Daily Archives: January 28, 2012

10-day Vipassana Meditation Retreat, as taught by Mr. S. N. Goenka – A Review.

Before I met desteni, during my days with the newage movement, I was into a type of meditation called Vipassana Meditaton. Of course within Buddhism there are many types of meditations, some are regional specific while others are specific to different doctrine of Buddhism. Perhaps they all have similar roots but certainly the practice appear vastly different, sometimes even to a point of conflict. Anyways, the subject here is the 10 day retreat provided by the Vipassana Meditation group headed by Mr. S. N. Goenka. I have attended few such retreats, so here I am sharing my perspective.

The retreat is basically 10 days of Silence, room and board provided and Vipassana Meditation is taught. You are confined to a meditation camp like area, and for 10 days you will be cut off from the world, while you engage in this journey of studying the Vipassana Meditation. 

While I was a newage junkie, I must say, I really loved this retreat. Very peaceful, 10 days of isolation, all my meals are taken care of, it is like an all paid vacation for you. You just have to meditate as taught by Mr S. N. Goenka. Been cut off from the world of gadgets,  phones, computers, papers, reading, writing, talking, socializing etc is a welcome break for most humans. None really hated the experience, its all good and well at the end. Its free too, of course you can donate if  you wish on the last day before you go home. 

If only things were that easy about meditation, now that I am walking the desteni process I am able to realize and see things about meditation. Having walked the process of self-forgiveness and self-honesty now I realize how fucked up is this meditation retreat really is. 

Walking the desteni process is all about self-honesty. So from that perspective Vipassana Meditation is a big no-no, because there is nothing self-honest about 10 days of meditating. Its all done for self-bliss, to be a great enlightened personality. People go there to become better or great or to be enlightened, or blissful. 

During the first 4 days, Breathing Mediation is taught (known as anna panna). This is pretty cool, you are learning to observe your breathing for 4 long days. This is a great assistance if such awareness of breath can be maintained all through life. As awareness of each breath cuts down the thinking machine, the pre programmed Mind Conscious System. Within desteni, 4 count breathing is suggested to assist with been Here as breath. 

At the retreat, the breath awareness meditation remains just that, a meditation, a tool, an exercise, never a living reality. Are you one and equal to the breath ? NO. Breath is used as a tool to assist you to become self-blissful. In other words there is separation and breath is used like using anything in a materialistic sense. 

For the next 6 days, you will practice Vipassana Meditation which is the awareness of body sensations from subtle to gross. Meaning, you are feeling your body. This is also pretty cool, to stay within the body, within the Physical. But the problem again is, it is done as an exercise, as a meditation, as a means to achieve a higher self-bliss, as means to become enlightenment, so the whole starting point is fucked up. In desteni we are suggested to be aware of the breath and body to be Here, so to be Here is the objective. Not some grand egoistic goal to be enlightened or blissful. 

Breath and body awareness is really cool to be Here. In that you can see yourself or other things in all self-honesty. So at the retreat, feeling the breath or body appears cool, but it is done out of selfish motives and capitalistic objectives. I want to get something, I want to become something, or I want to be a great buddhist meditator, I want to be the next great Buddha. Such spiritual and/or religious vanities fucks up the whole retreat. Well the good old promise of religion, its capitalism isn’t it. 

On the last day, a feel good meditation is taught. Metta Bhavana, or Meditation of loving-kindness. This is where you will really fuck yourself, it is like smoothing feel-good balm of wishful thinking and fantasy. “Oh May all beings be happy, Or May all animals be happy. Oh may all sentient beings be happy”. Such words are chanted now for nearly 2500 years without a bit of change in our lives or in our world. See the world condition for yourself, you will realize the reality of loving-kindness meditation. 

I recall the teacher did mention something about forgiveness, but no word about Self-Forgiveness.  So by the end of 10 days, you go home feeling all happy, cool, good and relaxed, but no real self-change whatsoever. You never learn to take self-responsibility, You never learn to self-forgive yourself. You never learn to be self-trustworthy. You never learn about the horrors of this world. You just lived in your happy feel good little bubble for 10 days and gave yourself a mini vacation and got fucked with endless buddhist chants and lectures. 

The worse case scenario is you return from the retreat as a born again Buddhist. Now you’re really fucked, you will have a religion to follow for the rest of your life. On theory, the retreat may be Godless, and Guruless, but the folks at the Vipassana Meditation camp are no doubt into Buddha worship and Mr Goenka the guru worship. In very subtle forms you will notice such things. Its only a matter of time before you too become Buddha worshiping, Mr Goenka adoring devotee of Vipassana Meditation. You might even defend this form of buddhism against other branches of buddhism, you’re entering the ground of subtle holy sect wars. So be careful.   

Anyways, if you can train to be fully breath and body aware without ever getting into the religious part of the retreat then you can actually assist yourself from the retreat to some degree. Been breath aware helps you to identify the mind patterns that you have accepted and allowed within yourself and so you can stop them and correct them. Such correction and observation tools are not discussed at the retreat, for that, you need desteni tools.

The vow, 10 days of silence vow is hardly silence, basically all noise is suppressed into the mind, where you will experience amplified mind inner noise. Outer silence yes, but no inner silence. Mind goes on top gear. 

At desteni, inner silence is mentioned too, but only as a result of slowing down the mind not as a consequence of suppression. Along with self-forgiveness, self-honesty, self-writing, self-breathing, self can be Here, experiencing an inner silence and doing what is best for all. In that, self can take self-responsibility for self and for the world as self.

At the retreat however, you will never hear about child labor, or prostitution, or homelessness, or abuses of capitalism, or about how fucked up our world is etc. You will never learn to take self-responsibility after the retreat. Basically, its a nice long 10 days of mental masturbation all done in search of selfish self-bliss. 

When will you learn to take self-responsibility for yourself or for the world as yourself? At desteni, the process is about taking self responsibility for self and others. Hence, we mention all kinds of shit that is going on in this world, its not a pretty picture. We do so, not to be negative but to end the every negativity we seek to hide from or avoid. Equal Money System is a solution to end all abuses everywhere. 

At the retreat, you will never learn any solutions for the world problems other than just listening to hours of buddhists chants and lectures. And hoping the second coming Buddha or the next great Buddha will fix all world problems, bit like waiting for the second coming of Jesus to fix our world. How fucked up is that? 

So, if you have 10 consecutive days to spare, try this for a change: Speak out self-forgiveness for hours and hours each day. See how that will change you. See how you will come to realizations about yourself. And during that period also listen to desteni process support videos.  After 10 days of speaking out aloud self-forgiveness may be you will learn to take responsibility for at least 1 point which you have accepted and allowed within yourself. 

In essence, the 10 days of Vipassana Meditation is like masturbating, nothing left after the show, you return to your old self on your drive back home from the retreat.  

So next time you consider going to meditate, give yourself the chance to speak self-forgiveness, see how that will change your life. Many destonians are standing up now, listen to them, hear what they have to say, don’t let 10 days of so called bliss and nirvana fuck you for eternity. Take self-responsibility instead. 

Note: This is not a personal attack on Mr. S. N. Goenka or his students or on his Vipassna Mediation group; this is simply what I have come to realize since walking my desteni process. In fact, every spiritual or mediation or religious group I was with before desteni really was a mental fuck up, nothing real never came out of it. 

Desteni process is the real deal for self-change and world change. 

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(I am a former Vipassana Meditation Student in Canada.)