Buddhist Studies Review, Vol 23, No 1 (2006)

Conceptualizing the Efficacy of Vipassanā Meditation as Taught by S.N.Goenka

Michael S. Drummond
Issued Date: 17 Jan 2007


In the 1950s, E.T. Gendlin developed a philosophical system, published as Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning, to explain the role of bodily feelings in cognition,
and he then evolved a psychotherapy known as Focusing, based on this system.
Focusing works primarily with bodily feelings and how they relate to the thinking processes. Gendlin’s work has had an important impact on the fi eld of Psychology.
An aspect of the historicity of E.T. Gendlin’s work is that it has intriguing similarities with how the Vipassanā meditation teacher S.N. Goenka (one of the more important
personages in international Buddhism of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries), teaches, in line with the Pāli Nikāyas, that a correct understanding of affective
bodily feelings can lead to the dissolution of destructive emotional tendencies. This article uses these similarities to begin a process, from a Western academic perspective, of conceptualizing the effi cacy of Vipassanā meditation, as taught by S.N. Goenka, in dissolving harmful emotional habits. This will be done by comparing how S.N. Goenka and E.T. Gendlin understand the operative factors in personality change.

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DOI: 10.1558/bsrv.v23i1.113


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