Joseph Goldstein


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

Author Quotes

Because these moods and mind states are so amorphous and generalized, we often sink into them and become identified with them, and they become the unconscious filter on experience. At these times, we?re looking at the world through colored glasses.

I like the image of the mind as a mirror. The mirror has the capacity to reflect precisely whatever comes before it without any discrimination.

It's not the right effort to gain something. It really is the right effort to break the habit of our identification and fixation, which is very very strong.

On the deepest level, problems such as war and starvation are not solved by economics and politics alone. Their source is prejudice and fear in the human heart; and their solution also lies in the human heart.

The meditative journey is not about always feeling good. Many times we may feel terrible. That?s fine. What we want is to open to the entire range of what this mind and body are about. Sometimes we feel wonderful and happy and inspired, and at other times we deeply feel different aspects of suffering.

This wisdom opens up to us the possibility of simplicity in our lives, of what the Buddha called 'the greatest gain' ? contentment. We are so conditioned to want more, to think that we will be happier if we accumulate more money or possessions, more honor, fame, power, sex, and so forth, that we burden ourselves with acquisitions, both material and psychological. The underlying rationale of this wanting mind is that fulfillment will make us happy. If we stop to reflect upon our situation, we can see that the attitude of wanting more simply leads to greater craving and frustration.

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

Better than one hundred years lived without seeing the arising and passing of things / Is one day lived seeing their arising and passing.2 What does this say about what we value and work for in our lives, and about the liberating effect of seeing directly, in the moment, the truth of change?

If I were to say, ?God, why me?? about the bad things, then I should have said, ?God, why me?? about the good things that happened in my life.

Just as the light of a single candle can dispel the darkness of a thousand years, the moment we light a single candle of wisdom, no matter how long or deep our confusion, ignorance is dispelled.

Once a visiting teacher asked me to check out the most gruesome videos I could find for him. Although I found the request rather strange, he said the videos provided a way for him to consciously put himself in a disturbing situation to see if he could stay free within them. Rightly done, this could be a very strong practice in developing equanimity.

The only things that can be said to truly belong to us are our actions and their results;

True humility is the absence of anyone to be proud. Humility is not a stance; it is simply the absence of self. In the same way, relationship is the absence of separation, and it can be felt with each breath, each sensation, each thought, each cloud in the sky, each person that we meet. And being nothing, you are everything. That is all.

When the momentum of mindfulness is well developed, it works like a boomerang; even if we want to distract ourselves, the mind naturally rebounds to a state of awareness.

But there are many times when we are not simply watching thoughts come and go, either because we are lost in them or because we choose to think something through, perhaps as a precursor to action. In both these cases it is crucial for us to discern wholesome from unwholesome thoughts in order to know which to give our energy to, because these thoughts do have a karmic impact; they lead us. From thoughts come actions. From actions come all sorts of consequences. Which thoughts will we invest in? Our great task is to see them clearly, so that we can choose which to act on and which simply to let be.

If we try to practice meditation without the foundation of goodwill to ourselves and others, it is like trying to row across a river without first untying the boat; our efforts, no matter how strenuous, will not bear fruit. We need to practice and refine our ability to live honestly and with integrity.

Let the breath draw the mind down to its own level of subtlety. It is like listening to someone playing a flute as they walk off into the distance.

One of the great misconceptions we often carry throughout our lives is that our perceptions of ourselves and the world are basically accurate and true, that they reflect some stable, ultimate reality. This misconception leads to tremendous suffering, both globally and in our personal life situations.

The Pali word parami refers to ten wholesome qualities in our minds and the accumulated power they bring to us: generosity, morality, renunciation, wisdom, energy, patience, truthfulness, resolve, lovingkindness, and equanimity.

Understanding no-self does not come from destroying something we call self or ego. The great awakening or discovery of the Buddha revealed that there was no self, no permanent I, to begin with. So if there is nothing we have to get rid of, then understanding selflessness very simply comes from careful awareness of what actually is happening moment to moment.

When we are with people and feeling bored, can we listen a little more carefully, stepping off the train of our own inner commenting? If we are sitting in meditation and feeling uninterested, can we come in closer to the object, not with force but with gentleness and care? What is this experience we call the breath? If someone were holding your head under water, would the breath be boring? Each breath is actually sustaining our life. Can we be with it fully, just once?

Consciousness is not a thing that exists, but an event that occurs.

If we use faith to push doubt aside, we construct a defensive wall to keep out any unsettling questions, to keep from having to acknowledge our own fears and uncertainties. The inclusiveness of faith lets us be with whatever arises, investigating the very nature of doubt itself and whatever other difficulties arise. By embracing doubt skillfully we strengthen faith.

Love, compassion, and peace ? these words are at the heart of spiritual endeavors. Although we intuitively resonate with their meaning and value, for most of us, the challenge is how to embody what we know: how to transform these words into a vibrant, life practice.

One of the most radical, far-reaching, and challenging statements of the Buddha is his statement that as long as there is attachment to the pleasant and aversion to the unpleasant, liberation is impossible.

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