Vipassana – Buddhist & Yogic cultism at its worst…..Part 1

  1. When students meet each other, one of the first questions they ask each other is if the other is a new student, and if not, how many retreats one has undergone. There is a visible humility in the other if one replies with a high enough number. Then the next question is where one has done the retreats. Some centers are considered better (having better “vibrations” or management) than others. The highest-ranking centers are in Igatpuri, Jaipur and
     Sonepat. There are long waiting lists for Igatpuri and the Sonepat center is only for old students or for long courses. The Vipassana enrollment forms also ask this question (the number of courses). 11 They ask another curious question which will be dealt with hereunder.

  2. It is considered significant if someone has done a course under the live guidance of Mr Goenka or his wife (called respectfully as Mataji). Again, it might be considered an important factor in one’s practice to have been taught by Mr Goenka and to have received his vibrations and goodwill in close quarters. ~ 

    “A Critique of Vipassana Meditation as taught by Mr S N Goenka”, Harmanjit Singh, July 20, 2007

Chris FroehlichinderWelt

Chris FroehlichinderWelt

“Or someone might join a club, be initiated into a particular organization because he feels starved, worthless. The group is fat and wealthy and he wants someone to feed him. He gets fed and becomes fat as he expected, but then what? Who is deceiving whom? Is the teacher or guru deceiving himself, expanding his ego?

“I have such a large flock of followers who have been initiated.”

Or is he deceiving his students, leading them to believe that they have become wiser, more spiritual, simply because they have committed themselves to his organization and have been labeled monks, yogis, whatever titles they may have received?

There are so many different titles to receive.

Do these names, credentials bring us any real benefit?

Do they really?

Half an hour’s ceremony does not bring us to the next stage of enlightenment; let’s face facts.

I personally have tremendous devotion to and faith in the Buddhist lineage and the power of the teachings, but not in a simple-minded way.” 

~ Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, “Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism”

I was initially asked to begin a series concerning Psytrance and the inherent cultism within it, however after much deliberation, it has been determined that series cannot be properly written until another form of cultism is addressed – Vipassana

This will be in two parts, as I realize it will be difficult to address this in one and maintain the attention span of readers, as the subject matter is vast.

Vipassana is a very artful approach to cultism.

It utilizes this myth that it is the meditation method the Buddha utilized to gain enlightenment  –

“However, it is not Samatha meditation that is the most popular type of Buddhist meditation; the most widely used form today is Vipassana or Mindfulness meditation. Vipassana is also referred to as Insight meditation, because through its practice one is supposed to develop penetrating insight into the true nature of reality. Buddha explained that through Vipassana, which literally means through insight, one should gain the wisdom that brings you freedom from the blindness of ignorance.

However, and here is where it becomes the artful manipulation that draws you in to cultism, the practice of how it is taught today is where it becomes the first steps into what becomes cultism –

“These days, Vipassana/Mindfulness meditation is practiced by the practitioner having the intention to be an impartial observer of some natural process occurring within his or her body, mind or emotions. For example, one is asked to just observe or be mindful of the rising and falling of the abdomen during the process of breathing, or to just impartially observe the incoming and outgoing of the breath itself.

Another popular form of this meditation is to mindfully observe the body in the natural act of walking or during the process of standing up or sitting down. The key element is to try to be continuously aware of whatever process is taking place without in any way interfering with or reacting to, either positively or negatively, the process that is occurring in the moment.

The idea is to try to be fully aware of the raw experience that is always happening and transforming by noting and letting go of each arising and subsiding sensation. This practice is supposed to bring one deep insight, perfect wisdom, into the ultimate reality of the true nature of existence in both its conditioned and unconditioned states.

Unfortunately, this attempt to develop and obtain Insight through the practice of trying to be an impartial observer is not a right method. The reason for this is that the impartial observer, which alone is capable of right mindfulness and genuine Insight, is the fully-awakened state of Nirvana Itself.

The true impartial observer is never the attention or mind that is attempting to watch a process. The reason for this is that this very attempt is a part of the process itself; it is not outside the process.”

~ Dr. Evan Finkelstein, “The Buddha’s Meditation”, Elephant Journal

Or, conversely, we can look at Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s very astute view of the exact same thing –

“We might attempt to imitate certain spiritual paths, such as the American Indian path or the Hindu path or the Japanese Zen Buddhist path. We might abandon our suits and collars and ties, our belts and trousers and shoes in an attempt to follow their example. Or we may decide to go to northern India in order to join the Tibetans. We might wear Tibetan clothing and adopt Tibetan customs. This will seem to be the

“hard way,” because there will always be obstacles and temptations to distract us from our purpose.”

~ Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, “Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism”

Now, and please correct me if I am wrong, but this seems to be more about self fulfillment than self awareness, about stimulus than about enlightenment, about, and I know we’ve been here before, THE “Id”!! 

Or, as Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche would state –

Ego is able to convert everything to its own use, even spirituality. For example, if you have learned of a particularly beneficial meditation technique of spiritual practice, then ego’s attitude is, first to regard it as an object of fascination and, second to examine it. Finally, since ego is seeming solid and cannot really absorb anything, it can only mimic.

Thus ego tries to examine and imitate the practice of meditation and the meditative way of life. When we have learned all the tricks and answers of the spiritual game, we automatically try to imitate spirituality, since real involvement would require the complete elimination of ego, and actually the last thing we want to do is to give up the ego completely.

However, we cannot experience that which we are trying to imitate; we can only find some area within the bounds of ego that seems to be the same thing. Ego translates everything in terms of its own state of health, its own inherent qualities. It feels a sense of great accomplishment and excitement at having been able to create such a pattern. At last it has created a tangible accomplishment, a confirmation of its own individuality.”

~ Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, “Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism”

This dove tails nicely into another, more in-depth study and critique of the Vipassana practice, by Harmanjit Singh, which will be referenced exhaustively in this series –

“First of all, this is a dissociative meditation practice with the professed (intermediate) goal of making one the detached observer of phenomena rather than an involved party. This may sound fine to people ingrained in the eastern religions, as in eastern philosophies the world is considered a mirage or an appearance. The Self (or the Soul) is considered a non- material observational entity, whose liberation is sought from any link to this world of suffering towards a timeless, formless, sense-less world (called Heaven, Nirvana, the Void, etc.).

Mr Goenka is very emphatic in saying that most people, though they believe themselves to be neither the body, nor the carriers of the body, nevertheless are identified as being the body or as being the carriers of the body. His aim is to make this act of belief an insight, rather than just a belief, by actually helping people see the truth of the mind-body phenomenon. He does not, however, question or raise the issue of who or what exactly it is that is to be liberated?

The Soul that is identified with the body or which considers itself the body is sought to be liberated. But whether the Soul is real or illusory or not is not questioned. Only its identification is questioned. Mr Goenka repeat- edly claims that it makes no difference if one believes or does not believe in a Soul, but dissociative practices all implicitly believe in an entity (or awareness) which can be dissociated. Mr Goenka explictly discourages discussion about this topic.

As in all spiritual disciplines, the focus is on getting rid of the ego, or self with the small “s”, and becoming the All, the Complete, or the Self with the capital “S”. In Buddhist terminology, the journey is phrased in other terms, from Ignorance and Attachment to Liberation, but the essence remains the same.

Two thousand years of dissociative spiritual practices in India have chang- ed the psyche of its people so deeply that they genuinely consider this earth and the universe as a subjective creation with their only loyalty or faith (howsoever half-baked) in some God or in some other non-physical realm. Hence, they regard any occurrence in the outside world only with as much importance as it interferes with their own life. The awareness that there are other subjective entities, and the civic responsibility and order this awareness implies, is understandably absent in Indian society. The Indian psyche is already dissociated from the world to some extent.

Dissociative practices, which claim to make one the pure observer, are very attractive to the Indian mind, which finds suffering all around and wants an individual, solipsistic and non-material way to find happiness, howsoever illusory.

In modern psychiatry, dissociation is treated as a disorder. Depersonalization disorder is a specific illness under the category of dissociative disorders in the fourth edition of DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Man- ual, the world standard in psychiatry).

  • Patients with this dissociative disorder experience episodes during which they feel detached from themselves. They may experience themselves or their surroundings as unreal. They may feel outside or lacking control of themselves. They retain awareness that this is only a feeling.
    Diagnostic criteria for 300.6 Depersonalization Disorder
  • A. Persistent or recurrent experiences of feeling detached from, and as if one is an outside observer of, one’s mental pro- cesses or body (e.g., feeling like one is in a dream).

The questions to ask are: Am “I” the problem for this body or is this body the problem for “I”? Do “I” need to get rid of any linkage to this body or does this body need freedom from the clutches of an ego entity or Being which calls itself the self or the Self.

Vipassana and other dissociative practices seek to get the body out of the way of “I” so that “I” can dwell in a body-less realm of peace and happiness. The problem of suffering is quite real. But the solution might be quite different than dissociating from this world.”

As it is now becoming a bit long, and I still have not gotten into the “reality TV” or “cultish” aspects of this, I will merely begin to illustrate the practice here. As one can see above, and I will admit this is skipping ahead in the critique, the practice, as it is taught, edges dangerously close to psychological disorder territory.

It seems to train one to become a sociopath, with no “attachment” to THEMSELVES, much less anyone else in their lives

I will admit, this is not my best work, however, the stage is set, preparing us for the next chapter, which will include a much further in depth dissection, as well as email exchanges between a blindly following vipassana convert, and myself, which is ironic, as this person spoke with such vitriol against christianity and catholicism, only to fall rank and file into not one, but SEVEN cults, incestuously intermeshed with one another.

Ironically the same number as “the seven deadly sins”……