I've completed 5 10-day Vipassana courses, one Sati, and I've served a 3-day and in various other smaller capacities. I'll be serving my first 10 day in about 6 weeks, and began regularly sitting 2 hours a day after completing my last course in early December 2017.

I sat a total of 28 days in 2017, and hope to do a similar amount this year as well.

So in short, I feel absolutely certain that this is the path; it's crystal clear to me. I also have a clear sense of my purpose in this life as a householder, as an aside, but sense that I'll spend large portions of my life sharing with others about my experience with Vipassana to try and help to make them aware of it.

Recently, I've been noticing that my ability to feel the feelings of others, to see where they are, has become sharper and sharper. I can really feel their pain, and transmute it, and I also see what could be done to really help them. I feel love for them and want to help them, mostly, with occasional feelings of being negatively impacted by their pain creeping in, but that has lessened as my Vipassana practice has deepened.

The challenge I'd like to understand has to do with learning how to communicate these notions to people in ways that are helpful to them, in ways that aren't perceived to be self-righteous on my part, of know-it-all-y, or whatever.

I suppose this will come to be with more practice, eh? I feel like that was always Goenka's answer to every question and I understand more and more so what that was the case.

That said, if anyone out there can relate to this and is open to sharing his/her thoughts and experiences, I'd love to hear them.

I am interested in replies from people who have practiced Vipassana and can relate to my experience here.

Thank you!

  • Hello and welcome to Buddhism SE. We also have a Help Center with useful resources that you might like. Enjoy your time here.
    – user2424
    Feb 19, 2018 at 13:41

4 Answers 4


I also see what could be done to really help them.

I doubt the above very much. While I do not doubt you are more & more feeling & seeing the situation of others; it seems what you believe can help others is actually what has helped you; which may not actually be what can help others.

Its similar to you had cancer & took a medicine to heal your cancer and now you wish to give your cancer medicine to another person suffering from AIDS. Although you can see the suffering of the person with AIDS, your cancer medicine will not cure AIDS.

The challenge I'd like to understand has to do with learning how to communicate these notions to people in ways that are helpful to them, in ways that aren't perceived to be self-righteous on my part, of know-it-all-y, or whatever.

There is nothing special that can be communicated to others; just as nothing special was communicated to you.

Thousands of people do meditation retreats each year. Each of these thousands of individual persons receive the same teachings. Possibly 1% of these thousands attain a special benefit. This 1% success rate is due to the individual's disposition & readiness for meditation and not due to the teachings. Even the Lord Buddha was unable to enlighten every person he spoke to.

In short, your mind might be blinded by the results of your meditation, similar to being blinded when looking into the light of the sun. My answer to you is to simply keep practising what you are practising & keep helping the meditation retreats & Buddhism when you can. But nothing special is required to help others; apart from understanding meditation will not help everybody.

Many people do meditation retreats because they are suffering & confused. However, the help different people actually need is often different. For example, most people need help about the skills & attitudes required to have successful lasting relationships because this what they really want in life. I spent a number of years working meditation retreats & this is the problem most people had & wanted to resolve, namely, broken or dysfunctional family & personal relationships. They were not really interested in meditation & meditation was not really what they needed.

  • I was interested in replies from people who had practiced Vipassana and can related to my experience here, as I stated. This is not that.
    – Rachel
    Feb 20, 2018 at 19:08
  • I have 100% related to your experienced because i have been thru it but when that i occurred to me i was completely blind & drunk on the results of meditation. Naturally, because your mind is the same, helping you is close to impossible. Just as I cannot help you; you cannot help them. As I said, these people are receiving the same instructions as you received. One person succeeds, ninety-nine people fail. That is how it is. You cannot help them because they must help themselves. Feb 20, 2018 at 20:25

I don't know but you might get some (not specifically Buddhist) answers to this question, if you ask it on IPS.SE.

For example, one standard (but non-Buddhist) bit of advice is to talk using I-messages.

Instead of you-messages like ...

  • Your problem is X
  • You should do Y to accomplish Z

... it might be perceived as less "self-righteous and know-it-all-y" to use I-messages like ...

  • I like X
  • I find that Y has effect Z

Saying "my experience is ..." may be less likely to be perceived as "know-it-all", because it's only claiming to know (and share) your own (limited) experience.

I guess too that you want to talk in a way that gets the other person to participate in the conversation. A trivial (exaggerated) example might be to start the conversation with:

  • You know what?
  • No. What?
  • I find that X.
  • Really?
  • Yes: when I (etc.)

There's little point in lecturing someone, IMO; ideally they should want to listen, for some reason.

Another tactic I guess might be to praise someone other than yourself.

For example instead of saying ...

  • I'm great, because I complete Vipassana courses etc.

... you could praise someone else or other people, 3rd parties ...

  • I really like how generous Jane and Mary are.

I think that would be, kind of, not being self-righteous.

Another way might be to invite people to practice with you. If you get good at something and know how to practice it, then maybe you can actually practice it and invite people to join you.

I imagine that people might find that a low barrier-to-entry ... easier to come to your house for a few hours on Saturday than to go away on a retreat somewhere.

And it's not asking/expecting people to do anything you don't do yourself ... not making yourself out to be superior, just sharing.

Finally, you maybe try to avoid getting get the reputation of saying that Vipassana courses are the only solution to all of everyone's pains (even if you find it a solution to yours).

  • I was interested in responses from people who can specifically relate to this situation, as I say. What you say is the obvious Communication 101 stuff, applicable in any scenario, and, ironically, I found your tone self-righteous and mansplain-y, precisely what I'm interested in avoiding, and what these communication skills teach people not to do.
    – Rachel
    Feb 20, 2018 at 19:07
  • Perhaps you might find some other people's answers, e.g. to How to explain what Buddhism is?, helpful.
    – ChrisW
    Feb 20, 2018 at 19:18
  • Ursula Le Guin's Bryn Mawr Commencement Address is a favourite piece of writing (or speech), by the way, not quite on the subject of mansplaining (nor Buddhism) -- "Offer your experience as your truth."
    – ChrisW
    Feb 20, 2018 at 19:35
  • Without commenting on Vipassana, your intent to share with others may imply you might also be interested in what Mahayana doctrine teaches about developing and practising bodhicitta.
    – ChrisW
    Feb 22, 2018 at 11:01

I have a friend who works as a psychotherapist and she also happens to be a (Dzogchen) Buddhist. Here are a few things she told me that might be relevant in your situation:

First, we have to understand that most people don't need our help. I mean, we may see that they need help - but they don't necessarily think they need help. In this case we can't force it. We may still be able to help but we must be as gentle as possible. Sometimes we can gently trick people in receiving help. In Mahayana this is considered appropriate. But in any case we must respect people's choices to live their lives as they want, with all their unneeded self-inflicted pains, illusory goals and silly joys (I'm exaggerating on purpose - but you have to beware of this phenomena called "the savior ego" that tends to see other people's choices as childish.)

Second, she said that (unlike me!) she never gives answers or suggestions. She insists people must come to their own realizations. All she does is asks questions to turn person's mind in the right direction - then they see it by themselves.

Most importantly, she said her goal is not to teach the person anything or to show them "the right way" - but rather to help them recover their own common sense and obtain sense of agency in their own lives, sense of ownership. Once the person can stop being a victim, afraid of judgement, trying to please others, etc. - they can usually figure out the rest by themselves.

So in her view, the best way to help others is to be simple, authentic and warm, and let conversations be natural, never driving any agenda. She said, when she is in the right state of mind, she can see that even small talk can have therapeutic effect. Situations come up by themselves and all we need is to let our own warmth and clarity respond gently and naturally.


I'm very glad for you to have found your path. Vipassana is absolutely not for everyone, but when it resonates in you, embrace it. The process of dissolution has begun, and sometimes you'll begin to understand other people's process, as you deepen on your own. People will approach you feeling your peace. They will open up their lives, intimacies, etc. You will feel compelled to point them the way, to shine light in their darkness. But there is a catch, a subtle line that should not be crossed, as we might overstep the other's process.

I will make a small list of pointers for you, as my own experience has thought me, sometimes the hard way:

  • From Karma's point of view, meeting a stranger who is in Fire for Truth can mean that you are meant to share and/or learn from each other. These moments can become turning points in our lives, and if they are devoid of the "spiritual ego" also trigger awakening.

  • From the Relative point of view, sharing anecdotes, experiences, insights, will only touch that part of the conscious that wants to break free. It won't help directly, but for sure can be very inspiring for both. Just as this brief letter.

  • From the Absolute point of view, you will be talk to yourself, through yourself, about yourself. There would be no conversation. Just your inner master doing a direct transmission of wisdom, from Heart to Heart. That is when you Are I and I, here and Now. No masks, no you and me... just One. This should be the only moment where you are not sharing you inner chaos, otherwise it's better to stay silent.

    You can only touch the surface with words...

I would recommend you to combine Vipassana with Advaita Vedanta, known here in the west as Satsang (Ramana Maharshi, Nisardagatta Maharaj, Papaji). It will give you the other side of the coin, in Self-Realization.

Last year I had my first two courses in Belgium (Dhamma Pajjota), and as you, had the epiphany of it becoming my path. Finally, after 30 years, the search is over. What is left is practice. So this year, taking it to the next level, I began following Citta, just came back from washing dishes for 120 students. The 9th day I was offered to sit. That day I went deeper than ever in my whole live. Somewhere my heart opened up and I surrendered and it all was dissolved. The experience of Metta transcended to a whole new level too... I know that this is not part of the teachings, but sometimes one has to step out the box. As human nature is so diverse, you won't find a technique completely suited for you. The combining the power of the Mind and the Heart just worked for me. It just felt right! It also humbled me to the fact, that I'm just a baby, a newborn (spiritually), and that I/we have sooo much to unlearn!

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