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Be careful if personal or family background of bipolar
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 29, 2014 02:01AM



And if you are doing well on prescribed medication, never, under any circumstances, stop using it when on any retreat.

If you are on psych medications, do not stop using them during the retreat.

If they give you static about it -- get out of there.

If it is that important to go without caffeine, the Vipassana people
should give you sufficient advance notice so you can wean yourself
from the stuff well before the retreat begins. Expect killer headaches
and nausea. Better to go through that before the retreat.

(Have a safe place where you can get some peace and quiet during the worst
of the withdrawal.)

If want to do a Vipassana retreat, and not give up caffeine, that is your decision as an adult. Everyone else should butt out.

Bring your own caffeine suppply when you go on retreat.

Passports or ID.

Give them a paper copy of those documents and hang onto the originals. You did not commit a crime, so no need to submit to jailhouse treatment.

Plus if you decide to leave, you can get up and do so without having to ask
your jailors/gaolers for your passport and listen to them spout the party line.

Ditto for your telephone. Keep it and do not give it up.

Have phone numbers for some trustworthy friends to come collect you if
you decide to leave before the ten days are over.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 10/03/2017 05:19AM by corboy.

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Dont go right into world after leaving retreat
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 11, 2015 09:17PM

Vipassana has powerful side effects. One had best
spend the next few days to week with reliable friends.

Two days after the narrator left completed a Vipassana retreat in India, he left that controlled environment, in the state of trust engendered by that

If one is given an anesthetic at the dentist before a tooth extraction, you are urged to have a friend or family member drive you home -- never to drive home on your own.

After letting one's guard down enough to view and extract one's reactive mind states, one should be in care of reliable friends. Dismantling one's ordinary caution during a10 day silent retreat, then walking right out into
the noise of every day life -- especially India -- is high risk.


I was travelling around India when I got spiked with LSD. I went into psychosis, was beaten up by the police, and left to die without food or water in an old fashioned lunatic asylum. AMA (Ask Me Anything)


unique Experiencesubmitted 9 months ago by digitalordead

During this time I was 21 and travelling around india on my own. I was on a 2 day train journey when some locals befriended me and offered me a piece of fruit to eat. I ate it, not knowing that it had been spiked with hallucinogenic drugs.

I didn't realise I was on anything; all I knew was that the walls were starting to melt and people started to turn into snakes.

I descended into psychosis and I was arrested for acting erratically. I was beaten up quite badly and, as it was a poor part of India, I was thrown into an old fashioned lunatic Asylum that was built during the 1800s during British rule.

I was thrown into a cell and the door was slammed shut. I wasn't given any food or water and I was left to die.

Due to a fortunate twist of fate I was rescued 4 days later.

I spent some time in a hospital recovering from the events. After a year off, I returned to university to complete my degree in economics.

It was during that year that I made a feature film about being spiked and entering psychosis. It is ultra low budget, and was made for £10. You can watch it here (excuse my shoddy acting!) It does not tell the India story as we didn't have the resources; that is the focus of the next project.

With my filmmaking and my campaign work I've tried to make my message clear; mental illness can happen to anyone, it's nothing to be scared or ashamed of and in the right circumstances it can be overcome.

Evidence: []

Opening of the Film: []

Among the many excellent responses to 'digetalord's' story, DL replied to some

These may be contributing factors to his having let his guard down.


[–]oldspice75 11 points 9 months ago


Who beat you up? Do you remember that?

What injuries did you sustain?

Do you think you were left alone with no food or drink for four days deliberately or as an oversight? And how were you rescued?

What kind of meditation were you seeking in India?



The meditation I was looking for was Vipassana meditation; buddhist meditation where you stay in silence for 10 days. It was really relaxing, if not a bit boring at times.

I can remember feeling incredibly happy and trusting after it...

and then 2 days later the incidents on the train happened...

Ahh thank you, I appreciate your support. These events happened in 2010, and I had a copy of Lonely Planet and during the first month of my travels I read it nearly every day. I was also very skeptical of locals and scared of being scammed and ironically at one point a strange man offered me some tea on the street and I can remember thinking 'no, it could be drugged'....

By the end of the second month in India, I felt much more at ease, and much more trusting of people.. In fact, I actually felt in many ways that I could pass of as a local (I'm half indian myself)... I think it was because I became so trusting and eager to fit in that I didn't suspect the people on the train and didn't think twice about sharing some food... So I definitely agree with you that it's important to be wary of people and the dangers that are there... and Lonely Planet is the best!

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Actual truth revealed when you seek 2 leave early
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 11, 2015 09:57PM

Put Goenka and cult together in Google slot and punch. See how much comes up.


Anyone thinking of trying a vipassana course should know whether they risk scolding, marginalization, and shame trips if they decide they wish to leave before the course is over.

Your human rights do not cease just because you join a meditation course.

IMO, anyone who dismisses this assertion as the manifestation of diseased ego is a jailor at heart -- and not to be trusted.

"When you decide to leave is the point when you can see the whole structure of power behind the smiling and loving face of the curse."


Note this fine distinction.

When permitted to leave -- you've departed according to the rules, at the end of the stipulated ten days.

When, on the other hand, you decide, for yourself, to leave -- that is, to follow your own rules, not Goenka's rules -- that is when the smiles stop and the scolding begins.



— August 24, 2013 at 7:56 am

Dear Matt
Thanks for your answer.
I’m no expert on vibrations, but I didn’t come to Vipassana for vibrations, nor was Vipassana advertised as a vibrations therapy. All I expected was pure meditation and silence. Nothing more. For people who are into vibrations, the chanting of Goenka may be a rewarding experience. For me and for many of the 70 people who took part in the course, it was pure torture. I found that people who felt the same often had quite a lot of western musical training (I come from a family of classical musicians).

Concerning the notion of sectarianism, I have found enough examples of ex-Vipassana disciples to feel confirmed in my observation that it has unhealthy sectarian tendencies. Perhaps you are limiting your observations to those people who simply like the wrapper and therefore can more easily enjoy the contents?

You’re basing your claim that Vipassana is “scientific” upon a definition of science which, although it is not completely false, is definitely not the common understanding of the term. The great majority of people with some scientific education will not expect a “scientific” teaching to try to teach them that they are made of fire, water, earth and air, and that the subtle sensations they are feeling by means of their nervous system is actually a direct experience of each and every subatomic particle of their body… Trying to sell this as “scientific” in front of a western audience seems misleading and ignorant to me.
Best regards,


Luna de mar

— July 13, 2014 at 3:37 am

Vipassana has noting to do with science, I’m a former chemist an I took the course just by curiosity, I’m not unhappy, I don’t need to believe, and I like to understand how the world works. So the first days there I was ok, I agree that the morning chanting was a torture but fortunately you were not obligated to be there. I was very happy that they try to explain as much as possible of the basis of the technique, but that was until the 4th day.

Then I start to relate the pain with a bad position during the meditation and not because of trauma, so I watched the other people around me and realize most of them have a bad position, and that is very irresponsible they could give you a guide of good or bad positions, or also do some exercise to led your body meditate for hours, but I didn’t panic for that I believe when once you get used to the position be aware of your normal body sensations can even warning you to a disease.

But then I continue with the course and when I listen the explanation of the subatomic particles I was shocked, I did not expect an explanation based on neutrons, protons, electrons or quarks but the explanation of the sensations was complete product of the imagination and nothing to do with science.

I realize that they play that game of use scientific words or scientific reasoning to justify something has nothing to do with science, and that is very very dangerous because there are two facts, people associate science with something good because science has improved the human life (that is not completely true) and on the other hand most of the people do not understand science, so is very easy to get confused. But I still don’t panic, I just believe it is has to be a reasonable explanation for all the feelings I have, so I break the rules and I started to think, what is happening with my body, are all this sensations are real or just created from my brain.

My answer is it could be both part created part real, I don’t have Internet to do research, so I start using my body and I start focusing to feel what I wanted to feel, and you can do it. In fact when the professor asks to you what you are feeling, I realize must of my partners were being victims of their brains. So next question why your brain is able to produce some sensations, the answer is easy because you are able to produce substances like neurotransmitter, than could make you have some sensation (just like drugs, in fact some drugs have a really close chemical structure to neurotransmitters). Maybe your traumas could be stored in neurotransmitters, I don’t really now the brain is really complex and it is not my speciality, also I didn’t do experimenters to prove what I say, there were just my reflections during the camp. The point is it could be dangerous for people with a little disorder in the brain, such a strong experience could detonate different types of mental disease like psychosis.

I did not have trouble with the meditation, but I start had trouble with the Goenka discourse, because it was religious and with a manipulative trend, so I started to feel really uncomfortable, and I decided to leave.

When you decide to leave is the point when you can see the whole structure of power behind the smiling and loving face of the curse. There you are exposed to a psychological pressure, in a place you don’t know, with people you don’t know, not excercise, not talk, not read, not write, and better not think so in that point of vulnerability the only voice you hear is the voice of the teacher Goenka, in that point your brain are very receptive.

I suggested to stay in the course without listening the discourses, and that is not an option.

So everything you here there is a Dogma, so yes it is a religion. You can not question Goenka, well you can do it just if you want to see how the teachers lose their equanimity, and I perfectly understand that in the end they are just persons like me, so why you have to treat them like superiors, or do everything they say without questions, well it is because is a Buddhist religion with a strong cult to Goenka.

I still believe that Vipassana experience could be really helpful for some people, but the people should be warning it is a religion. For the rest of my experience, the people were very nice, they led me to take the bus safe and then ask me please call when you arrive home, they are really good people, with good intentions.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/03/2017 05:06AM by corboy.

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Re: Goenka Vipassana Cult
Posted by: Ananda ()
Date: April 01, 2016 07:48PM

There was an interesting Radio 4 programme about meditation and some of the unpleasant side effects. It was made my Jolyon Jenkins. He starts talking about 10 day retreats and people suffering panic attacks and other psychological problems. He doesn't mention Goenka but I think that's what he's talking about.

I'm not sure about the 'boot camp' approach to meditation. Especially when it involves lack of sleep. Also, it does seem that you're not told in advance that you have to hand over your keys and mobile till the end of the 10 days.

Does Goenka teach just meditation on breath + scanning the body?

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Re: Actual truth revealed when you seek 2 leave early
Posted by: The Falconer ()
Date: September 08, 2016 03:55AM

Very recently I tried a ten-day Vipassana course, and left on the afternoon of the fourth day. It was too overwhelming, too disorienting for me.The managers strongly tried to persuade me to stay and make a stronger effort to complete the course, and I was told that I'd not be allowed to try again someday. In other words, the window of opportunity is now closed for me, (at least during this lifetime). That's not right. That's the psychological equivalent of condemning somebody to the fires of Hell. Manipulation through fear. My experience with Vipassana was not good.

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Re: Goenka Vipassana Cult
Posted by: newamsterdam ()
Date: September 15, 2016 12:13PM

I went in early 2002

while initially there was some good in the practice like being able to fully address my more negative qualities I did have a time where i completely woke and found myself...quite a strong experience.

Truth is I had people from a new age hippy cult connected to my boyfriend that followed me there and was doing bizarre stuff like singing and chanting while sitting behind me so that everyone thought it was me, anyways the 2nd time I went back it was a complete disaster the teacher was a psycho and displayed his pen that had a lions club international seal on it and the centre on vancouver island is holding day sittings at the secret society hall the eastern star female masons lodge

they do things there like post a sign please do not point feet at teachers without explaining it so that it creates an imprint in the mind every time you point your feet at somebody you think of vipassana... I think when he regurgitates his meals after the chanting that he is cursing everyone with his low regurgitation -the food starvation has you willing to accept anything and the teachers sit on boxes (dias)

now with me it is paradoxical because yes I did find myself and my meditation practice (I practice a different -my own- meditation these days) but there were servers that said goenka was god

and I had a breakdown about day 6 and everyone mocked me for it said I was not accepting the meditation fully

People would never understand that you were soul harnessed by a cult and programmed how could one ever relay that to somebody ?

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Re: Goenka Vipassana Cult
Posted by: nicola ()
Date: October 02, 2017 10:29PM

I'd like to add my two cents here.

Having completed now a total of four courses I can say that I've never heard any of my coursemates say a bad word against it. One said it was a little overwhelming. Thats it.
(She is always bubbly when we speak too.)

It was my first real introduction to meditation.

I've no doubt that some teachers can be a little over-arching but that is not their remit.

Each course I've not sat still if I choose an uncomfortable posture, I never felt so pushed as too have a wish to leave & when strong anxiety came along i went outside or to my room if it was not a group sitting. (Only once in a group sitting sesh did this occur. A server followed me out & asked if i was ok.)

The tecnique itself has brought me twice to meditations deep enough to physically release long standing tensions that were up until then persistant knots in both the shoulder & the neck. Yes, a physical long standing pain just unraveled through meditating with this tecnique. Not once but on two seperate occasions.
The first one had been there 3 years, the second one 2 years.

Numourous other little pains got smaller & many insights have come about too.

In Goenka's discourses he makes fun of himself at one point saying 'everyone thinks everybody else should change, not me i'm perfect' & several times makes reference to when you go home you are your own master.
& that the buddah said to question & only
believe from your own experiance.

If you aren't comfortable surrendering, don't!
If you are in too much pain to complete an hour's sit, change the position!

I don't agree with all he says. So i take out the 'black stone' & gain a good tecnique given freely with what i have no doubt is given with a very deep motivation of helping as many people as he could by shareing in the best way he knew how.
For me it's been a way of allowing the subconscious room to heal itself from the various moments that were too traumatic to fully process as they occured.

Its one of the most effective & best ways I've found to do so. & the insights that came from it has altered my world-view & made sense of things that previously eluded me.

Keep your head your own & be aware that you may not agree with everything. (I don't!)
But nonetheless the method has given me a whole lot & i've nothing but gratitude & warmth for the man who made the centres to learn it possible.
He is not perfect, neither are the teachers. Neither are most of us.

& i'm sure there are other effective methods out there, this is the best i've found so far though.

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Re: Goenka Vipassana Cult
Posted by: colmao ()
Date: December 13, 2017 01:53AM

After reading through the entirety of this thread I have found that there are a number of misconceptions being thrown around from people that frankly have no idea what they’re talking about nor have they bothered to dig a little deeper and find out the real reasons behind their quarrels with this program. This could have been accomplished by simple observation and a bit of reflection. Furthermore, some of these comments are rooted in flat out ignorance. Others are coming from people with a strong sense of entitlement, maybe even disappointment in lack of instant gratification they experienced while attending the course. The rest of the comments are coming from trolls that love to reread what they wrote in their posts. You know who you are. To whom it may concern I have attended and completed the 10 day course twice in a span of three years.

Misconception Number #1 Noble Silence : Someone here described the 9 total days of silence as “cultish”, especially the image of people walking around like “zombies”. I don’t know how else to picture a bunch of strangers who are silently meditating, eating, walking and living together. It is what it is. This however does not make it a cult. Silence is crucial to the successful development of the technique. A technique that requires a sort of mastering of the mind, which is hard in it of itself WITHOUT distractions. At any given course they host a diverse group of individuals with different backgrounds, some of which practice different forms of meditating, and others who may be at different levels of the same technique that is taught at the course. You have your novices, amateurs, those who think they’re pros and the pros. By having everyone respect the silence they ensure that people cannot share notes that would be misleading, or remarks that could spark doubt in one or multiple students. Surely being able to speak would motivate people to start relationships, plan a mutiny, sneak over to the opposite sex’s living quarters, etc, etc. It would be extremely difficult to keep the type of order required to develop the technique with all the potential distractions caused by communication.

Misconception #2 Students leaving secretly : Someone here mentioned something about students leaving or disappearing without anyone’s knowledge of the event when it actually happened, only to find an empty space where the person used to meditate, as if this is something cults do. I would think a cult would hold some type of ceremony to publicly shame the person for leaving, which would in turn discourage the rest from doing the same. But this is not the case. Instead,
they make sure NOT to make a scene because doing so could have a negative impact on the morale of the other meditators. Witnessing a person leaving with their backpack on, with a smile on their face because they’re so exited to get the f*** out of there, or with a look of dread from not being able to handle the course, would be extremely fruitless. Instead, by keeping it out of sight they keep it out of mind.

Misconception #3 Bootcamp or more like intensive course? :
Someone mentioned something about the course being too rigorous with all its rules and suggestions, making it at times mentally and physically painful and therefore suggesting as if this is something a cult would do. The first time I went I had no idea what I was getting myself, as far as the technique that is taught at the course. I did however read the rules and agreed to them before ever stepping foot inside the premises. Agreeing to the rules beforehand is a requirement. If you can’t and wont agree to them, then don’t go. No one is forcing you to go. If you showed up, you did so on your own account and therefore it is expected that once you are there you respect the rules until you leave. The rules are set in stone and were written by experienced people who know what it takes to get the best out of 10 days. 10 days is nothing to learn and develop a new skill. Since most people cannot afford to dedicate more than 10 days away from their jobs or families, they run a tight shift. On the fourth day when the real technique is taught, so is the principle of strong determination implemented, which SUGGESTS that for best results pick a posture and don’t move for that hour. Just like no one forced you to go, no one is forcing you to stay. And no one is telling you will be a failure if you leave. You are doing that yourself.

Misconception #4 Difficulty of leaving early :
Someone here said something about the practitioners making it hard to leave early, which in turn suggests that this is a cult. Truth be told if you went to the course you went there to be brainwashed, literally. Furthermore, you went there to develop a skill in which you can brainwash yourself, again in the most literal of terms. By focusing on your breath and then focusing on bodily sensations, you are bringing your awareness to activities your mind is processing automatically in the background. By remaining equanimous through the entire process you are also moving away from what the mind is hardwired to do at a subconscious level: categorizing things into good or bad and developing attachments or aversions. Therefore as you continue the practice you are slowly activating your subconscious mind, and the more you progress, the deeper you go. This is how the technique purifies the mind. Some have described attending the course as a symbolical brain surgery. Leaving the course before its finished would be the same as if you got up from the operating table midway through the surgery with your head still split open. But if you complete the course all the way through its entirety, you will find that they stitch you right back up again very nicely. Which brings me to my point: they make it difficult only by suggesting not to leave because leaving early would in fact be dangerous. A fellow student told me “thank god I didn’t come in my car because I would have left the same day I told the crew I wanted to leave. Instead I stayed for the entire course because I was given the opportunity to wait an extra 24 hours before making my decision, as I waited for the bus the next day”

Misconception #4 Goenka Audio/Video lesson
Someone here said something about Goenka being an egomaniac control freak for taking on the role of sole teacher and doing it via recorded content... The guy is dead. Even if he were alive today how would he be able to teach the course all around the world simultaneously? To my knowledge he was the last appointed teacher given the responsibility of spreading the technique worldwide. Whether or not he appointed a pupil before his death to be the new master is besides the point. The material recorded from the 10 day course that is used today is golden. Don’t fix what is not broken. Besides, quality control would run amock with so many teachers in so many centers.

Other notes:

A cult would have persistently continued to reach out to me in order to keep me coming, send them money, spread the word or at least as a reminder of their existence. This has NEVER happened to me with this course.

A cult would have told me to teach other members the technique and to share their contact information to expand their reach. In this case teaching others about the technique is frowned upon.

As far as pushing a religion or dogma on anyone, which cults are infamous for, this I did not experience. From what I understand, Buddhism is the science of the mind. Some have turned it into a religion by worshipping the man who understood the inner workings of the mind like no one else has been able to do. Goenka intellectualizes the technique so that people can understand what it is they're doing and why it is beneficial for them to do it. To add, the references to the philosophies of the gems and precepts work as simple associations to ease people’s overall understanding. It worked more than 2000 years ago among simpletons, farmers, peasants and the likes. I guess it fails to work on some us today. Some of us who think they're on to something by pointing out the obvious, but in the opposite and wrong direction...

Meditation helps take the mind to a state where it can perceive reality on a different level. As humans we tend to interpret our experiences even to the point of giving such experiences a higher meaning. I’ve never worked at a wal-mart but I bet there are rules that are put in place to keep people in order and a protocol handbook full of cheesy one liners, jokes, and a step by step guide, all of which are intended to motivate, encourage, and keep personnel from leaving. But to some here these would be considered forms of manipulation. I wouldn’t be surprised if a store manager took it upon himself to manipulate an employee by trying to force the rule book on that person with an ultimatum of follow or be vanished. That doesn’t mean its an institutional problem. It means some jerk in that institution, an individual with a power trip, which happens a lot in institutions, took matters into his own hands. If you don’t believe me, then by applying some of the comments mentioned in this thread, and by way of induction wal-mart is to be put on the list of cults as well.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/13/2017 01:57AM by colmao.

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Re: Goenka Vipassana Cult
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: December 13, 2017 08:23AM

Vipassana retreats may differ according to who is in charge.

What if your experience doing vipassana retreats is quite different than for some others who have ventured to do vipassana retreats?

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Re: Goenka Vipassana Cult
Posted by: colmao ()
Date: December 14, 2017 05:52AM

I attended one course in new zealand and the second in italy. They were practically the same when it came down to organization. I was amazed by their similarities. I can only imagine that courses in third world countries may lack the resources, but still get by with what they have. I read a comment in this thread from someone complaining about the heat and time difference at a course in india as if the course had anything to do with it. What it really came down to was poor planning by that person... lesson to be learned: its hot in india, and take a couple of days to get rid of jetlag before committing to anything that intensive like the 10 day course.

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