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  #1161  
Old 2nd March 2017, 01:02 PM
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wolty wolty is offline
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Default Re: Goenka Vipassana Cult

Mod note: Post put into actual thread MarkL.

Welcome to the forum.
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Atheist: n; A person to be pitied in that he is unable to believe things for which there is no evidence, and who has thus deprived himself of a convenient means of feeling superior to others.
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  #1162  
Old 2nd March 2017, 04:23 PM
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Default Re: Goenka Vipassana Cult

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letitbe said View Post
I am not going to fight with you... physics is my life it's what I do..., and it has taught me that we don't really know anywhere near as much as we think we do.... I am a committed atheist... but as with all good scientists, always open to new information... I don't know if reincarnation exists... if it does I strongly suspect it would be nothing like the hippies think it is.... I think it would be more likely a movement of energy... I don't see that personality and history would necessarily form a part of it... but it's all conjecture... nobody knows, so shouting about who is right and who is stupid and wrong is utterly pointless... I am out of this thread... Have a nice day.... and try to be a bit less heavy handed with the bile and vitriol... it makes you sound like a religious zealot... also here's a thought... and echo chamber educates no one...
OK. First let us deal with the "soul" concept. The religious concept of soul, the idea that souls are immortal, transferable, and can exist independent of a living and physical body is total bollocks.

A biological concept of soul is of a mortal and unique personality, forged by genetics, epigenetics, development, family, friends and environment. In other words, natural processes and life experiences give each person uniqueness and personality.

As other people have stated, the non-physical soul is impossible, and would contradict everything we know of science. The very fact that science works tells you something about the universe. It is not magical. You can't just decree [even if you are Jesus Christ] that a bread bun and a sardine can be magically transformed into rations for thousands of people. It doesn't work, its a tall tale, utterly lacking any reality.

Religious folks love the "god-of-the gaps- "arguments". Science does not know everything therefore god. Here is a new idea. Perhaps because modern science can't detect gods, or immortal souls is NOT that such things fly under the scientific radar, it is because they don't exist.

Now, formal epistemology makes it quite clear that there can be no absolute and correct claims outside of mathematics. This however, hardly makes science valueless as a guide to how the universe works. Science does not give us proof of the absence of gods, magic souls, reincarnation, etc, but it does give us evidence against their being such things. If gods and magic did exist in this universe, then it would change how the universe operates, and change it is a fundamentally different manner to what we observe. And because of that unpredictability, science would not work. Science works because nature is predictable. Ergo, the universe is not magical and immortal souls, gods, fairies etc, do not exist.
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  #1163  
Old 2nd March 2017, 05:55 PM
Spearthrower Spearthrower is offline
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MarkL said View Post
Hi there,

Actually, I found a long piece by someone writing against the "Goenka cult" of vipassana meditation and I wanted to respond to it. I have been a vipassana meditator for 44 years and though I first started with Goenka and my last 2 retreats have been at a Goenka centre, I am not a devotee of Goenka, though I do respect him.

I feel that people will be put off doing vipassana by hearing things written by someone who doesn't really understand what vipassana is all about, but is vehemently against it as they realised that they were sucked into the system as if it was a cult, and therefore blames Goenka for it. I was "blackballed" by the system for many years because I went on a course led by John Coleman, who "the management" decided was persona non grata. It was only years later when Goenka referred to John Coleman as his "dhamma brother" that this negative status was lifted.

Anyway, there you are....

Mark
1) If someone disagrees with you, that means it's because they don't really understand?

2) Doesn't your example story about being blackballed kind of contradict the notion that there's nothing cultish going on there?

3) What would motivate you to join a forum solely to write a post defending against criticism of something you say you don't really belong to?
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  #1164  
Old 2nd March 2017, 10:21 PM
wadaye wadaye is offline
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Quote:
MarkL said View Post
Hi there,

Actually, I found a long piece by someone writing against the "Goenka cult" of vipassana meditation and I wanted to respond to it. I have been a vipassana meditator for 44 years and though I first started with Goenka and my last 2 retreats have been at a Goenka centre, I am not a devotee of Goenka, though I do respect him.

I feel that people will be put off doing vipassana by hearing things written by someone who doesn't really understand what vipassana is all about, but is vehemently against it as they realised that they were sucked into the system as if it was a cult, and therefore blames Goenka for it. I was "blackballed" by the system for many years because I went on a course led by John Coleman, who "the management" decided was persona non grata. It was only years later when Goenka referred to John Coleman as his "dhamma brother" that this negative status was lifted.

Anyway, there you are....

Mark
1) If someone disagrees with you, that means it's because they don't really understand?

2) Doesn't your example story about being blackballed kind of contradict the notion that there's nothing cultish going on there?

3) What would motivate you to join a forum solely to write a post defending against criticism of something you say you don't really belong to?
Thanks ST for reposting as i think it should be responded to here.

Mark you said:

" I have been a vipassana meditator for 44 years "

I am wondering just what is meant by that. I mean i have been a walker for nearly as long as i count my age but i don't refer to myself like that. I started studying a science degree some years ago but even when i completed it i don't call myself a scientist. So just what do you mean by this?
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  #1165  
Old 9th May 2017, 08:33 PM
wadaye wadaye is offline
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Default Re: Goenka Vipassana Cult

Just an update of thoughts about the Vipassana Meditation as taught by S.N.Goenka.

The teaching is that instinctive or impulsive thoughts such as sexual desire are the result of past previous impure actions, either in this life or previous lives. Consequently these instinctive or impulsive thoughts are said to be the result of impurities (or sankharas) accumulated in oneself, and the meditation is said to wash out all such impurities.
This teaching lacks the explanatory power that is provided by the theory of evolution by means of natural selection in explaining human emotions, desires, instincts, impulses, even mental illnesses.

To take one example, the notion taught by the late Mr Goenka that sexual desire is an impurity out of which one will become free through this specific form of vipassana meditation, is an unfounded postulate predicated on a misunderstanding of human origins and instincts.

To understand that sexual desire is a normal and innate human instinct for most people leads in my view to a more mature approach to sexuality, than to simply consider all sexual desire as arising from impurity.

Of course Goenka did not say that immediately every meditator has to stop all sex for the rest of their lives, but he did say that naturally with this meditation a single person or a couple will come out of this type of behaviour and live celibately. He says in the old student discourse on day 1 that passion is the deepest enemy of the meditator and it is one's task to root it out.

Its worth thinking about this issue for this technique because it goes to the heart of whether the technique is being used to try to suppress something natural, an innate part of the human being.

Another issue that might arise after the practice of vipassana as taught by Mr Goenka is that this teaching of notions of what is correct or incorrect meditation might intrude on one's ability to discover for oneself one's own meditation. This I think is quite important.
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  #1166  
Old 10th May 2017, 12:03 AM
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Default Re: Goenka Vipassana Cult

If the pleasures of sex amounts to carnality which militates against spiritual attainment as found through Mr Goenka's vipassana practice, are you still allowed to watch Monty Python, if The Management (now that Mr. Goenka himself has departed, attained to permanent nibana) know what Monty Python is to pronounce on this particular question?
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  #1167  
Old 12th May 2017, 07:30 AM
wadaye wadaye is offline
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Default Re: Goenka Vipassana Cult

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If the pleasures of sex amounts to carnality which militates against spiritual attainment as found through Mr Goenka's vipassana practice, are you still allowed to watch Monty Python, if The Management (now that Mr. Goenka himself has departed, attained to permanent nibana) know what Monty Python is to pronounce on this particular question?
In the Vipassana centres the only literature allowed onsite to be read by servers or between courses or for sale onsite the mornibg after a course finishes are books within the Goenka tradition, books by U Ba Khin, or traditionala theravadin Buddhist literature approved because of not being from an alternative or rival vipassana tradition.

Monty Python is not on that approved list unfortunately.

PS i thought it worth mentioning for my own disclosure that i at times i find a form of vipassana to be appropriate and then i do practice vipassana meditation to the best of my ability. I appreciate that one method of trying to practice has been taught by Goenka, but I do not consider myself to be a student of Goenka or his tradition.
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  #1168  
Old 13th May 2017, 08:19 PM
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Default Re: Goenka Vipassana Cult

It would appear MarkL doesn't feel inclined to engage?
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  #1169  
Old 29th November 2017, 09:55 PM
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Default Re: Goenka Vipassana Cult

The following is my humble opinion/experience. Some of you may find this interesting, or perhaps not. Either way, here it is:

To begin with, I'm not sure how many people there are on this thread who have actually participated in a 10 day vipassana course, but i can confirm that I have completed a full 10 day course myself. Unlike many other "practices" there is very limited information on GV (Goekna Vipassana) outside of "doing" the actual course. So without completing the course, i feel like its challenging to obtain a full and thorough understanding of what it is, how it works and "what its all about". You can of course google "goenka vipassana" or watch peoples video blogs online about their experience with the practice or you could even purchase the 10 day audio discourse and learn a lot about the teachings, but my point is that there is a massive amount of information on GV that can only be obtained if "you" complete the 10 day course in silence. I think this is one of the first major flaws with GV....... the fact that you have to "do it" in silence for 10 days to obtain a thorough understanding of "what it is".

Slight back story that will become relevant later on: i was raised in a VERY religious household (christian) where i went to church every sunday for 17 years. I questioned almost everything about the bible and christianity during those 17 years and was basically told to "have faith" and "don't question the almighty" and "if you persist with going to church then you will go to heaven". Eventually as a 17 year old i decided that the bible/christianity was a bunch of absolute bull-sh!t and it wasn't for me.

Since then, for the last 20 years, id heard many stories from people who had done a "10 day silent retreat" that was allegedly "amazing and life changing" I come from the corporate world where I've never had 10 days off in my life, so when the opportunity came up, i thought "what the hell, 10 days of not talking? how relaxing/challenging/interesting etc etc.." so i did the course more-so out of curiosity than anything else.

I could write a thesis on my experience during those 10 days, but i'll try my best to stick to the point (my point). Essentially ..........during those 10 days of intense meditation, sleep deprivation and physically gruelling confusion, "they" drill into you just how scientific the practice is. "they" repeat and repeat that its so "very scientific" and they even encourage you to question it and research it (once you go back home) But i think this is where the other major flaw appears. Its based on a "guy/being" called "gautama" who lived 8000 years ago who discovered a way to "enlightenment" (by sitting under a tree)........ that was said to occur if you can meditate through the "vipassana technique" Its alleged that this guy/being, passed down this information for centuries and centuries to the present day where people can still "learn" the "original" technique.

So i drove home after those 10 days of silence .........feeling many different emotions but eventually i started asking the same questions i asked about the bible as a small child...... "how do we know that Jesus or Gautama ever existed? where is the proof? if they did exist, how do we know that prayer works? how do we know that going to church means you go to heaven? how do we know that heaven even exists? how do we know that hell exists or that god exists? how do we know that you will achieve enlightenment and bliss by practicing the GV meditation technique? How do you know if you are making progress in the right direction? How do we know that any of this is true or that it works? etc...

I started to chat with some of the other students and even some of the teachers and told them my concerns/questions/feelings etc. I basically found the answers paralleled religion in many ways. Christianity and GV are both based on a "man who lived thousands of years ago who did great things" but nobody can prove this. They both state that if you "believe/have faith and continue to practice/keep going to church/keep meditating then you will be saved/go to heaven/achieve spiritual enlightenment", but nobody can prove this and here lies the third major flaw: to establish if any of this is true, the only way to do this is to commit your entire life to it and persist for decades with prayer or church or meditation and then they claim you will "see that it works". So its really just the age old prophecy of "hey jimmy, i can't prove that you'll see the lochness monster right now, but if you just sit on this rock for the next 75 years and HAVE FAITH and PERSIST then you will definitely see him eventually".

I listened to a brilliant podcast a few years ago that i have been unable to locate since then, but anyway the message was from a top sales executive for some of the worlds biggest companies who has run some of the most successful sales campaigns during the modern era. He openly acknowledged that he basically used the framework of religion to convince people to buy a product. He said most major religions use 3 key techniques which are GUILT, FEAR, REWARD. So for example: "jesus died for you and for your sins = GUILT"...... and "if you don't do what the bible says, then you go to a horrible place called hell = FEAR" ...... and "if you do everything that we say then you will go to a magical place called HEAVEN = REWARD".

The reason i mentioned that podcast is because unlike islam where the penalty for apostocising is "death", Goenka Vipassana gives you the freedom to leave at any time without consequence. They also don't have any underlying message of "guilt" or "fear" so ALOT OF PEOPLE think "wow - this vipassana stuff is SO different to religion! its so scientific and non judgemental and FREE! yes! I'm so free to practice or not practice and there is no heaven or hell, what an amazing open-minded and liberal belief system. But herein lies the other major flaw: Through sleep deprivation, silence and a complete disconnection from the outside world, they convince MANY people that all the problems in their life can be simply solved by performing this practice twice per day but they make it clear that the best way to "achieve optimum results" is to keep coming back to the vipassana centre multiple times for 10 days at a time and also volunteer at the centre to help others. They also have a 100% optional "suggested" donation amount of $250 after you complete each course. Oh, i also forgot to mention that all food and accommodation is provided for FREE for those 10 days....... So people often leave thinking "wow! i don't HAVE to donate money and i don't have to donate my time and i can leave whenever i want - my god....... this is the best non-religion ever!" All the while, these little seeds have been implanted into your mind where some people start believing that their life will only ever just be "mediocre" without vipassana and that all "my problems" can be solved by simply performing the meditation technique.

I could go on forever, but my very long-winded and poorly articulated point is simply this: just like all the major religions, its simply impossible to prove if any of the historical stories from Vipassana are true or if the meditation practice actually "works". According to "them" you simply need to "belief, persist and commit your life to it and THEN YOU WILL SEE that its all true and it works".

My personal conclusion/message to all those who support vipassana - I'm not willing to dedicate 2 hours per day and then ALSO decades of my life to a practice that can't be PROVEN to work. If you are willing to do so, then i genuinely wish you all the best.
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  #1170  
Old 29th November 2017, 10:27 PM
wadaye wadaye is offline
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Very nicely articulated Jom. Well done you! If I may take your analogy a little further, the Teacher made a point of his teaching that somebody can tell you about a place, but unless you see it for yourself it is just an intellectual experiience. The trick with Vippassana is that the alleged Buddha gives a destination (Nibbana) and a path to get to that place - "The Eightfold Noble Path", but lets just call it a rudientary map consisting of a single line in the sand drawn with a finger in the dirt showing how to get from point A (here/now) to Nibbana (there/then). Only the present Teacher (or his appointed deputies or assistants) are qualified to draw this oral map, or point out the signposts along they way. Unlike every other human endeavor, normal people are not qualified to speak of this within the present tradition, except to say to others to come to a course so that they can experience for themselves.

The reasons for this include of course that the ten day retreat by the instruction of the Teacher is supposed to include a psychological self surgery of the mind and frankly nobody knows what they fuck they are doing themselves let alone if they all talked together after their first course and found that each one had a completely different concept of what they were supposed to be doing.

Anyway welcome aboard here. This place is a safe place so have a look around the forum as there's lots of other interesting stuff under discussion and feel welcome to raise any other topics you may wish to discuss. If you have more to vent or discuss here about Goenka Vipassana feel free also to do so.
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