Sharing mindful insight on recognizing effort, desire, and impermanence in our practice, Joseph illuminates the nature of self as a flowing river.
In this fresh and bounding Q&A session stemming from the Insight Meditation Society Three-Week Insight Retreat on 11/10/21, Joseph Goldstein explores audience inquiries around the topics of change and wanting, anger and wholesomeness, the arising and passing of phenomena, aging and death, as well as mindfulness and wandering.
This dharma talk from Joseph was originally published on Dharma Seed
Effort, Impermanence, & Desire // Anger & Wholesomeness
Back in person after a long pandemic hiatus, a jubilant Joseph Goldstein sparks a lively session of questions and answers digging into the spiritual zeitgeist of these modern times. Amidst a sea of impish giggles, he begins by offering insight into the connections between effort, impermanence and desire in relation to our meditation practice. From here, he contemplates the various levels to the question: “Can anger be wholesome?”
“If everything that arises is also going to pass away, therefore there’s nothing to want. Because whatever it is that I might be wanting in my practice will also pass away.” – Joseph Goldstein
Jospeh Goldstein explores the arising & passing of phenomena, on Ep. 91 of the Insight Hour
Arising & Passing // The River of Self (22:22)
Diving deeper into his bag of questions, Joseph shares on how we can see more clearly the arising and passing phenomena throughout our practice and our daily life. Building from this, he explains that when we reach the clear seeing of impermanence, we begin to recognize the true nature of selflessness, or non-self.
“What is a river? A river is a flow of water. We give a name to that flow of water – ‘river.’ It’s not a thing in and of itself. There’s no river as a thing independent from the flow of water. So river is a designation for this flow. Self is just like river. Self is a designation for the flow of changing phenomena.” – Joseph Goldstein
Sharon Salzberg, Bob Thurman, & Mark Epstein meditate on selflessness, on Ep. 107 of the Metta Hour
Practicing for Death // Mindfulness & Wandering (40:44)
Prompted to share about the process of aging in regards to meditation, Joseph describes his relationship with practice in his 70s. Through this lens, he explores how we can apply mindfulness to often tumultuous mind situations like illness and the process of dying. To close, he reflects on Father Gregory Boyle’s philosophy of “love no matter what.”
“Suppose you are sitting and your mind is just wandering for the whole hour. Maybe you’re judging yourself, ‘Oh, my practice is no good.’ It would be possible just to sit back, ‘Oh, wandering mind.’ Just lots of thoughts – you’re becoming mindful that that’s what’s happening rather than struggling with some idea that you want it to be different.” – Joseph Goldstein