Is There Partial Credit?

I’m struggling to find the balance between endorsing the pure teaching of dhamma as taught in this tradition and supporting people outside of this tradition to live a better life more in line with dhamma. The path of dhamma is a long path and we each start from where we are at this moment. While one person may be striving to maintain awareness of the breath continuously throughout the day, another person may simply be trying to reduce the intensity and longevity of their aggressive outbursts. I feel I should be able to support and encourage both of these people to take steps on the path but I don’t always have the tools to support someone who is unaware and uninterested in Vipassana.

The first 10 day course is a huge hurdle and continuing your practice after that is an equally large challenge. I want to encourage people to practice Anapana if and when they can but I’m not sure if I should encourage them to sit with me. I want to explain my understanding of these teachings but I don’t want to confuse or mislead people with my misunderstandings.

There is such a strong push from this tradition to keep the teachings pure that I feel like we might be missing opportunities to help make the world a better place. Could we speed up the wheel by promoting Anapana and the intellectual understanding of Vipassana or would we be hurting the clarity of the teachings by separating them from the actual deep meditation? I guess my discomfort comes from watching the people around me suffering. I don’t want them to suffer but I’m not sure exactly how to help if they’re unable to commit to a 10 day course. Maybe more clarity will come with practice. Time to meditate.

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About Ryan Shelton

In March of 2010 I discovered a path to peace and happiness through a 10-day Vipassana meditation course in the tradition of S.N. Goenka. After establishing my personal practice, and witnessing how it changed my way of life, I'm now curious to explore how the growing community of meditators can help to support each other and make the world a better place.
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One Response to Is There Partial Credit?

  1. Trygve says:

    I think the beautiful thing about this practice is that it does require you to start with a 10-day course. It’s totally counter to the consumerist mentality that we’re born into, and actually I think it’s a pretty amazing experiment. The philosophy behind how the courses are structured goes against capitalist assumptions, and it’s finding success here, at least within a niche. There are plenty of people out there willing to sell meditation, promising stress reduction or health improvement with just a few minutes a day! But someone who only buys into a quick-fix technique cannot come close to being fully liberated. And I doubt such limited exposure would make them more inclined to deepen their practice beyond a simple relaxation technique. People change slowly, and sometimes you may not even realize that you have already guided them toward a path to attend a retreat in 10 or 20 years. As we grow in our own practices, I think we’ll become better at figuring out where people are, what they need to hear, and how to be patient.

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