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


  • Michael S. Drummond University of Utrecht





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 field of Psychology. An aspect of the historicity of E.T. Gendlin’s work is that it has intriguing similarities with how the Vipassana 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 Pali Nikayas, 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 efficacy of Vipassana 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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How to Cite

Drummond, M. S. (2007). Conceptualizing the Efficacy of Vipassana Meditation as Taught by S.N. Goenka. Buddhist Studies Review, 23(1), 113–130.




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