‹ tired, since 1985

Sep 05, 2021

Finished reading The Experience of Insight by Joseph Goldstein 📚

This year has been focused a lot on the practice of Vipassana (insight) meditation which inevitably leads to the accompanying Buddhist teachings. No, I have not converted to Buddhism. To quote another book “The Heart of Buddhist Meditation”:

It (Satipaṭṭhāna or “the establishment of mindfulness”) has the depth and the breadth, the simplicity and the profundity for providing the foundation and the framework of a living Satipaṭṭhāna dhamma for all, or, at least, for that vast, and still growing, section of humanity that is no longer susceptible to religious or pseudoreligious sedatives, and yet feel, in their lives and minds, the urgency of fundamental problems of a non-material kind calling for solution that neither science nor the religions of faith can give.

Cultivating mindfulness brings us truly in the moment, or at least as close to reality as we can see, touch, smell, feel while letting go of mental concepts that have no basis in our biological existence.

One of the things that struck me most forcibly when I began the practice of meditation was the fact that so many actions were motivated by a desire to project some image: dressing a certain way, relating to people in a certain way; all revolving about a concept of myself I had created and then struggled to maintain. To carry around an image of ourselves is a great burden, causing a strain or tension between what we actually are in the moment and the image we’re trying to project. It’s not acting invisibly, it’s not acting with that basic emptiness of self that is the settling back into the Dharma, into the Tao. There’s nothing special to be, nothing special to do, nothing special to have. We can let go of self images, let go of projections, and all the tensions involved in sustaining them, settling back and letting it all unfold by itself without any preconceptions of who we are.

This is taken from one of the “Q&A” areas that appear at the end of each section:

Some of the greatest beings throughout the ages have offered teachings, written books, played music, created art, and such; isn’t all that an expression of themselves?

When you are invisible, when there’s no desire to do or be anything, then in fact you can do or be or have anything at all. It’s very true that many of the greatest enlightened beings very spontaneously expressed their understanding, expressed the Dharma, through art and literature; but it was not with the attitude of demonstrating or showing anything. It was part of the unfolding, a very spontaneous and intuitive expression, not coming from the sense of I or self or “look at this.” So many of the great masters were artists and poets; but that art, that creativity, came out of emptiness.

And a great Einstein quote:

Albert Einstein wrote “A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Out task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”