In this talk from 1974 at Naropa University, Joseph Goldstein gets into the essentials of Buddhism. He lectures about dharma, insight meditation, and developing our field of awareness.
Exploring Dharma (8:10)
Joseph Goldstein begins his lecture by discussing the spread of eastern philosophies. He says that dharma is the first thing we should understand when developing our field of awareness. He teaches listeners that dharma can be defined as all of our psychic and physical elements and the process by which they work together.
“The task of all spiritual work is to explore the dharma, to uncover, to penetrate into the dharma within us, that is to explore all the different elements of mind and body.” – Joseph Goldstein
Using Bare Attention to Be Here Now (13:00)
Bare attention is a buddhist concept rooted in being still with the mind and body so that we can notice their interactions without judgment. When we have bare attention, we are like a living haiku. Haikus are simple captures of a moment without connotations and judgements. When we can witness what is happening in us and outside of us without attaching ourselves or creating ideas about it, we can begin to be here now. This provides us with a deep relaxation and mental balance. It is so potent that some advanced meditators need minimal sleep; the meditation is refreshment enough.
“When we have cultivated bare attention to what is happening in us and around us, the mind is no longer involved in this clinging and condemning. It is just the full experience without the judgment of what it is that is happening, so it becomes very restful. ” – Joseph Goldstein
If you would like to hear more about accepting life exactly how it is without attachment, tune into Ep. 144 of Here and Now: Accepting How It Is
The Three Characteristics of Existence (22:55)
We are taught about the three characteristics of existence: Impermanence, Unsatisfaction, and Selflessness. Everything is impermanent and in flux. Even the knowing faculty of consciousness that makes us aware of impermanence is arising and passing by in each moment. When we incorporate the flow of impermanence into our lives, we can become unattached and learn how to let go. We can not find satisfaction or inner happiness from our attachments because they are all impermanent. Even what we would call a self can not truly exist because of impermanence. Everything is an ever-changing process.
“It is only in that silence of mind that the development of wisdom can happen.” – Joseph Goldstein
The Necessity of Awareness (34:30)
There is not a particular time that you should practice awareness. You should abide in awareness all of the time, whether you are working, cleaning, meditating, or walking. There is no circumstance in which we shouldn’t be aware because enlightenment can happen in even the simplest of moments. We have to practice mindfulness in order to be able to concentrate and have a one-pointedness of mind without striving to attain anything or attach to anything.
“Wisdom does not come from any object, any particular state, we are not striving to attain anything special. It is in the balance of mind and the observation of the process of things that wisdom arises.” – Joseph Goldstein