Joseph Goldstein – Insight Hour – Ep. 97 – Perception & Mental Formations

In this Dharma talk, Joseph investigates the mindfulness of the dhamma, focusing in on the aggregates of perception and mental formations.

In this Dharma talk, Joseph investigates the mindfulness of the dhamma, focusing in on the aggregates of perception and mental formations.

Continuing a series of talks on the Satipatthana Sutra, Joseph explores the fourth foundation of mindfulness: the mindfulness of the dhamma. In this case, dhamma means categories of experience, the understanding of how different elements of the body and mind function. Beginning the session, Joseph explores the Five Aggregates of Clinging, particularly the aggregates of perception and mental formations, and their relation to our sense of self, and inevitable freedom.

Balancing Perception & Mindfulness

Illustrating the needed balance between our ever-present perception of waking life, and the often buried state of mindful awareness, Joseph expresses the power of practice in strengthening our mindfulness. Describing perception without awareness as a superficial recognition of surface appearances, he explains that with mindfulness, we can deepen our experience to notice the impermanent, insubstantial nature of our experience.

“We use the frame of our recognition, the frame of our perception, in order to look at the experience, to feel the experience, to enter into it more deeply, and not to simply be looking at the frame.” – Joseph Goldstein 

Explore the skillful use of mindfulness, the truth behind identity, and the mystery of incarnation to Ep. 93 of Heart Wisdom
Past, Present, Future: Just a Thought in the Moment (8:01)

How do you experience past? How do you experience future? Elucidating our tendency to solidify our view of reality based on superficial concepts created through perception without mindfulness, Joseph inquires into the notion of time. Highlighting how we solidify our worldview through our attachments, he showcases the ‘mental gymnastics’ we participate in, of throwing the concept of the future out ahead of us as if it’s a reality, when truly it’s just another thought in the moment.

“When we get lost in the mind created worlds of past and future, it’s as if we’re carrying this huge burden, like two mountains on our shoulders…A thought in the moment is very light – comes and goes. Being lost in the concept is a huge burden.” – Joseph Goldstein

See through the veil of past and future with Ram Dass, and see that ‘It’s All Right Here,’ on Ep. 157 of Here & Now
Sankhara: Mental Formations (27:21)

Joseph analyzes the fourth aggregate, Sankhara, which refers to all of the mental factors which arise in different combinations in every moment of consciousness. These are the building blocks of all our mental activity; thoughts, moods, emotions and mind states.

“If we can bring an engaged and interested interest to how these factors are working, it often becomes a vehicle for our release from them.” – Joseph Goldstein

For more Joseph Goldstein with further investigation into the mindfulness of dhamma, tune in to Ep. 65 of the Insight Hour


Images via @rocio.pompa and @nei.cruz via Twenty20