Joseph Goldstein – Insight Hour – Ep. 67 – Factors of Awakening: Investigation


Joseph Goldstein wields the sword of wisdom as he contemplates the Buddha’s second factor of awakening, investigation of the Dhammas.

The Sword of Wisdom

After last episode’s exploration of mindfulness, the first of the Buddha’s seven factors of awakening. Joseph introduces the second factor of awakening, which is an investigation of the Dhammas, or the nature of things. Put in another way. It is the sword of wisdom that cuts through delusion. Joseph talks about how this is the key factor in awakening.

“One of my favorite translations is, ‘truth discerning wisdom.’ This is a particular faculty of mind, it’s a particular activity of mind, this investigative factor of inquiry that discerns the truth. We might think of this particular awakening factor as that which discerns or illuminates the truth by means of discriminating wisdom.” – Joseph Goldstein

Motivation of Actions (14:45)

The second factor of awakening is practiced and developed in various ways. Joseph examines how this sword of wisdom can show what is wholesome, helpful, and skillful, and what is not. It is a tool to investigate the motivation behind our actions.

“Our investigation is to be open and honest enough, and courageous enough, to really look at our own motivations. What are the motivations arising in our minds? When we see them clearly, it’s possible that clarity of vision might put a dent in our self-image, because we might see unwholesome motivations that we weren’t even aware of.” – Joseph Goldstein

Emotional Storms and Personality Structures (26:25)

Joseph moves on to the next application of this factor of awakening in everyday life. Which is how investigation of the Dhammas comes into play when dealing not only with major emotional turbulence but also with just our basic personality tendencies.

“In times of emotional turbulence. First we can investigate what it is that is actually arising. What is the nature of the emotion itself? Then we can inquire how we’re relating to it. Are we claiming it to be ‘I’ or ‘mine’? Sometimes the act of simply, clear recognition is enough to come to a place of acceptance and letting go.” – Joseph Goldstein

The Big Story of Self (42:30)

The final application of this factor of awakening is an investigation into the nature of self. Which Joseph talks about as a “momentary paired progression of knowing and object.” He ends this episode with a contemplation of the selfless, empty nature of the mind.

“We create many stories about experience, we create whole worlds in our mental projections, but the whole big story of self. When we investigate carefully, comes down to moments of knowing a sigh. Knowing a sound, knowing a smell, knowing a taste, knowing a sensation, knowing a mind-object. That’s all that’s going on. But out of that, we create a whole big super-structure. A whole big story of self.” – Joseph Goldstein

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