Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Vipassana and Goenka Buddhism

I returned recently from yet another 10 day Vipassana retreat atIgatpuri. Sometime back, I had requested opinions on thesimilarity/differences between the "sheel-samadhi-pradnya (and Karunaas practiced through metta bhavana)" buddhism, propagated by Mr.Goenka versus the "pradnya-sheel-karuna" buddhism, propagated by Dr.Ambedkar. The question continued to bother me, despite the benefitsfrom the practice of Vipasanna centric buddhism. So this time, Ilistened very carefully. Here are a few observations.1. There is a difference between the two buddhisms. Samadhi is thekey item of difference. Otherwise rest seems same in theory.2. "sheel-samadhi-pradnya (&Karuna)" buddhism (as propagated by Mr.Goenka) does emphasise the hindu linkage of buddhism by quotingsignificantly from the veda's, kabir, nanak, mahavir, et al.3. It is not possible to build a unique religious identity (separatefrom the Hindu's) if one follows Mr. Goenka fully. Vipasannapractitioners risk being categorised as yet another hindu sect overtime due to the "trespassers will be assimilated" aspect of hinduism.Nevertheless, I am happy to inform you all that at a personal level,I have resolved my confusion and made a clear and distinct choice.Despite claiming to practice "pradnya-sheel-karuna" buddhism, I havehardly seen my relatives following the panchsheel. Meanwhile in thefew years that I have partially practiced "sheel-samadhi-pradnya(&Karuna)" buddhism, I have improved in my own eyes as a human being(including following the panchsheel). Getting assimilated by Hinduismdoes not bother me. As long as one follows the path shown by theBuddha and derive benefits from it, it is irrelevant, what I getcalled. I am confident that the path will guide me to contribute mybit to resolve the problems of my brethen.I strongly recommend all of you to try it and decide for yourself.With mettaPratap Tambay
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