Robin Yassin-Kassab

Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Batchelor

A Step Forward

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Last summer I spent seven days on a ten-day meditation retreat in England. With the background of the attack on Lebanon, it formed the matter of my first posting on this blog, called ‘Taking a Step Back from Taking a Step Back.’ (see http://qunfuz.blogspot.com/2006_09_01_archive.html) Although I found the meditation itself fascinating and beneficial, the atmosphere at the retreat was poor, and the ‘teaching’ of the guru, Indian industrialist Goenka, was dogmatic, undemocratic and unintelligent. Even slightly cultlike: silence was demanded, but still we heard Goenka chanting on cassette as we tried to meditate; linguistic thought was bad, we weren’t allowed to make notes, read, or ask questions considered impractical, yet listening to Goenka talk for an hour and a half on video every evening was compulsory. Goenkaism makes a big deal of not being a religion, of Buddhism not being a religion, but in actuality it has the full set of taboos and set explanations demanding belief, from reincarnation to the leader figure, to qualify it as a religion in the worst possible sense. I wasn’t looking for a new religion, but for an opportunity to learn more about meditation in a supportive environment. So I left on the seventh day, and I’m very happy I did. I’m also glad I spent the seven days there, but Goenkaism left a bad taste in my mouth.

This summer my wife and I spent a week on a meditation retreat at Gaia House in Devon. It has left me questioning all tastes. I mean it was good.

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Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

August 15, 2007 at 10:53 am

Posted in Meditation

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