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Re: Goenka Vipassana Cult
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: February 22, 2013 04:23AM

SmithRS:

You did not break any rules, but you do seem to be here as an apologist.

I simply pointed out how uncritical and devoid of historical context your comments were about Lifespring.

Didn't you know that Lifespring was sued out of business by people that were hurt by its training? It was reported in the press.

This lack of critical analysis doesn't support taking your opinion of Vipassana very seriously.

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Re: Goenka Vipassana Cult
Posted by: SmithRS ()
Date: February 22, 2013 04:53AM

I see your point. However a debate about Lifespring is off-topic for this discussion thread. I was merely making the point that I've seen this from the inside out, and my critical thinking skills are fine. I would think those perspectives would be seen as having value here.

I'm not defending Lifespring, or taking on the apologist role. My only point is that the question of what is or isn't a cult is often complex, and well-intentioned people can draw different conclusions. I would hope that a thoughtful debate would be welcome. I would think that the primacy of subjective experience would carry weight, as long as it's expressed in a respectful manner, which is what I did.

If we have to "respectfully disagree" that's cool. I'm a big fan of respectful disagreement. :)

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Re: Goenka Vipassana Cult
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: February 22, 2013 05:16AM

SmithRS:

Subjective experience is not the same as objective facts.

The historical facts that you ignored concerning Lifespring demonstrate a lack of critical thinking and meaningful analysis. This doesn't encourage anyone to take your opinions about Vipassana seriously.

If you are that ignorant and/or invested in denial about a notorious group like Lifespring, why should anyone value your subjective experience or opinions about Vipassana?

There doesn't seem to be anything "thoughtful" about your position.

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Re: Goenka Vipassana Cult
Posted by: SmithRS ()
Date: February 22, 2013 05:47AM

Yes, but people come to this forum, at least in part, to understand how a given group might create subjective experiences that have value for them.

I agree 100% with the point you're making (except for the ad hominem), but we can't have an intellectually honest debate about this, without throwing this thread completely off the track.

I've said what I came here to say, and I didn't break any rules. I'm sure that people who read this thread will be able to discern which points are of value, and will give credence as they see fit.

Thank you for your efforts to be a fair moderator.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/22/2013 05:50AM by SmithRS.

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Re: Goenka Vipassana Cult
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: February 22, 2013 05:52AM

SmithRS:

No. This board is not about "how a given group might create subjective experiences that have value."

The people that post here primarily are doing so to discuss the harm done by various groups and leaders. This is not a place to promote subjective experiences that make you feel good, i.e. essentially promoting a group or leader.

Some supporters of various groups and leaders come here in an attempt to subvert threads they don't like or offer apologies. Many would fit the label "trolls".

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Re: Goenka Vipassana Cult
Posted by: SmithRS ()
Date: February 22, 2013 06:02AM

OK, I get it. I'm not one of those. A lot of people did those 80's trainings (est, Lifespring, etc.) and had innocuous experiences. It was just part of the culture at that time.

I wouldn't want to see the Goenka brand of Vipassana get branded as a cult, I don't think that's fair in this case, and I laid out my reasons for believing that.

So, I'm good. Thanks for educating me about this forum.

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Re: Goenka Vipassana Cult
Posted by: laughing daquini ()
Date: February 23, 2013 09:57AM

Hi
I just completed my first 10 day Vipassana Retreat in Hereford UK (Feb 3rd) and found it to be a helpful and inspirational experience. I had a struggle to be accepted on the course due to having had a history of mental health issues and diagnosis of bi-polar disorder in 2005. I had to get a letter of permission to attend from my GP and write extensively about why they should let me come. They looked after me pretty well eg i got to have an evening meal when the rest just had fruit and I was allowed to lay in till breakfast to make sure I got enough sleep. They were doing their best to help me avoid getting any funny turns. I was absolutely fine throughout and they need not have worried really, and I've been fine since too, managing an hour of meditation on most days since getting back. To be fair my diagnosis of bi-polar was probably wrong anyway. I was just depressed cos of my life situation and I got manic because I took too many drugs by way of escapism. My life situation is now fine and I don't take drugs any more so I'm pretty normal now with a stable, happy life. Not bi-polar any more, but apparently once you have the label you can't get rid of it.

I have had experience with various cults before including the Jehovah's Witnesses as a child and more recently the NKT. There was nothing about the place, Goenka or the managers that disturbed me or made me think it was a cult. Everything was low key, no love-bombing or any pressure. I found the discourses to be enlightening and entertaining. I'd definitely go back for more courses but I would be wary of volunteering to serve as that was how I got drawn into the NKT cult.

Good luck!

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Re: Goenka Vipassana Cult
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: February 23, 2013 10:19PM

Seems like there may be an organized effort by Vipassana Retreat supporters to post positive reviews on this thread.

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Re: Goenka Vipassana Cult
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 23, 2013 10:57PM

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The course had its ups and downs. I was highly motivated by Goenka’s promise of getting rid of all my past karma.

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I used this gum stuff as my pens and papers were confiscated when I started and also because I would be able to wipe it off the wall with a bit of soapy water.

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I learnt today, during a pre dinner chat, that we had reached 48 degrees during these last 10 days, with an average of 45. ....

"we had reached 48 degrees during these last ten days'-48 celsius is equal to 118.40 fahrenheit

'..average of 45 C" 113.00 fahrenheit

[www.sciencemadesimple.com]

The author of the following did a ten day Goenka paced retreat in Rajasthan, the desert region of India.

Corboy comment. If Goenka actually said that, Ive not heard this in any of the Zen or Insight Meditation retreats or lectures I ever attended here in the states.

We need to hear more about whether having writing and paper confiscated is normative for Goenka courses in India. I never had my paper or pens taken away during any retreat.

Now here is one pesons description of a vipassana course in Rajasthan, India. Quotes above were taken from this description.

Note that the author mentions hot tempretures. A person can easily dehydrate unless he or she already knows how to monitor his or her hydration status and drinks plenty of water with balanced electrolyte.

[myjourneytorecovery.wordpress.com]

And...that water has to be clean. Nothing in it to make a person sick.

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The meditation hours were no walk in the park; soaring temperatures; an old and tired couple of fans on the ceiling and power cuts in the middle of the day, made the whole experience even more daunting than it should have been. How can you concentrate in breathing in and breathing out of your nostrils if your whole body is dripping sweat? How can you “observe” the subtle sensations of the body if my arms and legs are itchy of the mite, ant and bug bites and a nasty rash produced by the dry, dusty and baking air of the desert in Rajasthan? I learnt today, during a pre dinner chat, that we had reached 48 degrees during these last 10 days, with an average of 45. ....

Every single day I thought about leaving but I would tell myself: If you leave, you will be a failure to yourself.

You have promised to stay here for the whole duration of this course. I would also think that if I leave it would be very unlikely that I will be joining another Vipassana course in any near future. In a month time I would have rather lost 10 days of my trip and my time than regretting not having finished the course. I wouldn’t like to be stuck with the thought: “what if….”

The course had its ups and downs. I was highly motivated by Goenka’s promise of getting rid of all my past karma. I would be able to use this technique to get rid of all my negativity, my bad cravings, alcoholism, selfishness, egocentrism and all the bad adjectives that I have been associating myself in the last few years. It sounded too good to be true, so I should give it a go, I thought.

and

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considering that the centre in Mumbai run fully booked courses (They are booked four months in advance if not more) for 500 students.

Corboy note: 500 students? That is a huge number of people to monitor--if oversight is possible in such circumstances. What if someone goes manic or plunges into a depression? Or assaults another student on whom he or she has developed what has been termed a 'vipassana romance' obsession?

(Corboy when Ive been on Insight Mediation retreats, we have been told about this. A 'vipassana romance' is when, during the retreat you see another student, project all kinds of hopes and dreams, and have an entire love affair with that unknown person in your head. Obsessions that might pass away in normal life have no distractions when one is sealed up in a ten day meditation situation. At least in the Insight Meditation retreats we were on, we were:

Told about these kinds of obsessions and how to put them in perspective

Told how to prepare ourselves for re-entry into ordinary life. This is a tough transition to make when returning from a US retreat center to one's own home in the US. One is very sensitized following a vipassana retreat, even a modest 3 day one. If one were so sensitized and emerged into the sensory bombardment that characterizes India, that could be a set up for stress outbreak. This needs to be discussed in Vipassana retreats, especially those in India. )

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The experience:

There were five meditators altogether; a 24 year old Indian girl and her mum (I thought), a 76 year old Indian guy, the 31 year old Israeli teacher and me. A very small number considering that the centre in Mumbai run fully booked courses (They are booked four months in advance if not more) for 500 students.

The first day you start by observing your respiration; just observing your respiration the whole first day. It was ten entire hours observing air coming in and air getting out of your nostrils. It goes on day by day, observing the triangular area formed by your nose and there are bellow your nose and above your upper lip. On the fourth day you observe an extra 10 hours the area above your upper lip and below the entrance of your nostrils.

Finally, when you have observed like a maniac, your mind is sharp enough to observe further subtle sensations throughout the body. This happens on day five, when Vipassana teaching starts. By starting with the top of your head and moving slowly to the tip of your toes, you have to work “diligently” and “persistently” to observe every single part of your body. Observe the reality of the moment as it is and not as you want it to be. If you follow the instructions and work accordingly, you are “bound to be successful”.

All the rest of the days pass as slow as it sounds. I even started a chart on the wall, drawn by some piece of window fixing gum, where I was counting the blocks of meditation that I have to go through before liberation on day 11. I used this gum stuff as my pens and papers were confiscated when I started and also because I would be able to wipe it off the wall with a bit of soapy water. I felt like one of those incarcerated criminals who count the days in prison by scratching notches on the wall.

The place was ran by the manager of the meditation centre; in charge of the physical environment and the teacher; in charge of pressing play to the pre-recorded tapes, tell us how log to take a break for and to answer our doubts and questions during consultation time, something a bit useless as I think he never really understood what I was asking.

The manager is also the gardener, the teacher assistant, the plumber, the builder (they are building a perimeter wall), the security guard, the electrician, plumber and any other chore that needed doing.

He, his wife and their very cute five year old kid lived in the small room tucked in between the men and female refectory. It felt a bit too intimate when we were having a meal.

The little kid would be locked in the room behind a mosquito screen in order to not disturb the “Noble Silence” that we meditators were going through. His wife was in charge of the kitchen and to fill in water for the dispensers around the place. They are such lovely people, inspiring peace and tranquillity, simple and having a nice soothing effect on us

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Re: Goenka Vipassana Cult
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 23, 2013 11:09PM

In a discussion about stressors in India and Nepal a physician resident in Nepal noted how dehydration, and sensory bombardment can stress people out.

So, do the folks who lead these Goenka courses give information to students in hot or cold areas how to check themselves for hydration status and ensure that ample supplies of clean water are available for drinking?

Two...we need to ask how often one has meals during these Goenka retreats.

If people are eating less food or fewer meals than accustomed to at home, this can also destabilize.

A commentor responded:

[www.whiteindianhousewife.com]

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And you know what's so fascinating about the brain is that it can go haywire in the opposite circumstances too.

On those 10 day vipassana courses, where you're not allowed to speak or communicate with anyone the whole time, people flip out on every course.

It happened to a couple of people on the course I did (in Australia).

The physician describes the stressors of Nepal and India.

This would raise some concern. How do people fare when they leave the quiet and isolation of a Goenka retreat and return to the heavy sensory overload that characterises India?

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http://www.whiteindianhousewife.com/forum/the-debaters-den/india-syndrome-a-mental-disorder/page-2/

I've seen many a foreign visitor to India & Nepal completely 'lose it' & become a babbling incoherent mess. About once a week in the tiny touristy town I live in some gori or gora just flips out.............


....The physical strain of the extreme heat & humidity in monsoon & the dryness & biting cold in winter- most people don't realize dehydration can make you act nutty sometimes.

Deplete your potassium, calcium & sodium levels (through vomiting, diarrhea or just not eating & drinking enough fluids) and your brain & or heart won't work properly.

Lets also not forget when travelling from Europe & the US the time change- your sleep is screwed up from the time change, night is now day so your cortisol levels are all 'out of whack'.

I think even the 'high carbohydrate/low protein' rice & dal diet most goris/goras try in India for the first time while visiting India probably fools with blood sugar/insulin regulation & affects thinking & behavior.

Soooooo…all this adds up to OVERWHELM!!!!

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