I’ve recently written about a number of item within the Goenka organization that I disagree with. Some people have received these disagreements as attacks or attempts to discredit the organization, but I think our regular readers are discovering that I’m a friend trying to help the organization grow. Dhamma has some important lessons to teach America right now. George Floyd’s death has become the catalyst for protests against racism across our country, and we’re fighting the demons of apathy, anger, fear, and ignorance. These emotions are being manipulated by some leadership to strengthen our divisions when we could be embracing this opportunity to come together to build a stronger more united society. Dhamma has the strength to penetrate these difficult situations with truth and love, and I want to see that happening with a larger portion of our society. I want to overcome the hurdles that prevent people from discovering the powerful benefits of meditation so we can build a brighter future for the next generation.
One of the amazing attributes of the Goenka Centers is the diversity of people who share the space to grow in dhamma. Whether meditating in the hall or preparing lunch in the kitchen, there’s always a wide range of ages and nationalities represented. We’re all working on our accumulated sankaras to become better human beings. The organization typically focusses on individual growth through the experience of meditation. Some people also discover the benefits of service, and there is a small community that oversees the ongoing functioning of the Center, but I’ve never seen a group of old students work together to make a significant impact outside of the 10-day courses. If you have, I’d love to hear about it. Goenka shares the idea that we must water every individual tree to turn a forest green, but besides some efforts in the 90s to connect business leaders, psychologists, and teachers, I’ve rarely seen the organization taking notice of the larger forest.
I understand the organizations desire to keep their centers unbiased in any particular direction so participants from all walks of life feel welcome in the courses. I’m also not sure how to navigate the divisions in our country with the help of dhamma. I simply believe that dhamma has the ability to dissolve apathy, anger, fear, and ignorance, and I want old students to work together to discover new ways to connect needing populations with the dhamma. If we work together, I think we will discover some insightful pathways forward. Maybe we can even discover ways for all types of people, meditators and non-meditators alike, to work together to reconcile the racial inequalities in our country.