This week Joseph explores different ways of freeing the mind by understanding the habits of preference, the emptiness of thoughts and the seduction of “I am.”
One of the biggest challenges for Dharma practitioners is the integration of deeper levels of truth into our lives. Joseph explores these deeper levels of truth about reality as laid out by the Buddha. Which enables us to experience life in a much more freeing way.
“A lot of the teachings are expressed in very conventional language. We live our lives on the level of relative conventional reality. In our Dharma practice, we are also exploring what could be called a more ultimate level of truth or reality. Our challenge is to integrate the two levels. So that even when we are involved in the world. As we all are one way or another, we don’t completely lose sight of the underlying, empty, unsubstantial and selfless nature of it all.” – Joseph Goldstein
A Compassionate Response
The more we understand the relative. The ultimate levels of truth and how they work together, we begin to experience compassion in two different ways. This compassion comes as a natural response to suffering that has the potential free us through awareness.
“We can experience compassion for the suffering, both mental and physical, that we all go through in this dreamlike existence. As we are more open and less self-centered, this response of compassion comes more and more effortlessly. Then when we awaken just a little bit to the fact that is all a dream, we can have compassion for ourselves and others who are still lost in the dream. Then we begin to see the real freedom is not changing the dream, but in waking up. That is really what our practice here is about.”
Joseph reflects on the ways we can begin to free the mind and keep it un-afflicted from the suffering of the body.
Insight and Equanimity
As we begin freeing ourselves through practice, we are able to reach a stage of insight which is called Equanimity of Formations. Joseph discusses the point of equanimity where we allow everything arise without feeling the need to do anything about it.
“At some point, the mind becomes so clear and balanced that whatever arises is seen and left untouched with no interference.” – Ajahn Jumnien
Seduction of “I Am”
Lastly, By paying attention to the quickly passing thoughts that are arising in the mind. We slowly begin to weaken our conditioned identification with them. Joseph talks about shifting our perception of identity from our experiences to the one who experiences.
“As seductive as these thoughts are, there is something that we identify with even more than these thoughts and that is the creation of a sense of self through awareness.” – Joseph Goldstein