continued from part – 2
In the link below, Mr Brooks’ alleges that Jhana is suppressed at a Goenka Center
Now, this in my experience is simply not true. There is no suppression of Jhana in this tradition. In fact getting up to the fourth Jhana is considered mandatory for liberation. This does not sound like a suppression of the Jhanas to me. Mr Brooks allegation is simply inaccurate.There is a lively exchange between me and Mr Brooks’ regarding this. My youtube handle is Lalitaditya Muktapida. I will summarize it here
Masculineffort: This time while I was serving a Goenka course, a Thai Gentleman who was a fellow server freely talked about his experience of Jhana while practicing anapana sati. Nobody felt it necessary to censure him or tell him he was practicing wrong. In a 10 day course, during Anapana days, nothing or no one prevents or stops you from going up to the 8th Jhana. And while observing sensations, going up to the 4th Jhana is considered mandatory for liberation. I feel you have judged Acharya Goenka unfairly.
Mr Brooks replies after a few days
Jeffrey Brooks: You might wish to consider that until I criticized your beloved guru-ji he, and his assistant teachers regularly marginalized contemplatives who bumped into jhana. So, you can thank me for making it possible to experience jhana at a Goenka retreat. However, this suggests that Goenka and his assistant teachers are still clueless as to the experience of jhana.
Again this statement is not accurate either. Acariya Goenka talks about the Jhanas in the Satipatthana sutta discourses which were recorded in the 1990s or 1980s (not sure). He mentions other traditions in Burma where people go right up to the 8th Jhana. This is Webu Sayadaw’s tradition, unless I am very much mistaken. The Venerable Webu Sayadaw was the one who requested Sayagyi U Ba Khin to start teaching. Does Mr Goenka now sound like a man who would supress the Jhanas? Mr Brooks was kicked out in the 2000s. The discourses applauding the Jhanas were recorded in the 1990s at the latest. How then is it possible that Goenkaji accepted the validity of the Jhanas after Mr. Brooks’ criticism? I say as much
Masculineffort: In the Satipatthana discourses which were recorded in the 90s, Goenkaji talks about all Jhanas, 1-8. He mentions the benefits of the Jhanas and how they are useful to penetrate deeply into the 4 noble truths. He does say that Jhanas 1-4 are sufficient for liberation. No where does he demonize the Jhanas. With great respect, he mentions Webu-Sayadaw tradition where they go all the way to the 8th Jhana to observe reality penetratingly. So, it is not correct for you to claim credit, Mr Brooks!
I comment further
Masculineffort: As I understand it, your experience with Mr Nothnegal took place in the 2000s. After the Satipatthana discourses were recorded. So your assertion that you were the one to thank for the present situation is incorrect. Also, I would love to have Mr. Nothnegal’s viewpoint in this story. Every story after all has two sides. And Mr. Nothnegal’s side is missing in this story. Based on the evidence, I cannot accept your claim that Goenka-Ji and his assistant teachers marginalized Jhana-experiencers
To Mr Brooks’ credit, he makes is reasonable and he says that his being kicked out was taken as evidence that Jhana is suppressed by Goenkaji’s organization
Jeffrey Brooks: Well, the evidence is I was kicked out of a Goenka course because my head bobs slightly when I meditate. It just so happens that when I am in deep meditation my head tends to bob on its won. Mr. Nothnegal kicked me out because I would not make my head stop bobbing. I tired to explain to him it bobs on its own. It just so happens that my head bobs when I am in jhana. I took it that the experience of jhana is forbidden at a Goenka course.
But here he makes further sweeping claims
Jeffrey Brooks: After getting kicked out of a Goenka course because my head bobs when I am in jhana I did a great deal of research into how Buddhist meditation teachers understand the experience of deep meditation. From that research I have found no evidence to support a belief that any Buddhist priest of meditation teacher has meditated deeply in more than 2000 years. However, you are free to believe and express what you wish. I just hope that you feel I have the same freedom.
First I regretted his getting kicked out.
Masculineffort: Your experience was very unfortunate. I am very sure that some of the teachers I have meditated under in Goenka retreats would never do what Mr Nothnegal has done. As long as you were attempting to keep your attention on your breath, none of the teacher’s I know would have bothered about your unintentional head bobbing. This suggests that Mr. Nothnegal should not be a teacher. But Jhana that is achieved with breath as the object is not only permitted, but applauded in this tradition.
But the later part of his reply got me very curious. What was this research he had done? No buddhist priest of meditation in the last 2000 years had attained Jhana? Who was the last one? And how does he know this last guy attained Jhana but the others did not? What about Buddhaghosa, Ledi Sayadaw, Webu Sayadaw? What makes him so sure that these three had not attained Jhana? If you say no one in the last 2000 years, that means around A.D. 12 there must have been one who did? Who was this? And what was the methodology used to determine that he did indeed attain the Jhanas? I was curious and I posed the question to him after empathizing with his experience of getting kicked out.
Masculineffort: Certainly, I would accord you that same freedom. Does my conduct anywhere suggest otherwise? Belief however must be open to questioning. One must be able to defend one’s beliefs in a reasonable way. So I have a couple questions for you
1. Does this group of non-Jhana experiencers include Buddhaghosa bhadantachariya, Webu Sayadaw and Ledi Sayadaw?
2. By your research, who was the last Buddhist adept who has experienced Deep Jhanic states?
Now here, I seem to have upset him with my line of questioning.
1) Well, first you are the one filibustering my channel; whereas, I am not filibustering yours.
2) I agree beliefs must be unpacked if we want to become enlightened in this very lifetime. So, since we are on the topic of Goenka, then he claims the Buddha taught a meditation technique that was called ‘vipassana;’ however, the term in the suttas that is used for the practice of meditation is ‘sati’ as in sati-pathana, kay-gati-sati, anapana-sati, etc. So, your Goenka-ji seems to be wrong here.
Okay, so he considers my conduct improper. But why? What have I done? But again his argument over semantics of the use of the term Vipassana. I mean who cares what it was called? How is this practical? How does this help anyone? Aren’t we losing the plot here? What a non-sequitor! He continues.
3) Yes, to your 1st question, Buddhaghosa surely had no experience of jhana, because his Vissudhimagga is a joke.
4) The name of the last arahat appears to be lost to history. However, the Abidhamma and the Vissudhimagga are 2 of my proofs that Buddhism has been dead for 21 centuries. The fact that no Buddhist priest today understands jhana, nor its significance is further proof that Buddhism is dead and has been so for a long time.
His comments again raise more questions. What does he mean the Visuddhimagga is a joke. Why is it a Joke? What does Buddhaghosa say that makes it a Joke? And what about the Ven. Webu Sayadaw and the Ven Ledi Sayadaw? That question goes unanswered. Why has he chosen not to answer that? And he claims the last arahat is lost to history. Then what is the basis for the statement that no one in the last 2000 years has attained Jhana. When you say something like that, should you not also mention who that guy was? Then how do you know it was 2000 years ago and not a 1000 years ago or 2500 years ago? I wanted to question him further regarding this, but first I needed to consider that he considers my presence at his channel to be filibustering. My presence is unwelcome. If that is so, I must respect his boundaries and withdraw my presence. I say as much
Masculineffort: Filibustering your channel has never been the intention. The intention is to learn where you are coming from thus allowing me to examine my own beliefs rigorously. To this end, I have already mailed an AT from the Goenka tradition asking for clarification whether it is standard practice to ask a person to leave the course if his head bobs unintentionally. If you still feel my conduct is improper, I apologise. Therefore, unless you indicate otherwise, I will cease commenting with immediate effect.
My curiosity is still there. So I register on his forum. But it seems you cannot post there without permission from Mr. Brooks. So I send him an email asking permission to post there or at the very least ask him if he would like to come and post on this humble blog.
Dear Mr Brooks,
This is Lalitaditya Muktapida from youtube. I have several comments on your youtube channel for the video, “The Experience of Jhana is forbidden at a Goenka Retreat”
I regret if my comments can be interpreted as filibustering. In my defense, that was not my intent. I do not understand why you interpreted it that way. I have said as much on your page and have ceased commenting or asking questions on that page pending your approval.
My curiosity regarding your research is still unsatisfied however. I still have questions. May I continue asking questions on this forum of yours?
In case I am also unwelcome on this forum, may I ask you to comment on my blog in answer to my questions?
Before I comment any further, let us give Mr Brooks a chance and see what he has to say before coming to any definite conclusions.