Joseph Goldstein – Insight Hour – Ep. 98 – Volition and Consciousness


In this episode of Insight Hour, Joseph Goldstein continues his discussion of mindfulness of the dhammas by exploring the mental formation of volition and the aggregate of consciousness.

This episode is a continuation of the discussion from Insight Hour Ep. 97
Volition is Karma

Joseph explores the fourth aggregate of Buddhism, which is mental formations, focusing on the factor of volition (or intention). He talks about how this factor of volition carries the karmic force of the action we’re taking, and how the karmic fruit of our actions depends on our motivations. He investigates how we can develop our practice to be more mindful in moments of intention.

“It’s important that we practice becoming mindful of intention, not only because of its karmic potential, which is certainly reason enough, but also because we very often unknowingly identify with intention, we identify with volition.” – Joseph Goldstein

The Cognizing Power of the Mind (26:35)

Joseph moves on to the fifth aggregate, consciousness,which is the cognizing power of the mind. He talks about how consciousness functions the same way regardless of the different mental factors that are arising, and about the impermanent nature of consciousness. He explores different perspectives we can bring to our investigation of consciousness.

“The Buddha is saying that consciousness itself is a conditioned phenomena. It’s impersonal, arising out of causes, arising out of conditions from moment to moment.” – Joseph Goldstein

Krishna Das talks about the sky of consciousness on Pilgrim Heart Ep. 92
The Nature of Consciousness (43:55)

Joseph shares insights into the nature of consciousness, how the paired progression of knowing and object is what we call the self. As we continue our practice, we see that consciousness is not something we can hold on to; nothing lasts long enough to be called the self. He closes by reading teachings from beings who have attained a more refined state of consciousness.  

“This is a very important understanding of this mind-body process. It’s really the beginning of understanding selflessness; that what we call self, what we call ‘I’ is simply this process of knowing and object, arising and passing moment after moment.” – Joseph Goldstein



Image via Oliver.zs