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9/3/12 7:34 PM
I would like to read a review or a few comments about Dhamma Sukkha Meditation Center. I am considering a self retreat there of several weeks duration. The abbot is Bhante Vimalaramsi. Opinions from anyone's experience studying with this teacher would be appreciated. If a responder would prefer off this site to comment feel free to write me at srtraveler@gmail.com. Thanks for any help

RE: seeking comments
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9/3/12 10:31 PM as a reply to Steve Katona.
Ven. Vimalaramsi is a somewhat notorious character who has made some strange claims in the past and talks disparagingly about other teachers.
At this time there's a very long thread on dhammawheel.com that started with discussing his youtube video and quickly devolved into a flamewar. You might find it interesting if you want to form an opinion of the guy. http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=7375&start=0

(Edit: that is not to say I personally don't like the guy. What he says seems like good stuff to me, and dhammawheel.com is mostly hardcore Protestant Theravadins who, for example, really hate Dan Ingram. Still, it's useful to know other opinions)

RE: seeking comments
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9/3/12 8:25 PM as a reply to Steve Katona.
Steve,
Hi, I've been using the method he teaches, TWIM, with Very Good results. I've been on their yahoo forum
( http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dhammasukha/messages?o=1)and talked with Sister Khema and other members for the past year. I've never visited the centre, or communicated directly with Bhante Vimalaramsi however. Overall my impression of them has been good and I'd attend a retreat there if I was able.
Also, they have had some online "retreats" over the summer, not sure if you would be able to do one before the real thing but it may be a good intro.
Some other DhO members have also used some of the practices he teaches so they may also add some info. Feel free to ask any questions you may have

RE: seeking comments
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1/2/15 3:03 PM as a reply to N A.

(Edit: that is not to say I personally don't like the guy. What he says seems like good stuff to me, and dhammawheel.com is mostly hardcore Protestant Theravadins who, for example, really hate Dan Ingram. Still, it's useful to know other opinions)


What do you mean by "Protestant Theravadin"?   I don't come from a Christian background so I am not sure how "protestant" is used a modifier in the phrase.

RE: seeking comments
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1/3/15 7:26 AM as a reply to Steve.
Steve:

(Edit: that is not to say I personally don't like the guy. What he says seems like good stuff to me, and dhammawheel.com is mostly hardcore Protestant Theravadins who, for example, really hate Dan Ingram. Still, it's useful to know other opinions)


What do you mean by "Protestant Theravadin"?   I don't come from a Christian background so I am not sure how "protestant" is used a modifier in the phrase.

Check out David Chapman's essay on Protestant Buddhism. It's a term for the Modern Buddhist period, which, much like Protestant Christianity, involves rejecting the authority of existing organizations and going back to the founding texts and reading them personally.

RE: seeking comments
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1/3/15 9:44 AM as a reply to J C.
I will read that interesting sounding article, but before I do I have to say the comments don't make sense.

Theravada doesn't have a pope or even a dalai llama, so I don't see how there can be a protestant Buddhism without a heirarchy to remove.  My iimpression of the typical dhammawheel poster is a westerner who accepts Theravada doctrine 100%.

RE: seeking comments
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1/4/15 9:12 AM as a reply to Steve Katona.
howdy,
vimilaramsi...despite the fact that there is something about him which reeks of distilled ego to me i find the focus of his teaching excellent.  namely: he focuses on the particular word 'calm' in the satipattana and similar suttas believing that most modern teachers de-emphasize this particular instruction. 

that he often calls this observationn 'his' annoys me.  that this is a helpful instruction though is something that i have put to good use at various times in my practice.  another valuable teaching of 'his' was that during the stage of equanimity (although he does not call it by that name) the tensions one can observe in ones" headspace are a form of craving and should be de-emphasized with exactly this 'calm' instruction.

someone on this forum (teague perhaps) described a nice method of carrying out this instruction: namely by 'generalizing' the specific attention by taking a much wider, perhaps 'bodywide' focus instead of the tight focus on a specific sensation.

additionally about vimilaramsi, his teaching has a strong 'metta' focus and he gives teaching on dependent co-arising which i consider to be a deeper teaching.  one of his nun's, sister akhema, (sp) has done some very good work in this area.  i traded some emails with her , back in the day.

do the retreat, take what you want from it leave what you don't.

have fun

RE: seeking comments
Answer
1/4/15 8:30 PM as a reply to tom moylan.
tom moylan:
howdy,
vimilaramsi...despite the fact that there is something about him which reeks of distilled ego to me i find the focus of his teaching excellent.  namely: he focuses on the particular word 'calm' in the satipattana and similar suttas believing that most modern teachers de-emphasize this particular instruction. 

Back in the 90s I had a lot of trouble sitting past 40 minuets.  I would get the usual aches and pains, but I made it worse with being tense and overall trying too hard in my meditations.  My local vihara had a sizable library where I stumbled across a pamphlet by a monk emphasizing "letting go" and relaxing.  It helped tremendously.   Sadly I didn't stick with that approach.   I somehow thought it was demeaning or missing the boat of Buddhist meditation to "reduce it to a relaxation exercise".  None of the monks, pop meditation authors, or other authors I read managed to correct that.

Many years later I came across Vimilaramsi's video on youtube and it helped me tremendously.   I posted about it to dhammawheel, but I couldn't talk about it there.   One of the admins there had a chip on his shoulder concerning inflammtory things Vimilaramsi said elsewhere.  The admin kept derailing my thread eventhough I asked him to make a separate thread about those controversial statments.  I JUST wanted to talk about the mediation.   Unfortunately, I don't know why, but I fell back into old habits.

Luckily a few years ago I figured out that the long last pamphlet I found in that vihara was written by Ajahn Brahm.  It takes a mindful effort to do things the "letting go way" and not fall back into a rut, but it is one of the most powerful things I have ever done for my practice.

Interesingly I have seen things in the suttas about relaxing the body first, then the mind.  I think the missing ingredient for me was a teacher shouting "Relax" at the top of his/her lungs and hitting me over the head the idea that it is all about relaxation first.

RE: seeking comments
Answer
1/5/15 10:11 AM as a reply to Steve.
Hi Steve,


Things you probably already know,

When one has an apple in their hand, and holds it out palm down towards the ground, this requires tension and a small degree of sustained mental effort.

Now, when one relaxes the hand, one lets go, and along with it the mental energy that was required to sustain the clinging of the apple.

One could also use the definition, tranquilize, and one would be, by letting go of the apple, tranquilizing the body formation, and tranquilizing the mental formation.

Letting go with the body, allows one to let go with the mind, letting go with the mind, allows one to let go with the body.  i.e. physical and mental samskaras, character armor, unwholesome habits, the list goes on

Bhante Vimalaramsi points out very specifically the tension and tightness that occurs coincidentally with the arising of craving, and points specifically to one area in particular, the cranial area.  Though this is not an entirety of the teachings, Bhante adheres to the suttas. But, one will have to first be aware of this tension and tighening within themselves, and practice the release of this tension and tightening within themselves, then review and reflect the effect of maintaining the released state.

As to what people have or have not said about Bhante Vimalaramsi, and indeed about any spiritual teacher, or any human.
Whatever one may have said or done in the past is irrevocably gone and irretrievable.  Now, people will often times be haunted by what they have said and done in the past, that is to be sure. 

But,  spiritual practioners, especially if one is committed and conscientous, one changes, sometimes very quickly, sometimes not.

So, my question is this, can one really judge someone on past opinions and statements?  One should look at how a person is today, this moment.

The whole point of this practice is change and forward progress.

So, from what I have seen in the present, I would not hold on to other peoples rotten apple views from the past, just let it go...

So, the short story,

Letting go, i.e. relaxing is a big chunk of the spiritual practie. 

Bhante V. is of wholesome character.

Psi