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Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices

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Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices Isabel Smith 3/19/14 6:33 PM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices Drew Miller 3/19/14 7:06 PM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices Chuck Kasmire 3/19/14 8:31 PM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices Newt 7/4/14 9:22 PM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices matthew sexton 9/14/14 12:19 AM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices Kim Katami 9/15/14 10:19 AM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices Caz C. 2/23/17 4:02 PM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices Jigme Sengye 2/8/16 12:34 PM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices Small Steps 2/8/16 5:33 PM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices neko 3/18/16 4:36 PM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices Caz C. 3/18/16 5:31 PM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices bernd the broter 3/18/16 5:59 PM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices Caz C. 2/23/17 3:55 PM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices Simon Liu 2/23/17 4:57 PM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices Simon Liu 2/23/17 5:04 PM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices Caz C. 2/23/17 5:36 PM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices Simon Liu 2/23/17 6:27 PM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices Simon Liu 2/23/17 6:47 PM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices Caz C. 2/23/17 7:45 PM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices CJMacie 2/28/17 3:27 AM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices Simon Liu 2/28/17 8:00 AM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices bernd the broter 2/23/17 6:04 PM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices Caz C. 2/23/17 7:32 PM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices Noah D 2/23/17 7:42 PM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices Caz C. 2/23/17 7:52 PM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices Noah D 2/23/17 10:05 PM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices Simon Liu 2/23/17 8:10 PM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices bernd the broter 2/24/17 8:30 AM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices Noah D 2/24/17 8:34 AM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices Caz C. 2/24/17 2:17 PM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices bernd the broter 2/27/17 7:42 AM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices Simon Liu 2/27/17 8:48 PM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices Caz C. 2/28/17 1:08 AM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices CJMacie 3/20/16 8:41 AM
RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices Noah 3/19/16 12:42 PM
Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
vipassana commitment mediation tai chi
Answer
3/19/14 6:33 PM
Hi there,

Back in February I finished my first 10-Day Vipassana retreat in Kaufman, TX under the guidance of Goenka (videos/recordings). Several times throughout the course, Goenkaji warns (somewhat strongly I think) against combining Vipassana with other certain practices.

Does anyone have anything to say about their experiences of combining Vipassana with other practices - or just have any useful information/opinions to share about doing that? I ask because I am committed to Vipassana, and really want to continue doing it regularly, but I find that I also really want to explore martial arts -- specifically Tai Chi (at least for the internal side of martial arts).

So does anyone have anything to say about their experience with combining Vipassana with Tai Chi or some other more of a "physically active" spiritual practice?

(Note: My motivation for trying out Tai Chi is because I want to work on grounding myself and getting to know my body. I tend to really be stuck up in the "top chakras" and totally not grounded. Always have been that way and it has caused some no longer needed struggles, I think. The reason I prefer a martial art as a way to try being grounded (as opposed to say, working with chakra meditations), is that I used to practice Taekwondo and I loved it. Just found it to be really fun! And it's a great way to stay physically active.)

EDIT/ADD: My thoughts on this question:
One sort of "issue" I could see with combining Tai Chi and Vipassana, is that from what I understand, each employs a sort of "scanning" method of the body, but coming from different intentional points. With Vipassana, you scan part by part, objectively--not trying to relax anything or to manipulative anything. With Tai Chi, however, I *believe* that from the very beginning with standing, your intention is to stand and move with the greatest ease--with the greatest "efficiency." The idea is to release all tension by discovering all present tensions in the body, and to eventually let the Earth move sort of "for you". I think that these two motivations could be distracting when trying to practice one or the other. For example, if I am sitting I may find myself relaxing every muscle which could distract from observing the "impermanence", "unsatisfactoriness", etc.

Actually, I wonder if that if you were to practice Vipassana long enough, your body wouldn't eventually release itself of muscle tension anyway, however. So maybe they are ultimately working in through the same vein anyway. Please tell me what you think!



Thanks and I look forward to your replies! emoticon

Isabel

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
Answer
3/19/14 7:06 PM as a reply to Isabel Smith.
Hello Isabel,

I have also attended Goenka (Saya Gyi U Ba Khin ) vipassana retreats in the past and have a personal opinion about the warning given to not combine techniques. My perception of this warning is that it is for simplification and maintaining purity of the teachings as they are handed down through the generations. The more techniques you add, similar to the more chemicals you add to a solution, the less predictable the end result will be. I think the warning is to help control for variables as much as possible to achieve the desired result, similar to a scientific experiment That being said, I have also experienced mixing different techniques and to say that the different vipassana techniques are really fundamentally that different is debatable, in my opinion. As you scan the body, you are noticing physical sensations. The noticing is similar to noting, in the Mahasi tradition, which is considered a different technique, but fundamentally I wonder if they are really that different. To follow this line of thinking and to address your question of combining other physical activities in your spiritual practice, I have also experienced benefit from combining yoga, running, hiking, and Tai Chi and using a vipassana perspective during these activities has been a useful practice at deepening my insight. Similar to the walking meditation during Goenka courses, any physical activity can be part of the practice. Attend to the impermanence, pervasive disatisfactoriness, and no-separate independent selfness (e.g. the three characteristics) of the sensations as you are doing the practice. These physical practices have both been useful for me to attend to impermanence of sensation as they tend to increase the energy flowing through the body. That being said, as the energy increases concentration tends to decrease and seeing clearly the three characteristics of phenomena becomes more difficult . For me, the goal is to bring the formal meditation practice into all areas of my life and all activity becomes the vipassana practice. It is all meditation from this perspective.

I have been wanting to ask about other's experiences with physical practices as well, particularly running. I have experimented with doing running meditation during solo retreats in the past and have found it useful but wondered about other's perspectives and/or experiences with this?

metta,

Drew

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
Answer
3/19/14 8:31 PM as a reply to Isabel Smith.
Isabel Smith:
Does anyone have anything to say about their experiences of combining Vipassana with other practices - or just have any useful information/opinions to share about doing that?


Hi Isabel,

I have practiced Chi Gong along with Tai Chi and a bit of Taekwondo thrown in for 20 years or so. Several years into that sort of practice I ended up doing a 10 day goenka retreat. "Worrrk, Worrrk, Worrrrk" - yes, I can still here his words.

I only did one goenka retreat. The style didn't really fit well with the Taoist in me. Still, it did help me see much better into pain. As far as I could tell, the main focus was to get you to the point of feeling the energy in the body though maybe they think of it as impermanence - can't remember. But that seemed to be the initial goal which then allows you to keep your awareness there. Chi Gong also uses lots of sweeping practices - you can do them in any position. Great way to go to sleep at night.

You might try looking into what is often called "medical Chi Gong" these days - same old Chi Gong just with a name more appealing to westerners I think - Tai Chi is generally considered a form of Chi Gong. Find a teacher with formal training and they will help you open up the channels and get well grounded. This would help with goenka style body-scanning and your Tai Chi - plus it feels great.

Both Goenka body-scanning and Chi Gong are going to break-up blockages in the body (what may seem like dead or numb areas) if you do them right. The two methodologies might be compared to how you can break-up ice by repeatedly shaving away at it (Goenka) or by slowly dissolving with water (Chi Gong). Just to explain that a bit more: the goenka technique has you sit without moving (which usually creates tension) and scan methodically through the body part by part looking for any sensation and doing that over and over. Chi Gong techniqes usually have you relax the body and then sweep awareness through and wherever sensation is found you encourage that to flow and expand.

If you enjoy the goenka body scanning then do go for it. Enjoying a practice helps tremendously.

As for "just practice my method and don't do anything else" - I doubt that many students really comply with such requests. But it is understandable. As Drew points out - they want you to give the technique a chance to work without mixing in other methods. But I do think that any body-oriented awareness practice is going to not only be compatable but also supportive.

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
Answer
7/4/14 9:22 PM as a reply to Isabel Smith.
Hi Isabel,

I agree. I'm no master of either but I find that Tai Chi and Vipassana go hand in hand. I came to Vipassana after my Tai Chi studies but I found that through the martial arts (and the internal styles especially) I had a pretty good head start with mind/body awareness. Adding Vipassana to my studies has improved my ability to focus at the Tai Chi school, and Tai Chi has improved my awareness on the cushion. All in all a beneficial relationship. 

Would be interesting to see what more advanced people have to say.

If you're interested, I'd recommend checking out wustyle.com for your Tai Chi needs.

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
Answer
9/14/14 12:19 AM as a reply to Isabel Smith.
Isabel Smith:
Does anyone have anything to say about their experiences of combining Vipassana with other practices - or just have any useful information/opinions to share about doing that? I ask because I am committed to Vipassana, and really want to continue doing it regularly, but I find that I also really want to explore martial arts -- specifically Tai Chi (at least for the internal side of martial arts).
Goenka seems to co-opt the meaning of 'vipasanna'.  He says Vipasanna practice means equanimous awareness of present moment events *at the 6 sense doors in the context of socially isolated body scanning*.  I did one 10-day, found the practice very interesting and impactful.

That said, after reading MTCB and steeping here in Dho, I believe that the real helpful part of the Goenka technique is the fact that it gives you experience in non-permanence, non-satisfaction, non-duality, AKA the 'Three Characteristics' in MTCB lingo.

So, when we talk about combining Vipasanna with other practices, we have to define what Vipassana is: is it the body scanning with attendant 'sankara release', or is it simply experiencing the 3 C?

I do believe that experience of the 3C in any context is helpful, which brings me to my own answer to your question.  Over the last 10 years I've been working on a physical/emotional/cognitive/social practice.  Long story short, a small group stands in a circle, we hit a ball around to each other, like beach ball, we just try to keep the ball aloft, this is the physical part.

Cognitive part: we use *very* simple rules to regulate speech while the ball is flying around.  The point of the rule is to require awareness of what is said when the ball gets hit to you, and to require you to verbalize in response, cognizant of the rule.  If you are not listening, you 'drop the (cognitive) ball'; feedback of non-awareness is immediate.  For example if someone hits the ball and says 'Monday', the receiver should reply with 'Tuesday', the next person should reply with 'Wednesday'.

Emotional part: we watch for ever-more detailed awareness of the physical/emotive content of the person that is hitting the ball and respond to that content by mirroring it when we field the ball.  As skill advances, we expand our awareness (mindfulness) to our own reaction to the transmission, and express that when we send the ball to another person.  In a sense, this is *kind* of like Mahasi-style noting.

I developed the practice to help me become a better improvisational actor.  Improvisers will recognize the games from the classes that actors and improvisers do, however, I take the 'games' to a kind of gymnastic/marathon level. emoticon  I just wanted to become more perceptive/expressive/responsive on the improv stage, and on the stage of real life.  After teaching this practice for hundreds of hours, in any context I could, I was pleasantly surprise to notice a dramatic reduction of situations, in real life, where I partook in unhelpful reactive behavior.  I mean, life had become much better for me! emoticon

This unexpected upgrade of my life experience led me to try to figure out why spending time hitting a ball around in the county jail,would help so much out in real life: while dodging careless auto drivers; while getting penned in by inconsiderate shoppers in the super market; while fielding questions while hosting a party; while having my view blocked by dancers at a concert; when getting hit in the face by careless or malicious beach-ball players; when being surprised by dishes clattering onto the kitchen floor behined me; when an aggressive drunk on the street lunges towards me, etc etc.

My research led me to a bunch of reading, to a Goenka retreat, then here to Dho and MCTB, and a whole lot more sitting. I think that the ball game did help, and it's because the ball game consisted of a hell of a lot of paying attention to present moment events, and a continuous stream of examples/experiences of impermanence and non-satisfaction, and having to let go of the idea that interactions are manageable/controllable/successful without being permeable/inclusive/non-controlling of what is happening inside/outside of me.

Over the years, I've done a lot of other things that required present-moment-awareness and equanimous attendance: Aikido, swing dance, chorus singing, improv acting classes.  I think they all help in the same 3-C way, but the question is, where do we put the bar?  How hard to we have to listen, see, feel?  How quickly do we get feedback/notice when we are wandering?  How do we train ourselves to respond to wandering?  Some activities require lots of awareness, lots of focused re-engagement when we wander into la-la land.  Others don't really require as much attention or correction to wandering.

I also wonder about how easily the training transfers to 'off-the-cushion' (out-of-the-classroom) environments?

I hope that my experience is responsive to your question, and I'd love to hear more conversation about the subject.

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
Answer
9/15/14 10:19 AM as a reply to Isabel Smith.
Hello Isabel,

I didn't have time to go through the previous replies but I'll punch in a few lines, anyway, in case no one mentioned these aspects to your question.

With a history of 12 years of full time spiritual/meditation practice together with quite intense physical/yoga/martial arts practice, I'd say that there is no problem with combining any sitting practices with physical practices. However, I've seen some people be confused about this because sometimes people read or are told that by doing this series of physical yoga or that tech of qi gong they will get to some lofty spiritual state. But this is confusing the meaning of the practices in different forms. Sitting practices are to work primarily with mental and emotional phenomena (shamatha-vipashyana). Physical practices are to work primarily with the phys body but not excluding the psychology and concentration. The physical practice, in my exp and understanding, does have the same principles of shamatha and vipashyana as sitting does in various forms (classic or tantric application). So, you should understand that tai chi, running or something like that does not interfere or create confusion to your sitting practice, when you know what it is and what it does. I do not know Goenka nor his method but it seems to me that his advice is a bit harsh and misleading.

Here's a short text I've written on the topic some time ago. I did edit it a bit as my view has developed since (but I don't have time now to go through it in detail to tweak some further points). Perhaps it helps: http://guruslight.blogspot.fi/2013/07/shamatha-and-vipashyana.html

Cheers,
Baba

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
Answer
2/23/17 4:02 PM as a reply to Isabel Smith.
Excellent question! While the post is a few years old it's good to have a record for people looking at the same topic.

I agree the most focused response was the original one from Drew. I'll just add a few points since I've thought about this same subject quite a bit. It's understood that during the 10-day you'd fulfill the oath and concentrate on Vipassana only, your question refers to integrating other practices into your regular daily life afterward. 

The very first question I asked the teacher on my first Vipassana retreat was about this. I'm not one to marry just one thing and before the retreat I already had (still do) a sacred sex practice (Taoist tradition). The teacher didn't have any "warnings" and merely suggested that I separate the two throughout the day (say Vipassana in the morning).  This seemed a down-to-earth advice.

Goenka was no ideologue. He mentioned that other practices are important (he mentioned "pranayam") but not during the 10-day and they only asked that you focus exclusively on Vipassana for advanced training. For the 20, 30 or 40-day retreats you're asked to have only done Vipassana for X number of years prior. Could there be an "energetic" reason for this? I'm sure, but there's no final answer for this either. It's always down to what is good for the individual.    
  
More generally, all practices and religions are syncretic (to be clear Vipassana is decidely not a religion). Buddhism moved North and mixed with Tibetan shamanic practices and resulted in what we know today as Tibetan Buddhism. It moved East to China where it mixed with Taoist influences that resulted in Chán (Zen), same with many other schools. All these schools are respected and legitimate paths to transcendence. Goenka always said that the Vipassana tradition in Burma mantained the original teachings of the Buddha pure, but I don't think there's any way to know that for sure. Point is, there is always a tension between keeping a tradition "pure" and the need to adapt to local idiosyncracies. If systems never mixed we'd all be the poorer for it.

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
Answer
2/8/16 12:34 PM as a reply to Isabel Smith.
My preferred style of vipassana is noting (aka Mahasi style). I've done a lot of noting during kung fu class, my office job and pretty much any other setting that doesn't involve talking. Noting at all times during formal practice and daily life is something that all of my vipassana teachers have encouraged me to do as much as possible. There are definite energetic effects. The concentration effects are also quite good, but it isn't as absorbed in situations when I'm moving. Goenka style isn't as flexible, but is more specialized and gives different benefits. Lots of people have done both and have gotten good results.

Noting is easy to combine with many meditative practices (though it's redundant in some cases) and many kung fu styles have a qigong meditation that you're supposed to be doing while you're doing the moves that can be helped by noting (or not, depending on the meditation). As I've done more qigong, I've found noting to be redundant, as the qigong practice tends to help moment to moment vipassana-style noticing without noting anyway and absorbed samatha-style concentration on the qi.

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
Answer
2/8/16 5:33 PM as a reply to Jigme Sengye.
Curious how you've used an explicit Mahasi noting in kung fu practice. In the styles I've experienced that have a large awareness training component (e.g. tai ji's tui shou or wing chun's chi sao), the whole body tactile sensitivity seems to suffer when one is in the mind. If you're thinking, "Oh, I feel this," you might already be behind and on your way to getting clobbered emoticon

Certainly, if you're a novice, you need to spend a lot of time patterning your body to the art, and learning how to train this way. I could see an explicit note here being less of an issue. Beyond a few years of training, though, having more of an open awareness style seems to yield better results. I think this jibes with the latter bit of your post.

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
Answer
3/18/16 4:36 PM as a reply to Isabel Smith.
Isabel Smith:

Back in February I finished my first 10-Day Vipassana retreat in Kaufman, TX under the guidance of Goenka (videos/recordings). Several times throughout the course, Goenkaji warns (somewhat strongly I think) against combining Vipassana with other certain practices. 

I disagree with Goenka. There are some borderline cultish aspects to Goenka's teachings. A glaring one is this idea he attempted to spread, that his coming had been foretold by I-can't-remember-whom 2000-odd years ago. The fact that you don't get real instructors, but a format of video recordings and "instructors" who are almost exclusively following a script, is another one --- and it will be getting more and more weird, year after year, since Goenka ha passed away. Forbidding students to try other techniques is another element in the picture. You are precluded from attending "advanced" courses if you have tried any non-Goenka technique in the last couple years. emoticon 

You are your own guru. Find out what you like and what suits you for yourself. emoticon 

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
Answer
3/18/16 5:31 PM as a reply to neko.
neko:
Isabel Smith:

Back in February I finished my first 10-Day Vipassana retreat in Kaufman, TX under the guidance of Goenka (videos/recordings). Several times throughout the course, Goenkaji warns (somewhat strongly I think) against combining Vipassana with other certain practices. 

I disagree with Goenka. There are some borderline cultish aspects to Goenka's teachings. A glaring one is this idea he attempted to spread, that his coming had been foretold by I-can't-remember-whom 2000-odd years ago. The fact that you don't get real instructors, but a format of video recordings and "instructors" who are almost exclusively following a script, is another one --- and it will be getting more and more weird, year after year, since Goenka ha passed away. Forbidding students to try other techniques is another element in the picture. You are precluded from attending "advanced" courses if you have tried any non-Goenka technique in the last couple years. emoticon 

You are your own guru. Find out what you like and what suits you for yourself. emoticon 
I stronly disagree, Neko. You can make the cult argument about any organization. The truth is there is VERY little fundraising, few (if any) pictures of Goenka or pushing to sell his products. It's basically: here's a a free 10-day stay, learn this technique and practice it. That's as far from a cult as you can possibly get. 

The very reason behind the video recordings is to keep the teaching from de-evolving into local idiosyncratic variations. Goenka was convinced that that was precisely how the "true" meditation as taught by Gautama was lost elsewhere but kept pure in Burma. There's really no way of knowing that since writings about the Buddha started about 300 years after his death.

At any rate, it's better to have a set of teachings from a video of someone who's no longer with us than to have 300 chapters teaching 200 different techniques and its leaders developing cults of personality. What Goenka did, in fact, was to prevent his organization from becoming a cult or god forbid, a religion.

As far as the not mixing techniques, I wish he'd have spoken about that more precisely, from all I've read and heard he was very vague about it. The very first time I spoke to the instructor during my first 10-day was to tell him I did tantra, participated in shamanic rituals often and I had no intentions of stopping either. What he told me was the down-to-earth advice I posted above. 

Maybe there are energetic reasons at advanced levels as to why not to mix practices, or maybe Goenka was unnecessarily rigid or maybe he wanted to keep the teaching of the practice "pure" but I don't think it was based on cultish ideas at all.

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
Answer
3/18/16 5:59 PM as a reply to Caz C..
[quote=]
Caz C.:

The very reason behind the video recordings is to keep the teaching from de-evolving into local idiosyncratic variations. Goenka
was convinced that that was precisely how the "true" meditation as
taught by Gautama was lost elsewhere but kept pure in Burma.
There's really no way of knowing that since writings about the Buddha started about 300 years after his death.
Except for clueless Goenka-fangirls and boys, No one believes that, even Goenka most probably did not.

Source:
His own teacher U Ba Khin writes in jack kornfield's "modern buddhist
masters" how they used to experiment with the technique before finding
something generally useful ~.^

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
Answer
3/20/16 8:41 AM as a reply to neko.
re: neko (3/18/16 4:36 PM as a reply to Isabel Smith)

1) From my experience, it's likely the case that trying to develop rudimentary skills, i.e. beginning or intermediate level, in a "moving" (qigong type) or "postural" (yoga type) discipline, and at the same time trying to master a more purely mental meditative method, in a different tradition, runs a high risk of resulting in superficial understanding and practice attainment of both, and often frustrating.

On the other hand, qigong traditions I've been exposed to involve, when studied over along-time with a genuine master, eventually (rarely at the start) deepen into meditative levels. (These were Taoist teachers -- Share K. Lew, Wu BaoLin, and Jeffrey Yuen). In these cases, the moving methods and the meditative methods are intergrated into a single path, and they reinforce each other.

(These methods were originally named more specifically, like TaiJiQuan, DaoYin, ShengYang, etc., which trace back hundreds or thousands of years. A DaoYin manual, for instance, with pictures, was discovered ca. 40 years ago in a tomb that was sealed in 268 BCE. If a teacher uses the term qigong, which they often do today as it's widely recognizable, but can't trace the method back into a lineage with one of those other names, then it's likely a modern invention. The term qigong, introduced ca. 1930, means literarly "breath work", and is often used in a sense of the nearly equivalent English word "aerobics".)

For instance, Share K. Lew, taught a Taoist method called "cloud-hands", that's recognizably related to movements with similar names in, e.g. TaiJiQuan, and "Wild-Goose Qigong". In a week-end workshop a couple years ago (shortly before his death, at age 100), he taught this "form" (a word often used for the Chinese "fa", or "method") consisting of a serious of sets of circular arm movements, where attention is to be placed intently on the very slowly moving hands. The way he taught this it's actually very difficult to do at first, and closely related to vipassana-samatha practice. Then he taught a sitting practice to do after the moving sets: sitting, preferably on the floor cross-legged, spine erect, eyes non-focused to the floor a bit ahead (a Taoist convention), and mind focused on the breath at the "tip-of-the-nose". Sound familiar? And, after most of the two day workshop spent on learning the moving sets, he stressed that the most important phase is the sitting meditation; if pressed for time, one can skip the moving stuff but one should do the sitting meditation!

I believe that method clearly reflects the influence of Buddhism in Chinese history. Chan and even Tibetan Buddhism played a major role in China from ca. 400 to ca. 1000 CE, to the extent that various emperors instated Buddhism as a sort of state-religion. But then the neo-Confucians took-over (in a couple of dynasties succeeding the Tang, starting in the Song and culminating in the Ming) and abolished (even persecuted) all "foreign" influences, i.e. Indian and Tibetan Buddhist. BUT, what they actually did was extract much of the essential practice methods and rebranded them as native Chinese-Mandarin rather than foreign. For instance, in the Song-dynasty commentaries on the crucial Confucian "4 Books", one finds detailed descriptions of vipassana-samatha-style sitting meditations, which, however, are overtly directed not to the individual's "release/unbinding/nibbana", but rather to perfecting one's Confucian virtues, i.e. in service of family and state. 

Actually, that history helps explain why the current Chinese "dynasty" – the CCP - Chinese Communist Party – invaded Tibet from the get-go (1955), and undertook the virtual eradication of Tibetan culture (which just happened to result in a global diaspora of the Lamas to places like throughout the USA, and the significant influence of Tibetan Buddhism here). More historically locally, the CCP was reacting to the fact that the Tibetans had supported the Nationalist Chinese (Manchurian Qing dynasty) against the People's Revolution. But the roots are clearly deeper, and the current dynasty is very much "neo-Confucian", like the Song-Ming era. Which in practice, resembles in many ways the current "neo-con" ("neo-Conservative") movement in the USA, which exhibits similar xenophobic tendencies. And this political-social direction can be seen also in the "secularization" of surviving traditional practices (moving and sitting meditations) under the modern umbrella term qigong.

2) What Goenka may be using is an attitude that's basic and age-old in many traditions (long-term lineage systems), especially in Asian cultures, but also in some Western. Namely that the teacher disapproves of student's not concentrating solely on what the teacher is imparting. Studying with other teachers amounts to an insult, a sort of family betrayal -- for Chinese "loss of face" is taken very seriously.

Among the many possible reasons for this attitude (some noble, others less so), is the simple, pragmatic rationale that truly mastering a skill – at least some kinds of skill – requires single-minded, intense application to it's study and practice. In many areas, this requires years, possibly decades of devoted application, e.g. in medicine (both Western and, at least, classical Chinese – the none-Western area I'm familiar with), in music (Western classical, where I'm also deeply familiar), certainly spiritual attainment traditions (though that's a perhaps dangerously broad concept), but also less august, more mechanical skills or 'crafts', such as building musical instruments, decorative arts, architecture, even things like automobile mechanics and other kinds of engineering – you do school, or apprenticeship, but develop mastery only with extended long-term practice.

While there are individuals, very few, who can master heavy-weight skills relatively quickly, and can do so in several different areas in one lifetime, for most inidivduals true mastery in any single area requires dedicating a major chuck of their lifetime, if indeed they are capable of it at all.

On the other hand, there's the phenomenon of people moving through various studies in a more dilettantish way – aka the "butterfly" approach, flitting here and there – and deluding themselves in believing that they really "know" any of those skills. This attitude is typical, even natural, in the West during youth – e.g. high-school, college experiences – when trying-out things and searching for where one has perhaps talent, or where solid motivation develops. (Less common in other, say Asian, cultures, where things like family lineage are more highly valued than individualistic self-determination.)

Issues develop when people carry that further as a pattern through their entire lifetimes, more like collecting hobby-level skills, but then claim to have genuine mastery in those areas. Unfortunately this pattern is especially and often seen in meditation "teachers" – some time (weeks, months, maybe a year or two) with some reknowned teacher, then with another, often across traditions, and so on, then claiming each as their "master". A couple, up to 10 or more such "masters". This is clearly pretentious, but has become a norm even in the case of certain reknowned master gurus.

Sorry for the extend essaying in cultural history, but this is a pivotal issue, a serious challenge in the realm of "pragmatic" practices.

re: bernd the broter (3/18/16 5:59 PM as a reply to Caz C.)

"Source:
His
[Goenka's] own teacher U Ba Khin writes in jack kornfield's "modern buddhist masters" how they used to experiment with the technique before finding something generally useful ~.^"
I would take Jack Kornfield's rendition of such matters with a grain of salt. His is a classic case of studying here and there for a year or two, and later pretending a sense of "mastery" transmitted from each of several different masters in several different traditions – all in the space of a 5-year or so stay in Asia. His interpretations are skewed to reinforcing his own status as a master guru of a "mandala" of traditions.

(20160319 minor edits)

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
Answer
3/19/16 12:42 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
@Chris Macie:

I had a thought about the dilettante nature of many modern meditative journeys; namely that unlike in other disciplines, the true test of meditation success lies in reduction of one's own suffering, not in mastering various kinds of jhanic arcs or producing psychic visions.  If one is able to extract permanent unbinding from a couple years of intense study (which is obviously the case for many in pragmatic dharma), then they are absolved of the label 'dabbler' in my book.  emoticon  It obviously changes things if they then try to vend what they have learned, which is a whole other discussion.

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
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2/23/17 3:55 PM as a reply to bernd the broter.
bernd the broter:
[quote=][quote=Except for clueless Goenka-fangirls and boys, No one believes that, even Goenka most probably did not.
]Source: His own teacher U Ba Khin writes in jack kornfield's "modern buddhist masters" how they used to experiment with the technique before finding something generally useful ~.^

Er... U Ba Khin wrote in Jack Kornfield's book? That sounds odd. At any rate, do you have a longer quote? I'm on the fence of whether the Buddha actually used the Vipassana technique, what I can say is that it is a very natural, effective and makes for a very tight philosophy. If U Ba Khin came up with it then he was a bigger genius than he's given credit for. 

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
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2/23/17 4:57 PM as a reply to Caz C..
To say that what Buddha practiced is what Goenka teaches at the retreat is to say Anapanasati Sutta is fake sutta.

The sutta is what Buddha taught so it is what Buddha practiced.

Goenka's anapanasati is concentration meditation, but Anapanasati Sutta is mindfulness breathing. Concentration meditation leads to self hypnosis. Feel free to research about gamma wave frequency in the brain. It increases with awareness which leads to insight. Concentration meditation decreases gamma wave frequency.  

Mindfulness breathing leads to greater awareness and bursts of insights.

This is what Buddha said in the sutta that it leads to satipatthana which then leads to 7 factors of awakening.

Buddha did not teach one thing then secretly practice another method such as concentration anapanasati and body scan.

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
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2/23/17 5:04 PM as a reply to Simon Liu.
YouTube "Meditation Retreat - Meditation or Self-Hypnosis" video.

Google Anapanasati Sutta and read what Buddha taught.

Relaxed mindful breathing, breath sensitive to the whole body, relax the body and mind are the essence of anapanasati. Buddha never said to focus on your nostril or abdomen.

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
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2/23/17 5:36 PM as a reply to Simon Liu.
Except no one here is arguing that Vipassana is precisely what the Buddha taught nor what this thread is about. Gautama is not known to have written anything himself so to argue for his definite teaching would be an exercise in supposition. Tibetan Buddhism, Zen, Vipassana, ect. can lead to liberation and so can other paths.

Metta

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
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2/23/17 6:04 PM as a reply to Caz C..
Caz C.:
bernd the broter:
[quote=][quote=Except for clueless Goenka-fangirls and boys, No one believes that, even Goenka most probably did not.
]Source: His own teacher U Ba Khin writes in jack kornfield's "modern buddhist masters" how they used to experiment with the technique before finding something generally useful ~.^

Er... U Ba Khin wrote in Jack Kornfield's book? That sounds odd. At any rate, do you have a longer quote? I'm on the fence of whether the Buddha actually used the Vipassana technique, what I can say is that it is a very natural, effective and makes for a very tight philosophy. If U Ba Khin came up with it then he was a bigger genius than he's given credit for. 
It may seem "very natural, effective and tight", but only if your lucky and it really fits you. Otherwise it may seem plain stupid or in the worst case waste years of your life without really benefitting you. Don't overestimate it.

The book 'Modern Buddhist Masters' contains a lengthy section written by U Ba Khin.
Right now I can't find the part to support my statement which you quoted.
Anyway, look at this quote and try to find the absolutism for which Goenka's retreats are famous.

...
I can't get it copied into the text editor LMAO u_U

"The body is more tangible than other types of feeling ... This is the main reason why we have chosen the body feeling as a medium for quick understanding of impermanence. It is open for anyone to try other means ..."

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
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2/23/17 6:27 PM as a reply to Caz C..
The original question was if vipassana can be mixed with other practice.

The point of my discussion is that Goenka's absolute statement that body scan is what Buddha practiced is not a true statement.

Goenka is a businessman who learned a technique and try to teach a broader audience. Kudo to him on this; however, he should not make absolute statement that just isn't true. While Buddha did not write it down, the sutta reflects what he taught. In this case, one cannot make a claim that isn't written down.

Concentration meditation leads to self-hypnosis which is in opposite direction of insight and awakening. So, we know Buddha definitely didn't teach the anapanasati that is being taught.

It is not just about knowing sensation, but the key is knowing the sensation change that directly relates to unconscious emotional reaction. You know wave is moving up and down in your body, but such knowing does not help you with awakening. To know the sensation that is tied to unconscious emotional reaction is what is most relevant in Satipatthana.

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
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2/23/17 6:47 PM as a reply to Simon Liu.
Body scan is equanimity training not vipassana. 

Anapanasati as taught in the sutta does lead into insight which is vipassana. It elevates gamma frequency sufficiently to attain insight. This is why Buddha said the cultivation of mindful breathing leads to Satipatthana.

Breathing sensitive to the whole body is very complementary with Tai Ji. I have done Tai Ji and Qi Gong which made it easy for me to breath with sensitivity to the whole body.

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
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2/23/17 7:32 PM as a reply to bernd the broter.
bernd the broter:
Caz C.:
bernd the broter:
[quote=][quote=Except for clueless Goenka-fangirls and boys, No one believes that, even Goenka most probably did not.
]Source: His own teacher U Ba Khin writes in jack kornfield's "modern buddhist masters" how they used to experiment with the technique before finding something generally useful ~.^

It may seem "very natural, effective and tight", but only if your lucky and it really fits you. Otherwise it may seem plain stupid or in the worst case waste years of your life without really benefitting you. Don't overestimate it.

The book 'Modern Buddhist Masters' contains a lengthy section written by U Ba Khin.
Right now I can't find the part to support my statement which you quoted.
Anyway, look at this quote and try to find the absolutism for which Goenka's retreats are famous.
Now it's clear that you are just hating. It's funny to me that most people criticizing Vipassana don't seem to have any idea about it. Goenka NNEVER said Vipassana was the only way or anything absolutist about the technique. I steer clear of people with those claims and I respect Goenka for speaking his mind without needing to put other people down, as seems to be the case everywhere.

The technique also has nothing to do with luck. If it works for you, great, if it doesn't, find something else. Even something as simple as watching your breath can help and wouldn't be a "waste of time" if you stuck with it for years.

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
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2/23/17 7:45 PM as a reply to Simon Liu.
Simon Liu:
The original question was if vipassana can be mixed with other practice.

The point of my discussion is that Goenka's absolute statement that body scan is what Buddha practiced is not a true statement.

Goenka is a businessman who learned a technique and try to teach a broader audience. Kudo to him on this; however, he should not make absolute statement that just isn't true. While Buddha did not write it down, the sutta reflects what he taught. In this case, one cannot make a claim that isn't written down.

Concentration meditation leads to self-hypnosis which is in opposite direction of insight and awakening. So, we know Buddha definitely didn't teach the anapanasati that is being taught.

It is not just about knowing sensation, but the key is knowing the sensation change that directly relates to unconscious emotional reaction. You know wave is moving up and down in your body, but such knowing does not help you with awakening. To know the sensation that is tied to unconscious emotional reaction is what is most relevant in Satipatthana.

Simon, it'd be helpful to the discussion if you actually learned about Vipassana. I don't know where you are getting this stuff from; Anapanna is the first meditation you are taught on a 10-day and it's meant for concentration, but you are also taught that is not the end in itself, Vipassana is deeper than just concentration, and that's what you focus on for the rest of the 10-day. An example is given on the lectures that while a high-wire acrobat has an exquisitely developed concentration, that alone doesn't mean it'd lead to awakening. You keep quoting the Buddha's teaching as if you have any direct sources; you don't. No one does.  

With the rest of your argument you are actually defending Vipassana, because creating a consciousness between sensation and reaction and realizing their impermanence is precisely what the technique is about. I don't get why you guys feel you need to knock someone else's stuff to defend your own, especially when you obviously don't have a clear understanding of it.

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
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2/23/17 7:42 PM as a reply to Caz C..
As a loose paraphrase- goenka did tell the founders of IMS back in the day that "any dharma center which teaches more than one technique(s) or lineage is the work of Mara" - as a refusal of their offer to him to teach there.

I wonder why he had such a strong reaction?

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
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2/23/17 7:52 PM as a reply to Noah D.
Noah D:
As a loose paraphrase- goenka did tell the founders of IMS back in the day that "any dharma center which teaches more than one technique(s) or lineage is the work of Mara" - as a refusal of their offer to him to teach there.

I wonder why he had such a strong reaction?


No idea. Where is this quote from? I don't really know much about Goenka beyond the lectures and a few books I've read on Vipassana, but I appreciate the free 10-day model and the fact that, by taping his lectures, the dharma centers avoid watering down the technique (for what that's worth) or developing a cult of personality around any one facilitator/leader, as tends to be common among spiritual teachers.

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
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2/23/17 8:10 PM as a reply to Noah D.
I did Goenka retreat in Oct 2015 for 10 full days. The body scan is effective for equanimity training relieving psychsomatic issue pertaining to pain. It is conditioning the mind to not have preference. This is equanimity practice. 

In Oct '15 he still says that his anapanasati and vipassana is what Buddha practiced and been preserved by Myanmar monks in its original method, unadulterated.

Dr Punnaji is ordained monk who has a PHD in psychology and a scholar who spent decades researching what Buddha actually taught based on sutta. It would be highly unlikely for Buddha to teach one way in sutta then secretly practice another way.

The first 3.5 days of the retreat is teaching focus on the nose area then narrowing down to the upper lip directly below the nose. This is concentration meditation and been hailed as anapanasati. I invite all to read anapanasati on mindfulness breathing. It does not ask someone to focus but to be aware.

It is relaxed awareness that kicks into insight. Just research scientific papers. Concentration meditation leads toward theta and alpha wave that leads toward subconsciousness. Mindful and relaxed awareness of breathing enhance awareness for insight. It affirms Buddha's teaching in anapanasati Sutta. 

Satipatthana is vipassana. Goenka retreat is a bit of cult, not in the sense that it controls people, but in the sense that the organization cultivates a tradition that to continue to participate at the retreat you cannot practice any other method. If you are a full time professional with limited time off, you have to devote a decade of your time in body scan and serving before you can do satipatthana that is 30 days.

After having devoted a decade and spending 23 vacation days you learn to do mindful awareness of breathing when you can do that today now. In this sense, it is a bit of cult.

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
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2/23/17 10:05 PM as a reply to Caz C..
No idea. Where is this quote from?

http://www.spiritrock.org/document.doc?id=7 (page 35).  

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
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2/24/17 8:30 AM as a reply to Caz C..
Caz C.:
Now it's clear that you are just hating.
I quoted a text written by U Ba Khin himself. I actually went back to the book and spent about 15 minutes to find a relevant passage. Are you sure you want to insist that I'm just hating? Maybe you want to read the section in the book for yourself? Could be interesting...

It's funny to me that most people criticizing Vipassana don't seem to have any idea about it.
blablabla. My first retreat was Goenka. I have listened to all those talks, just as you have.

Goenka NNEVER said Vipassana was the only way or anything absolutist about the technique.
Dude, I wonder if we heard the same talks u_U
Goenka says in about every talk multiple times that his way is what the Buddha really taught. Everything else is impure. Technique needs to be preserved without changes at all costs. In Q&A, the assistant teachers often repeated those claims.
If you want to sign up for the longer retreats, you have to confirm that you did not practice any other techniques FOR AT LEAST 2 YEARS.
What's more, the staff will actually search for your presence online. If there they find evidence for the contrary which you cannot disprove (for example if you are teach some other thing, and this is offered on your webpage.), then you will not be admitted to the retreat.

I steer clear of people with those claims and I respect Goenka for speaking his mind without needing to put other people down,
Except that on the first evening (or maybe it was the fourth day, when Vipassana is introduced), Goenka actually explains one or two other Vipassana techniques and declares that both of them are clearly inferior because [weird reasoning here about how you need to scan the whole body, otherwise you miss sankharas or something]

The technique also has nothing to do with luck. If it works for you, great, if it doesn't, find something else.
1

Yes, and this means it has everything to do with luck: Either you're lucky and it fits, or it doesn't.
In the worst case, it doesn't fit, but you still stay because Goenka assured you it was the best way, you know, the one way the Buddha taught himself...

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
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2/24/17 8:34 AM as a reply to bernd the broter.
I think we have enough anecdotal and written evidence to declare a victory here lol.  Goenka said some pretty weird and dogmaitc shit, bottom line.  He's also wonderful, providing free dharma to thousands and thousands of people.  Just another dialectic to sit with...

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
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2/24/17 2:17 PM as a reply to Noah D.
LOL! Anecdotal evidence and accusations of cultism (without any facts) indeed. By that token FOX News is "fair and balanced" and "a lot of people are saying" is a solid platform for national policy. "Truthiness" all the way : ) I don't see anything wrong with what Goenka said about mixing messages, I'm all for sycretism but his point was not unreasonable.  

So, a quote from an out of print book that can't be found, a misinterpretation of Vipassana and an arbitrarily interpreted quote... Yeah, er... you guys "win" (rolls eyes) : )

I won't highjack this thread anymore. I stick to my original point; I've had no problems keeping a Vipassana meditation pratice and a tantric practice. I do one in the morning and the other one at night. When I tried mixing some practices before I've experienced erratic changes in my energetic level that didn't feel good at all, this was my experience and not something I'd claim would be the same for everyone. I've found it's usually the tyros who seem to think mixing practices is safe. The experienced meditators in both tantra and Vipassana I've talked to warned me about mixing practices and had the practical advice I received during the 10-day (keep them separate).

Since most Buddisht schools mixed different practices to begin with it contradicts the above advice. Each person will find their way, just proceed with caution on this one.

Metta    

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
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2/27/17 7:42 AM as a reply to Caz C..
Caz C.:
LOL! Anecdotal evidence and accusations of cultism (without any facts)
No one said Goenka's organisation was a cult.
Still, it's hard to overlook some of those unfortunate tendencies if you genuinely look at what's offered and listen to enough people who have spent a lot of time in this tradition.

So, a quote from an out of print book that can't be found,
If it's really out of print and you're still interested in reading the section go to this site

http://gen.lib.rus.ec/search.php?req=jack+kornfield+masters&open=0&res=25&view=simple&phrase=1&column=def

look for 'jack kornfield masters' or something and download it for free.
I take it that you're actually interested in U Ba Khin's point of view, so you may really enjoy it.

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
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2/27/17 8:48 PM as a reply to bernd the broter.
From Sujato Bikkhu

The question was "Is Goenk's vipassana what Buddha practiced?"

Here is his answer:

No, there is no such evidence. Goenka-ji’s historical claims have no foundation, and are not taken seriously by any student of Buddhist history.I’ve previously studied the way Buddhist narratives, while presented as history, serve an essentially mythological function. That is, their purpose is to grant authority (to a school, doctrine, teacher, text, etc.) through creating a narrative connection with the Buddha. The purpose of this is to unify a community, draw them in, and give them a shared story that they find meaning in. Pretty much all schools and movements in Buddhism do this in one way or another. Goenka-ji’s historical claims are best interpreted as a contemporary form of such a mythology.As for the the factual claim that the Goenka method is the closest of all methods to what was done in the Buddha’s day, this is clearly untrue. It relies on the slippery semantics of the word vipassanā. Of course,vipassanā is an important part of ancient Buddhist meditation. However the Goenka school uses the word vipassanā to mean their own specific meditation method. In the early texts, vipassanā doesn’t mean any specific kind of meditation method; rather, it refers to the quality of discernment that is developed through meditation.The specific features of Goenka method—body scanning, regular timed sits, intensive retreats, kalapas, rejection of pleasure, rejection of absorption, and so on—are not found in any early Buddhist texts.Rather, the early texts emphasize a gradual, holistic development, based on the experience of deepening pleasure and joy leading to deep absorption. Fundamental insights emerge from this process.This is, in my view, the reason Goenka insists so much on his historical narrative. He can’t authorize his method from the Suttas, so he needs an alternate history.To understand this, we need to think from the mythological perspective. A truth, especially a profound truth, must be always and eternally true. Goenka-ji, presumably from his own meditation experience, became convinced that he had access to the same ultimate reality that the Buddha found. That means that this must be the true, original method. The fact that there is no support for this in texts or archaeology is a mere inconvenience of the empirical data. This is why mythologies are so powerful and so persistent: they tap into a need for a sense of certainty, of revealed truth, in a changing and uncertain world.If you like the meditation method, great. But look elsewhere for history.

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
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2/28/17 1:08 AM as a reply to Simon Liu.
Simon Liu:
From Sujato Bikkhu

The question was "Is Goenk's vipassana what Buddha practiced?"

No Simon, that was never the question because no one on this thread made that assertion, it just proved a convenient strawman for Vipassana bashing. emoticon

BTW, sorry everybody, I didn't know a notification email was sent every time a post is edited and I tend to review my grammar after posting.

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
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2/28/17 3:27 AM as a reply to Simon Liu.
Simon Liu:
The original question was if vipassana can be mixed with other practice.

The point of my discussion is that Goenka's absolute statement that body scan is what Buddha practiced is not a true statement.
...
Concentration meditation leads to self-hypnosis which is in opposite direction of insight and awakening. So, we know Buddha definitely didn't teach the anapanasati that is being taught...

Statements like this about concentration, which is here repeated from above, indicate serious ignorance of the issues, undermine the argumentation as lacking in both depth of understanding and experience. In such a position, better to listen and try to learn here rather than pontificating as if from authority.

RE: Vipassana mixed with Tai Chi or other practices
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2/28/17 8:00 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
It is okay. I let you have the last word. I am going off for the remainder of year to practice mindfulness and be with suffering in order to know suffering.

I am ignorant or you are ignorant. It is just mental fabrications from the mind.

Go look at brain waves. Concentration meditation, hypnosis and etc are all in the theta frequency domain.

An important element in mindful breathing is awareness which must be maintained. It is what Dr Punnaji and Culadasa emphasize - introspective awareness. Both are experts in the brain science field.

Insight arises from introspective awareness.