Joseph Goldstein explores the concept of bare attention, or choiceless awareness, and how cultivating this state of mind can help us settle back, live in the present moment, and more.
This 1983 Joseph Goldstein dharma talk on bare attention was originally published on Dharma Seed.
Joseph begins by talking about how the path of meditation is the path of opening. He introduces the state of mind called bare attention, or choiceless awareness, which he considers the foundation of self-exploration. Joseph shares how cultivating bare attention helps us develop other aspects needed on our spiritual journeys, starting with living more in the present moment.
“The foundation stone of this investigation, or exploration, is a state of mind, or quality of mind, called bare attention. That is, the ability of the mind to be with things, to be with experiences, as they are, without judging, without comparing, without biases, without choosing, and without preconception…” – Joseph Goldstein
Joseph Goldstein investigates wise attention on Insight Hour Ep. 79
Rhythm Carries the Awareness (18:45)
Joseph explores more outcomes of cultivating bare attention. We can learn how to settle back, come to a place of rest and effortlessness, and let the rhythm of experience establish itself. He talks about the universality of this practice of cultivating bare attention, and how it’s important not to think of our spiritual lives as separate from our worldly affairs.
“If we can get out of the way and simply allow this natural rhythm to be there, we plug into that and the rhythm carries the awareness, the rhythm carries the mindfulness.” – Joseph Goldstein
Consciousness and Awareness (37:55)
Joseph covers two factors of mind which strengthen our ability to be present and open: concentration and mindfulness. He answers questions about the difference between consciousness and awareness, Right Effort, what it means to truly deepen our practice, and the difference between commitment and attachment.
“Do you see the difference between being lost in a thought and being mindful that the thought is present? That’s the difference between consciousness and awareness.” – Joseph Goldstein