Archive for the ‘Vipassana’ Category


February 2, 2009

Subforum: Traditions > Tibetan Buddhism > Tibetan Buddhism General Forum
Thread title: Goenka vs. Vajrayana? Did this happen?
Date: Dec 1st 2006

Forum member:

I did a Goenka style Vipassana 10-day silent retreat a few years back, and during the final “talking” day a few people when they found out about my Tibetan practice told me a story, which seems to have different versions:

Goenka either challenged the Dalai Lama saying the practice he was teaching trumped Vajrayana methods in terms of results, and the Dalai Lama responded by having very experienced monks from his monastery enroll in a 10 day course, -or the Dalai Lama had heard about the Goenka courses, was intrigued, and likewise sent senior monks to give it a trial.

In both versons, the outcome was declared that all of the monks reported back that it was a
very profound practice.

I’m just wondering if there is verifiable evidence/validity to these stories, or if they are rumors, -and if they are valid, if anyone knows any more specifics in terms of the monks’ views on the technique.

Addtionally, I heard that Pema Chodron recommends people to do a Goenka retreat at least once a year, and I was wondering if this was correct too.

I’m wondering because I feel that I got a lot out of it, and I am interested in doing another one, and wanted to know if other Tibetan Buddhists have experience with Goenka’s
practice and teaching and if so, if they’ve have found them helpful and how so, etc..

Also, if anyone managed to secretly keep certain tantric commitments while there, etc.

A second forum member:

I learned Vipassana before encountering the Vajrayana. When I explained this to my teacher Trungpa Rinpoche, he taught me a practice to incorporate both approaches. He clearly saw no problem with this.

A third forum member:

I’ve been practicing Vipassana meditation taught by SN Goenka and sutta, sutra study for the last 16 years. My teacher told me it is an excellent foundation to start from regarding Vajrayana practice. I meditate one hour a day and go to Vipassana retreat once a year.

The only conflict that may arise as I see it is if you mix vipassana with other methods. When I do vipassana meditation one hour a day that is all I do in that one hour. I do not believe Vipassana meditation is for everyone, my Dharma teacher felt it was best suited for my needs.

A fourth forum member adds:

I first started practicing Vipassana Meditation in 1985 and have done many courses both here in Australia and in India. Over that period I have completed in excess of 21 ten-day courses and numerous other ‘special’ courses for more experienced practitioners.

Your report is news to me! I have never heard of that story until now. However, I must say that I have witnessed many clerics of other religions, as well as many more practitioners of other religions, including Buddhist monks and lay people from varying traditions, attend SN Goenka’s ten-day courses. And the vast majority of them report profoundly positive results. Sometimes, the monks, priests, nuns, imams, are sent under the instruction of the leader of their institution, abbot, etc.

While I have been a respectful and interested observer of Tibetan Buddhism, I cannot verify that Goenka’s Vipassana ‘trumps’ Vajrayana. I guess you should practice that which you have confidence in, however, I would encourage you to do another ten-day course if you are so inclined.

A fifth forum member provides a reference to the text of the interview with vipassana teacher S.N. Goenka from Shambala:

the interview from Shambala

Namdrol (Former E-sangha global moderator):

It’s all bullshit.

Further discussion, then Namdrol makes the following point:

The idea that vipassana is a more effective method than Vajrayana is simply absurd.

I am sure HHDL sent some people to a ten day sit– why not? This whole thing actually started appearing as a story because Steven Batchelor felt he benefitted from a ten day sit more than years of doing Vajrayana practice.

It’s basicall a bunch of nonesense

Some more discussion and then Namdrol again:

Even the best and smartest paramitayana practitioner is very dull compared to even the dullest Vajrayana practitioner.

Why? Because they have chosen a path than cannot lead to awakening in less than three incalculable eons.

Just do the math: 3 interminable eons vs. at most 16 lifetimes even if you do not practice.

There is really nothing to discuss– this is simply a matter of fact from a Vajrayana point of view, and one stated through the Dzogchen tantras as well.