In a session interweaving Buddhist and Taoist wisdom, Joseph Goldstein reveals how simplicity and spaciousness help us let go of our spiritual self-image and open to the Dharma.
In this vintage Dharma talk stemming from the Insight Meditation Society on May 30th, 1983, Joseph Goldstein explores the spiritual discipline of simplicity through the mindful interplay and application of Taoism and Buddhism.
This dharma talk from Joseph was originally published on Dharma Seed
Flower Sermon // The Simplicity of Suchness
Opening the session, Joseph invites us back in time to ancient India, where Gautama Buddha stood atop Vulture Peak ready to address a sea of monks, nuns, and laypeople. For his sermon that evening he said nothing, and held up a single flower. A monk smiled, Buddha put down the flower – so ended the discourse. Describing how the whole of the Dharma is revealed in perceiving the flower correctly, Joseph explains how we can view every moment of experience as Buddha holding the flower.
“In every moment of experience the Buddha is holding up the flower. In every thought, in every sensation, in every sound, in every odor, in every taste, in every emotion, in every image—it’s not different than the Buddha holding up the flower. The whole of the Dharma is revealed to us in each moment.” – Joseph Goldstein
Open to Thich Nhat Hanh’s take on Buddha’s flower sermon, in Don’t Miss the Flower from our Awakened Heart Blog
The Tao of Simplicity // Free & Easy Wandering (18:41)
Highlighting Buddha’s powerful discipline of simplicity—sit and know you’re sitting, stand and know you’re standing, walk and know you’re walking—Joseph mindfully peels back awareness to the barest components of experience. Discussing the natural spaciousness which opens through the free and easy wandering of mind, he relays Suzuki Roshi’s advice to give our mind a large “mental pasture” to roam. From here, he shares living Dharma encased in the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu.
“Coming back to the discipline of simplicity is to create a field of spaciousness. Give the mind a free pasture. It’s as if we’re riding a horse—you can either be reining the horse in, or you can give the horse free-rein, and let it go. Your job being to stay on the horse. Let the mind go.” – Joseph Goldstein
Trudy Goodman offers the balance of big mind and granular attention, on Ep. 94 of the Guest Podcast
Letting go of Spiritual Self-Image (35:35)
Recollecting a hilarious story from his past of when he first learned of the concept of meditation, Joseph explores how we can begin to let go of spiritual self-images through clear seeing, as well as the recognition of the one Dharma through multiple different teachers. Through this lens, he shares stories of his teachers—Munindra-ji, Goenka-ji, and Dipa Ma—illuminating the Dharmic qualities of simplicity, aliveness, curiosity, stillness, metta, and love. He closes with a Taoist poem from Chuang Tzu.
“The path of the Dharma is to be simple, not a simpleton.” – Munindraji