Joseph Goldstein


American Vipassana Teachers, Co-Founder of The Insight Meditation Society with Jack Kornfield And Sharon Salzberg, Contemporary Author

Author Quotes

An emotion is like a cloud passing through the sky. Sometimes it is fear or anger, sometimes it is happiness or love, sometimes it is compassion. But none of them ultimately constitute a self. They are just what they are, each manifesting its own quality. With this understanding, we can cultivate the emotions that seem helpful and simply let the others be, without aversion, without suppression, without identification.

For most of us, the state we're in most of the time is distraction.

In Buddhist psychology conceit has a special meaning: that activity of the mind that compares itself with others. When we think about ourselves as better than, equal to, or worse than someone else, we are giving expression to conceit. This comparing mind is called conceit because all forms of it?whether it is I?m better than or I?m worse than, or I?m just the same as?come from the hallucination that there is a self; they all refer back to a feeling of self, of I am.

Mindfulness practice begins to open up everything. We open our mind to memories, to emotions, to different sensations in the body. In meditation this happens in a very organic way, because we are not searching, we are not pulling or probing, we are just sitting and watching.

Spiritual ardency is the wellspring of a courageous heart. It gives us the strength to continue through all the difficulties of the journey. The question for us is how to practice and cultivate ardency, so that it becomes a powerful and onward-leading force in our lives.

The value of an action is measured not by its success or failure, but by the motivation behind it.

We do not know when any seed will come to fruition. We can experience the karmic results of our actions in this lifetime, in the next life, or at any time in the future. But our present actions influence which karmic seeds have the opportunity to come to fruition.

Why do we invest so much energy in acquisition? There may be many psychological underpinnings of this behavior, seeing it as compensatory action, even at times compulsion, for some deeper lack. But we can also understand the force behind this habit of accumulation in a simpler way, namely, the profound influence our consumer society has on our minds. It continually reinforces desires and wanting, often co-opting spiritual values to do so. A recent automobile advertisement shows a handsome young couple standing in front of a new car, surrounded by all the latest consumer delights. The caption reads, 'To become one with everything, you need one of everything.'

An interviewer once asked Mother Teresa what she says to God when she prays. I don?t say anything, she replied. I just listen. Then the interviewer asked her what God says to her. He doesn?t say anything, said Mother Teresa. He just listens. And if you don?t understand that, I can?t explain it to you.

Generosity, love, compassion, or devotion do not depend on a high IQ.

In India, I was living in a little hut, about six feet by seven feet. It had a canvas flap instead of a door. I was sitting on my bed meditating, and a cat wandered in and plopped down on my lap. I took the cat and tossed it out the door. Ten seconds later it was back on my lap. We got into a sort of dance, this cat and I... I tossed it out because I was trying to meditate, to get enlightened. But the cat kept returning. I was getting more and more irritated, more and more annoyed with the persistence of the cat. Finally, after about a half-hour of this coming in and tossing out, I had to surrender. There was nothing else to do. There was no way to block off the door. I sat there, the cat came back in, and it got on my lap. But I did not do anything. I just let go. Thirty seconds later the cat got up and walked out. So, you see, our teachers come in many forms.

Mindfulness, the Root of Happiness .

That the value of an action is measured not by its success or failure, but by the motivation behind it.

The wonderful paradox about the truth of suffering is that the more we open to it and understand it, the lighter and freer our mind becomes. Our mind becomes more spacious, more open, and happier as we move past our avoidance and denial to see what is true. We become less driven by compulsive desires and addictions, because we see clearly the nature of things as they are.

We establish some stability and focus in our mind and see which elements in it lead to greater peace, which to greater suffering. All of it both the peace and the suffering?happens lawfully. Freedom lies in the wisdom to choose.

Wisdom is the clear seeing of the impermanent, conditioned nature of all phenomena, knowing that whatever arises has the nature to cease. When we see this impermanence deeply, we no longer cling; and when we no longer cling, we come to the end of suffering.

And one abides independent, not clinging to anything in the world.

Generosity, morality, respect, service, listening to the Dharma, and meditation ? these are actions for the good. Each one is a practice that can be cultivated and further refined, becoming the causes for our own happiness and the happiness of others. These acts for the good become our gift to the world.

In the One Dharma of emerging Western Buddhism, the method is mindfulness, the expression is compassion, the essence is wisdom. Mindfulness, the method, is the key to the present. Without it, we simply stay lost in the wanderings of our minds. Mindfulness serves us in the humblest ways, keeping us connected to brushing our teeth or pouring a cup of tea.

Most people believe that we are the thoughts that come through our mind. I hope not, because if we are, we are in big trouble! Those thoughts coming through have clearly been conditioned by something: by different events in our childhood, our environment, our past lives, or even some occurrence that has happened two minutes before.

The Buddha commented that we carry our parents on our shoulders for the rest of their lives and still not repay the gift of our precious human birth. Although our culture doesn't value parental respect to the degree that Eastern cultures do, cultivating gratitude opens many doors in the relationship.

The world is like that boat, tossed by the storms of greed and hatred and fear.

We need to distinguish the natural state of awareness from what is perhaps our more normal state of distraction.

Without the steadiness of concentration, it is easy to get caught up in the feelings, perceptions, and thoughts as they arise. We take them to be self and get carried away by trains of association and reactivity.

As a solid mass of rock is not moved by the wind, so a sage is not moved by praise and blame.

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American Vipassana Teachers, Co-Founder of The Insight Meditation Society with Jack Kornfield And Sharon Salzberg, Contemporary Author