Sat, 25 Mar 2006
Have read you lines and I am accepting them. Some spontaneous remarks: You thoughts are unusual but still interesting. I personally think it is quite normal that it is not fitting for everyone and I consider that totally o.k. When I read your lines I start to think that you see this tradition very critically - which is completely all right.
But tell me, could you still sit a retreat in this tradition without all your doubts coming up all the time? Doubts are quite normal - but if they overtake one has to question oneself, if one still can meditate reasonable in such a case?
Sun, 26 Mar 2006
Your question, if I still could sit a course in our tradition I want to answer with a definite 'Yes'. But with this page I seem to have taken my final farewell. A call to John Luxford (the Achariya who exiled me) still could have straightened everything out - exactly this policy makes a return impossible to me:
If an own opinion, without wanting to force it on anyone, is no more allowed - than I have been deceived about the allegedly non-existing sectarianism all these years. As soon as an exchange of opinion - without becoming sanctioned or disparaged because of ones distinct views - becomes possible again, then one is again working together - in wanting the very best for all pertaining.
That I have to work with doubt, with feelings of refusal, during Vipassana-courses - in that I don't think to be a great exception - and exactly that work makes it so important, and that's why our organization is so close to my heart
Mon, 27 Mar 2006
Lot of thanks for your discussion and Dhamma-materials. I sent your letter to Dr. Dhananjay. You can see what he will say for Goenka Ji.
Tue, 28 Mar 2006
I've received your message where you mentioned you would forward my text - with my points of questions - to Dhananjay (Secretary of S.N. Goenka). Well, already in August last year Dhananjay wrote me back, that he read and forwarded my letter to Goenkaji. But without being able to promise me that Goenkaji would find the time to read - let alone - answer my questions.
Tue, 28 Mar 2006
... because of my Dhamma-service as a web master. I wish you much success in your quest for clarity and happiness. I too have received much benefit from Vipassana, and wish that others can share in this journey towards brightness and sunshine, while traveling open-eyed through the muddy, rough, uneven, path through this life.
It has been greatly puzzling and surprising to learn that the difficulty I have felt in practicing Vipassana is paralleled by other students difficulties, and often others report that they have to struggle even more than I, or that Vipassana is not for them.
Vipassana has brought happiness and understanding to me because it (apparently) has uncovered the very core of my life, the raw experience of perceiving, feeling, acting, reacting this world around me and within me, and shown me ways to make better decisions, even as I sometimes struggle to act appropriately.
I understand very much your desire to question and debate and understand the teaching of Vipassana that we have received. But, surprisingly enough, my experience tells me that the intellectual mind is a poor tool for finding insight, and that even with years of practice and Dhamma service I still feel like a really solid understanding of Vipassana, that can survive debating and discussing, is beyond me.
So it would be difficult to comment directly on the many points you bring up. I work in education, and am very much in favor of constructive criticism and clear explanations. So I hope you are able to receive the feedback you need, and can be a positive influence on others. Be happy!
Sat, 1 Apr 2006
... Also I myself do not hope to survive such a discussion - and that would be more than I can wish for, as this would be a resurrection of such skillful speech as it happened so often at the time of the Buddha. You seem to understand, that I only want to support a reconnection to our ancient and foresighted tradition. And how I'm struggling to find the proper means to it.
Your letter expresses as much trust in the Dhamma as I have and does not fear that any harm could ever come by investigating truth - as Goenkaji assures us too with his advise of speaking truth (Kiriya-sacca) as a means to real healing
Tue, 28 Mar 2006
in your letter I read a lot of attachment to your personal situation. I know many serious meditators who are not allowed to give Dhamma-service. Your kick-out is for me only one step on the long way of the natural process of the dissolving of an institution.
When an institution becomes bigger and bigger than there is a need to formulate more and more rules to conserve the essence. By this the original idea loses the freshness and people who like stiff rules dominate the institution by the time. Finally the essence is lost and some people will relaunch the original idea.
When Goenka is dead there will be a lot of changes. If you don't want to wait it will be best to organize 10-days-courses by your own. Complaining only separates, we all have the love of Vipassana together. Metta
Sat, 1 Apr 2006
Thanks for your interesting remarks to my text. But in my view - which I never proposed to be much more than a humble contribution to a much wider reflection - our organization is merely co-dependently-arising together with us, its meditators and Dhamma-workers. As much as we - each one of us - is able to accept other views beside ones own - as much we are true brothers in Dhamma. That would never change, it would merely proliferate if Dhamma-siblings separate. As this seems to be the case today, whom to you assume me to separate?
The 90 percent of first time meditators who leave for good after a first course? Or those who don't continue much more than a couple more courses? Or those few who remain hedging off against so many others. Already having left the Dhammist-fold by this very act?
We indeed have the love for Vipassana together. But I guess this does not apply to the same extent about our trust in true Dhamma. I will never take refuge in a worldly organization, but in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the real Sangha (which never would exclude others merely due to their differing opinions - as well as most members of Goenkaji's organization never would).
Yes, I don't want to wait to see confusion come. I take the advise of the Buddha to heart and try to support a mutually respecting assembly. As soon as we are able to really listen to each other - it again will become possible to understand one another. Surely this will solve all the problems I see today, in one stroke
Thu, 13 Apr 2006
thank you for your long answer. It must be a lot of work to answer all the mails. Metta
An email send by Assistant teachers to German meditators:
Tue, 28 Mar 2006
Dear Friends, with many the email of Mr. Lindner has left a number of question-marks. Out of his letter it becomes clear, that he doesn't feel at home in our tradition and that he is not happy about what and how Goenkaji teaches. That is o.k., as each one has to get his own opinion, and to make his mind up into which path he puts his confidence.
Mr. Lindner - as it is apparent in his exposition - knows a lot of different traditions and will certainly find another tradition, with which he feels more at home and can cope with. We can only wish him every luck to find his way. But we can not see any value to become involved in a discussion about the fundamentals of this tradition, which he meanwhile refuses for its prevailing parts.
Who experiences himself, how he makes progress in courses with Goenkaji and his assistant teachers and wants to develop further on this path, will not serve oneself well by responding to Mr. Lindner's discussion-invitation. And questions Vipassana - as taught by Goenkaji - so categorically.
When the confidence in our teacher and the foundations of our courses are questioned so far - any further practice and further progresses on this path become impossible. If there are questions or doubts, you should better clarify it with a teacher of your confidence. In particular - as fast as possible - and don't get tempted to stoke such 'discussions' with other students any further.
That is the way which Goenkaji recommends and the teacher and assistant teacher will happily take all the time necessary to answer questions and take away doubts. For this it is essential that the confidence in Goenkaji and his A.T.s remains as before - confidence is the base - without confidence no intensive practice - and along with it no real progress on this path is possible. Who intentionally makes his way into a situation which aim is to stoke unsettling and distrust, is depriving himself of this very base.
We only hope that Mr. Lindner finds a way which appeals more to him. And that he understands that it will be very negative for his own progress in Dhamma too, if he tries to unsettle others and to stoke doubts with his action - or to divert them from their chosen path.
To promote someone on this bad path, be it through contribution of his mail or active contributions to his action, one eventually harms him in this way - as well as oneself. Of this we are convinced. Surely those teachers who know him well will be able, with their experience and their metta, to advise him the best as they can.
So far our certain opinion. I hope it helps to a bit more clarity with those who didn't knew for sure what to do with this mail now. With the best greetings and Metta, Heinz & Brunhilde
Tue, 04 Apr 2006
I don't know if you have noticed this email. I received it by ... I was quite shocked about its content, rather, the manner of its explanations. They sound like a 'kick-out', and remember me strongly to the methods with which the catholic church or 'sects' deal with ordained/members, who do not show themselves completely conform.
It certainly should be left to each one how one deals with doubts! Once again one can see a lack of human- and social-competence here. And a tendency to the effect that you should let others think for yourself, which I can not support at all.
Really alarming seems to me the sentence: "... that it will be very negative for his own progress in Dhamma too, if he tries to unsettle others with his action and stoke doubts - or to divert them from their chosen path..."!
In comparison your sentence: "As you've probably read in my letter, it is my intention to create a place where Vipassana-meditators can exchange their experiences and opinions without fears. I really believe - if that becomes possible - than many of our problems will be solved through mutual understanding very easily."
I strongly doubt in this context that your undertaking will bear fruits, if the 'authorities' of this organization have such a rigid opinion, rather reject every open dialog. Nevertheless, I am wishing you much luck! It is important that discrepancies and grievances are pointed out, only in this way something can change to the positive.
Sat, 15 Apr 2006
I am an organic farmer & serve Dhamma as much as I can. I also serve as CCT = children course teacher. Good to hear that you've done long courses.
My vocabulary is limited & farming tasks don't allow much time to write, but I agree that the quest for clarity should be supported.
In your case no response from Goenkaji or competent subordinate Teachers is sad, what to say ? "kalam aagmeya" ?
Much m e t t a
Sun, 16 Apr 2006
I guess a little bit over 10 years ago I had a seriously disturbing incident with one of Goenka's teachers in the USA. Since Goenka resolved the issue, since it was a long time ago, I will avoid mentioning any more details for now. One thing I learned from my experience which may help you is that Goenka's organization is not as unified as it seems.
My situation with Goenka's organization ended, after several years, with meeting Goenka in person when he traveled to my country and invited me to talk to him about the issue. Goenka made it clear that the teacher involved was inappropriately speaking and acting on his own views, not Goenka's. That same teacher was in the room when Goenka had this conversation with me.
When I met Goenka he was a man of very advanced years and delicate health. That was over 10 years ago. He also has a personal entourage tending to his affairs in addition to the huge organization around him. He may not be ignoring you, your communications may not have reached him or he may not be in a position to do anything about it yet.
> Of course I know what the Buddha taught on how to teach the Dhamma. But that is not what I want. I would have to keep silent if I follow the Buddha's advice - for example: not alluding to myself and others. Beside - that's not the point. I'm far away from the position to teach...<
I went through much of this 10 years ago. At the time I was fortunate enough to have a serious Sutta class near me. Avoiding divisive speech is not the same as complicity.
If your issue is truly important to you I would encourage you to pursue it, but you should be aware that its resolution will not be quick or pleasant. The situation I was involved with took years to resolve. In the beginning I did many of the things you did and had the same experiences. I had to do things to create pressure on the organization and I received a significant amount of hostility from many different sets of people before I saw results.
However, you should be aware that Buddhists and Goenka enthusiasts are still human beings. As flawed human beings we can often find ourselves in the situation of reacting with hostility to someone who is speaking the truth about something we hold close to our hearts, even if that person is trying to be constructive and trying to be kind. No matter what you decide to do about your issue - you should be prepared for this reaction. Good Luck
Sun, 16 Apr 2006
What a coincidence you experienced something similar 10 years ago. And I'm glad to hear, you could settle it then with Goenkaji himself.
> One thing I learned from my experience which may help you is that Goenka's organization is not as unified as it seems. <
This only lesson you mention from your experience is for me the very reason that makes it so important to create a place where disciples of Goenka have an opportunity to think independently. I really don't know if there is still enough time to get it across - but in the Sutta there would be enough guidance not to become fooled by possible successors.
Yes, this organization is not as united - and as soon as this teacher is gone it might very easily disintegrate in different fractions. I believe only by dependence on the Dhamma alone this can be avoided. And I will take it patiently to be called a 'divider of the Sangha', while pointing again and again to the Suttas in my attempt to unite.
I met him for the last time 5 years ago in Yangon - although his age made him look quite fragile - but when he spoke he still was very vigorous and clear. I read, since November he again had to struggle with his bad health ...
Sun, 16 Apr 2006
... I meditate since 5 years with continual adherence to the daily meditation hours - and I am very pleased about the positive effects and changes which have come about by this special kind of meditation. I sat a 20-day course and a couple of Satipatthana-courses...
In respect to your honest exchange: Goenka says it in the 10-day courses very clearly that one is not forced to accept any theoretical background of the teaching at all - but should only accept that which correlates with one's own experience. That's why I really don't understand the teacher wanting to force you.
About ancient tradition: It is interesting that U Ba Khin taught verbalizations too. Were these verbalization taught to beginners who couldn't accomplish to concentrate on the breath alone? As a simplification right at the beginning, so to speak? How about Ven. Mahasi? If it actually was this way, this could mean that such a bridge to concentrate really could help some to practice better.
A friend - who sat three 10-day courses - told about particularly strong problems with concentration. Thoughts would beat her up while meditating, she told. She has a lot of stress in daily live too, that's why she cannot concentrate on a daily meditation either and has again given up a short time after. It would probably help her to use a simpler method to be able to concentrate at least a bit.
Giving Donations: Why you should work for 1 year for the Vipassana organization? We have to understand this as the penance in the Catholic Church, as in the middle age? Goenka says: Anybody can come from any background! Therefore you should be able to come further on - also if you have a critical opinion. Or is this now thought too simple? Or do you want to change the whole kind and manner, how the courses (especially the 10-day courses) are run?
Out of plain curiosity: Have you sat a course with Mother Sayama or Ruth Denison?...
Teachers, Teachings & Pupils: Goenka says that the extent of equanimity of someone is a sign of his progress on this path. Equanimity is purity, he says. And if this purity of equanimity has reached a certain high level, then compassion will naturally follow. But if one still recognizes craving and aversion within oneself that only means one has to work further. And why should this in any way be related to the years one has practiced Vipassana?!
It very well can be that one has to practice many more lifes to reach the stage of Sotapanna. Why this Achariya thinks that after 10 years one has to behave in a certain way? That appears almost ridiculous to me! Where has the Khanti-parami gone??? (tolerance and patience)
...You have described a lot and inspired me to investigate - and that is good this way. The teacher on my last 10-day course told me on Metta-day, when I asked him at lunch break about the stages to Arahatship - that he could not give me precise explanations because he himself hasn't realized the stage of a Sotapanna yet. He meditated for 30 years, he said. That was very instructive for me. I would really like to meet one who has realized it.
I am very, very much interested in an exchange of opinions. I believe I miss the sharing with other meditators just as well. Instead I read a lot, also a lot of secondary Buddhist literature to increase my understanding in general and particular. I will be glad to hear from you and I hope that you can make something out of my words. A lot of true Metta for you from the bottom of my heart
Wed, 19 Apr 2006
.. with that I already arrive at your question: If I would like to change everything about our 10-day courses? Not at all. What actually counts is the practice - and that I could do - if I would be allowed. Changed opinions wouldn't change anything about that. But what would be helpful - according to my humble understanding - for our practice-tradition to delay its future decay:.
so that certain co-meditators could get confidence again (those who can not trust in teachers - which can not emphasis or contradict themselves).
that one is allowed to follow those yardsticks in daily live - which have been experienced to be for one's own and others benefit by oneself.
that by all means one tries to understand one's own practice out of one's own refuge - for me with never-ending gratitude to Goenkaji - the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha.
that one commits oneself on all levels to truth - despite temporary backbiting or exclusion.
that the Dhamma is freely given - and not made available in exchange for money or work.
that other Vipassana traditions don't get discredited.
that one actively stands up against splitting the followers of the Buddha.
that in Vipassana centers the same standards for every ordinary meditator - as for friends of Goenka - are met.
that teachers who gives guidance in such serious meditation are really able - or educated - to recognize the mental state of a meditator sufficiently - and out of lack of alternatives, with psychological/client-oriented counseling methods (in some cases: by learning the language).
that a teacher has so much benefited by his practice and - through that encouragement - feels at home with the discourses in the Suttas too - and therefore is able connect these 2 areas to give inspiring Dhamma-talks.
that the progress in Vipassana is dependent on the development of Confidence, One-pointedness, Awareness, Effort and Wisdom in oneself - and the skillful guidance of a teacher - and not at all on a unexplainable Metta- or Nibbana-Dhatu .
that one can express and exchange ones experiences and opinions without fear of threats or sanctions.
... I myself have only practiced Vipassana the way Goenkaji teaches, although I have done many additional self-retreats. Among others - 2 years in a Burmese forest-monastery - where the same Anapana is practiced.
Concerning your wish to meet one day a Sotapanna: In the Sutta-commentaries there are stories in which monks lived for years together and couldn't even recognize an Arahat who lived with them! I believe you would be entirely disappointed. Because, from a worldly view, they are totally unspectacular.
One should be clear that in a monk's life the first 5 years are lived and meditated in apprenticeship under the guidance of a Thera. Therefore - years of meditation are quite relative - as you have found out yourself. Wishing you interesting lectures and in no case a slackening in your meditation
Tue, 18 Apr 2006
Just as a solid rock is not shaken by the storm, even so the wise are not affected by praise or blame. (Dhammapada 81)
Tue, 9 May 2006
I had written a fairly long response that I decided not to send because it fell into the trap of criticism (and others). When I find myself criticizing others in my practice and in my life, I point it inwards and ask the same question about myself. This usually moves me into a state of compassion or humbleness. Sometimes it starts a long line of thought and introspection.
I believe you are seeking answers/approval/acknowledgment from others, which is completely understandable. I have no answers for you, and don't know enough about your situation to either approve or disapprove of your choices/views/actions/beliefs.
It takes a lot to get beyond right and wrong, and I realized that criticism or praise would not help in that process. Metta
Fri, 12 May 2006
You wrote you fell in the trap of criticism. Further you more or less tell me - if I understood you right - after following your line of inquiry you end up with - what the Buddha called: Why this Dhamma is visible here and now.
Thanks for your compliment ;-) I am just kidding. But I really had the luck to observe that process already a few times with very sincere persons, who wanted to give me the criticism, I asked for. Honestly, that really makes me happy. Although I will never get myself criticized this way.
To go beyond right and wrong - to be able to make the other really understand how one is experiencing with ones own eyes - is very deep indeed and the concepts implied by praise or blame really have nothing to do with that. - It's Samma-vaca. I can think of many more silly things I do in my personal live, than to stumble and try and stumble again and again for reaching out for such depths. Thanks for your presence
Tue, 9 May 2006
...I am now looking at other traditions on my own, trying to get back to the source as much as is possible, and letting go of the past experiences, which admittedly, is hard. It was nice to have the group, but the dynamics were such that it became impossible. And in the end, meditation is not a group sport.
And I love how people will say that speaking out causes dissent which is evil. That's just used to cover their tracks so they can collect new members and thus more money. And to keep the issues that need to be raised - i.e. accountability for their actions - from being raised.
Here's a list of things to watch out for: 'Warning Signs'
Sat, 13 May 2006
... until now I always thought the organization - I thank so much for - very malleable, because it's made by us, its members. And, because its leader soon will be no more, sort of urgent to create an awareness for the issues to be resolved. In your warnings the group (and not the individual) is taken at the same level of authority as the leader, and I - sadly - start to think, that the leader is really very difficult to think without the group and its ways. In the end they really can only be thought as interrelated.
But up to now, I still think it too early to give up my attempt to create an awareness exactly for these issues. The majority of the group-members - of those I know - would certainly never agree with such developments as you paint and I can see. Especially, because in the past - its leader did resolve such issues, as in ... example. I can't deny how much it helped myself - leaving aside all these power games. But I seem to end up writing a manual on how to utilize this organization for a helpful practice - and how to avoid its pitfalls.
It is possible that such helpful utilization might only work with very self-dependent, authentic persons. But on the other side - I only became that way with exactly the hindrances put up with the particular kind of such an organization! I still don't know any easy answer to all of it. Generally to warn from giving it a try - I see absolutely no point in it - as only after one could really know. Also yourself would probably not deny, how much it helped you at a certain point in your life
Fri, 19 May 2006
Nice to see compassionate communication incorporated into your discussion. Good luck, with metta
Sat, 20 May 2006
I am happy to hear you appreciate compassionate communication as much as I do. I only feel a little bid sad, because I wasn't really able myself to incorporate it within my own text as I wanted to
Sat, 20 May 2006
... I am truly sorry to hear that you have been struggling immensely with the organization, or certain members of it. I am not sure if you have been getting a lot of feedback, but ... advice seems to have made a lot of sense to me. It is very easy to lose the bigger picture when getting hyper-involved with the details. A balance between the two is essential if we are to walk the path of compassion (which is not just towards others, but towards oneself as well).
Some questions, I think, that are imperative to ask must concern your motivations and what you really intend on achieving by sending out a 70-page anti-Goenka rant mixed with Dhamma verses and commentaries. If this whole battle is truly worth the enormous headache (a wise person once told me: "You have two choices in life: to be right OR to be happy"), then I think a far more delicate approach is needed. If you want a real, interactive, liberating dialogue to occur, then you cannot begin from a place of angry (and vague) assumptions and accusations that most readers cannot relate to.
After filling the heart with love and compassion, perhaps begin with a clear description of what you think the problem is, what measures can be taken to prevent it from getting worse, and what solutions you envision on the horizon. This difficult process can not be done in an offensive manner; otherwise no one will pay attention and all your energy will have been wasted.
Perhaps once the blazing fire is cooled, START AGAIN and try contacting other senior teachers in your area or other areas or get in touch with Goenkaji personally (he is a busy man who receives hundreds of letters of every week, most of which I imagine are filtered). Alternatively, once the fire dies out, you may also realize that this whole pursuit may not even be worth your time. You know the practice... I truly wish you all the best
Sun, 21 May 2006
thanks for replying. Best to respond to the points you mention in your order: I have been struggling out of fear to slipper into wrong speech by speaking out what I thought. But since I became honest to my concerns - to unite what at the moment seems to disintegrate and to warn others from becoming excluded - I feel indeed more and more Metta flowing. Just after reading your letter I questioned myself again, sad an extra hour, and yes, it is.
I have included all received feedback in my page, except a few of those who seem to accuse me for attacking-sake and don't want to help me to understand, in which words of mine they see the defilement they accused me of (they have been added now). That's probably what you mean with compassion towards my self.
Motivations? - has been answered. Anti-Goenka? - please read again without the glasses of having to defend something I never questioned: Your own confidence in Dhamma. - No battle or headache here. Because I don't want to be right - but to be allowed to have my own opinions after conscientious investigations - as I respect everyone else to have. You are right - that's exactly why I am happy.
> angry (and vague) assumptions and accusations that most readers cannot relate to <
I delineate very clearly: - I have to believe blindly? - I have to give work in exchange for Dhamma? - I have to remain silent if the Sangha seems to be slandered? ... if first-time meditators are harmed? - I only ask - you have to give the answers to these questions to yourself if you are relating to them. Otherwise, where is the problem? I only ask those who feel concerned. If you wouldn't - why you didn't delete my note as I asked for?
I understand very well that you could not read my page in detail if you became so furious right away (now I am assuming as you did, to let you know how such feels yourself - and I apologize if I'm wrong). So you could not know that I repeatedly contacted Goenkaji? Why you have so much to fear from investigating truth?
> perhaps begin with a clear description of what you think the problem is, what measures can be taken to prevent it from getting worse, and what solutions you envision on the horizon. This difficult process can not be done in an offensive manner <
Please take a couple of deep breaths - and read the introduction of my page again. Then tell my how you would write only this one page for you not to appear offensive. I bet - you will never do - there are many who already accused my exactly the same, but being asked - till now only 1 Dhamma-friend gave extended and concise answers. For which I felt really grateful and incorporated many changes he recommended to me.
No fire here, time will show. All the best, in Dhamma
Mon, 22 May 2006
I would just like to say that your undertaking has not made me furious or fearful, I was simply empathizing with you (as dangers of sectarianism and dogmatism by those engulfed with wrong views have also concerned me in the past) and offering some suggestions and comments about the process that you have begun. With that said, I think that it would be helpful for you to find an English speaking editor. Not only do I have difficulty in understanding the meaning of what you are trying to say (which leaves a tremendous amount of room for misinterpretation), but you may also be misunderstanding what others are saying to you.
> I have included all received feedback in my page, except a few of those who seem to accuse me for attacking-sake and don't want to help me to understand, in which words of mine they see the defilement they accused me of. <
Where are other people's comments? I could not find them on your site. Also, if your goal is to have an open-forum, then everyone's opinions must be included, even those who attack you. Suppression of voice is another form of oppression, which is something I gather you are trying to knock down rather than perpetuate.
> That's probably what you mean with compassion towards my self. <
Not really. We westerners have a tendency to be too hard on ourselves, we often (not always) take ourselves too seriously and give ourselves too much importance. Self-compassion just means loving and laughing at oneself; it is accepting our beauty and ugliness, radiance and darkness, intelligence and foolishness. I find that when I give myself a hard time, I make myself even more miserable than I already am/was.
> Why you have so much to fear from investigating truth? <
If I had this fear, I would not have bothered replying to your original arguments or assumptions of how I think and feel. May your undertaking help the Dhamma Wheel continue to spin. Be Well
Tue, 23 May 2006
I am happy to hear that I was wrong in assuming you to be furious (for which I foresightedly apologized in my last letter). For me this impression came up, because in my page I only asked questions to avoid blind assumptions (which always could be wrong) and by trying to stick as much as possible to the description of situations.
While you didn't ask or described anything on which you based your assumptions of me being allegedly - I quote - > hyper-involved with the details < - > a 70-page anti-Goenka rant < - > whole battle not worth the enormous headache < - > from a place of angry (and vague) assumptions and accusations < - > an offensive manner < - > once the fire dies out, you may also realize < - > this blazing fire < - > whole pursuit ... not even be worth <
Sorry, you have every right to accuse me of these things if you also give me a chance to understand in which of my words you read this. - But you don't give me this kindness to make me understand, nor to you apologize with your words: 'That you only empathized' (with your assumptions?). These new words seem only to be used to divert that you again give me the fault for you having misinterpreted me! Without founding it on anything I said, again. (I did announce that I called you furious to make you understand, how such assumption of you do make me feel - and I instantly apologized for this experiment)
Well, I had my text edited by an American friend who lives nearby and earns his money by writing for an international business-journal. He was working for 10 hours non-stop on it, and during that time I had to work hard to calm him down, because it made him so upset to read how a spiritual organization is dealing with someone with such serious concerns. And how I still could offer a hand in friendship to them. (only small portions have been added unedited afterwards)
You understood my letter - but my edited website, not even the introduction - you could not? That is really interesting. And a good excuse for having lost my bet! A compassionate reader would take the time necessary, if he wants to understand what I wanted to say without feeling compelled to give suggestions blindly - out of not understanding. Before he would come to any conclusions - he certainly would ask how it was meant. You still don't ask? - Therefore: I still do believe: One needs a certain kind of colored glasses to misinterpret something so one-sidedly. But only you can really know yourself. And I - as always - could be wrong.
I put a link to general responses at ... Someone wrote, he could not even find my email address in my page - it really shouldn't be in these cases I guess. The main reason I hesitated to include general criticism which doesn't give any reverence to anything done or spoken is exactly because of this style, I find in your letters too. I probably will have to ask you again and again in every following letter: Where you see the things done - of which you accuse me of?
That's why my answers to such letters are often much longer and quite frank to get the writer off his buttocks and come forth with really concise explanations. Because only then I could improve - but that rarely seems the original intent of such criticizers. Usually the writers of such general accusation will just continue without responding to precise questions, they will say things like: 'Because they wanted your best'. In the end they stop responding without having given any answer on which grounds they accused me of so many things in the first place. The more considerate do apologize. I am simply bored of people playing such silly games.
In fact, you are the first complaining I would make it too difficult to include such silly speech. No, I really don't want to knock down right speech - you pretty misunderstood me there. For anyone to indulge in such speech there are plenty of open forums just to join at anytime. I still will include all replies - but those who seem to increase unwholesome states of mind only at the very last, so that readers who want to know everything ready-made without putting effort into conscious reading or writing, will hardly ever get there.
I understand that you are a committed member of Goenkaji's organization. So, if you would really be as much concerned about open speech as you say: Why you want me - now an outsider by being kicked-out for not believing blindly - to include every denunciation spoken of me? While Goenkaji's, your organization on the other side - doesn't seem to give me even the slightest space to clarify such public denunciations?
Though you can avoid giving my any answers to my questions again - I am just asking. And you will have to give the answer to yourself - if you want to remain true to yourself.
> May your undertaking help the Dhamma Wheel continue to spin <
Wow, now this turning point is really difficult for me to understand. Suddenly you did understand me perfectly? If this is really the case - then I take everything back, I said before.
> (as dangers of sectarianism and dogmatism by those engulfed with wrong views have also concerned me in the past) <
How was it for you? How did you overcome your concerns? There are many who would be interested how others could live with that too. Please take this sentence out of its brackets, because it makes it appear you still just suppress your concerns for truth with these very brackets.
Oops, now something very particular became clear about non-constructive letters ... seems I became the place to vent off all this dammed up speech - for which in Goenka's organization is not the slightest space given.
Well, I just join with all Indians, who most probably would say: 'No Problem!' :-)
As soon as this pressure is puffed off, real authentic and constructive things can sprout - I am sure - and it won't be a waste of time at all (and as always - good intentions never are). With much Metta
Wed, 24 May 2006
I did not refer to anything specifically or provide a point-by-point commentary because to be quite honest, I don't have the time and energy for such an endeavor right now. While I agreed with some of the arguments in your essay, I was not impressed with the overall aggressive and biased tone. I hoped that my general comments would suffice in letting you know that I felt that a clearer and less antagonistic approach would be helpful in overcoming the dilemma that you and others may face; I am sorry that they did not. In no way did I mean to insult or attack you.
How did I overcome my concerns of sectarianism and dogmatism you ask?
To be honest, I haven't yet and don't think I ever will. But that's OK. I realize that the organization is made up of unenlightened human beings who are prone to making mistakes - this is human nature. When I see errors being made, I try to approach the situation as an opportunity for cultivating wisdom and compassion by keeping a balanced state of mind because I am aware that my own negativity is worse (to me and others) than whatever the other person might be doing or saying.
I have faith that in the end, everything will be exactly as it is supposed to be. At this point, despite the faults I see with the organization, the gains far outweigh the costs: hundreds of thousands of people are getting a taste of the excellent Dhamma (even though a few might not benefit due to misdirection or clash of personality, which occurred during the Buddha's time as well) and I personally am getting the best opportunity available to serve both myself and others along the path towards liberation.
Wolfgang, my sincere wish is that you grow on the path of Dhamma - whether it is with Goenkaji's organization, another Teacher's organization, or no organization at all. Our human lives are short and precious, may we use them wisely. Yours in Truth
Sat, 27 May 2006
I feel much gratefulness for the part in your latest letter, where you finally became more true to yourself. So I will be honest as well: I don't want to impress anyone, certainly not as a writer. Nor do I claim any holy stages - and I do get upset if people are hurt. Everyone wishes a savior, a hero - intentionally I rather choose never to become. Because such heroes lead exactly to the mess of having all responsibility placed onto one. And further into the dilemma you finally also acknowledge Goenka-disciples can find themselves in: Having to bend the truth.
Your present situation reminds me to my own: I compared the costs to the gains too - and the later always felt far to outweigh: Me to shut up. I have the same faith that everything will come to its end as it should - if only stayed with - and with plenty of good intentions. Equally, I stayed with my 'negativities' - but then I could not perceive them worse than any others - as you still do. Further I found, never to become able to encompass others negativities with compassion - if I would fail already with my own.
Here we differ: What never seems to have concerned you - right from the beginning these were my burning questions: "What is the reason that makes this method so helpful for me? What do 90 percent differently, who never come to such courses again?" - Again: "Why is it failing so badly with some, who suicide right after their first?" - As time passed by - I did find answers by practice, with help of the Suttas and with counseling approaches.
In the end: It all changed, and now it's hart to understand how I ever conceived it - 'negativities'. Straight forward Dukkha it is, and keeping it down - pretending - really is what makes it negative. This got really curious: I only served little because the sharing during Dhamma-service made it so difficult for me to keep concerns down - compared to - in the silence of sitting. That made me suspicious and being frank, kicked-out. Only with John's exclusion - thanks to his gesture - it got its place to really be able to serve.
Here we seem to meet each other again: > and I personally am getting the best opportunity available to serve both myself and others along the path towards liberation. <
In my humble opinion - what would be helpful for our practice-tradition to delay its future decay:
• that one aspires to ... (click to read helpful advises)
I also can understand why you find my text too aggressive, too antagonistic, too biased - because: If you took my advises too idealistically - forgetting that humans always will remain prone to mistakes - you really could get the impression I would like to change the 10-day courses totally. And that must appear existentially threatening. - But for me the real change is only in the attitude. In the acceptance of Dukkha and allowing it to touch. First one's own - only after it becomes possible with others too. And then all my common-sense advises would become superfluous too.
Of course, my disclaimer at the end can intentionally be overseen and doubted. Especially if my sentences just before have been taken as a value judgment about one's own attainments in Dhamma . And by identifying with such - knowing no better help than to despise my of the spreading of doubts:
> If I wrote about the benefits of Vipassana practice - in its relation to the Dhamma - it would have become much a larger page. But I see no need to - as this is not suppressed in the same imbalanced way. The same applies to my gratefulness and respect to anyone teaching the Dhamma as good as he can! <
I am left now with nothing more than to depend on truth alone. No wonder that can appear too antagonistic for a few fencing off. What to do? - I will stick to it - and as you assure me, you do.
As honest as I am: Now you have written already your 3rd letter and you have not been able to give me only one page, just a small paragraph, 1 little sentence, even one tiny example - to point it out to me - what you accuse me of anew: - > overall aggressive < - > biased tone < - > antagonistic approach < - With 3 written pages you should since long have been able to give me merely one small example. But you simply could not. - Yet, I feel so glad to see your agitation to become so much less.
Now I want to ask you to do me a favor - maybe appearing quite amusing to you - and you are really free to do or not. And only do when you really feel secure and at ease: Could you please pass on my kindest regards to this somehow unpleasant feeling inside of you - and please don't call it 'negativity', 'cos then it will forever hide and sabotage. Just stay a bit with it, and give it Metta in my name - tell: I just appreciate the pain - finally say 'will see you again'. For a few minutes will do.
Thanks for so many good wishes - covering every possible case. With Karuna
Mon, 29 May 2006
...Brief comments to your questions:
> "What is the reason that makes this method so helpful for me?" <
> "What do 90 percent differently, who never come to such courses again?" <
90 is a high number. At our center in Quebec it is in the 60s. Nevertheless, many people find benefit and change their lives after one course but never feel like doing it again for whatever reasons. That is their business and it is rather arrogant to pass evaluation on them or on the organization for doing a poor job. Who are we judge things that we don't (and can't) understand, especially in such black and white terms such as success and failure (these terms are highly subjective).
The fact is that courses are full and (most) people are leaving happy, confident, and with a tool to help them in their daily lives. In addition, many people only do one course and then practice regularly or semi-regularly at home. As Goenkaji says, some people are coming to get the seeds and some are coming to get better established. The latter come for several courses and services and for the former, perhaps one course is enough intensive Dhamma instruction for that particular karma to handle in this lifetime.
> Again: "Why is it failing so badly with some, who suicide right after their first?" <
This is extremely rare. These people should not have attempted to do Vipassana at that stage of their lives. People with suicidal tendencies need proper psychiatric counseling, not a deep mental operation like a 10-day intensive course. This is why the application process in North America is becoming increasingly strict.
> "I did find answers by practice, with help of the Suttas and with counseling approaches." <
Wolfgang, all of your suggestions for improvement are very good. I am confident that serious practitioners try to implement them, but like I said before, we are all human and prone to mistakes. That's where the art of forgiveness comes in.
In answer to why I don't give specific examples is because I don't feel like searching your entire document again. When I say "overall" I mean "overall", try re-reading your entire document yourself while asking if there are less aggressive ways of saying the same thing. I wrote my initial letter to you suggesting that you improve your general approach, not waste your time attacking me with your frivolous insults or ranting about how misunderstood you are.
I wish you well and hope that you find your place once again along the path, whether with Goenka or without. I can no longer continue with these letters, not because I am afraid of the Truth or whatever other spiritual quality you may think I am lacking, but because my time is limited to other projects. I leave you with a piece of advice that a wise teacher once left me: "If you need to criticize, criticize yourself; if you need to praise, praise others". Take care
Wed, 31 May 2006
This time I want to answer your latest email in the backward order. And don't feel compelled to answer it again - if you don't want to - or out of lack of time. Having the last word never has any value in itself. From my side - you are really free.
Your last advice is actually what I used as a strategy for not to become hurt by criticism throughout my life. I have enough personal reasons out of my life's experience to really change this habit pattern - without wanting to go into details now. And I won't go into its opposite extreme either.
> When I say "overall" I mean "overall" <
A friend with whom I exchanged already twice as many letters as we did - and after so many pages accusing me of an overall egotistic-tone - finally I got him to give my at least one example: It was the word - 'despising' - which I mistakenly took for - 'suspecting'. I think, such words here and there could make it up for 'overall' - and therefore I still do appreciate it much, if anyone gives me such singular examples.
If my attempt - to get answerers with general criticism to become more particular - did make you feel 'attacked' or 'frivolous insulted', as you lately write - than I really apologize: That has never been my intent.
What appeared to you > 'ranting on about how misunderstood...' < - Is actually a way of speech found already in the discussions of the Buddha - and today again in counseling: With it I just repeat what I heard you say, and usually your next response will not only tell me if I understood you right or wrong - but you either will feel better understood and can proceed with what for you follows out of it. Or, if I misinterpreted you: Then you will be able to express it more to the point, and get an even clearer picture of it yourself. And I, as a listener, too. Which of course - does not work, if you don't want or have no time to. I didn't want to make it appear that I feel myself a victim - which I don't.
> "... who suicide right after their first?" - This is extremely rare... <
I met 3 in my first year of practicing - in total 10 - who came out of a first 10-day course in a much worse state of mind, than they have been before. Although that doesn't means it happens often - it certainly happens quite regularly. I heard such accidents happened right from the beginning since Goenkaji teaches. But only since the late 'nineties the application-forms have become juristically more precise. Because - as one Canadian A.T. has told me - such casualties as I experienced - in the United States could cause the financial ruin.
People come to take courses in 'the 4 noble truth' to come out of suffering, and most certainly lie on application-forms to be allowed to. As you say: 'Hundred of thousands' - come to take courses - and statistically about 1 out of 100 is prone to suffer schizophrenia at one point in his life. Altogether, assuming it low: Maybe 1 or 2 thousands? (here I mean: to get serious psychic-problems - luckily, the suicides I came to know of first-timers were all unsuccessful attempts)
The only way for us to come out of this dilemma is to get the A.T.s educated in basic counseling skills with which in the first interview of a 10-day course the mental-state of a student could easily be evaluated with only a few words. - But what instead is the state of the art? - Just recently I heard again of a western AT not listening to the advice of a Dhamma-server, who knew of one student's mental-problem - and which again ended in the psychiatric ward.
People do make mistakes and I am always ready to forgive. But 30 years of such mistakes - without learning anything out of it - is simply too much. In this point - and the longer it gets protracted - the more I will become aggressive. Not because I am - but, as Goenkaji says in his discourses: 'Some seem to need a strong language!'
90 percent was the figure given by the V.R.I. itself - for all the courses given all over the world since Goenkaji started to teach in India up to 1997, almost 30 years. Years later I was told the quote for the west is around 85 percent. If you claim it for Quebec only around 60 - I congratulate. But that would mean: Somewhere it would be ridiculously worse? - That's difficult to believe.
You say it seems arrogant to evaluate what I would not understand?
I talked to many people about Vipassana in a very balanced way - of its positive and negative sides. Despite the drawbacks, so many became inspired by my enthusiasm and went straight to take their first. - Of course, I also talked to those first-time students who thought not to come back - the reasons they gave: Allegedly it is too masochistic, too dogmatic, too hypnotic chanting, too much personality-cult and to much of a patronizing attitude of the teachers, for them. - That, in the end, they appear happy to be over with? What is there too difficult to understand?
So many more become disappointed after 3, 4 courses - and I know enough who, with 10 courses, still tell me: 'They come to these courses, because in them they can experience that this impermanent body is something different from the eternal soul!' ?!
The argument that people would get seeds of Dhamma would count, if they really would get established in 'Right View'. But such is only possible if meditation is assisted by precise study, discussion and questioning (according to the Buddha). Usually the minimum one learns - in a first 10-day course - is to experience one's own craving and aversion. (which of course, is an essential beginning)
Only in the Satipatthana-courses Goenkaji really starts to emphasis - and in the long courses it is taught: That the noble 8-fold starts with 'right view' - and right view has to be there with every of the following 7 limbs of this path. Without 'right view' it leads to nowhere, he says (well, after all, heaven - compared to worldly goods - is not to be despised either ...if it wouldn't be impermanent too...)
If people say - for everything not understood or if something appears to be a lucky miracle - "Dhamma works".
- I know such a belief is not what made Dhamma work for me!
The Buddha pointed out that there are indeed followers out of belief: 'Saddhanusaris' (in Goenkaji's view: "at least with my understanding I don't know how such could ever work"?!) - beside those who follow out of investigation: 'Pannanusaris'.
To come to a conclusion: I probably belong to the later - that's where I think our differences in approaching this issue comes from (already 8 letters are only testifying to it). But I do believe the Buddha that both are equally valid paths.
I only went on with my 'rant' - because you exaggerated so one-sidedly its alleged success. Wishing you much time for all your other projects, in Dhamma
Sat, 1 Jul 2006
...Thank you, first of all, for your very interesting and informative Web site. It was fascinating to read how the jhanas and other elements of the practice are discussed in long courses.
Based on my understanding of this tradition, the "kick-out" that you experienced is par for the course. Are you aware that Goenkaji himself was expunged from the lineage in a dispute with Mother Sayama? He was kicked out. And how did he react? Apparently he did not react at all. He simply continued along the path.
Ruth Denison also was kicked out. This tradition is hilarious in that respect, with people kicking each other out, creating these illusionary divisions between "us" and "them," between "I" and "you." What is it about this Vipassana tradition that makes us love to kick people out?
Most importantly, Wolfgang, as I'm sure you know, your practice does not need to hinge on admission to 10-day courses or any course. Of course beliefs are not a prerequisite for practicing Dhamma. So they've kicked you out. My advice is to be grateful. What an insult to the ego. What a wonderful opportunity you now have to practice selflessness, to go deep into that feeling. Be there with it. That's my advice. Metta
Sun, 2 Jul 2006
thanks for you feedback. You really need not to worry about your identity. If there is one main aim with my website, then it is about stopping this 'us'- and 'them'-business - and no one ever to become kicked out again.
... you seem to be certain that, contrary to my information, Goenkaji was kicked out - and not as I thought - Mother Sayama and Ruth Denison? As I spread a possible misinformation - I would gladly correct it. - But for that, I would need some more precise details about it. If you would be willing to share. I, and all other readers, would really appreciate that.
You know, I must be really dull, I haven't even considered it as an insult to my ego. Otherwise, yours would have really been a very skillful consideration. Before, actually I felt the fear of becoming expunged for speaking up. However, now I feel quite glad becoming truer to myself.
As a layperson and through my life I am now in a situation where I consider it of utmost importance to stay skillfully truthful with my speech. - That for I was kicked out, and that for I recently lost my job. So I still have something to learn in respect to skillfulness, I guess...
Wed, 5 Jul 2006
I'm sorry to hear that you recently lost your job. I hope things work out for you.
This whole history of who kicked out whom is pretty confusing, and I'd love to hear an independent account from someone, if such an account exists. Do you know of one?
My information regarding Goenkaji's expungement from the lineage is taken from 'Dancing in the Dharma', a biography of Ruth Denison by Sandy Boucher. Ms. Boucher writes that Denison and Goenkaji both got the boot after conflicts with Mother Sayama and her husband.
Ms. Boucher writes that when Denison became a teacher, she originally was authorized to teach only women. When she began teaching men, and also mixing some Zen influence with her instruction, she came into conflict with Mother Sayama, according to the book. The book recounts how Denison was deeply troubled when she was kicked out, but decided to continue teaching nonetheless.
The book seems authoritative, but it does not give much detail on what happened between Goenkaji and Mother Sayama. Do you know whether anything has been written about their disagreement?
Thu, 6 Jul 2006
thanks for your reply. Of course, until now I can handle my life's situation. Thanks for asking.
As I wrote, I only heard it of different A.T.s that Mother Sayama and Ruth Denison were kicked out for charging for courses. To get an independent account - of how this really happened - will be rather difficult now, as most knowledgeable will probably take side and speak in favor of their traditions.
Thanks for providing the source from where you have your information. Unluckily, I do not have any written sources - on what happened between Goenkaji and Mother Sayama - other than what I heard from A.T.s already years ago - I would not even remember those A.T.s names.
Once I read the first edition of the 'Sayagyi U Ba Khin Journal' of 1971, if remember it right. In there were articles of different teachers, like Hover, and all about what was going on in those days.
So I guess, in one of this Journal's later editions, one could find an account when and why any teacher were disauthorized. However, at present I have no access to specialized libraries, or to any U Ba Khin veterans.
The only thing I can do is to add our mail-exchange to my side and hope, someone adds some more pieces to our puzzle. Kind regards
Thu, 6 Jul 2006
I saw you wondered about other teachers of the U Ba Khin method including Robert Hover. His website is: 'Internal Moving Healing'
Fri, 7 Jul 2006
many thanks for the link, I was really shocked! - I didn't know, should I laugh or cry? How far can one move from Dhamma after a life of practice, I thought. Hover already in the seventies wrote wired stuff, but that should not become worse. Now, at least, it becomes understandable why Goenkaji would separate from him.
Hover is known as the ballistic-missile engineer in Goenka's 10-day course discourses. Goenka tells the story that he was send by Sayagyi U Ba Khin to check how Robert Hover was doing in his meditation cell. Sri Narayan Goenka was quite surprised, as he saw Hover standing up side down on his shoulders, violently shaking with his whole body. U Ba Khin allegedly only laughed and added, it would be OK, let all his sankharas come out. ... the strong sankharas of one who constructed ballistic missiles for atomic bombs ...
Sat, 8 Jul 2006
Greetings friend! My name is ... and I am replying to your website. To give you a little background, I have been practicing in this tradition (Goenka) for about 2 years, albeit consistently for the last 10 months. Quite a "newbie" compared to you or most of your respondents!
At this moment, part of me wishes to encourage you to pursue whatever it is that you need to pursue with as little regrets as possible. Another part relates to your situation and is struggling with some of the same feelings and/or thoughts. That said, I believe that encouraging a particular view of "yes, you should be concerned" or "no, don't be concerned" would not be helpful to anybody. So let's not do that.
My gut feeling is that you will have to do more than solicit conversations on the Internet. What that is, I do not know.
It is my hope that you will be able to resolve this situation and put your experience to good use. Perhaps I am looking to you as a role-model of sorts, somebody that offer inspiration for people like me that are a bit too critically-minded and lexically-inclined.
Good luck and I wish you the best. May you (and all of us) find true happiness.
Tue, 11 Jul 2006
thanks for your encouragements. I wholly agree with you that anyone should be free to express his concerns - however, thereby not making others - who are not concerned - feel guilty. Because English is my second language - I would be grateful if you could point it out where in my website this impression arose for you.
Just as you - I do not know what I could do - other than to solicit a open discussion on the Internet.
Right now I start to feel a real opposition to my website. For example, I posted my concerns in 5 already existing 'e-sangha forum' threads, which were critical of Goenkaji's courses. Although my posts where much more moderate than some really despising posts before me - only after my post, with the link to my website - four of these forum threads where deleted and in one my link!
Therefore, some seem really concerned about my website and I think that will lead to at least some adaptations of how the courses are guided and run - hopefully.
You are right not to get fooled by a too critical mind. All the best
Fri, 14 Jul 2006
Hello! Dear ones,
it's been far too long since I've written (No 75) - this link is not about Village Action, but is a beautiful message which I deeply wish for you: 'We Send You Our Blessings'
Sun, 16 Jul 2006
Dear ..., my speechless thanks! Just the day you send your beautiful message I've got a new job - serving asylum seekers. Now I am happy that a bit of the blessings - I received from mother India - are possible to be passed on in this way again. In Dhamma