Stuck Between Two Worlds

Meditating in Goenka’s tradition is isolating. You attend a silent 10 day retreat full of profound internal discovery, and you return home to a life that supports a different purpose. You look for support from group sittings, but usually there isn’t one close by or the local sitting is poorly attended. You might find some support from a meditation app, but you still feel like you’re living two lives: your life on the cushion and your life in the world. Most resolve this disparity by either stopping meditation or isolating themselves; Neither option is ideal.

By moving to Delaware and supporting a new Center, I thought I finally figured out a way to do both, but to date, it hasn’t been easy. Now in its 4th year, Dhamma Pubbananda continues to grow, but the constant need for servers makes it feel more like a personal drain than a support. I repeatedly cycle between being over-consumed by the Center and avoiding all Center responsibilities. It feels like the Center is always in survival mode, and this prevents the healthy environment that would be conducive to building supportive relationships.

The idealist in me believes that the Center just needs a few more years to establish itself; The pessimist struggles to justify the turmoil this startup phase creates in certain individual’s lives. Life is full of complicated challenges, and I still believe that Vipassana offers more hope than difficulty, but it’s clear that with the current setup, only the most dedicated meditators can successfully navigate the arduous path set forth by Goenka. If Vipassana is going to establish itself with the general public, we’re going to need to find better ways to provide uplifting relationships to newcomers. I think there’s more to it than simply continuing to meditate and trusting dhamma to fix it. We need to work together to formulate new strategies for success knowing that some strategies will fail. We need to be flexible to adapt to the new challenges of today’s world. Together, I believe we can find a positive path forward for our tradition. Time to meditate.

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