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Dhamma Joti - Bad experience report

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Dhamma Joti - Bad experience report
Answer
5/31/16 3:48 AM
I'm a long-term volunteer teacher working in Phnom Pehn. I fellow teacher recommended Goenka's teaching to me and so I applied online to attend Dhamma Joti in Burma during a semester break. It was a routine application but asks you to be in good health. I passed a medical recently. I have one old issue, slight muscle weakness in my thighs. It means I meditate in a a chair and cannot get up and down from the floor, say to kneel, unless a chair is before me to push myself up on. I've been on long zen retreats before and it's never been an issue. Plus I do full teaching days, no problem. 

    I described the issue in full on the online form for dhamma joti and received an acceptance shortly after. I travelled by land to Bangkok, got the visa, went by land to Yangon. When I arrived they had no record of me but I had my acceptence print out so it was OK. The unfriendly girl checking me in made me sign something saying I was in good health. 
   
    Then the course manage interviewed me. I explained everything, he said that was fine. He wrote on my file 'please provide chair', and I was sent off for accomodation.

    In the evening, the meditation started but the chair was not provided. I asked for one but the teacher said it was never allowed. I was given one extra cushion and allowed to move by the wall. I struggled but after a day we had to be interviewed by the teacher. Everyone had to be on the floor. I went there and said I'd need a chair next to me to get up and down. There was a chair folded next to him but he refused to unfold it. I explained that there's a weakness, and that I just cannot, but he was having none of it. He told me to leave the next day. 
  
    Next day I packed up and left. One of the western volunteers told me the website just accepts everyone automatically, then they actually screen people once they are here, which is pretty unreasonable. The thing is, once I was getting my stuff together, their true colours came out. I maintained noble silence, but the staff were really very hateful. Remember, I was invited, had been honest, had done nothing wrong and did my best, but they were just downright unpleasant. I was bundled out into the street and that was it.

    I know a lot of people have a good experience with this. I just want to put it out there, to have a plan b. if you go to a lot of trouble to arrive at this place. 

RE: Dhamma Joti - Bad experience report
Answer
5/31/16 4:55 PM as a reply to lifemagic Star.
Hi lifemagic,

I'm really sorry that happened to you.  Thanks for letting us know, as I have been considering doing some Goenkas lately as well.

Noah

RE: Dhamma Joti - Bad experience report
Answer
6/1/16 5:57 AM as a reply to Noah.
i've doen a bunch of goenka retreats.  highly recommended (with some caveats).  there is a lot of variance between centers and how strictly they apply goenkajis rules.  sounds like an unfortunate (and unusual) application of the rules.

too bad as it not only spoiled your experience but reflects badly on the excellent gift that goenkaji left the world.

thanks for the report though and don't be discouraged.  try it again.

RE: Dhamma Joti - Bad experience report
Answer
6/2/16 2:18 AM as a reply to lifemagic Star.
That is very unfortunate. I served as manager on a Goenka retreat in Australia (after sitting 2), and so I had to work with the teacher to provide chairs or benches or whatever for the men (I was on the male side) who needed them. No one was ever denied a sitting aid if they had met with the teacher to explain their need. On rare occasions where the teacher perceived the student was simply craving for a distraction, they would ask them to sit another hour or two before finalising the decision. But all I ever saw was compassionate concern for the students.

My guess is the centre staff where you went need a little reminding of why they're working there in the first place. Please give another centre a try some time! Those 10-day retreats can be a blast in the right circumstances. All the best!

RE: Dhamma Joti - Bad experience report
Answer
6/2/16 7:06 AM as a reply to lifemagic Star.
Thanks for the replies. Yes, it hasn't put me off. The friend who recommended it was at a centre in Cambodia, so I know it was only this one. Also, I've done other Zen retreats, so I'm still into trying the method. I just wanted people to know the acceptence procedure, and if there's any special circumstance, it would be better to have an actual exchange with someone... plus a plan B!

RE: Dhamma Joti - Bad experience report
Answer
8/24/16 1:00 PM as a reply to lifemagic Star.
I signed up for the retreat in mid 2015 but couldn't go. In the email, I had requested for a chair, and they said one was reserved for me. I cancelled the registration and applied again for the autumn 2015 retreat. I forgot to ask for a chair in the registration or in email.

When there, I asked for a chair daily but was always denied. There were chairs there for other people.

In my case, it worked out that my repeated request was denied because on day 7 my pain and discomfort of sitting on the floor disappeared. Thereafter, I was able to sit on floor for a whole hour.

I practiced body scan technique for only three months then stopped. In my opinion, it is great for practicing equanimity but not the most effective
technique for insight practice.  It is more like qi meditation than insight development. My mind got noisier the more I practiced. I do practice anapanasati, which you learn in the first 3 days, daily. Of course, I was practicing anapanasati before I went to the retreat.