A Giant Passes

Courtesy of Tricycle

On Saturday September 28, 2013, my world–the world of mindfulness teachers–lost a giant. Satya Narayan Goenka has passed away.

It was primarily (although not exclusively) through Mr. Goenka that I came to be influenced by U Ba Khin’s paradigm. Many years ago, I was privileged to stay at Goenka-ji’s center at Dhamma Giri in Maharashtra, India.

Here are some specific examples of U Ba Khin’s influence my teaching:

  1. The acknowledging of how important it is to work with body sensations.
  2. The interpretation of anicca (impermanence) as a positive, purificatory energy (contra the early Buddhist formulation of anicca as a pessimistic philosophical statement).
  3. The central role of equanimity in the process of mindfulness practice–in Goenka-ji’s lapidary phrasing “samataa hi vishuddhi hẽ” – “Equanimity is purity.” (Hope I didn’t botch the original Hindi too badly. )
  4. How to work with insomnia. What I describe in this blogpost is a slight reformulation of Mr. Goenka’s advice in that regard.
  5. A useful paradigm for how mindfulness practice works through sankhāras (subconscious blockages; see pp. 31-33 of What is Mindfulness?)

You’ll find details about Mr. Goenka here and here.