Joseph Goldstein – Insight Hour – Ep. 27 – Transforming Afflictive Emotions


This week, on Insight Hour, Joseph discusses the Buddha’s lesson of the Luminous Mind and how it is obscured by our afflictive emotions.

How is it that the natural clarity the mind can become so easily clouded? Joseph goes deep in exploring the three steps essential to overcoming these afflictive emotions in which we all get caught up.

Luminous Mind

One of the essential teachings of the Buddha is his lesson on the nature of mind.

“Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is defiled by incoming defilements.” – The Buddha

When we hear a sound, it is very simple; it is just the knowing of the sound. In the simplicity of just knowing, there is no problem. This aspect of consciousness is what is called the Luminous Mind, luminous here meaning the knowing capacity. The nature of this aspect of mind, in and of itself, is open clear and unobstructed, it simply knows.

Awareness (6:20)

The first and fundamental step in working with these emotions is recognizing and acknowledging them when they arise. For many of us, the recognition may be there, but we may be in the habit of being overwhelmed by these emotions.

Sometimes we do not recognize these emotions that are present because we are misperceiving them. When we are caught in something, it is important to check our own perception.

“When you look at the mind you see nothing, look through it, and you see the world.” – Joseph Goldstein 

Acceptance (23:45)

The second fundamental step in working with emotions is to mindfully accept the emotions. In this context, acceptance means the full acknowledgment that these afflictive emotions are present.

Wisdom Mind (32:50)

One aspect of the wisdom mind that is gained from recognition and acceptance is the discerning the skillful from unskillful and the wholesome from unwholesome. The Buddha gave a huge emphasis to refining this discernment. It is something that brings an ethical dimension to everything in our lives.

“Anger, with its poisoned root and honeyed tip.” – The Buddha

Identity (50:40)

The final step in working with afflictive emotions is the most challenging, and liberating. It is learning how to be with and to feel all of these different emotions and not identify with them. Not to be taking these feelings as “I” or “mine.”

Image via Space Wind