Joseph Goldstein – Insight Hour – Ep. 120 – Purifying Our Practice

Joseph Goldstein shares his wisdom on purifying our practice through openness to suffering and being compassionate. 

Joseph Goldstein shares his wisdom on purifying our practice through openness to suffering and being compassionate. 

Success Through Intention

This talk on purifying our practice begins with a discussion on motivation. Joseph Goldstein reads us this quote:  

“The true value of an action is not measured by whether it is successful or not, but by the motivation behind it. “ — The Dalai Lama

When we look at our “success” in the world, we should not focus on outcomes. Instead, we should look at what our intention was. We can not control all of the variables in the world, but we do have the ability to train our hearts and have pure intentions. If the intention behind what we do is for the benefit and awakening of all people, that is true success. 

Emptiness and Compassion (10:22)

In Buddhism, there is a name for this altruistic practice. It is called bodhicitta. Even in the earliest Buddhist texts, there is a discussion of bodhicitta. According to these texts, compassion and emptiness are the ideas that we need to combine in order to reach enlightenment. Compassion is the driving force that moves us to take action and do things for the welfare of ourselves and others. This is essential for bodhicitta. 

“Compassion arises in our willingness to come close to suffering. If we aren’t willing to open to the suffering that is there, compassion is not going to arise…just as there are many times in our practice and in our lives when we don’t want to open to and acknowledge our pain, there are many times when we don’t want to open to the pain of others. ” – Joseph Goldstein

Instinctually, we often want to pull away from pain and suffering. The more we can interact with suffering and be at peace with emptiness, the better we are at finding compassion.

For more on the subject of emptiness and compassion gear up for Ep. 163 of Here and Now w/ Ram Dass: The Emptiness of Compassion.

We Are Not Alone In Suffering (23:26)

One of the ways we can open up to suffering is by realizing that we are not alone. Each of us experiences suffering in some way. When we understand this, it truly breaks down the barriers of separation. Joseph Goldstein says that being aware of the shared experience in suffering allows compassion to flow freely because we know that others may have felt similar pain to us. 

The Butterfly Effect (40:29)

Have you heard of the butterfly effect? Essentially, this concept means that a small input can have a huge output. In each of our lives, we have an opportunity to affect the world positively. Even small acts of kindness, empathy, and compassion, can lead to a giant chain of events. We can start purifying our practice today, and visualize how we can help the welfare of ourselves, others, and the world. As Joseph says: 

“It is amazing the impact we can have. We shouldn’t underestimate the power of these small acts of generosity and compassion”. — Joseph Goldstein

To learn more about transforming suffering into altruism, check out Ep. 102 of Mindrolling: From Anger to Altruism with Noah Levine.
Photo via Luna Vandoorne