Joseph Goldstein – Insight Hour – Ep. 83 – The Nuances of Right Effort


On this episode of Insight Hour, Joseph Goldstein examines the many nuances of Right Effort, and how that effort can help us build real momentum in our spiritual practice.

The Nuances of Right Effort

Joseph begins this dharma talk with an exploration of why effort is so important in breaking the habitual patterns of our conditioning. He covers the nuances of Right Effort, including engaging with our breath, awareness of how much effort we’re exerting, and paying attention to our attitude about what is being experienced.

“It’s only if we arouse the energy to play at the edge, and have interest in discovering what can be learned there, that’s what’s going to take us out, basically, of the dream of our lives. We’re just living the dream of our thought, emotional, physical patterns. We’re just going on with the momentum of that. So to awaken from that and to see other possibilities, it takes some effort, it takes some energy.” – Joseph Goldstein

Joseph Goldstein explores more about effort and energy on Insight Hour Ep. 68
Steadiness of Mind, Fullness of Attention (28:00)

Joseph talks about setting the dial of intentionality in order to steady the mind and help it settle into a fuller awareness. He explores dropping into the continuity and immediacy of experience, and how all these nuances of effort build momentum in our practice.

“You turn the dial of intentionality just a little bit. This is the art; it doesn’t take much, it takes the slightest turning up of that intention. And it’s been amazing to me how responsive the mind can be to the setting of that intention.” – Joseph Goldstein

Building From Below, Swooping From Above (51:00)

Joseph examines two ways of applying effort to overcoming the obstacles of hindrances in the mind. He talks about different methods of approaching practice and effort – building from above, and swooping from below – using Greek mythology to illustrate their strengths and weaknesses.

“Building from below really connects us with the reality of our present experience. We’re not denying it, we’re not trying to cover it, we’re not bypassing it, we’re really there and we’re looking carefully at the nature of the suffering.” – Joseph Goldstein