The 10-Day Course Is Essential, But Must It Be The Entry Point?

Goenka had a mission to reintroduce Vipassana to the world. Morality, Anapana, and many other meditation variations were present in the world before Goenka, but the amplified impact of learning morality, Anapana, and Vipassana together had been lost. To ensure students received the full benefit of learning these three foundations together, Goenka emphasized the 10-day course as the entry point into our tradition. This guideline has served the world well as these 10-day courses are now available free of charge all around the world. Goenka has made the Buddhas teaching available to the world in a form that can be preserved and protected.

Towards the end of his life, Goenka made an interesting decision to release the Anapana For All instruction teaching Anapana alone and outside the context of the 10-day course. This video seems to conflict with his previous stance that the 10-day course is the entry point to our tradition, and since Goenka died shortly after its release, this new teaching was not fully integrated into the tradition in a uniform way. I never met Goenka, so I don’t know what was in his heart and mind, but I believe this was Goenka making the path accessible to a larger audience. The 200 Centers he helped establish are teaching morality, Anapana, and Vipassana together in its most potent form through 10-day courses. These Centers are strong and independent, so there is less concern that the world will lose this foundation anytime soon. So Goenka decided to open the door to the population of potential students who are currently unable to attend a 10-day course.

This is not to say that practicing morality or Anapana alone will help a person reach the final goal of liberation, but integrating morality and Anapana into daily life may help a person take small steps in becoming a healthier and more grounded person, and these steps may eventually lead to sitting a 10-day course. Goenka’s mission was to help spread Vipassana around the world. I believe his Anapana For All video was the start of the next chapter of this mission building on the established foundation of teaching individuals Vipassana. Goenka was essentially saying that we are now ready to help entire communities to introduce a tool that promotes peace, harmony, and compassion. Instead of having individuals come to Centers, Goenka was giving a pathway to bring Anapana into schools, hospitals, businesses, buildings of worship, and many other community. To be clear, I didn’t know Goenka, so I don’t know what was in his heart, but this is the story that makes sense to me.

As we move forward, I think we need to bring these teachings to life with teacher lead (not video lead) instruction. Goenka spent decades perfecting the 10-day course. We should be exploring how to perfect the dissemination of Anapana as a stepping stone to the 10-day course. The 10-day courses have changed tens of thousands of individuals. A skillfully taught Anapana program could help change entire communities. Maybe it’s a dream, but it’s an inspiring dream. Time to meditate.

One thought on “The 10-Day Course Is Essential, But Must It Be The Entry Point?

  1. Chao

    Anapana teaching is also learned by practitioners using different names and at many different places However, the full devotion without interferences from outside society, family, friends, job, relationship is so critical to achieve some level of understanding of ourselves. Without open field, our mind is already wondering easily. If our field is wild open, the mind madness is unmanageable. So course setting is critical. I appreciate greatly from Goenka’s Vipassana Center.

    Teacher lead practice is more personal, flexible and adaptable. The question is how to train a qualifed teacher? Video lead practice is standardized, more rigid and remote. But it is from founder and been practiced for years. If there is way to combine both practices in someway to enrich learning experience will be great.

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