Richard’s Selected Correspondence
On Mr. Satya Goenka
RESPONDENT: I am definitely trying to practice actualism, but
I have not received one answer to any of my questions I have posed to you. You know I don’t expect you to be some sort of guru
or anything, just would like some info. Earlier you asked ‘where have I ever been evasive in answering direct questions to me?’
and it seems to me that my direct questions have been evaded.
RICHARD: I have just now gone back through all twelve of the e-mails you have written to this mailing
list and found the following three addressed specifically to me:
• [Respondent]: ‘I have been practicing your method for about 2 months now with significant changes in my
life. Gotta enjoy that intense sensation in the amygdala! Before I discovered your experience/ method, I was doing Vipassana the
Goenka way. There I also had big changes in my life. I still sit now, what do you think of that? I sit, and try my damnedest to be
this body and every sensation that is a part of it, delighting in the change. Do you see any conflict with this and actualism?
This sitting is very restful, but that seems to be its main function now. I am trying to decide if it would be beneficial for me
to chuck it, but when I can really experience the sensations, I get STRONG pressures/ sensations in the amygdala, an indication of
change, and I propose that this is accelerating the process – what do you think?’ (Thursday
• [Respondent]: ‘I am new to the list, but have been practicing quite some time now. I posted a question
for you right before you left recently, but you never got around to it. My question is this – What is wrong with sitting by
yourself and thoroughly enjoying the changing sensations that show up in the body? (Friday
• [Respondent]: ‘I am in a class called philosophy and psychology of the self, and I have the opportunity
to have many wonderful conversations with my professor. He defines beauty as complexity harmonized – where do you have a problem
with that? If you say that harmony is not a fact or is subjective, then how is peace not the same? (Saturday 23/10/2004 AEST).
If all it takes is to not respond to each and every e-mail each and any person addresses to me in order to
qualify as being evasive (synonyms: elusive, slippery, shifty, cagey, hard to pin down, equivocal, ambiguous, vague) in answering
a direct question then all I can do is tug my forelock and say ‘guilty as charged, milord’ as there are an untold number of
e-mails I have not responded to.
You asked what I thought of you still doing Vipassana Bhavana – aka ‘Insight Meditation’ – in the way
Mr. Satya Goenka made popular in the west (as in your ‘I still sit now’ phrasing), and whether I saw any conflict with
that and actualism, plus what I thought of your proposal that it is accelerating the process of you trying your damnedest to be
the body and every sensation that is a part of it.
First of all, in regards to your query, here is what Mr. Ba Khin (Mr. Satya Goenka’s accredited Master) had
• ‘Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta – Impermanence, Suffering and Egolessness – are the three essential
characteristics of things in the Teaching of the Buddha. If you know anicca correctly, you will know dukkha as its corollary and
anattā as ultimate truth. It takes time to understand the three together. Impermanence (anicca) is, of course, the
essential fact which must be first experienced and understood by practice. Mere book-knowledge of the Buddha-Dhamma will not be
enough for the correct understanding of anicca because the experiential aspect will be missing. It is only through experiential
understanding of the nature of anicca as an ever-changing process within you that you can understand anicca in the way the Buddha
would like you to understand it. (... ...) The real meaning of anicca is that Impermanence or Decay is the inherent nature of
everything that exists in the Universe – whether animate or inanimate. The Buddha taught His disciples that everything that
exists at the material level is composed of ‘kalāpas’. Kalāpas are material units very much smaller than
atoms, which die out immediately after they come into being. Each kalāpa is a mass formed of the eight basic constituents of
matter, the solid, liquid, calorific and oscillatory, together with colour, smell, taste, and nutriment. The first four are called
primary qualities, and are predominant in a kalāpa. The other four are subsidiaries, dependent upon and springing from the
former. A kalāpa is the minutest particle in the physical plane – still beyond the range of science today. It is only when
the eight basic material constituents unite together that the kalāpa is formed. In other words, the momentary collocation of
these eight basic elements of behaviour makes a man just for that moment, which in Buddhism is known as a kalāpa. The
life-span of a kalāpa is termed a moment, and a trillion such moments are said to elapse during the wink of a man’s eye.
These kalāpas are all in a state of perpetual change or flux. To a developed student in vipassanā meditation they can be
felt as a stream of energy’. (U Ba Khin, The Essentials of Buddha Dhamma in Meditative
Thus where you say you can ‘really experience the sensations’ whilst still sitting now (doing
insight meditation the way Mr. Satya Goenka made popular in the west) then what you are experiencing – a stream of energy known
as kalāpas – is impermanence or decay, and its corollary, suffering itself ... neither of which has anything to do with who
you really are as you who are trying your damnedest to be the body, and every sensation that is a part of it (aka the
kalāpas), are an illusion.
And I say this, not only out of my own experience, but also because of what the very goal of Vipassana
Bhavana makes crystal clear:
• [Mr. Ba Khin]: ‘... we should understand that each action – whether by deed, word or thought –
leaves behind an active force called ‘saṅkhāra’ (or ‘kamma’ in popular
terminology), which goes to the credit or debit account of the individual, according to whether the action is good or bad. There
is, therefore, an accumulation of saṅkhāra (or Kamma) with everyone, which
functions as the supply-source of energy to sustain life, which is inevitably followed by suffering and death. It is by the
development of the power inherent in the understanding of anicca, dukkha and anattā, that one is able to rid oneself of the saṅkhāra accumulated in one’s own personal account. This process begins with the
correct understanding of anicca, while further accumulations of fresh actions and the reduction of the supply of energy to sustain
life are taking place simultaneously, from moment to moment and from day to day. It is, therefore, a matter of a whole lifetime or
more to get rid of all one’s saṅkhāra. He who has rid himself of all saṅkhāra comes to the end of suffering, for then no saṅkhāra
remains to give the necessary energy to sustain him in any form of life. *On the termination of their lives the perfected
saints, i.e., the Buddhas and arahants, pass into parinibbāna, reaching the end of suffering*. For us today who
take to vipassanā meditation, it would suffice if we can understand anicca well enough to reach the first stage of an Ariya
(a Noble person), that is, a Sotāpanna or stream-enterer, who will not take more than seven lives to come to the end of
suffering’. [emphasis added]. (U Ba Khin, The Essentials of Buddha Dhamma in Meditative
Hence where you ask what is wrong with sitting by yourself, and thoroughly enjoying the changing sensations
that show up in the body, you are not only committing the cardinal error of trying to identify with that which is impermanence or
decay (which, according to Mr. Gotama the Sakyan, is ‘dukkha’) but you who are trying to so identify are not who you really
are anyway (the perfected saint who, at the termination of your life, will pass into an after-death peace).
As to how all this conflicts with actualism: both who you currently are (an illusion) and who you really are
(a delusion) can never be the flesh and blood body ... both the thinker (the ego) and the feeler (being itself) are forever
locked-out of actuality.
In regards to your professor defining beauty as complexity harmonised and, if harmony is not a fact or is
subjective, then how peace is not the same: all I can say is that I have never said that harmony is not actual/is subjective ...
it is beauty itself – the very feeling of beauty – which has no existence in actuality.
When I speak of living in peace and harmony I am referring to living in accord, amity, fellowship, and so on
(and not as in blending, balance, symmetry, and so forth).
RESPONDENT: I think Vineeto (and perhaps Richard) do not know what they are
talking about when they speak of Vipassana: SC ‘body’.
RICHARD: As I can only presume that by ‘SC ‘body’’ you are referring me to my ‘Selected
Correspondence’ topic labelled ‘Body’ I checked through both pages and cannot find ‘Vipassana’ mentioned at all: if you
could provide the text where Richard ‘perhaps’ does not know what he is talking about I may be able to respond
constructively to your thought.
And the reason why I suggest this is also because of this (in a recent post):
• [Respondent]: ‘(...) I myself do not buy much of the theory handed down from tradition, but the
[Vipassana] technique works and it is not at all what Richard or Vineeto describes it to be. THAT is why I say they do not
understand the technique’. (Saturday 06/11/2004 AEDST).
As you not provide the text, where Richard describes the Vipassana Bhavana (aka ‘Insight Meditation’) Mr.
Satya Goenka made popular in the west in a way which is ‘not at all’ what the technique you were taught is, there is
nothing of substance for me to respond to.
RESPONDENT: From what I have been taught, the teaching of Vipassana is to go
beyond both body AND consciousness, or mind.
RICHARD: Indeed ... here is but one instance (among many) where Mr. Gotama the Sakyan makes it
abundantly clear that full release is beyond both body and consciousness:
• [Richard]: ‘(...) Lastly, the discourse drives the point home by explaining that the instructed
• [quote] ‘Disenchanted with the *body*, disenchanted with feeling, disenchanted with perception,
disenchanted with fabrications, disenchanted with *consciousness*. Disenchanted, he becomes dispassionate. Through
dispassion, he is fully released. With full release, there is the knowledge, ‘Fully released’. He discerns that ‘Birth is
depleted, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world’. SN
22.59; PTS: SN iii.66; ‘Anatta-Lakkhana’ Sutta (The Discourse on the Not-self Characteristic).
Note well it says ‘there is nothing further for this world’ ... if that is not a clear indication of a
withdrawal from this sensate material world I would like to know what is. [emphasises added].
RESPONDENT: (...) Are you sure actualism is 180 degrees opposite?
RICHARD: Ha ... as I am this flesh and blood body only, and as this flesh and blood body being
conscious – as in being alive, not dead, being awake, not asleep, being sensible, not insensible (comatose) – is what
consciousness is (the suffix ‘-ness’ forms a noun expressing a state or condition), I am most assuredly not disenchanted with
the body/disenchanted with consciousness ... let alone fully released from same (and thus) discerning there is nothing further for
RESPONDENT: Maybe you guys just know Vipassana as taught by quacks.
RICHARD: As the only occasion I am cognisant of, wherein you have read anything of what I have written
about the Vipassana Bhavana (aka ‘Insight Meditation’) Mr. Satya Goenka made popular in the west, is the e-mail I wrote to you
on Tuesday 26/10/2004 AEST – wherein I quoted from what
Mr. Ba Khin had to say – I can only assume that you are characterising him (Mr. Satya Goenka’s accredited Master) as being a
Especially so as you specifically say that you [quote] ‘do not buy much of the theory handed down from
RESPONDENT: Ok –
RICHARD: If I may ask? Are you saying ‘Ok’ (as in an assent or acquiescence in response to
a question or statement) to my assumption that it is Mr. Ba Khin – Mr. Satya Goenka’s accredited Master – whom you are
characterising as being a quack?
RESPONDENT: Actually I was referring to your general description of Vipassana
and the SC body from Vineeto.
RICHARD: If you could provide the ‘general description of Vipassana’ of mine you are
referring to where you think Richard [quote] ‘perhaps’ [endquote] does not know what he is talking about I may be able to
respond constructively to your thought.
Furthermore, as you do not provide the ‘general description of Vipassana’ of mine you are
referring to, where Richard describes the Vipassana Bhavana (aka ‘Insight Meditation’) Mr. Satya Goenka made popular in the
west in a way which is [quote] ‘not at all’ [endquote] what the technique you were taught is, there is nothing of substance
for me to respond to.
RESPONDENT: I just figured you guys agree on most of the things you say about
RICHARD: Indeed we do ... however, as the Vipassana Bhavana (aka ‘Insight Meditation’) Mr. Satya
Goenka made popular in the west is not, and never will be, actualism there is no reason to suppose that such concordance would
extend to each and every detail of one of the multitudinous sub-sects of the multiplicity of sects which subsist in the religious
denomination known as ‘Buddhism’.
Speaking personally, I always leave sectarian disputes to the sectarians to deal with.
RICHARD: Ahh ... good. There are several items in your last post that I wished to respond to. Vis.:
• [Respondent]: ‘I was thinking about ‘spiritualism versus actualism’. I
think the reason why I still can’t differentiate between these two is perhaps a lack of PCE. To me both Satori and PCE look
same. I have no experience of either. I practiced Vipassana irregularly and found that it made difference in my ordinary life. It
did help to make me reasonably happy. I don’t care about what is the exact philosophy behind it. I don’t think that the
spiritual practices are useless’.
It is this simple: the English translation of the Pali ‘Vipassana Bhavana’ is ‘Insight
Meditation’. ‘Bhavana’ means ‘to cultivate’, and, as the word is always used in reference to the mind, ‘Bhavana’
means ‘mental cultivation’. ‘Vipassana’ means ‘seeing’ or ‘perceiving’ something with meticulousness
discernment, seeing each component as distinct and separate, and piercing all the way through so as to perceive the most
fundamental reality of that thing and which leads to intuition into the basic reality of whatever is being inspected. Thus ‘Vipassana
Bhavana’ means the cultivation of the mind, aimed at seeing in a special way that leads to intuitive discernment and to full
understanding of Mr. Gotama the Sakyan’s basic precepts. In ‘Vipassana Bhavana’ , Buddhists cultivate this special
way of seeing life. They train themselves to see reality exactly as it is described by Mr. Gotama the Sakyan, and in the
English-speaking world they call this practice ‘Vipassana Meditation’.
Consequently, when a person who ‘doesn’t care about what is the exact philosophy behind it’ blindly
practices ‘Vipassana’ it is a further withdrawal from this actual world than what ‘normal’ people currently experience in
the illusionary ‘reality’ of their ‘real world’. All Buddhists (just like Mr. Gotama the Sakyan) do not want to be here at
this place in space – now at this moment in time – as this flesh and blood form, walking and talking and eating and drinking
and urinating and defecating and being the universes’ experience of its own infinitude as a reflective and sensate human being.
They put immense effort into bringing ‘samsara’ (the Hindu and/or Buddhist belief in the endless round of birth and
death and rebirth) to an end ... if they liked being here now they would welcome their rebirth and delight in being able to be
here now again and again as a human being. They just don’t wanna be here (not only not being here now but never, ever again). Is
it not so blatantly obvious that Mr. Gotama the Sakyan just did not like being here? Does one wonder why one never saw his
anti-life stance before? How on earth can someone who dislikes being here so much ever be interested in bringing about
peace-on-earth? In this respect he was just like all the Gurus and God-Men down through the ages ... the whole lot of them
were/are anti-life to the core. For example:
• [Mr. Gotama the Sakyan]: ‘If there is someone who is unaware of the Tathagata’s most profound
viewpoint of the eternally abiding, unchanging, fine and mysterious essential body (dharmakaya), that it is said that the body
that eats is not the essential body, and who is unaware of the Tathagata’s path to the power of virtue and majesty; then, this
is called suffering. (...) you should know that this person necessarily shall fall into the evil destinies and his circulation
through birth and death (samsara) will increase greatly, the bonds becoming numerous, and he will undergo afflictions. If there is
someone who is able to know that the Tathagata is eternally abiding without any change, or hears that he is eternally abiding, or
if [this] Sutra meets his ear, then he shall be born into the Heavens above. And after his liberation, he will be able to realize
and know that the Tathagata eternally abides without any change. Once he has realized this, he then says, ‘Formerly, I had heard
this truth, but now I have attained liberation through realizing and knowing it. Because I have been entirely unaware of this
since the beginning, I have cycled through birth and death, going round and round endlessly. Now on this day I have for the first
time arrived at the true knowledge’. [endquote]. Chapter 10: The Four Truths; [647b];
‘The Great Parinirvana Sutra’; (T375.12.647a-c); Redacted from the Chinese of Dharmakshema by Huiyan, Huiguan, and Xie Lingyun
(T375); Translated into English by Charles Patton.
It can be seen that he clearly and unambiguously states that he (Mr. Gotama the Sakyan) is ‘the
eternally abiding, unchanging, fine and mysterious essential body’ even to the point of repeating it twice (‘the
Tathagata is eternally abiding without any change’) and (‘the Tathagata eternally abides without any change’) so
as to emphasise that ‘someone who is able to know that the Tathagata is eternally abiding without any change ... shall be
born into the Heavens above’. And to drive the point home as to just what he means he emphasises that ‘the body that
eats is not the essential body’ ... which ‘essential body’ can only be a dissociated state by any description and
by any definition.
Which all brings me to your next point. Vis.:
• [Respondent]: ‘What appealed me most about actualism is that I don’t have to
believe in it (the same thing I liked about Vipassana)’
If you did ‘care about what is the exact philosophy behind it’ you would find that you do indeed
have to believe in ‘Vipassana’ ... but do not take my word for it; instead, shall we see what Mr. Ba Khin (Mr. Satya
Goenka’s accredited Master) had to say in 1981? Vis.:
• [Mr. Ba Khin]: ‘Anicca, dukkha, anattā – Impermanence, Suffering and Egolessness – are
the three essential characteristics of things in the Teaching of the Buddha. If you know anicca correctly, you will know dukkha as
its corollary and anattā as ultimate truth. (...) It is only through experiential understanding of the nature of anicca as an
ever-changing process within you that you can understand anicca in the way the Buddha would like you to understand it. (...) It is
by the development of the power inherent in the understanding of anicca, dukkha and anattā, that one is able to rid oneself
of the saṅkhāra accumulated in one’s own personal account. (...) He who has rid
himself of all saṅkhāra comes to the end of suffering, for then no saṅkhāra remains to give the necessary energy to sustain him in any form of life. On the
termination of their lives the perfected saints, i.e., the Buddhas and arahants, pass into parinibbāna, reaching the
end of suffering. For us today who take to vipassanā meditation, it would suffice if we can understand anicca well enough to
reach the first stage (...) The fact of anicca, which opens the door to the understanding of dukkha and anattā and eventually
to the end of suffering, can be encountered in its full significance only through the Teachings of a Buddha (...) For progress in
vipassanā meditation, a student must keep knowing anicca as continuously as possible. (...) The last words of the Buddha just
before He breathed His last and passed away into Maha-parinibbāna were: ‘Decay (or anicca) is inherent in all component
things. Work out your own salvation with diligence.’ This is in fact the essence of all His teachings during the forty-five
years of His ministry. If you will keep up the awareness of the anicca that is inherent in all component things, you are sure to
reach the goal in the course of time. (...) It is only when you experience impermanence (anicca) as suffering (dukkha) that you
come to the realization of the truth of suffering, the first of the Four Noble Truths basic to the doctrine of the Buddha. Why?
Because when you realize the subtle nature of dukkha from which you cannot escape for a moment, you become truly afraid of,
disgusted with, and disinclined towards your very existence as mentality-materiality (namarupa), and look for a way of escape to a
state beyond dukkha, and so to Nibbāna, the end of suffering. (...) Before entering upon the practice of vipassanā
meditation, that is, after samādhi has been developed to a proper level, a student should acquaint himself with the
theoretical knowledge of material and mental properties, i.e., of rūpa and nāma. For in vipassanā meditation one
contemplates not only the changing nature of matter, but also the changing nature of mentality, of the thought-elements of
attention directed towards the process of change going on within matter. At times attention will be focused on the impermanence of
the material side of existence, i.e. upon anicca in regard to rūpa, and at other times on the impermanence of the
thought-elements or mental side, i.e., upon anicca in regard to nāma. (... ...) The world is now facing serious problems
which threaten all mankind. It is just the right time for everyone to take to vipassanā meditation and learn how to find a
deep pool of quiet in the midst of all that is happening today. Anicca is inside of everybody. It is within reach of everybody.
Just a look into oneself and there it is – anicca to be experienced. When one can feel anicca, when one can experience anicca,
and when one can become engrossed in anicca, one can at will cut oneself off from the world of ideation outside. (... ...) The
time-clock of vipassanā has now struck – that is, for the revival of Buddha-Dhamma vipassanā in practice. (U Ba Khin, The Essentials of Buddha Dhamma in Meditative Practice
This is what Mr. Eric Lerner had to say about Mr. Ba Khin:
• [Mr. Eric Lerner]: ‘In the past few decades in Theravada Buddhist countries there has been a general
revival of interest in insight meditation among the robed Sangha, and with it a spreading of the practice outside the monastery
walls. (...) one of the most important meditation masters of modern day Burma, Thray Sithu U Ba Khin (...) [taught] meditation at
the International Meditation Centre in Rangoon, which was established under his guidance in the early 1950s. The unique
characteristics of his spiritual teaching stem from his situation as a lay meditation master in an orthodox Buddhist country (...)
all of his practice was geared specifically to lay people. He developed a powerfully direct approach to vipassanā meditation
that could be undertaken in a short period of intensive practice and continued as part of householding life. His method has been
of great importance in the transmission of the Dhamma to the West, because in his twenty five years at the Center he instructed
scores of foreign visitors who needed no closer acquaintance with Buddhism per se to quickly grasp this practice of
insight. Since U Ba Khin’s demise in 1971 several of his commissioned disciples have carried on his work, both within and
outside of Burma. Hundreds of Westerners have received the instruction from S.N. Goenka in India, Robert Hover and Ruth Denison in
America and John Coleman in England. In addition, several of U Ba Khin’s closest disciples still teach at the Centre in Rangoon’.
(Eric Lerner, U Ba Khin: An Appreciation http://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh231-u.html).
Just in case this precis of Mr. Ba Khin’s teaching was too much for you to take in, may I leave you with
just one sentence of his (copied from above) to leave you with? Vis.: [Mr. Ba Khin]: ‘On the termination of their lives the
perfected saints, i.e., the Buddhas and arahants, pass into parinibbāna, reaching the end of suffering’ [dukkha].
[endquote]. And just in case you miss the point, he is clearly saying that the end of suffering lies in ‘parinirvana’ (an
after-death state) and is the sole goal of ‘Vipassana Bhavana’.
So, can you now start to ‘differentiate between spiritualism versus actualism’?
RESPONDENT: Richard – you may also want to look at this and explain how you
can still assert the 180 degree different-ness of actualism and what you call spirituality. Sure, you don’t have to know
everything about all the different sects and such, but you better know enough to be able to assert how what you say and what
others say is actually 180 deg. opposite.
[Richard]: ‘Actual freedom: This physical universe is beginningless and endless
(unborn and undying). Spiritual freedom: God (by whatever name) is beginningless and endless (unborn and undying)’.
No God in Vipassana., this becomes clear after practice.
RICHARD: I draw your attention to the following:
• [Mr. Satya Goenka]: ‘The law of nature is such that when you stop creating new sankharas [mental
formations] you are on the path of liberation, nirodha-gamini patipada. The Buddha called it dukkha-nirodha-gamini
patipada, the path to eradicate all miseries; and he has also called it vedana-nirodha-gamini patipada, the path to
eradicate all vedana [sensation]. In other words, by walking on the path one reaches the stage where there is no more vedana
because *one experiences something beyond mind and matter*. Within the field of mind and matter there is constant contact,
because of which there is vedana, whether pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. To come out of vedana is to come out of misery’.
[italics in original, emphasis added]. (‘The Snare Of Mara’;
Just as a matter of interest ... were you ever to ‘come out of misery’ (as also expressed in the ‘freedom
from all suffering’ phrasing below) just what is your plan for informing this mailing list of your success? And here is why I
• [Mr. Satya Goenka]: ‘When one experiences the truth of nibbana – a stage beyond the entire sensorium
– all the six sense organs stop working. *There can’t be any contact with objects outside*, so sensation ceases. At
this stage there is freedom from all suffering’. [emphasis added]. (‘Buddha’s Path Is to
Experience Reality’; www.vri.dhamma.org/newsletters/nl9510.html).
Here is some more on that ‘something’ referred to in the first quote which is beyond mind and matter:
• [Mr. Satya Goenka]: ‘... transcending the field of mind and matter, one comes to *the ultimate truth*
which is beyond all sensory experience, beyond the phenomenal world. In this transcendent reality there is no more anicca
[impermanence]: nothing arises, and therefore nothing passes away. It is a stage without birth or becoming: the deathless. While
the meditator experiences this reality, the senses do not function and therefore sensations cease. This is the experience of
nirodha, the cessation of sensations and of suffering’. [emphasis added]. (‘Sensation –
The Key to Satipattana’; www.vri.dhamma.org/archives/ddsensation.html).
VINEETO: As you say you quite enjoy the practice of ‘grooving on ecstatic
vibes’ then clearly actualism is not for you because, as the very term expressively states, actualism is all about what is
actual whereas vibes, being feelings, are not actual.
RESPONDENT: Sorry I’m not hip to your lingo ...
RICHARD: It is quite commonplace ‘lingo’ actually. Vis.:
• ecstatic: of the nature of, characterized by, or producing ecstasy [the state of being distracted by some
emotion; a frenzy, a stupor; (now the usual sense) an exalted state of feeling]. (Oxford
• ecstatic: of, relating to, or marked by ecstasy [a state of being beyond reason and self-control; a state of overwhelming
emotion; trance, especially: a mystic or prophetic trance]. (Merriam Webster Dictionary).
• ecstatic: feeling or characterized by ecstasy [an overwhelming feeling of great happiness or joyful excitement; an emotional
or religious frenzy or trancelike state]. (Compact Oxford English Dictionary).
• ecstatic: showing or feeling great pleasure or delight; completely dominated by an intense emotion; (plural) somebody who
undergoes spells of intense emotion. (Encarta® World English Dictionary).
• ecstatic: enraptured, rapturous, rhapsodic; feeling great rapture or delight. (WordNet®
• ecstatic: marked by or expressing ecstasy [a state of emotion so intense that one is carried beyond rational thought and
self-control]. (American Heritage® Dictionary).
• vibes: a distinctive emotional atmosphere; sensed intuitively; synonym: vibration. (WordNet® 2.0).
• vibe: (slang) an emotional quality believed to be detectable in a person or thing by intuition; vibration; often plural;
related word: intuition. (Wordsmyth Dictionary).
• vibe: (slang) a vibration; often used in the plural; short for vibration [a distinctive emotional aura or atmosphere regarded
as being instinctively sensed or experienced; often used in the plural]. (American Heritage®
• vibes: (slang) the feeling you get from being in a particular place or situation or from being with a particular person. (Cambridge Dictionary of American English).
• vibe: (informal) the atmosphere or aura of a person or place as communicated to and felt by others. (Compact Oxford English Dictionary).
• vibes: (slang) atmosphere or feeling: a particular kind of atmosphere, feeling, or ambience; plural: vibes. (Encarta® World English Dictionary).
• vibe: mood or atmosphere; feeling; (plural) signals or messages sent out to someone. (Macquarie
• vibe: (slang) transmit in the form of vibrations [characteristic signals or impressions about a person or thing, regarded as
communicable to others; (an) atmosphere: also, a mental (esp. occult) influence]; affect in a specified way by means of
vibrations. (Oxford Dictionary).
• vibe: a characteristic emanation, aura, or spirit that infuses or vitalizes someone or something and that can be instinctively
sensed or experienced – often used in plural; a distinctive usually emotional atmosphere capable of being sensed – usually
used in plural. (Merriam Webster Dictionary).
RESPONDENT: (...) I was not referring to ‘Psychic Vibes’ or vibes as ‘feelings’,
RICHARD: That being the case then, for the sake of clarity in communication, it would be handy to use
some other expression than ‘grooving on ecstatic vibes’ as that phraseology does not convey what you explain it to mean
in this e-mail (more on this below).
RESPONDENT: As you continue to put (unintended) meaning into my words you
will continue to misunderstand me, making effective communication impossible. This has happened countless times now.
RICHARD: As I also took your ‘grooving on ecstatic vibes’ as to be conveying that you were
intensely enjoying (as in ‘grooving’) exalted (as in ‘ecstatic’) feelings (as in ‘vibes’) I checked with a wide range
of dictionaries to see why I too had taken it that way ... given the (further above) definitions it is a quite understandable take
and thus your remonstrations (above) are most definitely uncalled for.
Here is what you say, in this e-mail, that you were conveying (from the parenthesised snip above):
• [Respondent]: ‘What I am referring to is the utter delight in experiencing the universe as it actually
And the following is how the universe ‘actually is’ (also from the parenthesised snip) according
• [Respondent]: ‘... as I recall, the whole universe is vibrating. Atoms are themselves harmonic
oscillators, same for molecules, etc. Molecules are constantly vibrating in your body, and effective chemical signalling between
neurons would be impossible with out vibration (diatomic, etc.). So, when you are sensately experiencing the universe, this input
can only come in the form of vibration (sensation, sight, sound, even taste and smell)’. [endquote].
Thus ‘grooving on ecstatic vibes’ is your way of conveying that you are utterly delighting (as in
‘grooving’) in experiencing exalted (as in ‘ecstatic’) vibrations (as in ‘vibes’) of the nature proposed by
theoretical physicists ... which, being but a mathematical model of the universe, cannot be experienced sensately.
Here is what you go on to say:
• [Respondent]: ‘If you insist that vibrations are feelings and you have no part of them I wonder in what
realm your experience happens’. [endquote].
Going by what your co-respondent has written it is most certainly not the realm where the following occurs
(from the web site you provided a link to previously):
• [Question]: What are vibrations? How do they affect us?
• [Mr. Satya Goenka]: Everything in the Universe is vibrating. This is no theory, it is a fact. The entire Universe is nothing
but vibrations. The good vibrations make us happy, the unwholesome vibrations cause misery. Vipassana will help you come out of
effect of bad vibrations – the vibrations caused by a mind full of craving and aversion. When the mind is perfectly balanced,
the vibrations become good. And these good or bad vibrations you generate start influencing the atmosphere all around you.
Vipassana helps you generate vibrations of purity, compassion and goodwill – beneficial for yourself and all others’. (www.vri.dhamma.org/general/question.html#vibrations).
As compassion is unambiguously a passion it would appear that the [quote] ‘good vibrations’ [endquote] of
the entire universe are affective in character ... as is evidenced by the following:
• [Mr. Satya Goenka]: ‘... at the end of a 10-day Vipassana course, you are taught how to send metta, the
vibrations of love and compassion. He or she [the deceased person being referred to in the question being answered] will be happy.
Wherever you are, your metta vibrations will touch this person’.
Thus the [quote] ‘metta vibrations’ [endquote] are indeed the ‘good vibrations’ being referred to
and, furthermore, like all such vibes, are both transmittable and receivable. Vis.:
• [Question]: ‘Are there Dhamma forces that support us as we develop on the Path?
• [Mr. Satya Goenka]: ‘Certainly – visible as well as invisible ones. (...) If we develop love, compassion and goodwill, we
will get tuned up with all beings, visible or invisible, that have these positive vibrations, and we will start getting support
from them. It is like tuning a radio to receive waves of a certain meter band from a distant broadcasting station. Similarly, we
tune ourselves to vibrations of the type we generate; and so we receive the benefit of those vibrations’. (www.vri.dhamma.org/general/question.html#dhammaforces).
• [Question]: ‘What is the value of attending group sittings?
• [Mr. Satya Goenka]: ‘Whenever a few people sit together, whatever they generate in their minds permeates the atmosphere. If
five, ten, twenty, or fifty people meditate together, the vibrations of one or two among them might be good vibrations and this
may help the others meditate better in that atmosphere’. (www.vri.dhamma.org/newsletters/nl9906.html).
• [Mr. Satya Goenka]: ‘... at the end of every Vipassana course, or a 1-hour sitting, a meditator is
asked to practice metta [loving-kindness], to share the merits gained with all beings. Metta vibrations are tangible vibrations
whose beneficial power increases as the purity of the mind increases. (...) Without samadhi, the metta is really no metta
[selfless love]. When samadhi is weak, the mind is very agitated, and it is agitated only when it is generating some impurity,
some type of craving or aversion. With these impurities, you cannot expect to generate good qualities, vibrations of metta, or
karuna (compassion)’. (www.vri.dhamma.org/general/question.html#metta).
• [Mr. Satya Goenka]: ‘... people who don’t practice Vipassana can practice Metta Bhavana. In such
countries as Burma, Sri Lanka and Thailand, Metta Bhavana is very common in every household. However, the practice is usually
confined to mentally reciting ‘May all beings be happy, be peaceful’. This certainly gives some peace of mind to the person
who is practicing it. To some extent good vibrations enter the atmosphere, but they are not strong. However, when you practice
Vipassana, purification starts. With this base of purity, your practice of Metta naturally becomes stronger. Then you won’t need
to repeat these good wishes aloud. A stage will come when every fiber of the body keeps on feeling compassion for others,
generating goodwill for others’. (www.vri.dhamma.org/general/question.html#metta).
As for the [quote] ‘bad vibrations’ [endquote] of the entire universe ... the following is quite clear:
• [Mr. Satya Goenka]: ‘When we generate vibrations of negativity – anger, hatred, ill-will, animosity,
ego, etc. – the atmosphere around us becomes charged with these vibrations. This pollution, although invisible, causes so many
problems in human society – tensions, stress, strain, conflicts. Misery, nothing but misery. Vipassana is the way out of this
misery. It is a technique to purify the mind. In order to overcome the darkness of ignorance and negativity we must generate love,
compassion and goodwill. In order to generate these wholesome qualities, we need to purify our minds. (...) It is the mind which
creates all these different types of pollution. As long as the mind remains impure, it will continue to generate unhealthy
vibrations, making the entire atmosphere full of misery’.
• [Mr. Satya Goenka]: ‘This is how mara (which is nothing but the manifestation of your own impurities)
gets into the centre; you start fighting with each other and generating bad vibrations of anger and hatred and this spoils the
entire atmosphere of the centre. You have come to help develop good vibrations of love and compassion and peace, and in the name
of Dhamma you have started harming the centre and also harming yourselves. Be careful to see that you do not fight with each
other; you must live together in peace and harmony’. (www.vri.dhamma.org/general/dgedays.html).
• [Mr. Satya Goenka]: ‘Vipassana wants you to observe the natural vibration that you have – in the form
of sensations – vibrations when you become angry, or when you are full of passion, or fear, or hatred, so that you can come out
of them’. (www.vri.dhamma.org/general/question.html#mantras).
Needless is it to add there there are no such vibrations, be they either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ vibrations,
here in the actual world (the world of the senses)?
I have provided those detailed quotes because the problem with the peoples who discard the Christian/ Judaic/
Islamic god is they do not realise that by turning to the eastern spiritual philosophy they have effectively jumped out of the
frying pan into the fire. Eastern spirituality is religion ... merely in a different form to what people in the west have been
raised to believe in. Eastern spiritual philosophy sounds so convincing to the western mind which is desperately looking for
answers. The Christian/Judaic/Islamic conditioning actually sets up the situation for a thinking person to be susceptible to the
esoteric doctrines of the east. It is sobering to realise that the intelligentsia of the west are eagerly following the east down
the slippery slope of striving to attain to a self-seeking divine immortality ... to the detriment of life on earth. At the end of
the line there is always a god/goddess/truth, of some description, lurking in disguise wreaking its havoc with its ‘ancient
Have you ever been to India to see for yourself the results of what they claim are tens of thousands of years
of devotional spiritual living?
I did, back when there was a full suite of affections in this body, and it was hideous.
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