As the mindfulness movement grows, I wonder if the Goenka organization is missing an opportunity to lead. While focusing on preserving Goenka’s teachings and enforcing the 2 hour a day minimum, teachers from other traditions have shown that as little as 3, 5, or 10 minutes of meditation a day can make a positive change in a person’s life. Many of these mindfulness programs lack the depth of understanding of Dhamma that Goenka presented, but it seems that 2 hours a day is not the minimum to see the benefits of meditation. I wonder if the Goenka organization is missing an opportunity to lead the mindfulness movement because they’re holding on to this regulation to tightly.
The key to growing in Dhamma is to incorporate meditation and mindfulness more and more into your daily life. If you’re currently meditating zero minutes a day and start meditating 3 minutes a day, this is progress in the right direction! You can build upon this positive growth, and maybe eventually you will be meditating 2 hours a day. Unfortunately, I believe many new old students hear the 2 hour minimum, try to make a dramatic shift in their life right away, fail, then leave the practice completely. This is sad and unfortunate.
I wonder if Goenka realized this towards the end of his life causing him to make the Anapana video. While the video is okay, I think we could do a much better job teaching and supporting people who aren’t ready to sit a 10-day course or 2 hours a day. Instead of focusing on empower every individual to seek liberation independently, I think we can build a community of meditators that will support each other in their daily meditations regardless of where they are on the path. If we join the mindfulness movement and the general conversation about meditation, we may connect more people with pure dhamma than by protecting the teaching through isolation. Goenka succeeded at spreading his message around the world, but he is no longer here. Who will be the next set of leaders that carry his message forward? Time to meditate.