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Goenkaji

 

I mentioned a few times that I was going to a Vipassana retreat. Well, now I’ve gone and I’m back. This particular retreat was in Ontario. The retreats are held all over the world. Most of them are all done in the exact same way. Goenkaiji, started to teach vipassana after he was taught in the way Buddha taught the procedure. The details were maintained over generations by a group of people in Burma that strictly kept the teachings true to the original way they were taught.

The course, or retreat, is twelve days long. The first and last day are “adjustment” days and the middle ten are the actual course. It is long, hard and gruelling. Ten days of “noble silence”, when you are not to communicate with anyone in anyway, including eye contact and gestures. 10-12 hours of meditation broken up with meals and short breaks.

I am now examining the teachings with my mind. According to the teacher, who is no longer alive but had his teachings all recorded before he passed, this is the second level of learning. The first is when you are taught or you read information. The second is when you think about it and decide if it fits with what you already know and you examine the information. The third is experiential learning. Which means learning something by doing it.

The course is designed so that the participants “experience” what it is like to be in silence, eating two meals a day and spending most of the day in meditation. One woman told me she had never experienced feeling anything but hate — all the time — before she went to her first course. I replied that I had a different starting point, but I would see how I feel in a while. A lot of the teachings over lap with things I have read before, concepts I’m familiar with and teachings I know speak to me. I’ll likely explain some of that here.

Truthfully, at this point, I would not recommend this to anyone. It is difficult. You would only benefit by experiencing it, so that is how it’s taught. Only plan to go if you know you are willing to see the ten days through. That is important. There is currently a three month waiting list. It isn’t right to take a spot unless you intend to complete the course.

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