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Critique of Vipassana
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Critique of Vipassana
3/6/12 3:48 PM
This critique is aimed primarily at the Goenka tradition, but there are several interesting tid-bits which I thought the DhO would be interested in.

A few highlights worth considering:

The experiences of inner silence are due to low oxygen supply to the brain (medically called Hypoxia). The mind becomes very quiet after the first few days, after focusing on the nasal region, and the breath becomes very slight. As the oxygen supply to the brain becomes much lesser than normal, the brain activity simmers down considerably. The peace experienced by the brain is an artificial peace created by mild hypoxia.


I make the unverified claim here that creative people and inventors will be severely crippled by a non-chattering brain. Their creativity and fresh ideas can only come from new neural pathways established by random firing of the neurons and a hypoxia-induced state of low neural activity will be a handicap for such people. People doing habitual jobs requiring low amounts of creative thinking, including students (who need to ingest information given in books and lectures) will be helped a lot by any concentration or calming practice


The subtle sensations are not the vibrations of individual atoms or molecules; they are merely nerves being tingled and the flow of the blood and its oxygenation in the blood vessels. The gross sensations are similarly reactions of the body parts to various internal and external stimuli.


Reactivity of the brain to body sensations, or to other sensory input, is an evolutionary trait of the human brain. It is an important survival tool for the human body. As soon as the body experiences pain or heat or intense cold or any other harmful condition, the brain signals the body to react appropriately and to adjust so as to get rid of that harmful condition. For example, sitting for a long time in a single posture might restrict the blood flow or press some important nerve, so the brain signals the body to change its position.

While it is indeed true that many reactions are harmful and counterproductive (e.g. egotism, anger, fear, desire, aggression, restlessness, stress), and these reactive habits and instinctual behavior patterns need to be obliterated, the autonomic systems of the body have a certain intelligence of their own which should not be tampered with. Imagine what would happen if the brain was confused when confronted with the pain of angina on whether to observe it dispassionately or to react immediately by lying down and avoid a heart attack


Mostly no issues that people on these boards may disagree with, although I'd be interested to hear a doctors opinion on the last one (where could we find one of those?).
RE: Critique of Vipassana
3/6/12 7:45 PM as a reply to Eric O.
The writer of this critique (Harmanjit Singh) did engage in a dialogue with Dr. Daniel Ingram a few years ago about arahant and actual freedom when he was practicing actual freedom. He has since left that. I wonder if that is how DhO came to know about actual freedom or if Tarin and others knew about it earlier as well. I think Dr. Ingram can provide an opinion on the last point?

About the first point, I think it suffers from chicken or egg problem. Does the blood supply lessens first or does the brain activity simmers down first? Harmanjit seems to think that it is blood supply. I think that it is the brain activity that simmers down first and then blood supply lessens.
RE: Critique of Vipassana
3/6/12 9:27 PM as a reply to Eric O.
The unresolved issues in the brain will occupy it during the time it is idle.
The issues may get resolved, they may not. But the inner chattering of the
brain is the brain thinking associatively, productively or not, about the
issues it considers important. A concentrated and calm brain will be able
to think more clearly about a particular issue, and any focusing technique
will be helpful in this regard.

There is another value to the random associative chatter of the brain, and
that is: it may form unexpected connections and make new discoveries.
That is why some out-of-the-box solutions to long-standing problems may
appear while day-dreaming or while dreaming at night when free association is in progress.


This is unsubstantiated. Thoughts at the level of neural associations are probably still happening though most of them are no longer considered interesting enough to surface into awareness.

Agree with most of it though.
RE: Critique of Vipassana
3/7/12 8:19 AM as a reply to Eric O.
This critique seems to presuppose that a vipassana practitioner would want to maximize his life expectancy, optimize the functioning of the biological organism, create things or ideas, or want to directly feel an atom's vibrations. It's an understandable assumption, but not an accurate one. Vipassana has one goal only: the cessation of suffering. Not to cover up pain, push aside pain, overwhelm ourselves with distracting stimuli, invent ever more sophisticated weaponry, or whatever else the mass media tell us "the thing to do" is these days. We don't want to understand atoms or "peer-reviewed" nonsense. We want to understand existence. We don't want to make sure we get the greatest amount of pleasure or make the best use of "our" time. We want to understand pleasure and time, so we can let go of them. We don't want to get what we "so desperately need and deserve." We want to not want anything.

Of course some of us may also have an interest in atoms or science or sex or sports or prolonging human life, but that's not why we're on this site or on a vipassana retreat.
RE: Critique of Vipassana
3/7/12 12:40 PM as a reply to Eric O.
Eric O:
This critique is aimed primarily at the Goenka tradition...


Actually, the critique is aimed not just primarily but entirely at Goenka's interpretation of Vipassana. One of the odd things going on with Goenka is the appropriation of the term "Vipassana" as Goenka teaches it, as "what the Buddha really taught," which upon investigation turns out not to be the case. I have struggled with this personally, as I have attended four 10-day Goenka courses, and am considering going back for a fifth.

I have also previously read this particular critique very closely and found it very helpful. I find the critique largely accurate in points of fact, but missing the mark in a few points of interpretation. Specifically, the author of the critique is trying very hard to understand the experience of meditation in reductive biological terms, which is ironic because Goenka also approaches the subject of meditation with an emphasis on "objectivity."

I have found Goenka courses unsurpassed in accessibility and perfectly adequate for getting started in serious meditation, but I still haven't decided whether that is in spite of or because of the radical simplification and idiosyncratic presentation of the dhamma taught there. I have also run into a number of people (among whom I hope before long to number myself) who only get to stream-entry once they un-learn and/or transcend certain practices and attitudes that the "Goenka experience" tends to instill. Such people generally express tremendous gratitude and respect for Goenka and his organization, easily criticized spiritual kindergarten though it may be.

When I went to my first Goenka course, I thought that about half of what was being taught was rock-solid, incontrovertible dharma, and the other half was so many cute stories and nursery-tales. I still think that, but the two halves have basically switched. For all I know, they could switch again.
RE: Critique of Vipassana
4/11/13 7:28 PM as a reply to  Tarver .
I just returned from my 2nd 10-day Goenka retreat and am under the strong impression his teachings are "rock-solid, incontrovertible dharma". I am curious as to how Goenka's teaching is simplified, why Vipassana is not really what the Buddha taught, etc. I am hoping my faith in his organization/path won't come back to bite me in the arse later down the road. If you could give brief explanations on the above issues, or any other advice for that matter, I would greatly appreciate it.
RE: Critique of Vipassana
4/11/13 10:17 PM as a reply to Blake Salem.
For you I would use any practice that gets you progress:

Hierarchy of Vipasanna Practice
RE: Critique of Vipassana
4/11/13 11:58 PM as a reply to Blake Salem.
Don't cash in your faith too quickly. It is much too scarce a commodity in our busy world, and although it is a renewable resource, it can regenerate slowly if it is cut down too fast. This is the DhO, however, so here goes:

Goenka presents a mythologised picture of the history of the technique he teaches, claiming that it goes all the way back to the time of the Buddha. This is simply false. The body sweeping or scanning technique was invented in Burma within the last century or two (as was noting, another significant recent vipassana innovation, by the way).

Goenka integrates a modern pseudo-scientific vocabulary ("objectivity", "unconscious", "sub-atomic", etc.) with traditional Buddhist notions and vocabulary, and presents it as a seamlessly blended whole. Many of his examples and explanations are either anachronisms with respect to the Buddha, or innovations. Although Goenka obviously has extensive knowledge of the tradition, and he knows a great deal of history, his historical perspective is weak. He wants to present everything valuable as timeless (and therefore ancient).

His take on "right concentration" is particularly odd. The Buddha clearly says that jhanas are right concentration. I have listened carefully to Goenka himself chanting the Mahasatipatthana Sutta (which I have on CD) where this is stated! Goenka says that knowledge of the upper jhanas are lost. Give the guy a break, as he recorded his discourses before he had the benefit of the DhO, but his claim is false. Goenka says that the only valid object of concentration is an empirically, objectively real object, not an "imaginary" one, as if the sensations of imagination were any less "real" than the sensations of physical touch. The ancient texts are full of imaginary objects, like kasinas, etc.

Finally, the way the whole course is presented is SO 20th century. It is a dharma factory, with digitally identical teachings being given on the same schedule in quite a few centres all over the world. The content of the teaching is that everything is anicca, but if you stop and think about it, the only thing that never changes is the Teacher. Obviously, on the one hand, this is a total innovation and significantly unlike how the dharma has ever been taught before; on the other hand, this is a beautiful unselfconscious re-presentation the timeless Indo-European trope of the Truth coming from the Voice from Beyond, into our world from... shall we say, somewhere "beyond mind and matter"? Furthermore, if you have been to 2 10-day courses, you have heard every teaching and discourse exactly twice, except the one or two that are repeated, which you have heard 4 times. So quite aside from the peculiarities of the teaching itself, you are hearing it in a novel way. Remember, the medium is the message.

Because of all of these innovations and (ironically, "objective") distortions, the atmosphere of Goenka Vipassana Centres is unbelievably conducive to extremely serious hardcore practice if you can maintain equanimity with respect to the Teacher. The discipline of adhitthana is priceless gift. The actual practice is highly effective for many people, but not (in my judgement) for the reasons stated. Also, it might suit some people better than others. If it appeals to you and comes "naturally" then go with it! If it is like fighting your way uphill at night in the sleet and getting shot at, course after course, maybe the body/kinaesthetic route isn't for you and you might do better with visual or auditory objects, or a noting or mantra or some other practice. Or a combination of practices. This kind of individual tailoring just isn't possible within the conceptual and logistical structure of the Goenka machine.

As for specific advice, my practice really took off when I made a solid commitment to practice for 2 hours per day. (I actually targeted 12 hours/week, and hit the target.) Learn to follow your breath for one hour with no dropped breaths, and then use that level of concentration to hit a practice that you like so much that it is self-motivating to keep going. Implement accountability protocols that resonate with you; I like to publish my intentions and then update my activities, because for some weird reason the thought that "others" might see what I am doing and either think less of me if I fail or learn if I succeed or in some other way benefit from my experience, I find that massively motivating to keep working hard.

A year has passed since my fifth (and most recent) Goenka course, and now I practice with Shinzen's system. Goenka, however, has touched me deeply. I am sure I think of one nugget of wisdom or another from those courses and his teachings on a daily basis. But I would like to think that I "read" Goenka as I read everyone else (including Shinzen): critically, for everyone has their blind spots, including me.

There is a flip-side to all of this. Some people totally believe what Goenka is saying, either because they don't have the necessary historical perspective to criticize it, or because they themselves are still caught in a dualistic, reductionistic, absent-minded cognitive trap of distorted self-understanding. Maybe Goenka gets through to such people because he meets them "where they are at" so to speak. Maybe I was such a person myself at one point. I am very grateful to Goenka.
RE: Critique of Vipassana
4/12/13 7:01 AM as a reply to Eric O.
Eric O:


The experiences of inner silence are due to low oxygen supply to the brain (medically called Hypoxia). The mind becomes very quiet after the first few days, after focusing on the nasal region, and the breath becomes very slight. As the oxygen supply to the brain becomes much lesser than normal, the brain activity simmers down considerably. The peace experienced by the brain is an artificial peace created by mild hypoxia.


Has the author never been mountain climbing?
RE: Critique of Vipassana
4/12/13 7:34 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
To the contrary there is an increase in blood oxygen saturation levels during meditation:

http://www.massgeneral.org/bhi/assets/pdfs/publications/lazar_2000_neuroreport.pdf
RE: Critique of Vipassana
4/12/13 7:47 AM as a reply to Alesh Vyhnal.
Also, what a scientist needs most is sustained concentration, no mental chatter. That is why top scientists use Adderall or Ritalin as an academic doping. The prime example is Paul Erdös, the most productive mathematician of the 20. century who (ab)used dextroamphetamine for decades.
RE: Critique of Vipassana
4/12/13 8:09 AM as a reply to Alesh Vyhnal.
Reductionists, unite!

Specifically, if hypoxia were the effective cause of samadhi, one would not be able to walk down the street without tripping over all the blissed-out asthmatics.
RE: Critique of Vipassana
4/12/13 8:43 AM as a reply to  Tarver .
Thank you for a great response, thank you!!

Now.. I am a bit curious about the mechanism involved in building awareness.. does one actually increase mindfulness to the point that they are subjectively experiencing sub-atomic vibrations, etc? Is one penetrating the "unconscious" mind, releasing sankara after sankara by bringing equanimity, etc? Do sankaras have physical manifestations when brought to consciousness? Or is that largely myth? I realize there is a pseudo-sciencey ring to it, but how applicable is it to the truth, in your opinion?

Also.. I've asked an assistant teacher before if one could become liberated through breath observation alone, which they said "no". I had thought in the past that any object could work. Later on, their answer made some sense, though - if I want to dissolve the body, I should work with the entirety of the body sensations, correct? Or could building mindfulness with anapana sensations result in the dissolution just as well? The last two questions quite possibly show my lack of understanding with the dissolution stage, but having read MCTB among other books, I can't seem to get it straight.

Again, thanks for you time.. these are some things I've been stuck on, and although I realize I shouldn't let it have any real impact on actual practice, I feel much more motivated and at ease when I have some intellectual idea of what I'm doing.
RE: Critique of Vipassana
4/12/13 10:00 AM as a reply to Blake Salem.
Been on one Goenka retreat, which I had to leave after five days for health reasons, and read the book. They are an excellent training environment. There are aspects to them which I disagree with, but those are far outweighed by the benefits of the disciplined environment.

does one actually increase mindfulness to the point that they are subjectively experiencing sub-atomic vibrations, etc?


No one actually knows the answer to this, but that doesn't mean it's necessarily harmful. For what it's worth kalapas (the traditional term which Goenka equates with subatomic vibrations) are not mentioned in the Pali canon, they are a commentarial innovation. However, I am quite comfortable working with post-Gautama innovations to meditation practice. Maybe no one else since the Buddha has been as good, but there's been a lot of time for a lot of people to try a lot of different stuff.

The question to ask when a mythical concept like kalapas comes up is "What practical issue is this imagery trying to answer?" In this case the practical issue is "What time resolution should I be satisfied with in training my awareness of phenomena?" The answer implied by the kalapas concept is "All the way to 11, baby!!!"

One could fault Goenka as a scholar for his facile equivalence between kalapas and subatomic phenomena, but as a meditation teacher, I think he did quite well with it for most of his students, because that kind of thinking inspired a lot of people back in the 70s and 80s. The equivalence is quite dated and stale, now, though, and although it's unlikely, I think the Goenka movement would do well to move beyond it.

Is one penetrating the "unconscious" mind, releasing sankara after sankara by bringing equanimity, etc?

Yes, this is part of how it works. Freud's historical notion of the unconscious concerned painful things people repressed because they didn't want to see them, and the things which got repressed as collateral damage, because they would imply the primary objects of repression. Equanimity gives you the strength to look directly at these things. The book Disciplines of Attention goes into greater detail about the correspondence between Insight meditation and Freudian psychotherapy.

Do sankaras have physical manifestations when brought to consciousness? Or is that largely myth? I realize there is a pseudo-sciencey ring to it, but how applicable is it to the truth, in your opinion?

Depends what you mean by physical. In terms of direct experience of the moment, every movement of the mind corresponds to a physical sensation, in my experience of formal meditation. This is why a technique like body scanning is so useful. Are there sankharas corresponding to specific individual subatomic interactions? No one knows, but I am skeptical. I suspect the answer is "Only if you're observing those interactions via an instrument designed for the purpose." :-)

Or could building mindfulness with anapana sensations result in the dissolution just as well? The last two questions quite possibly show my lack of understanding with the dissolution stage, but having read MCTB among other books, I can't seem to get it straight.


Mindfulness alone is insufficient. You use mindfulness to remember to develop the other factors of awakening (analysis of qualities, persistence, rapture, concentration, equanimity, tranquility), and to remember to view what's arising through the framework of the three characteristics or the four noble truths. Mindfulness is arguably the most critical factor to develop and worth emphasizing at the start, though. You might find that this essay clarifies things.
RE: Critique of Vipassana
4/12/13 10:59 AM as a reply to fivebells ..
You can definitely feel the atomic vibrations-it is called temperature. But subatomic? In some sense perhaps yes. The signalling in brain and nerves is of electrochemical nature. In both electromagnetic phenomena and chemical reactions electrons are involved. Electrons are subatomic particles. But I don't know how to give it an intelligible meaning...
RE: Critique of Vipassana
4/12/13 11:35 AM as a reply to Eric O.
I think anyone who critiques Vipassana misses the point of it. It is only useful inasmuch as it engenders mindfulness and attention. It's true that the technique is an innovation though, as is the Goenka body-sweeping technique. I think one of the poorly thought out ideas of the Vipassana meditation movement is of meditation as a "cure-all".

I tend to think that Buddhist practice places a lot of emphasis on skillful living in day to day life, and the correct mindset, basically sila and panna. But it seems that there is an emphasis on Vipassana being the Noble Eightfold Path wrapped all in one, which it is not. Sitting on a cushion paying attention to sensations, would yes, be the culmination of the Noble Eightfold Path, but without the support of the right intention, the right mindset, the right livelihood, it will bare no fruit.

Just check the Satipatthana Vibhanga sutta.
RE: Critique of Vipassana
4/12/13 11:44 AM as a reply to Blake Salem.
Blake Salem:
... although I realize I shouldn't let it have any real impact on actual practice, I feel much more motivated and at ease when I have some intellectual idea of what I'm doing.


Please pardon me if I point out a contradiction, but anything that contributes to or undermines your being "motivated and at ease" ipso facto impacts your actual practice. ;)

Goenka people, especially the AT's, have a certain point of view which I happen not to share. It seems to work for them, and the AT's I have met must be among the most grounded, intuitive, disciplined, "selfless" people, ever. Of course, they are also human, have foibles, etc., but by and large they really have made some progress with themselves. They claim to have gotten that way practising and believing things exactly as presented. Either that is literally true, or they have succeeded in convincing themselves that it is true, but either way that's how they go about it. If you want to do things their way, take their advice. Even if you don't see things their way, the atmosphere they create is conducive to first-rate practice provided you don't rock the boat and violate the Prime Directive: do not disturb others.

The probable reason, in MCTB terms, why anapana won't lead to liberation like vipassana, is that anapana is a concentration practice. Progress in insight requires... insight practice. That's easy.

Much more subtle is fundamental philosophical dualism of treating "mind and matter" as two separate kinds of things, rather than, for example, understanding (conscious) mind as the emergent self-present quality of sentient experience, which depends upon but is not reducible to the organic function of mature human organisms. In that case, there are discreet limits to the granularity of sensory perception, but there are no limits (for better or worse!) to the human capacity to interpret experiences in arbitrary and fantastic ways. If you can do better on your mediation cushion than the guys with the particle accelerator at detecting individual sub-atomic particles... I tip my hat to you but I am not likely to believe you literally.

The one thing about sankharas that I wish I had noticed earlier is that the word "formations" is how the word "sankharas" is translated in MCTB. Maybe I'm dim, but it took me some time to clue in to that. I take this to be a pointer to the emergent, unfolding, relativistic way that the material universe appears to operate, one aspect of which is the integrated, flowing, continuous experience that I usually have when I am not paying too close attention. Fluctuations in the quality of my experience are to be expected when I start doing unusual things like sitting perfectly still and trying to direct my attention in various ways. Ascribing transcendent metaphysical "ultimate" importance to the inevitable gaps that start to become apparent -- sometimes in striking and dramatic ways, other times more subtly -- as one's skill-set of concentration, clarity, and equanimity develop, seems suspect to me. I take it as more of a marker of a certain level of cognitive development, than as a connection to some reality beyond reality.
RE: Critique of Vipassana
4/12/13 12:57 PM as a reply to  Tarver .
I've had the same experience with Goenka AT's. Each of whom I've encountered radiate this infectious quality of compassion and understanding, which has become a great source of inspiration for me. Similar has been my experience interacting with center managers, board members and/or old students who've sat 30-days, etc.

Thank you Tarver and fivebells for your advice, this has helped me bring some objectivity to my thinking regarding the Goenka teaching.
RE: Critique of Vipassana
4/14/13 1:11 PM as a reply to Blake Salem.
It's interesting to me that treads like this, along with the general debates about whether the noting practice is in accord with what the Buddha actually taught, and whether we should follow the scriptures rather than the commentaries, etc., is that everyone seems to miss one simple fact: we DO NOT KNOW what the Buddha actually taught. I know what some of you are thinking - "But the Suttas are the word of the Buddha!". If the Buddhist Suttas are the exact words of the Buddha, then you may as well believe that the Gospels are the exact words of Jesus, because both suffer from the same historical issues. This is to say, they are both the written recording of the recollections of the oral tradition that arose over many years after the actual teachings (in Buddhisms case, many hundreds of years after the Buddha's passing), both were therefore subject to recall errors, manipulation by groups seeking to promote their favored view, and all kinds of cultural overlays. I am no scholar of the Suttas, but even what few I have read could not possibly have been the faithful record of the same person, as the range of stylistic differences in speech and substance are far too broad to have come from one person.

By the way, I should also note that every single Buddhist tradition, Theravadan, Zen, Mahayana, Vajrayana, Dzogchen, all claim to the authentic and highest teachings, most claiming to be the direct teachings of the Buddha, usually to his "best students" (in fairness, Tibetans do acknowledged that some of their practices originated with Holy Men Other Than the Buddha, such as Padmasambhva).

Given all that, I would submit that the "whatever works" approach is the correct way to proceed. By that I mean "whatever works for you." Do whatever technique inspires you to maintain a regular practice and that makes meaningful improvements in your day to day life. If Goenka does that, there is no reason not to follow it just because the Buddha might or might not have taught that exact technique. Same with Mahasi Noting, or other even more modern adaptations, like Shinzen Young's. And if you prefer Deity yoga or Dzogchen and similar Tibetan practices, which may have come from different sources, then by all means keep going. These debates about the "most authentic practice" are fruitless and miss the big picture, in my view.
RE: Critique of Vipassana
4/14/13 5:27 PM as a reply to Rob Wynge.
Valid point, I agree.

From what I've gathered in Goenka's discourses, insight meditation is the contribution of the Buddha, while concentration practice per se was there before, during, and after Buddha. This is widely accepted, no? Also, concentration practice cannot lead to true liberation, because it "does not remove the roots of suffering". This is also widely accepted?

One thing I've been curious about, coming from an Orthodox Christian background, and later having benefited immensely from insight and concentration practice - Why did Jesus, one of the most revered spiritual teachers in human history, not have anything to offer as far as technique is concerned, no practical method of self-observation? What was Jesus' enlightenment? Was he a practitioner of any sort, or was he simply the Mozart of spirituality who underwent spontaneous enlightenment? St. John of the Cross, the Desert Fathers, all the Christian mystics, roughly describe the same path to liberation. What is their practice? Concentration? If insight meditation is the only liberating practice, Christian mystics cannot be fully liberated, (unless they have their own insight practice)? I've heard Shinzen Young regard Holy Spirit as the Christian term for impermanence, perhaps the Holy Spirit in contemplation is sufficient to bring along understanding of no-self and suffering. I've also heard of the Jesus Prayer, which is essentially mantra/concentration. Again, not sufficient without insight. I am very curious what is taught in Christianity, but more curious as to why practice was not a central part of Jesus' teachings. Was it not a central part of the Buddha's? Of course curbing your own ego and not killing people is practice enough, but I'm thinking of a more technical practice, beyond morality practice. No one may have an answer to a few of the questions I've posed, and I understand you likely are not a Biblical scholar, but looking to get your thoughts nonetheless.
RE: Critique of Vipassana
4/14/13 8:57 PM as a reply to Blake Salem.
Blake Salem:
If insight meditation is the only liberating practice, Christian mystics cannot be fully liberated, (unless they have their own insight practice)?


Insight is probably necessary. Insight meditation practice is not necessary.
RE: Critique of Vipassana
4/15/13 7:53 AM as a reply to Blake Salem.
Blake Salem:
Valid point, I agree.

From what I've gathered in Goenka's discourses, insight meditation is the contribution of the Buddha, while concentration practice per se was there before, during, and after Buddha. This is widely accepted, no? Also, concentration practice cannot lead to true liberation, because it "does not remove the roots of suffering". This is also widely accepted?

One thing I've been curious about, coming from an Orthodox Christian background, and later having benefited immensely from insight and concentration practice - Why did Jesus, one of the most revered spiritual teachers in human history, not have anything to offer as far as technique is concerned, no practical method of self-observation? What was Jesus' enlightenment?


I am not a scholar of these things, but I think it is widely accepted that insight into the 3 characteristics is an innovation of the Buddhism, which likely have their origin in the words of the historical Buddha. I just skimmed through my copy of the Dhammapada, which I have heard referred to as one of the oldest Buddhists texts, and thus more likely to be closer to the authentic words of the Buddha (I confess I don't know if textual scholars hold the same view these days), and it clearly mentions the 3 characteristics, the Eight Fold Noble Path, "concentration" and "watchfulness day and night," and using concentration and watchfulness to be resistant to what are we now call the Eight Worldly Winds. But there are no detailed meditation techniques mentioned.

As for Christianity, I think Christianity is a faith-based religion, so it's never been clear to me that there is a technique to be followed to arrive at a state we might know as "enlightenment." It seems to be all about believing. I have found modern efforts to assign Eastern philosophical meaning to the words of Jesus to be a stretch when I read them, though I recognize the spirit of trying to find commonality between all religious is a noble effort.
RE: Critique of Vipassana
4/15/13 8:21 AM as a reply to Blake Salem.
Blake Salem:


One thing I've been curious about, coming from an Orthodox Christian background, and later having benefited immensely from insight and concentration practice - Why did Jesus, one of the most revered spiritual teachers in human history, not have anything to offer as far as technique is concerned, no practical method of self-observation? What was Jesus' enlightenment? Was he a practitioner of any sort, or was he simply the Mozart of spirituality who underwent spontaneous enlightenment?


I do find it interesting the parralels of Jesus' 40 day fast in the desert where he was tempted by Satan vs Buddha under the Bodhi Tree, and his temptation by Mara.
RE: Critique of Vipassana
4/15/13 8:54 AM as a reply to Eric O.
If he worry about oxygen suppy, he can always use Sunlun Sayadaw technique of breathing heavily... as it as been said before, we shoudn't take this as a critique of Vipassana as a whole since there is so many traditions out there.