaci sankhara and generating bad vinnana.

      Furthermore, dhammā in this context are the same as kamma beeja built up by vinnana. This is a bit deeper aspect:
      What are rūpa? – Dhammā are rūpa too!“.

      Please don’t hesitate to ask more questions if this is not clear.

    • #16628
      lucas.cambon
      Participant

      I do not understand why Goenka’s method will not lead to the realization of nibbana.
      As I understand, if we take any factor (vedana) of the dependent origination chain (paticcasamuppada) and realice his true nature i.e. Anicca, dukkha and anatta, we break the cycle and the whole process collapses.

      More info about Goenka’s method:
      – The 10 day retreat is only a introduction to the technique. In the long ones you are told to pay attention to your mind, his types and the mental factors too.
      – The anapana meditation is suppoused to develop till jhana levels.
      – There is an important mark of the personal evolution in the path = “bhanga” or dissolution of the body.

      Please correct me if I’m wrong

      Metta!

    • #16633
      Lal
      Keymaster

      @lucas.cambon: I have explained in detail my reasons; see, for example, my comment on March 7, 2018 at 7:07 am, and a couple of more comments after that addressing various other issues.

      If you or anyone else can refute those, I would be happy to discuss further. Please quote from my statements, so that we know exactly what point is being discussed.

      • #16643
        lucas.cambon
        Participant

        In your more descripting comment you write the following:

        “1 Lang said: “vedanā-samosaraṇā sabbe dhammā”, translated as “Everything that arises in the mind starts flowing with a sensation on the body.”
        2 – Vedana is not just “body sensations” involving just kaya or the body.; see, “Vedana (Feelings)“.
        3 – Each and every thought is initiated by a sensation received by any of the six indriya (or ayatana): cakkhu (seeing), sota (hearing), ghana (a smell), jivha (a taste) ,kaya (body sensation), and mano (dhamma coming to the mind).”

        The sensations that we are told to observ do not come purely from the mind, are not created only by it. Vedana, as you correctly indicate, come from all the six-senses, plus the atmosphere, the food and the old heavy patterns (sankharas).
        So, what we are told to be aware of is the result (effect) of all conctact (factor of pariccasamuppada).
        It turn out to be very clear when you are by day 7 to 10… personally I once experienced a vibration from my right ear to the rest of the body when the gong was hitted. There was like dense particles moving like a flow. It was very insightful and at the same time not so much, my equanimity got broken ????

    • #16646
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Yes. As I mentioned many times in my comments, it is possible to experience a “sukha vedana” in the body by doing even just breath meditation.

      Ancient yogis were able to cultivate even supernormal (abhinna) powers by doing breath mediation TOGETHER WITH staying away from sense pleasures AND immoral deeds (akusala kammma). One can get to anariya jhanas that way (“vivicca kamehi, vivicca akusala dhammehi” is a phrase that comes up in the explanations of even anariya jhana).

      The Noble Eightfold Path is cultivated by first getting rid of the 10 types of micca ditthi and then comprehending Tilakkhana. That is the way to realize the real nature of this world and thus to automatically lose cravings for things in this world. This is explained in detail with many posts at the site. This is not easy to grasp for many, and it takes an effort just to see that.

      • #16647
        lucas.cambon
        Participant

        I perfectly understand what you say, but I never mentioned Breath meditation as the tool for liberation. That is only one of the three legs of the tripod: Sila, Samadhi, Panna.
        “sukha vedana” are good or pleasurable body sensations. That is an unusual feeling. Most of the time your body is full of gross and heavy vedanas.
        Goenka’s body scan technique is about experiencing anicca with the body sensations (coming from all angles mentioned before), with the consequence realization of dukha and anatta; Complete Tilakkhana.

        I would like to understand why you keep asociating along the comments that breath meditation is the Goeka’s technique.

        I’m not a defender of this method, that’s why I’m here. Your explanations about the suttas and the abhidhamma are very consistent. I only want to get a better understanding of meditation

    • #16649
      Lal
      Keymaster

      You said: “Goenka’s body scan technique is about experiencing anicca with the body sensations (coming from all angles mentioned before), with the consequence realization of dukha and anatta; Complete Tilakkhana.”

      This is the key.

      1. What is meant by anicca per Goenka technique? Impermanence?

      2. How does a “body scan” leads to the realization of anicca nature?

      • #16650
        lucas.cambon
        Participant

        nice that we are understanding each other :D

        1. What is meant by anicca per Goenka technique? Impermanence?
          He refers to the unsatisfactoriness resulting of the incessant search of any gratification in things that have such a volatile existence. The futility of all compound things. He also point out how we create suffering wanting what we don’t have or experience and rejecting what we have/experience.

        2. How does a “body scan” leads to the realization of anicca nature?
          While you do the scan over an over again you gain the experience of change, observing the araising and passing away of sensations; the wide variety of sensations, how they all have the same characteristics.

    • #16651
      firewns
      Participant

      I hesitated to post this as I did not want to mislead anyone.

      I was reading the post ‘Udayavaya Nana – Introduction’.

      Lal, do you think Goenka’s body scan technique as mentioned by lucas.cambon leads to the cultivation of udayavaya nana of pancakkhandha, i.e. observation of the uppada, thithi and bhanga of sensations?

      Yet I am wary of the technique, since cuiboiboi stated: At this stage, one realizes that there is no “I”, “mine”, “myself” behind these wavelets, and hence anattā (here meaning “egolessness”).

      This is in contrast to the definition of anatta that you discuss — that of being devoid of substance and worth.

      I would recommend that people investigate further before practising it.

      • #16652
        lucas.cambon
        Participant

        Firewns, thank you for participate in this discussion :)

        I would like to point out that we do not have to “stay” in the words, we have to go deeper into the meaning of what the author mean to be with those word.

        “egolessness”, “not-self”, “non-self”, etc… If we carefully examine what every author want to explain with those words they all mean the same, the ausence of a permanent sustance that keep intact whithin time and space.
        With every author I refer to the ones that we are mentioning, Theravada tradition ones.

    • #16653
      firewns
      Participant

      Cuiboiboi also stated: This technique takes physical sensations as meditation objects. We start from the top of the head (around a 2-in diameter circle), notice any sensations there; then we move attention down the body, in a certain order, part by part (each part around 2,3 inches).

      When we notice a sensation in a part, we move on to the next part, and see what sensations manifest in this next part. On and on through the body, round after round.

      The point is not to get “stuck” in a particular part of the body, not to linger there, even if it’s a pain. The next time around to that part, that pain may have changed in nature to something else.

      When attention is moved in a sweeping manner from one part of the body to the next, can the mind really stay on one particular spot, on one particular sensation long enough to observe its arising, unexpected change and passing away? It seems to me that attention would be scattered in this way, and there would be no opportunity to observe a particular sensation continuously, before moving on to observe yet another sensation.

      • #16655
        lucas.cambon
        Participant

        “When attention is moved in a sweeping manner from one part of the body to the next, can the mind really stay on one particular spot, on one particular sensation long enough to observe its arising, unexpected change and passing away? It seems to me that attention would be scattered in this way, and there would be no opportunity to observe a particular sensation continuously, before moving on to observe yet another sensation.”

        Sensations arise and disappear at a high frequency rate. With our poor levels of attention, we can only detect great changes, but in spite of that they are still there, you can feel the change despite the few seconds you spent observing before going to the next sensation. Once you become more and more concentrated, the “same” feelings begin to disarm and you can detect more textures inside them. That procedure continues to unfold over and over again, until it is supposed that the meditator reach the state of bhanga dissolution, an important point in the progress of insight called “Visuddhiñana-katha”:

        5. Knowledge of Dissolution (bhanga-ñana)
        6. Awareness of Fearfulness (bhayatupatthana-ñana)
        7. Knowledge of Misery (adinava-ñana)
        8. Knowledge of Disgust (nibbida-ñana)
        9. Knowledge of Desire for Deliverance (muncitu-kamyata-ñana)
        10. Knowledge of Re-observation (patisankhanupassana-ñana)
        11. Knowledge of Equanimity about Formations (sankhar’upekkha-ñana)
        12. Insight Leading to emergence (vutthanagamini-vipassana-ñana)
        13. Knowledge of Adaptation (anuloma-ñana)
        14. Maturity Knowledge (gotrabhu-ñana)
        15. Path Knowledge (magga-ñana)
        16. Fruition Knowledge (phala-ñana)
        17. Knowledge of Reviewing (paccavekkhana-ñana)
        18. Attainment of Fruition (phalasamapatti)
        19. The Higher Paths and Fruitions

    • #16659
      Tobias G
      Participant

      In the 10 day course they do not talk about the bigger worldview, the 31 planes of existence, paralowa/gandhabba, laws of kamma, san, the 10 sanyogas or anything closer related to the Tipitaka. But with the “Goenka-technique” they claim to attain Nibbana, which means to break the bonds to this world (sanyoga).

      I cannot see how anyone without knowledge about the bigger worldview or what Nibbana is, knows what the goal is or how to get there. The “technique” just observes sensations, thus kaya sanna/vedana. It is said to stay equanimous regarding the sensations and not to get attached or distracted. There is no talk about the asubha nature of sansara. There is no panna to be gained. Instead it is envisioned as insightful to see these body sensations, as they arise and pass away. But this nature of arising and passing away is not seen in this “whole world” and also not the endless repetition within sansara. There is not talk about the dangers of sansara and the need to escape. Without this one will not have a motive to get started, except to attain a worldy peace of mind. All ditthis remain.

      2 weeks after the course my mind was back to “normal distraction” although I meditated every evening. My wife and a friend experienced the same “fall back”. The satara iddhipada were not at work.

      • #16660
        lucas.cambon
        Participant

        Tobias, thank you for your contribution

        I would like to remind that the 10 day course is an introduction to the method and to the path. There is a discourse by Goenka at the end of each day. He definetly talks about law of kamma (as sankharas), dependent origination, rebirth (a bit), the path and fuitions. Because is a polemical theme to talk with western minded people, he only mentioned in brief the 31 planes of existance.
        As you continue with the other courses, short ones, satipatthana sutta, 20 days, 30 days, 45 days, 60 days… the discourses change and get deeper into the Abhidhamma world.

        “2 weeks after the course my mind was back to “normal distraction” although I meditated every evening. My wife and a friend experienced the same “fall back”. The satara iddhipada were not at work.”
        That is going to happend with every method available. It is not possible to keep the same state of mind that you have in a meditation centre, with an ideal atmosphere, in complete silence, keeping all your precepts intact (very easy to break the “false speach” one)

    • #16661
      Lal
      Keymaster

      I see many inputs to the discussion. I will try to get to the very essence of Buddha Dhamma to analyze this issue. Anicca is much deeper to comprehended by monitoring “body sensations”. It is all about changing one’s perceptions about how this world works (based on how the mind works), and how future suffering arises due to one’s own wrong perceptions.

      The Buddha said that all living beings are trapped in a rebirth process, and most of these births are in realms that are filled with suffering. By cultivating panna (wisdom) about the real nature of this world, one can stop this rebirth process, and that he called attaining Nibbana. This was the key message of the Buddha. But most people today believe that Buddha taught about stopping the dukha vedana that one feels due to body aches, deceases, injuries etc.

      This is why techniques like breath meditation and Goenka’s technique appeal to many people. They can see that some physical and mental relief can be achieved by using such techniques. In fact, some even can get to jhana, and then it becomes impossible for them to even seriously consider the true message of the Buddha. They get trapped in a “temporary oasis”.

      Ultimately, Nibbana is realized ONLY when one sees the unfruitfulness and danger in the rebirth process. There is no refuge anywhere in the 31 realms, where it is a human, deva, or a brahma realm. One version of anicca is to see that anything that we do seek happiness in this world will not yield a permanent happiness. Rather, those actions can lead to future suffering that a normal human cannot even comprehend.

      The first priority is to make sure one would not be born in the apayas (the four lowest realms), which includes the animal realm. That is where the suffering is worst. So, one first needs to understand how one COULD BE born in the apayas. What kind of deeds, actions, and thoughts will setup causes and conditions for one to be born in the apayas?

      Therefore, one important aspect of realizing the anicca nature is to understand Paticca Samuppada (pati icca leading to sama uppada); see, “Paticca Samuppāda – “Pati+ichcha”+”Sama+uppāda” and other posts in that section.

      When people seek temporary sense pleasures, they may do immoral deeds (papa kamma or apunnabhisankhara) to get them. For example, one may commit rape to get sexual satisfaction which lasts only a short time, but the consequences are unimaginably harsh. Such IMMORAL actions are done by animals and thus are associated with “animal gati”. Since one is attached to such “animal gati” and has a liking for them (pati icca), that can lead to births of similar nature (sama uppada). That is the basic idea, and you can read the section on Paticca Samuppada for details. (posts on “gati” can be found by using the Search box; I sometimes spell it as “gathi“).

      The key point here is that the craving for such an extreme sense pleasure WILL lead to a future rebirth with very harsh suffering. The consequences are not determined by one’s desire, but by the root causes underlying one’s ACTIONS (KAMMA). There are ten such “bad actions” that will lead to suffering, and they are called dasa akusala; see, “Dasa Akusala/Dasa Kusala – Basis of Buddha Dhamma“.

      In order to make this point clear, let us take one more example. One may kill another man in order to get his possessions (money, property, spouse, etc). So, the intent of that act is to make one’s life better, that is the “icca” or “desire”. One gets “bound” (“pati”) to this craving (“icca”) of hoping to make one’s life better by this killing and may even plan for many months to achieve that goal. However, the long-term consequences will be a birth in the niraya (lowest realm), where the suffering can last millions of years (“sama uppada” is due to the fact that killing a human is one of the worst dasa akusala and that is a future birth in a niraya or hell). This is a hard point to understand for many (how the consequences can be that harsh), but it will become clear as cleanses one’s mind by learning the true and pure Dhamma that the Buddha taught.

      The key point is that any actions that involve dasa akusala, will have unimaginably harsh consequences. In other words, “one cannot maintain things to one’s expectations”. The above two are extreme examples of anicca nature, and that is where one should start. It is easy to see the main idea. Then one will start realizing the bad consequences of lesser actions like stealing,gossiping, etc.

      When one comprehends this basic anicca nature of attaching to such “lowly cravings”, one’s mind will AUTOMATICALLY reject such thoughts. That is when one attains the Sotapanna stage and will be free from births in the apayas forever. That is when one starts on the Noble Path with a basic idea of anicca nature.

      The next stage is to realize the anicca nature of ANY sense pleasure, and that leads to the Sakadagami and Anagami stages. But that is unimaginable for a normal human, and one should not contemplate on that far at the beginning.

      The deepest level of anicca nature is realized only at the Arahant stage, where one sees the unfruitfulness and danger even in the higher brahma realms.

      There are many posts at the site in various sections, providing different types of analyses on anicca. The main section is: “Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta“.

      Those who are interested can scan through the site map and go through sections of interest, like “Sotapanna Stage“.

      So, I hope I have clarified the key point that one must first understand the key message of the Buddha in order to make a true assessment of meditation techniques that do provide temporary relief. The key question to ask is how those techniques can lead to a true understanding of the anicca nature, which in turn will lead to “cessation of suffering” and attaining Nibbana.

      If you think Goenka’s techniques do that, that is fine. Each person needs to make his/her decisions on such critical issues.

    • #16662
      Tobias G
      Participant

      Hi Lucas,
      I think we could exchange a lot of opinions about the Goenka technique. But what does it help? It would help only if we could find any progress towards Nibbana. That is what I can not confirm.
      When I started on Lals website I easily made progress and the satara iddhipada were at work all the time. Even today I read “old” posts and find new details I did not grasp before. Every day I think about the Dhamma and that is real bhavana as per the Buddhas teaching. Here is panna to be gained, which is needed to attain Nibbana. That’s all what I want. I can confirm to have reached a high level of niramisa sukha or nivana which is such a relief. This comes from real understanding and does not require much effort (at least not for me). Also this niramisa sukha does not go away, whether I sit every day for meditation or not. That is because real grasping of the unfruitful and dangerous nature of this world is forever. If you feel you can attain something with the Goenka technique, just do it.

    • #16725
      Akvan
      Participant

      Hi All,

      There were questions raised as to why Goenka’s meditation will not lead to nibbana. These are my thoughts and are relevant to any meditation technique (not only Goenka’s).

      Nibbana is attained in a step by step process starting from the stream entry / sotapanna stage. It is evident from the sutta’s, that the sotapanna stage can only be attained from listening to the sa-dhamma (sa-dhamma shravanaya) and comprehending it. This sa-dhamma needs to be explained by someone who has at least attained the sotapanna stage, a kalyana mitta. Sotapanna stage cannot be attained by meditation.

      If there is a method leading to nibbana it has to start with listening and comprehending the sa-dhamma, as one does not have the ability to comprehend the sa-dhamma by himself. So if someone expects to attain the sotapanna stage through meditation, it will not happen.

      Hence a programme that relies only on meditation cannot lead one to attain the sotapanna stage.

    • #16727
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Akvan sadi: “If there is a method leading to nibbana it has to start with listening and comprehending the sa-dhamma, as one does not have the ability to comprehend the sa-dhamma by himself…”.

      That is correct.
      Just to point out “sa-dhamma” is really “sath-dhamma” (or correct dhamma), which rhymes as “saddhamma” and thus is called “saddhamma“; see, “Saddhamma Sutta (AN 10.191) AND Saddhamma Sutta (AN 10.147)” in the post: “Dasa Akusala/Dasa Kusala – Basis of Buddha Dhamma“.

      One of the requirements for Sotapanna phala is “listening to saddhamma” by an Ariya or a Noble person.

    • #19762
      cubibobi
      Participant

      Dearl all!

      I’d like to revisit this thread after a few months’ absence. Ever since I had the fortune of knowing puredhamma.net, I have learned so much, and recently I set up a self cultivation program to make it more structured:

      1) Learning Dhamma — from puredhamma.net, other books, and listening to desanas (mostly online, some of which are from Lal).
      2) Stay away from dasa akusala the best I can.
      3) Perform meritorious deeds (mostly dana)
      4) Cultivate anicca sanna as prescribed in some posts here.

      I am wondering if the process works something like this: some day when my mind is ripe AND I listen to a desana, AND the person giving the desana is an Ariya, THEN there may be something in that desana that gives me a “push” toward the sotapanna stage; this would fulfill the element of “listening to saddhamma” by an Ariya.

      Is this how it more or less works?

      Thanks!
      Lang

    • #19819
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Hello Lang,

      Yes. You are doing the right things. Let us know your progress and if you have questions on the way.

      May the Blessings of the Triple Gem be with you in your efforts!

    • #19820
      y not
      Participant

      Cubibobi mentions LISTENING to a desana by an Ariya. This reminds me that Lal said he would say whether listening is a requirement in attaining the Sotapanna
      Stage when he finds that information. Perhaps Lal has since and I missed it?

      At any rate, yes, Cubibobi, for me it has worked like that. Those four. But I included vimansa (analysis, investigation), mainly as to whether anything in particular is consistent with the rest of Dhamma.
      May you progress on the Path.

    • #19821
      Lal
      Keymaster

      ” whether listening is a requirement in attaining the Sotapanna
      Stage.”

      Yes. It is.
      I have mentioned is in a post. I am travelling today.

    • #19824
      y not
      Participant

      Thank you Lal,

      I will not be addressing anything to you until you say it is ok to do so.

      I wish you a fruitful trip

      Metta

    • #20742
      Nikita
      Participant

      Hello everyone!

      I went to one of the Goenka’s retreats this summer and tried to follow all the instructions to the best of my ability, even though I read this thread right before going there, which made me skeptical about the advantages of this meditation. Even though I found Lal’s words pretty convincing, I still decided to give it a shot since I was already going there.

      So while meditating in the hall, I eventually reached a state of deeper concentration, which is referred to by Goenka as “bhavanga”. I read a post here on “bhavanga citta’ and as I understood it, It’s a “mindset” free of any thoughts, where there is no processing of sense input. But the “bhavanga” state Goenka was talking about is different – it’s a state of mind when one can feel subtle sensations all over the body, something like an energy flow. In my case that was similar to waves of small particles rushing through my whole body in a way that I couldn’t even discern my body parts, I was just a heap of waves and vibrations. Does it have anything to do with the jhanic states?

      Now, this feeling is being described as “pleasurable” and “desirable” by others, including Goenka. So many people get stuck in their practice, trying to get this feeling again. But for me, both times I experienced it, I was pretty much overwhelmed and it started so suddenly that I kind of freaked out. My heart rate increased and I couldn’t help but gasped, therefore leaving that state.

      I wonder if anyone else experienced any fear or panic when mediating. What’s the reason for that? I used to have a period of time when I was dealing with mild anxiety episodes back in the days just before the retreat, but those gradually became less and less frequent and I don’t have them now. So I think that in my case, the anxiety I had back then caused my fear of that “bhavanga” state. But I also believe that I’ve always been like this – freaking out when there’s something unpredictable or/and uncomfortable happening with my body. Something I would describe as “fear of loosing control over my body”.

      I stopped following Goenka’s technique after maybe 2 weeks of practicing it at home and started contemplating on the three seals and other dhamma concepts. It’s hard to point the mind to the right direction and sometimes I feel like I don’t know what to think next and it seems like I’m forcing myself to review a paragraph from a book I read and now have to make a summary in my head, but sometimes there are moments when I naturally “stick” to some topic and it’s relatively easy to contemplate and to make parallels with my life. In general, it’s much easier to get in a concentrated state when I’m doing a Kasina mediation, but everything I really learned and understood about Buddha Dhamma came to me when I was contemplating on those concepts or doing real Anapana throughout my day.

    • #20777
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Hello Nikita! Welcome to the forum!

      Those “bodily feelings” are nothing to worry about. They could be related to jhanas too.

      Yes. Even breath meditation or mundane kasina mediation can easily get one to experience such things (including jhana), especially if one had cultivated jhanas in recent previous lives as a human.
      – Then one could have even been born in a brahma realm, and may have come back to the human realm.

      As we know one can be born (jati) as a human many times within a given human existence (bhava): “Bhava and Jāti – States of Existence and Births Therein“.

      So, those who had cultivated (anariya) jhana in the recent past may easily experience such “bodily feelings” or even jhana. It is those who also can easily experience “out-of-body” experiences where the “mental body” (gandhabba) can come out. Those who can do “astral travel” do that by coming out of the physical body with the gandhabba.

      However, those previous jhana experiences are NOT likely to be Ariya jhanas. If they were one would not be coming back to the human realm or even deva realms. That is because one’s kama raga would have been REMOVED; see, “Mundane versus Supramundane Jhāna“.

      In any case, Nikita is on the right track. As he says, one should not be satisfied (complacent) with any jhanic experiences. Those are temporary. We all had cultivated not only jhanas, but also supernormal (iddhi) powers in our deep past.

      I always point out to the fact that Devadatta had cultivated jhanas and iddhi powers, but he lost all that and born in an apaya.
      – On the other hand, being able to get to any jhana is a good thing (and may not be easy for some). That means one is able to at least suppress kama raga temporarily, and thus get to a better state of mind.
      – However, it is not necessary to cultivate jhana in order to attain magga phala.

    • #20899
      cubibobi
      Participant

      Hi Nikita,

      The experience you described is referred to in the Goenka’s tradition as bhanga (dissolution), NOT the bhavanga (dormant state of the mind) as explained in abhidhamma.

      I never experienced bhanga when I used to practice in this way, but I read extensively about the “stations” in the Goenka’s technique. You’re right that it’s not something to crave for, but it is also recognized as an important “station”, because it means that the mind is sharp enough to experience such subtle vibration.

      Recall that this technique takes bodily sensations (representing vedana) as the main object of observation. It starts with the breath just to sharpen the mind for this task, and as the mind is sharp enough it can perceive sensations arising and passing rapidly.

      Also, “anicca” in this tradition means the arising and passing of sensations, and so bhanga is an important stage because the mind is perceiving this arising/passing at a very subtle level.

      I know nothing by experience about kasina, jhana. I just want to point out the bhanga/bhavanga distinction.

      Best,
      Lang

    • #21025
      cubibobi
      Participant

      Hi,

      We’ve had quite an extensive discussion about Goenka’s technique, but I just read Lal’s wonderful post about vēdanā and would like to add a little more. The post is in the “Living Dhamma” section:

      https://puredhamma.net/living-dhamma/what-is-vedana-feelings/vedana-what-it-really-means/

      Jumping right to the end of the post, Lal summarized vēdanānupassanā as:

      • vipāka vēdanā needs to be experienced with upekkha.
      • Samphassa jā vēdanā are the ones to be stopped.
      • Nirāmisa vēdanā are the ones to be cultivated.

      The first bullet practically describes the whole Goenka’s technique.

      The technique does not work with Samphassa jā vēdanā because they are considered to be “reflected” in vipāka vēdanā (2 sides of the same coin). To experience vipāka vēdanā with upekkha is to indirectly experience Samphassa jā vēdanā with upekkha.

      Nirāmisa vēdanā are not considered at all. Based on my understanding of this technique, here’s my speculation: all of vēdanā is to be transcended. Vipāka vēdanā, gross and subtle (such as bhanga described by Nikita) arise and pass away, and seeing this fully is seeing anicca. And transcending vēdanā (arising/passing) is to see nibbana (non arising / non passing). Saying this is somewhat like saying to get rid of all vēdanā (as Lal pointed out in the post that some people believe this), I think.

      Finally, one question about the post: what about vēdanā arising from mind input? Does it also start as upekkha vēdanā, and then (for a normal human) turn automatically into dōmanassa or sōmanassa vēdanā?

      Thank you!
      Lang

    • #21038
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Lang said: “Finally, one question about the post: what about vēdanā arising from mind input? Does it also start as upekkha vēdanā, and then (for a normal human) turn automatically into dōmanassa or sōmanassa vēdanā?”.

      Yes.
      – But it needs to be kept in mind that we will not be able to discern the “initial upekkha vedana” in any of these. The follow-up with “samphassa ja vedana” happens within a split second (based on our gathi). We do not have any control over that.
      – What we can do is to change our gathi over time. Then with time, “samphassa ja vedana” will diminish.

    • #21430
      Anonymous

      Hello all! This is my first post on this site, which I found quite recently while attempting to make sense of my own experiences/ insights in meditation practice. I have a view of the utility of the Goenka technique, which I think might be useful, so I’m offering it here for consideration:

      The final aim of Buddha Dhamma is to help sentient beings achieve liberation from Suffering (Nibbana). The Buddha himself achieved this using Ariya Anapanasati- glimpses of which can be found throughout the suttas, and which has been very correctly elucidated on this site.
      The key to achieving Nibbana is the supramundane realization of the four Noble Truths- the key to that goal is the experiential understanding of Anicca, Anatta, Dukkha.. realizing that Dukkha occurs because of Craving/Attachment and the further realization that these attachments are nothing other than deep rooted habit patterns (I call them Automatic Scripts, using a computer analogy), that these habit patterns are formed due to the risk/reward evaluation function hardwired into minds… and the even deeper realization that these habits are not just formed due to our experience in this lifetime- many are already ‘on board’ due to past lives (?for want of any better explanation and based on data reported and confirmed by many others). By consciously being Mindful we can see many of these habit patterns at work in daily life in real time- sometimes they can be interrupted with ease, at other times stopping/ replacing the automatic script requires much work. One must however be kind to oneself on this journey, otherwise it is easy to degenerate back into the unconscious craving pattern we seek escape from in the first place.
      Though this is the path to Nibbana, as I understand it- entering the path is impossible without that ‘first taste’- the experiential realization of Anicca/Anatta/Dukkha and the Paticca Samuppada.
      This ‘stream entry’ phenomenon of seeing the Dhamma for the first time can occur in a multitude of ways- through enquiry, faith or just plain dumb luck.
      As Ananda said, it is surprising how something so simple and ever present can remain hidden. Just observe your own experience in the supermarket checkout line – can you be sure that you have chosen the fastest line? Having chosen what appears to be the fastest line, aren’t you helpless in ensuring that it maintains its speed? Do you suffer when the inevitable hold up occurs and you are delayed? Anicca, Anatta, Dukkha – right there!
      The Buddha himself tried many different ways to achieve this entry point breakthrough in his disciples. Some of these efforts did not go quite as planned, even in his time (eg Contemplation of the Foulness of the body .. a large number of monks committed suicide while the Buddha was in retreat after that teaching as described in the Vinaya). Other methods such as the Bramhavihara and other contemplations, Dhutanga practices etc may also work on occasion. Basically, a large number of methods exist, which one will work depends on the particular personality type.
      The Goenka technique is basically meant to provide this initial breakthrough in as short a time as possible. It seeks to ‘brute force’ the mind into the realization of the 3 characteristics in an intensive 10 day all out boot camp. It works for many, though as correctly pointed out above, the ‘hard reset’ can’t be sustained without further work on Sila, Samadhi and Pannya.
      As an aside, many may have read “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E Frankl, a Jew holocaust survivor who has recounted his experience of Auschwitz. He clearly describes how at the end of a period of unimaginable suffering his mind suddenly ‘let go’ and found release. Nothing in his situation changed, but he found that he had transcended his suffering.. he could look on events with an equanimous mind, even feeling nothing but a metta like compassion for his guards and fellow inmates.
      This is the kind of ‘stream entry’ / realization that humans have mistakenly sought to achieve through the most brutal self-torture for centuries. The Buddha’s genius lies in describing to us that ‘middle way’ method of achieving that same experience of release, and even more besides in a gradual training which brings lasting results.
      Yet what works for one need not work for all – may all beings find deliverance!

    • #21433
      lucas.cambon
      Participant

      Hello everyone!
      I would like to add something in order to throw a bit of “light” into this theme of Enlightenment, specifically in the first stage of Sotapana (stream entry).
      The attainment of this stage is marked by the first sight/experience of the uncondition element (Nibbāna). It is not a “random momentary trascendental realization of our conditions and role in the cosmos” but something very technical. Like the Physical world that has very precisely mathematical laws, the Reality of Mind possesses the same characteristics. It can be precisely described, and the path to liberation is a very technical one indeed (although subject to some little variations depending on the individual conditions).
      In order to enter the Stream one MUST experience Nibbana, going beyond mind and matter and entering in the state of Nirodha where all the senses (including the mind) stop working. Maybe this last only a second (could be much more) but is enough potent to completely change the mind of the meditator.
      This experience is equally speaking to the Dispelling of All doubts about the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha because now the person knows by DIRECT EXPERIENCE that what the buddha tought is true (crucial point) and can never follow another spiritual master. Until that moment faith played a very important roll that now is no more necessary. The meditator is his own teacher. He/she knows perfectly which is the path and which is not. He/she understands that no rite or ritual neither stict adhesion to moral discipline can help him towards the final goal. Only the intensive practise of meditation can do it. No more intellectual games, no more deception.

      May all have the chance to experience such a blissful state in this very life.
      May all beings be happy, be peaceful, be liberated

      • #21434
        Johnny_Lim
        Participant

        “In order to enter the Stream one MUST experience Nibbana, going beyond mind and matter and entering in the state of Nirodha where all the senses (including the mind) stop working.”

        I thought only Anagamis and Arahant could achieve that. Never knew to attain stream entry requires such a high standard of achievement.

    • #21436
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Welcome to the forum, lucas.cambon!

      Different people “see” Nibbana differently. But I am a bit puzzled by: ““In order to enter the Stream one MUST experience Nibbana, going beyond mind and matter and entering in the state of Nirodha where all the senses (including the mind) stop working.”

      Is that something that you experienced or what you think it should be? If it a personal experience, it would be beneficial for others if you can describe what that experience was like.

      Dukkha nirodha is “stopping future suffering”.
      Nirōdha comes from “nir” + “udā“, where “nir” meaning stop and “udā” is arising.
      Nirōdha could also mean, “ni” + “rōdha” where “ni” again is stop and “rōdha” refers to “wheel” or “wheeling” referring to samsāric journey.

      At the first stage of Nibbana (Sotapanna), one “sees” why Nibbana should be realized (that repeated birth in the 31 realms is filled with suffering much more than temporary occasions of happiness) AND how that can be realized. It is like seeing “the path” to get to the destination (Nibbana or Arahanthood).
      – In a mundane sense it is like “seeing” how 3 plus 5 is 8, without having to count with fingers. One just realizes the anicca nature of this world: That one can never maintain anything to one’s satisfaction.

      Now one may start feeling bodily sensations on the way to get that moment or even after that phala moment.
      – That is associated with getting to samadhi and in some cases jhana.

      All senses stop working only in nirōdha samāpatti, which can be attained only after getting to at least the Anagami stage AND after cultivating all the Ariya jhanas.

    • #21450
      Christian
      Participant

      I would need to speak to Buddha about it if I’m right or wrong but this is how it is related to my experience and experience of others I’m trying to guide into Nibbana.

      The first entry of Nibbana can be very potent before it stabilizes itself as Sotapanna, Sakadagami etc. One person can have so strong samadhi that it can actually make one think that one attain a higher stage of what he really attained. To take the example of suttas see how many Sotapannas have different reactions in relation to stream entry. Sariputta saw “Deathless” when encountering first stream-entry, he would recognize it quickly or had very strong experience while others can’t deny the truth of Nibbana and Buddha teachings but they experience is not that deep or intense as some of the others.

      My idea behind it (which I would like to ask Buddha as this is just in terms of simple observation) I personally had very strong “hunger” for Nibbana without really knowing what exactly I was looking for before I found it. Imagine this like eating different things but it does not really feel like it satisfies you, you can feel you eaten but it’s not just “it”. People who happen to have some spark or possibility to attain Nibbana but do not have that “fire” or “hunger” I see tends to experience Nibbana rather slowly or like Lal explained in his post that sometimes it takes weeks before one sees it. If the pressure is strong and a person is looking for Nibbana without even knowing what exactly he is looking for I think he can expect very good “experience” of Nibbana even before attain Anagami or Arahant stage. A person who is just “interested” or “curious” would rather have small or almost to none experience beside clarity of insight into Nibbana.

    • #21466
      lucas.cambon
      Participant

      The type of Nirodha is “Phalasamapatti”. I misunderstood the use of the word “Nirodha”. I willed to use it as “cessation”. Anyway, the important issue here is the following:
      The path to Sotappana

      1. The meditator undertakes the practice of morality, specifically guarding the mind from unwholesomeness (sīlavisuddhi)
      2. Guarding the mind, the meditator cultivates focus, gaining clarity of mind based on the objects of experience (cittavisuddhi)
      3. Having a clear mind, the meditator cultivates an understanding of the nature of experience as composed of impersonal physical and mental constituents (diṭṭhivisuddhi)
      4. Observing the physical and mental phenomena, the meditator cultivates an understanding of the causal interactions between the physical and mental phenomena (kaṅkhāvitaraṇavisuddhi)
      5. Through the understanding of positive and negative causal relationships, the meditator cultivates an understanding of what is an what is not the path (maggāmaggañāṅadassanavisuddhi)
      6. Through an understanding of the path, the meditator cultivates the right path (paṭipadāñāṅadassanavisuddi)
      7. Through cultivating the right path, one attains knowledge and vision of the noble path and fruition (ñāṅadassanavisuddhi)
        Sotāpanna occurs upon attainment of the seventh stage. The right path (#6) is the gradual understanding that all formations are impermanent, suffering, and non-self. Once this realization becomes all-encompassing, the meditator attains an absolute certainty of one or another of the three characteristics and this leads to a release based either on knowledge of signlessness (based on impermanence – that there is no telling what will happen in advance), desirelessness (based on suffering – that there is no benefit to clinging to any formation), or emptiness (based on non-self – that all formations are void of self and there is no relationship of ownership or control in regards to all formations).
        This release leads to an experience of cessation, where there is no arising of sense experience (including mental sense experience). This is the realization of nibbāna, and this is what leads to the eradication of the first three fetters.
        1- Wrong view is eradicated because one can never believe that anything could be permanent, satisfying or controllable, having seen them all cease without remainder.
        2- Attachment to wrong practice is eradicated because one can never be confused about the practice that leads to nibbāna after seeing nibbāna for oneself.
        3- Doubt about the Buddha, Dhamma or Sangha can never arise, because one knows what the Buddha taught to be true with complete certainty, and the results that one attains having followed said teachings.

      From my point of view is undeniable that we have to experience Nibbana in order to reach a “secure standpoint”. This is our own validation that the teachings are real. We dispel every little spark of doubt when we See Nibbana, not before.
      Is it reasonable? When we see smoke that smells like something burning we can be almost sure that there is a fire somewhere, but it is not until we actually see it that we can affirm by our own experience that is true.
      The Sotappana is an Ariyan because he attained one of the Supramundane paths, and the only reality that classifies as “supramundane” is Nibbana.

      Stream-entry is by no means an easy task. It requieres year of practice, years of practical investigation of reality. With this I don’t pretend to give a pessimist vision about the journey, but it is important to be realistic to. When I read about this stuff I usually prefer to keep in mind that this is the ultimate goal of all us so it will requiere the most high standar of achivement possible, it won’t be easy to do. Aeons of Craving and Ignorance are in our backs, incalculable periods of contraction and expansion of the entire Universe.
      In fact, it’s Amazing that such a thing as entering the path leading to liberation can be achieved in one life. (Taking into consideration that we have to pass through kindergarten over and over again) Don’t you think?

      • #21476
        Johnny_Lim
        Participant

        “Observing the physical and mental phenomena, the meditator cultivates an understanding of the causal interactions between the physical and mental phenomena”

        During the days of the Buddha, his disciples both monks and laity people are called Sāvaka (Dhamma hearer). We often see in the suttas depicting accounts of the Buddha delivering desana to prospects whom he deemed were capable of understanding his dhamma. What is not evident in the suttas is the Buddha asking people to straightaway meditate and see mentality and materiality and so on and so forth. Formal meditation is adjunct to listening to dhamma. Here are some rhetorical questions I would like to ask. How authentic is our observation on the physical and mental phenomena? Can we truly be sure that we are seeing the ‘real thing’? Or are they just created by our cunning mind when we crave for what we want to see? We must be careful of many meditation programs out there which are trying to sell us a fast-track way to liberation, which in my opinion is no different from any get-rich-quick scheme. I am certainly very doubtful and cautious on some lineage and meditation teachers who claimed that their method is the most authentic way to attain various stages of Nibbana. Fake Rolex watches are out there simply because there are real ones in the market!

        We must not forget the applicability of Buddha Dhamma in our everyday lives is very real and practical. Otherwise, how can it help us alleviate suffering? New age meditation technique like the one described in this post might appeal to some. But is it really effective in helping us handle traumatic incidents? Or are they nothing more than just a clinical experimentation? Citing a hypothetical case, a participant who just ended a retreat was about to leave the meditation centre when he received a call that his next of kin had passed away from a freak accident back home. Can this participant who just ‘saw’ kalapas, ultimate mentality and materiality in this meditation be able to remain composed and unshaken if he has not yet been exposed to Buddha Dhamma and inculcate a steady mindset to accept the Anicca nature? We read the famous story in the suttas of a lady who almost went mad when her son died. Buddha asked her to find mustard seeds from a family who does not have any deceased family members, delivered a desana to her and thereafter, she managed to regain her composure and attained stream entry.

        “And so saying, she went into the presence of the master.
        Then the master said to her,
        “Have you obtained, Gotami, the mustard seed?”
        “Finished, sir, is the matter of the mustard seed” she said.
        “You have indeed restored me.”

        And the master then uttered this verse:
        A person with a mind that clings,
        Deranged, to sons or possessions,
        Is swept away by death that comes
        — Like mighty flood to sleeping town.

        At the conclusion of this verse, confirmed in the fruit of stream-entry…”

        Buddha did not ask the lady to come sit down and meditate on this materiality, that mentality etc.

        Another example from the suttas…A rich man’s son Yasha had wandered off into the monastery where Buddha was staying. Yasha listened to the dhamma delivered by the Buddha and attained stream entry. Rich man was frantically searching for his beloved son and arrived at the monastery where Buddha was staying. Buddha wielded his supernatural power to shield his son from the rich man’s vision and delivered a desana to the rich man. Upon listening to the desana, the rich man attained stream entry and his son, Arahantship. Nowhere did the Buddha give both of them the instruction to sit down and meditate on this and that. Even if the Buddha did, what is the likelihood that both of them could observe physical and mental phenomena and their relationship in such a short span of time and attain path and fruition?

    • #21467
      Tien
      Participant

      Hi lucas.cambon, you said “… Sotāpanna occurs upon attainment of the seventh stage. The right path (#6) is the gradual understanding that all formations are impermanent, suffering, and non-self.”.

      Did you mean “… understanding that all formations are anicca, dukkha, and anatta“?

      Because:
      anicca is not “impermanent”
      dukkha is not merely just “suffering”
      anatta is definitely not “non-self”

      About the reason behind this conclusion, please refer back to posts (Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta) on this (PureDhamma.net) site. Both logical evidences and based-on-the-suttas evidences.

      About your details steps to Sotapanna, I don’t have any comment because I think everyone has different approach, but we need to get the key concepts right from the get go.

    • #21469
      lucas.cambon
      Participant

      Hello Tien,

      Yes, I mean Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta. You can choose the translation that appeals more to you, that’s not the point. I don’t wanna be rude but it will be very helpful to focus on the general idea beyond the exposition of someone else, not in the specific words. They can be interpreted in different ways by each an everyone of us.
      It’s very likely that when I used the word “bird” I imagine a different species than you. You know what I mean?

      Furthermore my english is not the best so I have to apologize for that.

    • #21473
      Lal
      Keymaster

      lucas.cambon wrote: “Sotāpanna occurs upon attainment of the seventh stage.”

      I think this is a misunderstanding. The completion of the seven visuddhis is the same as completing the Noble Eightfold Path. So, if someone completes them, one would be an Arahant.

      Could you provide a Tipitaka reference for a Sotapanna completing all seven visuddhis?

      P.S. I just found the following sutta, which confirms what I stated above:
      Ratavinita Sutta (MN 24)“.

      A fairly good English translation is at:
      Ratha-vinita Sutta: Relay Chariots

    • #21477
      Christian
      Participant

      “I mean Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta. You can choose the translation that appeals more to you, that’s not the point.”

      You can not choose a translation that appeals more to you as you will develop further ignorance. Progress is attained by breaking what is appealing to you. If its something you can not break then it’s true.

    • #29976
      guided
      Participant

      Greetings, I hope it is fine for me to open up a 1 year old topic.

      After reading through the entire thread at length, I’d like to add several points about the technique that may have been omitted, mainly drawing from personal observation and hopefully elucidate the potential reader of the benefits, drawbacks and pitfalls that can be encountered through practice of said technique.
      The observations will be listed and somewhat briefly discussed below in separate points. As lucas.cambon and others already offered thorough descriptions of the technique and the retreat scheme in posts above, I will try to avoid repeating what has already been written and focus on these observations.

      I will try to use Pali descriptions where possible to avoid potential confusion or misrepresentation of the described processes, hopefully tying the points in the context of excellent content of this website.

      For background, personally I’ve attended two 10-day retreats and served on one. I do not practice the technique on a daily basis in formal sittings, but try to be aware of vedana at all waking times throughout the day. My experience with this technique ranges from miniscule to extreme, though I will only touch upon it in this post. If anyone is interested in to hear it, let me know and I’ll write a separate post.

      On to the observations themselves.

      – The technique is methodic with very clear instructions of what to do and what to avoid doing. It is thus good for developing Sati in the mundane sense. With enough practice, one can mantain focused attention on the task at hand with little to no distraction, even in spite of dukkha vedana arising in the context of Avyākata PS, simply because one sits too long in one posture (as encouraged by the so called Addhittana sittings where one is encouraged to essentially become a statue for an hour).

      – However, this is not very useful unless one has the corresponding samma ditthi, which can result in needless torture under the belief that one has to endure these dukkha vedana in order to purify the mind, leading only to frustration.

      – In spite of all this, through the combination of breath meditation and deep samadhi (though not necessarily samma samadhi) gained from persistent absorption in the bhavana, one can reach a what I presume is a jhanic state of razor-sharp concentration. As others have mentioned before, sukha vedana can be felt with enough concentration, showing up as a subtle ‘energy flow’ covering the entire body.

      (I will now describe a series of phenomena that arose within my subjective experience, I’m sorry for the unavoidable ambiguity. These may or may not be in line with Goenka’s Vipassana. I’ll try to describe the phenomena in a purely descriptive manner)

      – Eventually, even this ‘flow’ dissipates and only wavelengths can be felt – fast oscillations for sukha vedana and slow oscillations for dukkha vedana. After some time, the ‘field of attention’ can be tightened enough so that individual suddhāṭṭhaka can be discerned, showing up as tiny particles passing almost as soon as they arise. Eventually, through a process I don’t fully understand, even this process slows down until only a single wavelength “underlying” the entire body structure remains. What I presume to be Samphassa-ja-vedana arises and “turns”, cycling between intense dukkha vedana and intense sukha vedana based on the “phase” of the wave. Involuntary kaya-sankhara can show up at this point, tracing the phase motion of the wave, along with descriptive vaci-sankhara. Eventually, the wave “flattens out” and when it does, individual indriya simply stop providing any input, with only “nothingness” left – no arising and no passing. (To elaborate, in this specific case I didn’t see through my left eye, didn’t hear through my left ear, and didn’t feel the left half of my body.) At some point, this “nothingness” started propagating through all the indriya in waves, but I specifically remember that there was an impression of the mind ‘not letting go’ and actively resisting this “nothingness”. Eventually, the “nothingness” went away and all of experience returned to “normal” – with none of these phenomena appearing again.

      That is as far as my experience goes. Whether it is connected in any way with Buddha Dhamma, or even Goenka’s Vipassana for that matter, is dubious at best. Nevertheless, it is where the practice of the technique led in my experience and what is written above is an honest account of it, although I omitted many details. What I can say with complete certainty though is that it did not provide a permanent release of the mind from the rebirth process. At best, it was only partial and/or temporary. Many of the micca ditthi were present before, during and after this experience, some of which were dispelled only after I discovered this excellent website. Whether the result could have been different if the mind embraced and eased into the “nothingness” is a possibility, though. Nevertheless, I can report that the technique did have a positive effect on the mind somewhat, and thus is not a complete waste of time.

    • #29983
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Greetings!
      Thank you for providing a detailed account of your meditation experience.

      1. As I have explained above, and in many posts, there is no question that breath meditation can help one to get to different types of samadhi and even jhana.
      – However, breath meditation is not Anapanasati meditation taught by the Buddha. And any kind of jhana attained provides only temporary relief. That means it will not help reduce one’s hidden defilements (anusaya).
      – The correct Anapanasati meditation will permanently reduce anusaya in steps. For example, the tendency to get angry can be PERMANENTLY reduced by the correct Anapanasati mediation.

      2. Any type of meditation can calm the mind by focusing one’s attention on a single object. That can be one’s breath, a ball of clay (used in anariya kasina meditation), a statue of a religious figure (Buddha, Jesus Christ, etc.)
      – That calming effect comes by not letting the mind wander around as it usually does.
      – That “calming of the mind” can manifest as a lightness of the body, seeing various colors, lights, etc.
      – Now, let me try to explain a fundamental issue that I may not have discussed in my previous comments on this thread.

      3. One’s tendency to get angry WILL NOT reduce significantly (that is the example we took above) with those meditation techniques. It may seem that anger has subsided, especially if one regularly practices those meditation techniques.
      – However, if one goes for an extended time without engaging in regular meditation sessions, one will see that the tendency to get angry will be back.
      – That means those meditation techniques WILL NOT help reduce anusaya (hidden defilements).

      Anusaya is a concept that is hard to understand for many people. It is closely related to one gati (pronounced gathi), which means one’s character/habits. The following posts may be helpful in understanding gati and anusaya (and asava, another related term).

      The Law of Attraction, Habits, Character (Gati), and Cravings (Āsava)

      Āsava, Anusaya, and Gati (Gathi)

      Habits, Goals, and Character (Gati or Gathi)

    • #30119
      guided
      Participant

      One more thing I’d like to add is that the assistant teachers encourage the student to effectively stop all vaci and kaya sankhara during the meditation itself through deep concentration, though Goenkaji does mention to “open one’s mind” to punna abhisankhara and “close one’s mind” in the presence of apunna abhisankhara (effectively describing anapanasati).

      However, as far as the 10-day introductory course is concerned, there’s not much stress put on this kind anapanasati and instead, one should, I quote, “work with the body, not the mind,” therefore one should disregard ALL thoughts during the meditation itself and focus only on vedana, according to all the assistant teachers I met. One teacher put tremendous stress on this fact, and encouraged students to try to prolong this attention state where no vaci or kaya sankhara arises to as long as possible.

      I was once told that vaci sankhara are products of sanya, which is not an object of the meditation, and should therefore disregard it as just another phenomena. This did not help me in the long run as I would often get frustrated with any mental chatter and found myself to try to stop it. Not good.

    • #30123
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Thank you, Guided!

      I think you stated there exactly what the root problem is with these types of meditations.

      You wrote: “However, as far as the 10-day introductory course is concerned, there’s not much stress put on this kind anapanasati and instead, one should, I quote, “work with the body, not the mind,” therefore one should disregard ALL thoughts during the meditation itself and focus only on vedana, according to all the assistant teachers I met.”

      It is the mind that needs to be purified.
      – Our physical body will die within about 100 years.
      – However, the “contents of the mind” will be carried to the next life, with its gati, asava, anusaya,, etc.

      Buddha taught that one should stop ONLY those thoughts that are defiled (immoral or sensual in nature). Those are akusala sankappa and kama sankappa.
      – One needs to CULTIVATE moral and non-sensual thoughts. Those are kusala and nekkhamma sankappa.
      – Here, “non-sensual” means thoughts that do not involve satisfying especially the taste, smell, and touch. Any thoughts about vision and sounds that are relevant to satisfying taste, smell, and touch need to be avoided too. Some examples are thoughts about food, sex, nice fragrances.

      In order to set the background, one first needs to realize the unfruitfulness and dangers in engaging in activities/speech/thoughts about sensory pleasures. That is to learn and comprehend Tilakkhana or the anicca, dukkha, anatta nature of this world.

      June 13, 2020: I had posted the English translation of a long discourse by Waharaka Thero here. I just removed it since it needs some revision. I will post the revised version when ready.

    • #30911
      Lal
      Keymaster

      The following post is from Lang (cubibobi):

      Hi,

      The “revival” of this thread prompted me to ask another question. Could somebody please explain the following section from the Rohitassa Sutta:

      Na kho panāhaṃ, āvuso, appatvā lokassa antaṃ dukkhassa antakiriyaṃ vadāmi. Api ca khvāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare sasaññimhi samanake lokañcapaññapemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodha-gāminiñca paṭipadanti.”

      One translation of it is:

      “Friend, I do not say that all suffering will cease without reaching the end of the world, but I say that the world lies within this fathom long body, which possesses mind and perception. I also teach the origin of the world, the cessation of the world, and the way leading to the cessation of the world.”

      The above Pali verse and translation are from a book about Mahasi Sayadaw’s vipassana method.

      On the Nature of Nibbana
      page 67 (of the book)

      Below is the context of my question.

      I practiced Goenka’s technique for quite some time, and gave a description of a 10-day course earlier in this thread. In brief, the technique takes bodily vedanā as the object of meditation (kammatthāna). The practitioner scans attention from head to toes and note the vedanā that arise and pass away. Seeing this arising and passing of vedanā is seeing the annica nature of vedanā.

      They say that the technique has basis in the Satipatthana Sutta but focuses narrowly on just vedanā out of the four: kaya, vedanā, sankharā, dhammā. This is because to observe vedanā is to observe all. The main rationale for this is 2-fold, based on other places outside the Satipatthana Sutta:

      (1) The verse “vedanā-samosaraṇā sabbe dhammā”. They translated this as “Everything that arises in the mind starts flowing with a sensation on the body.” Lal already addressed this earlier in the thread, about the real meaning of the verse.

      (2) The above verse in the Rohitassa Sutta and they translated it pretty much as above.

      Does this Pali section really mean as the translation? This section is actually used quite often in the traditions of body-based meditation techniques, the part about the “fathom-long body”. I don’t know Pali, but as I scan the Pali section I do not see the word “kaya” (body).

      Thank you so much. This point was actually much on my mind before and now got the surface again.

    • #30912
      cubibobi
      Participant

      … I mean kaya, vedana, citta, dhamma.

      been reading about sankhara on the site, and it stuck.

    • #31027
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Thank you, Lang, for bringing up this important sutta with a deep meaning.

      First, the background of the sutta. A fairly good translation that provides the background is, “With Rohitassa (AN 4.45)

      A Deva named Rohitassa comes to the Buddha and asks, “Is it possible to know or see or reach the end of the world by traveling to a place where there’s no being born, growing old, dying, passing away, or being reborn?
      – The Buddha says it is impossible to PHYSICALLY get to the end of the world (universe, in modern-day terminology).
      – Rohitassa Deva said that he confirmed that by himself. He said that in a previous life, he was a yogi with supernormal powers who could travel vast distances (with his gandhabba body). One day he took off to try to get to the “end of the world”. Of course, no matter how much he traveled, there was no “end”. He died on the way.

      To get in idea of how vast the universe is, see the following video: “Carl Sagan “100 Billion Galaxies each W/100 Billion Stars

      Then the Buddha says:
      Na kho panāhaṃ, āvuso, appatvā lokassa antaṃ dukkhassa antakiriyaṃ vadāmi. Api ca khvāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare sasaññimhi samanake lokañcapaññapemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodha-gāminiñca paṭipadanti.”

      The translation of that verse is better from Lang’s quote (EXCEPT for the part that I highlighted):
      “Friend, I do not say that all suffering will cease without reaching the end of the world, but I say that the world lies within this fathom long body, which possesses mind and perception. I also teach the origin of the world, the cessation of the world, and the way leading to the cessation of the world.”

      A better translation would be (just the meaning): “Friend, I do say that all suffering will not cease without reaching the end of the world. But “reaching the end of the world” is possible without going anywhere. It can be done with this body that possesses mind and perception. One just needs to comprehend the mechanism that “bears this world”. I also teach the origin of the world, the cessation of the world, and the way leading to the cessation of the world.”

      Let us discuss briefly what the Buddha meant by that verse.

      To see the context, let us look at Rohitassa’s first question stated above: “Is it possible to know or see or reach the end of the world by traveling to a place where there’s no being born, growing old, dying, passing away, or being reborn?

      So, the Buddha is saying that getting to a place where there’s no being born, growing old, dying, passing away, or being reborn is possible by following the Noble Eightfold Path. That goal is attained upon the Parinibbana of an Arahant. There will be no more births in this world.
      – That is the “end of the world”, the death of an Arahant. He/she will not be reborn anywhere in this world of 31 realms. That is reaching the “end of the world.”

      One comprehends the suffering associated with the rebirth process by comprehending the anicca, dukkha, anatta nature.
      – The rebirth process continues with the akusala-mula Paticca Samuppada starting with “avijja paccaya sankhara”. That means one will be tempted to do immoral deeds via abhisankhara. Here “avijja” is not to realize the anicca nature, i.e., that remaining in this world (i.e. in the rebirth process) will only lead to much suffering.
      – That process always ends up with “bhava paccaya jati” and “jati paccaya jars, Marina, soka, parideva,…(or the “whole mass of suffering)”

      When one gets to the Arahant stage, the akusala-mula Paticca Samuppada process stops and the Arahant WOULD NOT grasp a new bhava at death. That is the “end of the world.” That is the end of all suffering!

    • #31080
      cubibobi
      Participant

      Thank you, Lal, for the explanation.

      Just curious: What Pali phrase means “the fathom long body”?

    • #31081
      Lal
      Keymaster

      What Pali phrase means “the fathom long body”?

      – In the incorrect translation that you cited, they translated “byāmamatte kaḷevare” as “the fathom long body”.

      – There is no easy, direct translation for that. The meaning is in my translation above.

    • #31104
      guided
      Participant

      Thank you both for this insightful discussion.

    • #34299
      nb
      Participant

      This is my two cents on Lalji’s comment above #15261, “Let us take an example. Suppose you are sitting cross-legged at one of these meditation retreats. You start feeling pain in your legs. That is a vedana. What would be your response? Do you just notice that and move on without doing anything to get relief from that pain?”

      This is my understanding of Goenkaji’s instructions, what he saying is that in the first moment when you notice a painful sensation, you might have a tendency to move right away in response to pain, but he is saying that you also have the ability to not move right away and to take some time to watch the pain and to evaluate if you can actually stay still or if the pain deserves moving. He’s not telling you to move or not move, he saying take the time and make sure that it is a conscious decision to move and not just a reaction. The way I think that relates to what you are saying in changing your habits or Gati, is that just like you say that in between the Manosankhara of say greed arising and one creating a vacisankhara or kayasankhara of actually stealing there is some time, there is gap and in that gap one can choose whether or not to say pick up the ring left in the doctors office in your example or not. What I understand Goenkaji’s technique is teaching, is a practical way to increase that gap or at least to become aware of the gap and to give one more time to contemplate and make a conscious decision before one creates the vacisankara or kayasankhara. For example if someone says something bad to me, and based on my previous gati I start generating a Manosankhara of anger, then similar to observing the pain in the leg in the sitting meditation, I can use the sensations of anger that start with the Manosankhara and observe them and use that extra time I have learned to take by observing physical pain to decide whether or not I am going to express my anger, retaliate, or generate metta for the person and thus try to change my gati.

      I understand that you haven’t attended one of his retreats, and I don’t mean to be too forward, but if you ever had the time maybe you can go for ten days – I know I would love to hear your perspective, and from the sounds of this forum exchange so would a lot of other people. It could be an experiment. and it is not so bad, the first time I went I was worried I had joined a cult :) – but they didn’t keep me, they let people leave whenever they want.

      • #34300
        nb
        Participant

        I also wanted to add that Goenkaji very clearly says during the discourses and the one hour meditation sits that

        One should should clearly understand the purpose of Vipassana- is to change the habit pattern of the mind.

        Understand how to do Vipassana- by a) constantly observing the annica nature of sensations in the body first hand for yourself and b) contemplating on the futility of attaching with greed to a pleasant sensation or by aversion to an unpleasant sensation because they will both change on their own anyways.

        The next part is the application of what is practised in the sitting meditation in your daily life. He says that one aught to continuously keep track of the sensations that arise when one is living and dealing with other people in the world. You are asked to observe that every time you act with a defilement greed hatred anger you increase discomfort and heat for yourself. At the same time when you act with loving kindness and with a good frame of mind you decrease the heat and discomfort and generate calm states of mind. You are to use the constant awareness of sensations you practice in sitting meditation to help you choose correct behaviour in the real world.

        He also very clearly says that if your meditation sitting is not bringing out any favourable change in your behaviour in your daily life then you’re doing your meditation wrong. He says you can actually cause harm to yourself if you don’t understand the purpose and don’t apply the technique properly.

        Anyways, I think I will stop defending Goenkaji for the simple reason that if he saw me defending him he might laugh at me and say child, go do something more useful.

    • #34301
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Hello nb,

      You wrote: “This is my understanding of Goenkaji’s instructions, what he saying is that in the first moment when you notice a painful sensation, you might have a tendency to move right away in response to pain, but he is saying that you also have the ability to not move right away and to take some time to watch the pain and to evaluate if you can actually stay still or if the pain deserves moving…”

      He totally misunderstood the purpose of vipassana.
      It is not a physical feeling that the Buddha asked to pay attention to. Rather it is the “mind-made vedana” or “samphassa-ja-vedana.”

      It just so happens that this is exactly what the most recent post is about;
      Dukkha Samudaya Starts With Samphassa-Jā-Vedanā

      This is a very deep point to understand. It is a good idea to read that subsection if interested.

    • #34781
      raj
      Participant

      I have done several 10 day courses, satipatthana courses and a 20 day long course.
      I usually do couple of courses every year, but due to the pandemic I have not done one since september 2019.
      On day 5 or 6 discourse, Goenkaji explains dependent origination. The meditation aims at
      breaking the link at vedana pachaya tanha. By not reacting to the vedana the tanhna does not
      have to opportunity to arise which is the 3rd noble truth.
      The vipassana technique is explained in depth in the Chachaka sutta MN 148 (six sets of six)
      where the Buddha tells us to train and be disenchanted to the sensations.
      By sitting without moving one can experience the sensation of pain dissolve and disappear,
      once can witness and experience the truth of annica (all sensations are temporary).
      That is my understanding, but I am sure there is a lot more to it and other experienced
      meditators can shed further light.

    • #34783
      Lal
      Keymaster

      raj wrote: “The vipassana technique is explained in depth in the Chachaka sutta MN 148 (six sets of six) where the Buddha tells us to train and be disenchanted to the sensations. By sitting without moving one can experience the sensation of pain dissolve and disappear, once can witness and experience the truth of anicca (all sensations are temporary).”

      This is a complete misunderstanding of Chachaka sutta AND vedananupassana in Satipatthana bhavana.

      Chachaka sutta MN 148 is about samphassa, samphassa-ja-vedana, and how those lead to attachment to sensory inputs and accumulation of bad kamma.
      – Vedananupassana is all about being aware of such “samphassa-ja-vedana” and stopping them from arising.

      As I have discussed in many posts, samphassa (san + phassa) arises when lobha, dosa, moha arise in a mind.
      – For example, upon seeing eye-catching object greed and greed-induced joyful sensation arises and we get attached to it. When seeing an enemy angry thoughts can arise. Both could lead to unwise actions.

      In Satipatthana bhavana, one needs to be mindful and not attach to such “samphassa-ja-vedana” and act unwisely. That is being mindful.
      – It is NOT about bodily feelings!

      I just did a search for “samphassa” and came up with the following results:
      Search Results for: samphassa

      Please read some of those and try to understand the basis of real Bhavana.

      I have also discussed the Chachakka Sutta in detail in a series of posts:
      Is There a “Self”?

      It would be worthwhile to spend some time reading some posts in the above two links.

    • #34788
      raj
      Participant

      Sorry, I misunderstood the Chachaka sutta.
      Goenkaji’s talks on the 10 day courses are available on You Tube and I plan on listening to all of them again and have a meaningful discussion.
      But I do remember him explaining that the sensations we experience are the sankarras. When we learn to watch them in a detached way they arise and pass away, but if we react to them, they will multiply and get worse.
      We are reducing our avidya gradually as we progress.
      I remember after doing a course in 2011, I stopped practicing and did a another one in 2015.
      He recommends sitting 1 hour in the morning and evening. I would do it for a few days and
      then it will reduce to 1 hour and then to 30 minutes and slowly to zero practice.
      In 2016 I went for a one day refresher course and on my first sit in the evening I could feel some discomfort on my legs. Instead of observing impartially I was thinking how uncomfortable it
      was and very quickly I experienced a sharp pain and almost jumped and stood up.
      He tells us that all sensations (pleasant and unpleasant) will arise and pass away.
      We have to learn to be aware of every sensation in the body and just learn to observe.
      He compare awareness and equanimity to the two wings of a bird. In order to progress on the path
      to nibhana, we need both.
      He gives a little more detail on the 20 day course.
      Anyone who does a 10 day vipassana course will have a life changing experience, but the key is
      to continue the practice at home and go back and do the another retreat as and when required.
      After doing 1 ten day course, students are eligible to do a self course a home.

    • #34789
      Lal
      Keymaster

      No matter how much I try to explain, it does not seem to convey the message.

      P.S.
      I think it is time to write a couple of posts on “bhavana.” I will try to do that in the coming weeks. Questions keep coming up because most people think “bhavana” requires one to sit like a statue.

      – The problem is to use the word “meditation” as the translation of “bhavana”, especially if the word “meditation” implies sitting down and staying like a statue.

    • #34795
      cubibobi
      Participant

      I took a few 10-day courses and a 7-day satipatthana sutta course in this tradition. I also wrote a description of a 10-day course above (#15236).

      I summary, the practitioner scans the body from top to bottom, observing the sensations along the way, staying neutral to them. In other words, they take bodily sensations as the arammana.

      Why just bodily sensations? One reason is the following verse: “vedanā-samosaraṇā sabbe dhammā”.

      Goenkaji explained this verse as follows: “Everything that arises in the mind starts flowing with a sensation on the body.”

      Lal has explained what this verse means above (#15237): “All types of vedana coming together to lead to each and all dhammā”.

      After learning things from puredhamma.net for a while now, I’m thinking that “vedanā” in this verse means samphassa-ja vedanā, not sukha and dukkha vedanā. Is that correct?

      For me, noting bodily sensations does have one benefit: it calms the mind down, similar to doing breath meditation, and likewise is a temporary calm. However, using that calm mind for bhavana as described here is very effective.

      Best,
      Lang

    • #34796
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Thank you, Lang. You have understood!

      Bodily vedana are due to kamma vipaka.
      – But “kamma vipaka” do not necessarily mean “vipaka due to kamma done in the past” even though that is a big part.
      – Vipaka for actions can materialize right away. For example, if one jumps off a cliff (kamma or action), he is going to be subjected to a lot of physical pain, if not death (kamma vipaka).
      – When people feel bodily sensations (mostly due to postures that they are not used to), those are results of “getting into such uncomfortable postures”! It is as simple as that.
      – But those instructors keep saying “bear the pain and it will go away”. It will go away due to one of two reasons. The body may get used to it gradually or in the worst case, the pain may go away when nerves are damaged. Either way, it has nothing to do with vedananupassana!

      As we can see, vedanupassana (and kayanupassana, cittanupassana) can be done in any posture, at any time! But Dhammanupassana is best done in “formal mediation”. However, the other three types of “anupasana” involve Dhammanupassana.
      – I hope to provide a detailed discussion in the upcoming posts.

      Yes. As Lang wrote, in vedananupassana, one needs to be mindful about “samphassa-ja-vedana” via defiled thoughts, as I explained in my first response to the comments by raj.
      – There, I gave references to read.
      – Those who have not yet understood should read those recommended posts. Please feel free to ask questions, AFTER reading them. People start asking more questions/make comments without reading recommended material. It is a complete waste of time!
      – Don’t think Buddha Dhamma can be understood by just reading a post or two.

      I do understand that we have been put in this position due to wrong teachings over many hundreds of years. So, it is going to be a bit difficult to discard those wrong views/practices. But it MUST be done to make progress.

    • #34800
      DanielSt
      Participant

      I also started my Dhamma-journey with two Goenka courses around 1.5 years ago. After these courses I found this webpage and meditated under a different teacher here in Myanmar in another technique, very fitting to what Lal is teaching here, in my opinion (mindfulness on the mind and mental states).

      Concerning Goenka and the pain, I wanted to say something. In my opinion it might be understood that one should “do something special” when meditating, like sitting in a special way, scanning in a special way and so on. That idea might develop after such meditation courses. Especially westerners that are used to a high effort of doing things (with the idea of “being in control”) might develop some complex of focusing on the stability of the body instead of trying to be aware of the attitude with which one is meditating. In this case, the mind is not calm, not flexible and somehow attached to a kind of calmness.

      On the other hand, breaking up the habit of blindly reacting to an initial sense input, and pain as a kaya vedana is one type, might be a useful learning experience for many people. It is training the mind to become more accepting with unpleasant situations in life, and the wisdom behind that is that our sensual experience, the vipaka vedana are also anicca (cannot be maintained as one desires). So, in life there might be moments, for example in the dying times or in times of illness, when pains will be present and no real way to avoid these experiences is possible. If one has overcome these initial reactions (these reactions are samphassa-ja-vedana, which in my experience increase the unpleasantness of the initial pain) and is able to tolerate pain better, it is quite in alignment to what Lal describes as Vedanupassana, in my view.
      The aversion of blocking the pain is a samphassa-ja-vedana is something one can change, because it has to do with the attitude of meditation. However, one has to learn that one does not needlessly tortures oneself (which is the other extreme).

      I understand the method as follows:
      Any samphassa-ja-vedana is a reaction to an initial sense-input coming as a vipaka. While the mind is creating these mind-made feelings, it is not aware in the sense that it is not calm, and seeing with “nicca” (trying to control). These reactions are mano sankhara that will manifest as changes in the bodily energies as well, arising out of the heart-base. From my understanding,pleasant samphassa-ja-vedana (binding with raga, for example agter seeing a pleasant view) will create changes in the body which will result in pleasant kaya vedana as a immediate vipaka. The action of liking results in bodily changes and the mind will pick them up in another 5 door-process. It then might create more samphassa-ja-vedana due to liking on these bodily sensations as well. But someone who has established an upekkha-habit on these bodily processes might see more easily that these processes are arising because of a mental “upadana”, which will make him aware of the underlying attachment and the mano sankharas that were created. He can then consciously decide to abandon to follow these thoughts or mental reactions, which means that he is stopping the generation of more samphassa-ja-vedana.

      In this way, the method makes sense to me. But it is a limited method ans can lead to some misunderstandings, as it did for me. When I learned many more ways of meditating from another teacher I learned how to properly understand Goenka’s method. The mind and the defilements as lobha,dosa,moha are the ultimate causes, which means that one single technique cannot really give the understanding of the mind and train the mind in being able to stop defiled thoughts (or become aware of and reflect upon) in many different life situations. This is the ultimate goal, as I understand it.
      Especially the understanding about the causes for certain experiences and the whole scope of the rebirth process is missing. But since I have only attended the beginner courses, I don’t know how it will be later.

    • #34809
      Lal
      Keymaster

      It is very hard to get rid of one’s convictions.
      – If you read the accounts given by many Goenka fans above in this thread that is quite clear.

      The bottom line is Vedananupassana is about “samphassa-ja-vedana.”
      – Trying to attach that to bodily vedana cannot be justified in any way. Of course, one can contemplate the anicca nature of the body. That does not require one to undergo MORE suffering!
      – This physical body is a “vipaka of the previous kamma” and will be subjected to various types of kamma vipaka due to kamma done in the past. The Buddha also experienced back pains, etc. He did not try to “meditate the way out of that suffering.” He had removed all lobha, dosa, moha without a trace, and thus had removed causes for suffering in FUTURE LIVES. But he had to bear the physical body and any kamma vipaka it is subjected to, until the death of his physical body.
      – But this physical body can ALSO be subjected to kamma vipaka due to kamma done with unwise actions at any time, as I explained above.

      In any case, it is up to each individual to proceed the way he/she wants.

      P.S. I am not saying that training the body to sit in the lotus position is a bad idea. If one does it gradually, the body will change to accommodate that position and then one can sit in that position comfortably for a long time.
      – But we should not confuse that as a benefit of “meditation”.

    • #34822
      raj
      Participant

      I read the bhavana meditation portion of the link. It is very helpful and the entire puredhamma website is a treasure of information for sincere seekers.
      But in all fairness to Mr. Goenka, the students are allowed to move, re-adjust and find a comfortable posture. Only on the fifth day he recommends not to move, for three one hour sits, but it is not strictly enforced. Rest of the time the students are allowed to move, standup and even walk outside. He stresses the importance of Sila, that, it is the foundation of samadhi and panya. On his daily discourses, he gives enough information to kindle one’s curiosity in the teachings of the Buddha.
      The course gives one an opportunity to live like a monk for ten days and accumulate a little bit of
      the 10 paramittas.
      The course is a window to the wonderful teachings of the Buddha and those who have the good fortune
      can explore the teachings on their own.

    • #34825
      raj
      Participant

      Just wanted to add a few more points to the above comment.
      The students get an ideal environment to follow the five and eight precepts.
      Just being silent and not talking for 9 days prevents one from idle talk and the agitation of the mind.
      The students don’t make any eye contact and one gets to silently contemplate with no sound whatsoever, other than the sound of nature, which is almost impossible in the modern world for most people.

    • #34826
      Lal
      Keymaster

      OK, Raj.

      Did they teach “samphassa-ja-vedana”?

    • #34828
      raj
      Participant

      Mr. Goenka teaches the students to practice samphassa-ja-vedana in ones daily activities.
      The meditation prepares one for the daily encounters in life. He says when we have an encounter
      with (lust, anger ect.) to watch the breath and the sensations in the body.
      If somebody yells at us, we get angry, but with that anger we can see a change in our breathing
      and it is accompanied by a sensation. He tells his student to be aware of that.
      Initially one may fail to do so, but by practice one becomes conscious of what one needs to do.
      In the initial stages one may get angry but the cooling down happens relatively quicker. As one
      advances one will see the change. After an episode, one might have been miserably for many hours,
      the duration is reduced and a point will come that the meditator will not react at all.
      I presume that just as during ones meditation, one learns to watch the sensations without reacting, similarly in ones day to day activities one learns not to react to sensations influenced by external inputs, and I presume this is done intuitively due to the practice.
      He says that it is not an overnight process but could take years. I presume, it depends on the individuals karma and the dedication to the practice of meditations and following the precepts.

    • #34829
      raj
      Participant

      I would like to add one more thing to the above comment. Mr. Goenka says we should try to be aware of our breath and some sensation in the body all the time.
      Be aware of sensations before going to sleep and do that as soon as we wake up in the morning.
      He says our mind will be doing it even when we are asleep.
      So I presume that once we train to be aware of breath and sensations all the time, we will automatically do it when there is a crisis, and the so called crisis will cease to be a crisis because it will just be another sensation, and we are trained to observe and not react.

    • #34838
      Lal
      Keymaster

      “Mr. Goenka teaches the students to practice samphassa-ja-vedana in ones daily activities.”

      I don’t think that statement is true based on accounts that I have personally heard from friends who attended those sessions.
      – I don’t think those instructors even know the phrase “samphassa-ja-vedana.”

      I am not saying that going to those sessions is bad. It may serve the purpose of temporary relief from daily stresses. I have a friend who, several months after a session, says it is time to go back to “get that same experience.”
      – Of course, I don’t even discuss this subject with my friend. I just listen to what he has to say.

      Different people teach Dhamma differently and at various levels. Also, different people understand Dhamma at different levels. That is how it has been always.
      – This is all I am going to say for now on this topic.

    • #34843
      raj
      Participant

      Sir, you are absolutely right when you say the instructors don’t know what is samphassa ja vedana, most of them don’t but there may be a few who do.

      I myself did not have a clue what the term was, but having heard six set of six (over and over again on audio) read by Bhante Vimalaramse (he reads a translation by Bhikku Bodhi and has a very soothing voice), I put two and two together and made a statement on post 34781 that the vipassana topic is further explained in chachaka sutta.

      But when you said that I was wrong, I just accepted your statement because I felt if you said so,
      it must be true.

      But when you placed the question yesterday in that manner, I took the time to understand properly what the term meant and analyzed it with the vipassana practice and
      I remembered that Mr. Goenka instructs his students in one of his final lectures on how to
      progress on the path.
      Though I said I will listen to all his discourses again, I have only managed to listen to about half of his day one discourse, but I think he makes this statement on his day 10 or final day 11 discourse. I will check it out and get back to you.

      He does say that many students do the course over and over again without properly understanding
      the technique and they are not able to progress.
      I have done an equivalent of 120 days (if I add the 7 ten day, 3 sattipattana, one 20 day and 3 short courses) and I have also served in six ten day courses also, but surprisingly did not have a clue of the term sampassa ja vedana.
      I have also heard dhamma talks from over 50 different monks and dhamma scholars. I listen to whatever pops up on youtube, I find it hard to read but feel more inclined to listen.
      I also read topics on accesstoinsight.org, and other dhamma sites. I have a tendency to jump from site to site, but your site is the best, and I hope to start studying and taking notes from puredhamma.net.
      I am very grateful to have this one on one interaction with a person like you who knows the topic
      so well.
      I sincerely hope that I will get an opportunity to learn more from you.
      Thankyou for your time and patience.

    • #34848
      raj
      Participant

      Just want to add a few more points to the above post.

      Goenkaji makes a comment that there are students who hit a century (meaning sat on a hundred courses) and still don’t understand the technique. They play the sensation game (happy when they
      experience pleasurable sensations and unhappy when the painful one arise).

      He explicitly explains that we need to simply observe, can’t pick and choose, and if we fail, we can regress. It is a waste of time regardless of how many courses one has done.
      He makes significant and important statements on his talks, but since we are not allowed to take
      notes, we tend to forget. Also some of us are drowsy, we are not allowed to stand up, we have to
      sit during the talks. There has been times I have dozed off during the talk and regretted later.

      In my case, I was forced to work a little bit harder because my wife and son would tease me that I have not changed. Every time I loose my temper they would gang up and make fun of me.
      When I analyze myself, I have improved a lot. My consistent listening to dhammatalks from various
      sources and trying to put it into practice is certainly a contributing factor.

      This puredhamma site is certainly proving to be a booster on this path, and hopefully I will
      make some significant progress. I feel extremely grateful to Lalji. (I hope he does not mind me
      referring to him as Lalji, in India you add (ji) to your teacher and elders).

    • #34851
      Lal
      Keymaster

      No problem, Raj. I understand. I would be happy to help in any way I can.

    • #34854
      raj
      Participant

      Thank you sir.
      Just want to say that I did not mean to offend anyone. The instructors are very good at
      giving the required guidance to advance in the technique. I have received a lot of help
      from them, there is very little time to discuss anything in detail (each student is allowed 5 minutes).
      I know only about 15 or 20 of instructors and Goenkaji has appointed probably hundreds of them.
      But among the few I know, none of them are expert in the tripitika and pali terminologies as you are.
      We are very fortunate to have the puredhamma website and to have direct access to
      you.

    • #35157
      Lal
      Keymaster

      The following link on someone’s meditation experience at a meditation retreat was sent by DanielSt:

      When Buddhism Goes Bad – How My Mindfulness Practice Led Me To Meltdown

    • #35162
      TripleGemStudent
      Participant

      Thank you Lal and DanielSt for sharing that essay / article. It’s the first material that I have seen that describes the drawback’s / dangers of meditation in such details. It will be a good resource for me to share with others to warn them of the possible dangers when meditation is done incorrectly.

    • #35165
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Yesterday, after receiving the email from Daniel (that he was unable to post the link at the forum due to some reason), I remembered a post that I wrote a few years ago. That post may provide more information on this subject.
      – Yes. I think it is a good subject to be discussed because incorrect meditation techniques labeled as “Buddhist meditations” can scare away people from the correct Buddhist meditation techniques.

      Can Buddhist Meditation be Dangerous?

    • #35176
      TripleGemStudent
      Participant

      Just wondering if anyone have come across or heard of any Buddhist monks that experienced adverse side effects of practicing incorrect meditation techniques?

    • #35179
      cubibobi
      Participant

      Hi all,

      This is a forum about Goenka’s vipassana technique, and now has turned to the possible dangers of meditation, especially of meditation retreats.

      I do have a few additional thoughts to add on both topics. I have been hesitant to write these things since I used to be more or less intimately connected to the Goenka’s tradition. However, to some people the following may bring a useful perspective.

      First, a tragic account of a young woman’s death:

      She didn’t know what was real’: Did 10-day meditation retreat trigger woman’s suicide?

      For those not familiar with the Goenka’s technique, a very quick recap:
      (The full description of a course is above: https://puredhamma.net/forums/topic/goenkas-vipassana/#post-15236)

      Anapana” means breadth meditation.
      Vipassana” means observing physical, bodily sensations.

      In a typical meditation sitting, someone may “do” anapana for a little while to calm the mind down, and once the mind is sufficiently calm, he/she then “does” vipassana.

      “Doing vipassana” here means something like this: a person moves attention from the top of the head to the tips of the toes, noting sensations on the body parts along the way — pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. The meditator keeps a mind of equanimity toward these sensations.

      There are variations to this, but the above is the gist of it.

      The first drawback of this is of course the incorrect interpretation of anapana and vipassana. A student leaving the courses takes anapana as breath awareness and vipassana as the body scan technique. Many, including what we call “assistant teachers” who conduct these courses, do not bother to learn Buddha Dhamma further.

      Goenka presented this body scan technique as the “Jewel of the Dhamma”, something that was lost from India but preserved in Myanmar (and now has been brought back to India). It was preserved in ancient time by the theros Sona and Uttara, transmitting down to the present day lineage:

      Ledi Sayadaw
      Saya Thetgyi
      Sayagyi U Ba Khin
      S N Goenka

      The names of anyone in between are not known. It was speculated that Ledi Sayadaw learned this technique from someone in Mandalay.

      I am sure these were holy people. At the same time, I remember being amused when I heard of the technique described in this way; after all, I had known of this body scan technique long before.

      Because of this, I used to read some writings of Ledi Sayadaw, including the book that DanielSt mentioned in a different forum. I knew that Ledi Sayadaw was prolific, and wanted to see if he wrote of this body scan technique in this way. I found none; if anyone knows more of his writing in this regard, please share.

      The other drawback is related to the “dangers” we’re discussing. A 10-day, residential course with many hours of sitting in silence each day may be “too much” for someone with a mental condition. In the application process, they do have a mechanism to detect such candidates, but I suppose from time to time someone “slips through”. Hopefully, an extreme case like the story above does not repeat.

      These are my two cents. Hope some find it helpful.

      Best.

    • #35180
      cubibobi
      Participant

      TripleGemStudent wrote:
      “Just wondering if anyone have come across or heard of any Buddhist monks that experienced adverse side effects of practicing incorrect meditation techniques?”

      There is a book about the Buddhist master Dipa Ma:

      Dipa Ma
      The Life and Legacy of a Buddhist Master
      — by Amy Schmidt

      In that book, there’s mention of a Vietnamese monk named Khippapanno who attended a retreat in Burma in 1969. For 5 days he couldn’t stop laughing or screaming; he then left the retreat, but Dipa Ma invited him to meditate with her, and got him “out” of his predicament.

    • #35277
      Anonymous

      Hey my name is Ida

      Can anyone drop some meditation links that you are currently using?
      I am currently using a free one but I want to see exactly what you all are using right now.
      please comment below …🥰❤😍😍😍🥰

    • #35278
      cubibobi
      Participant

      Hi Ida,

      What do you mean by “meditation links”?

      When I need to refresh on meditation, I go to the Bhāvanā section of this site:

      Bhāvanā (Meditation)

      You’re asking this question in a thread about SN Goenka’s technique. If you have taken those courses and are asking about sites related to that technique, then I happen to know that they have online virtual “group sitting”, among other things.

    • #35772
      raj
      Participant

      This is an attempt to share my positive experiences and hear from other meditators so that we can all progress on the 8 fold noble path.
      I am a vipassana meditator (Goenka school) and was struggling to maintain my daily quota of meditation, which is a qualification requirement to sit for the long courses (20,30 days) and they also have 45,60 and 90 days. But for the past few days I look forward to doing it!
      I was a dedicated follower of the Vedic school from my early 20’s and had learnt hundreds of hymns for the next 30 years or so, and I don’t see any use in chanting them, now that I have started to follow the teaching of the buddha.
      So I decided to start learning some basic suttas and started with Karaniya metta sutta. It probably took me a couple of months and after hearing it many times every day, I have almost memorized it.
      I decided to do the Rattna sutta next. I listen to it at least 5 times a day and sometimes more.
      All these positive vibrations are helping me with the meditation.
      There was a plague or epidemic in the city of Vaishalli and the Buddha visited the city out of his causeless mercy. He taught this sutta to the Ven. Ananda, who travelled to various parts of the city and chanted this sutta, and city got rid of the disease.
      If this sutta can rid a city of a plague, imagine what it can to us!
      Also for the past one week or so, I don’t listen to any current politics on news ( I realized these people just throw dirt on each other, and it is a contribution to wrong speech, so I just read headlines and just hear news on health issues). I spend my time listening to spiritual talks and different chanting.
      The reduction of material vibration and the increase of spiritual vibration has done the trick.
      Hopefully I will be able to maintain it, because this is a wonderful experience and the other was just boring and same old thing.
      The pandemic is an added bonus, because I don’t know if and when I will end up in the daily stats and how much time I have in this life to practice the Dhamma. It has had a good positive effect on me.
      I think, this past week has been more spiritually productive than attending a long retreat!
      If I could manage to maintain this, or replicate this when I find myself unable to meditate, it would be great. I wont have to depend on retreats. This past few years, it has been so difficult to go to retreats. Either they were closed, or they have all kinds of requirements and conditions (vaccines, masks, quarantine rules, PCR reports, etc.)
      I don’t think I would have managed, if it was not for Puredhamma website, and also the Y tube videos on Buddhism available these days.
      Metta to all!

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