Joseph Goldstein – Insight Hour – Ep. 157 – Relative and Absolute Bodhicitta

In this deep exploration of the union between compassion and emptiness, Joseph Goldstein breaks down the relative and absolute levels of Bodhicitta, the heart-mind of awakening.

This dharma talk from July 9, 2003, was originally published on Dharma Seed.
Joseph Betterhelp

“The ultimate nature of Bodhicitta – the relative level is compassion – the ultimate level of Bodhicitta, is the empty, aware nature of the mind itself. And as one Tibetan teacher said, ‘When compassion and emptiness are both present, enlightenment is unavoidable.’ So this is what we practice. This what we come to realize, to cultivate: the relative Bodhicitta of compassion, the ultimate Bodhicitta of emptiness.” – Joseph Goldstein

In this episode, Joseph explores:

  • Relative Bodhicitta, absolute Bodhicitta, and how these two levels are expressions of each other, not polarities
  • The different ways in which we can understand emptiness, including dropping into the effortless flow of experience, being reminded by our teachers, seeing the insubstantial nature of the self, and seeing that things are not amenable to our will
  • The nature of the mind, which is empty like space, has an innate wakefulness, and it is inherently pure
  • How the activity of emptiness is compassion
Ram Dass talks about the emptiness of compassion in Here and Now Ep. 163

About Joseph Goldstein:

Joseph Goldstein has been leading insight and loving kindness meditation retreats worldwide since 1974. He is a co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, where he is one of the organization’s guiding teachers. In 1989, together with several other teachers and students of insight meditation, he helped establish the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies.

Listen to more from Joseph:

In the search for liberation, we must explore the nature of our existence. Joseph investigates the wisdom of impermanence in Insight Hour Ep. 2.
There are deeper levels of truth about reality. Joseph explores different ways of freeing the mind by understanding the habits of preference and the emptiness of thoughts in Insight Hour Ep. 41.
There are many nuances to the concept of Right Effort. Joseph explains how that effort can help us build real momentum in our spiritual practice in Insight Hour Ep. 83.
It’s possible to smile at the antics of one’s own mind. Joseph offers responses to questions about selflessness, shame, cravings, and more in Insight Hour Ep. 111.
Metta practice can penetrate deeply. Joseph explores how love, kindness, gratitude, and friendship can revolutionize our lives in Insight Hour Ep. 117.

Art via Analogvibestudio