In this recording from the Insight Meditation Society, Joseph Goldstein reviews the purpose of having a practice and offers us a beginner’s guide to The Buddha Nature. Later, Sharon Salzberg joins to discuss developing a practice in the refuge of retreats.
The Resolve of Buddha
Joseph Goldstein begins by speaking about Buddha as a regular man who was motivated by the contemplation of basic truths like being born, getting older, and dying. Buddha wanted to find out what existence is all about. He had the resolve to sit under a tree until he had the total realization of the deepest truth. Having this type of motivation to inquire is rare, despite witnessing these truths in our everyday lives. Meditation and mindfulness practice is an inquiry into the self and into being alive. Being here today shows a great deal of courage to look deeply and not just float through life until it is over. It can be uncomfortable to look at these truths, but it will lead to greater peace.
“It is a huge undertaking to disentangle the mind, to disentangle our lives, from the web of attachments, beliefs, opinions and tradition – all of these things which keep you blindly going on in your lives.” — Joseph Goldstein
Meeting the Buddha (11:00)
Vipassana is a meditation wherein one concentrates on the body or its sensations and the insight that it provides. Vipassana is one of the earliest teachings of the Buddha. When we practice Vipassana we are practicing something that takes us back to the root of mindfulness. We can see, embrace, and become one with the Buddha during this practice. We do not need to reach out to become the Buddha, we need to settle into the moment and refine our perception of the moment. The goal of practicing Vipassana is not to enter into a particular state. It is to witness our body, our sensations, and our thoughts, and to be mindful of the way we relate to them. Joseph Goldstein says the key principle to remember is:
“It is not important what it is that is happening, what is important is how we are relating to whats happening.” – Joseph Goldstein
The practice is learning how to relate to all the variables and changes in life. When we practice this, whatever is presented to us in life is fine. Our job is simply to be open to what happens. Practicing this meditation is learning to be composed with balance, sensitivity, and compassion, no matter what circumstances are occurring. Joseph Goldstein says that each moment is just another invitation to be aware and to practice.
“Each moment is our Buddha nature revealing itself. In every moment of seeing or hearing or smelling or sensation in the body or a thought or an emotion, every moment is the dharma is the truth revealing itself to us. And our task is to settle back and to open to the truth of each moment.” – Joseph Goldstein
For more info on different types of meditation, tune into Ram Dass Here and Now Ep. 14 : Meditation
Relinquish and Refuge (23:20)
Sharon Salzberg takes over the discussion and shifts our attention to the here and now. She tells the audience that we begin retreats by taking refuge so we can feel anew. We can relinquish our old habits of mind. We just need to put the effort in to be in the moment and to witness the truth of how things are. When we attend a retreat, we are not alone. Just as we are not isolated from one another, meditation in itself is not isolated from the rest of our day and lives. Each moment spent at a retreat is a moment of practice, and this will extend into our lives thereafter.
“We take refuge in the Buddha as a symbol of being integrated not having a life or living a life that is together in one aspect and falling apart in another, but a life that is a complete expression of understanding and love and compassion.” – Sharon Salzberg