Insight Meditation: The Practice of Freedom [NOOK Book]

Overview

The
fruit of some twenty years' experience leading Buddhist meditation retreats,
this book touches on a wide range of topics raised repeatedly by meditators and
includes favorite stories, key Buddhist teachings, and answers to most-asked
...

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Insight Meditation: The Practice of Freedom

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Overview

The
fruit of some twenty years' experience leading Buddhist meditation retreats,
this book touches on a wide range of topics raised repeatedly by meditators and
includes favorite stories, key Buddhist teachings, and answers to most-asked
questions.


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780834824454
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/12/2012
  • Series: Shambhala Publications
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 96,433
  • File size: 495 KB

Meet the Author

Joseph Goldstein began exploring meditation as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand. Following extended meditation retreats with various teachers in India and Burma, including the renowned Buddhist meditation master Anagarika Sri Munindra, he cofounded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. He has taught numerous meditation classes, workshops, and retreats in America and abroad over the last eight years and is one of the founders and primary teachers of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. He is also the author of The Experience of Insight, Insight Meditation, One Dharma and coauthor of Seeking the Heart of Wisdom.

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Read an Excerpt

From
Part
One


Fear
of Enlightenment

Meditators
sometimes report that fear of liberation holds them back in their practice; as
they proceed into uncharted territory, fear of the unknown becomes an obstacle
to surrender. But this is not really fear of enlightenment. It is rather fear
of ideas about enlightenment. We all have notions about freedom: dissolving in
a great burst of light, or in a great cosmic flash. The mind might invent many
different images of the experience of liberation. Sometimes our ego creates
images of its own death that frighten us.

Liberation
means letting go of suffering. Do you fear the prospect of being free from
greed? Do you fear being free from anger or delusion? Probably not. Liberation
means freeing ourselves from those qualities in the mind that torment and limit
us. So freedom is not something magical or mysterious. It does not make us
weird. Enlightenment means purifying our mind and letting go of those things
that cause so much suffering in our lives. It is very down-to-earth.

Imagine
holding on to a hot burning coal. You would not fear letting go of it.

In
fact, once you noticed that you were holding on, you would probably drop it

quickly.
But we often do not recognize how we hold on to suffering. It seems to hold on
to us. This is our practice: becoming aware of how suffering arises in our mind
and of how we become identified with it,

and
learning to let it

go.
We learn through simple and direct observation, seeing the process over and
over again until we understand.

When
the Buddha described his teaching in the most concise way, he said that he
taught one thing and one thing only: suffering and the end of suffering.
Understanding this reality for our self frees our mind and opens more fully the
possibilities for compassionate action in the world.


One
Taste

Is
enlightenment gradual or is it sudden? Whole schools of Buddhism have grown up
around this issue. But it has always seemed to me that liberation is both
sudden and gradual, that there is no polarity between the two.

Enlightenment
is always sudden. It is grace; when the conditions are right, it happens. But
the path leading up to that moment is gradual. We practice, we create the
field, we prepare the ground, and the mind eventually opens suddenly and
spontaneously. Then again, after sudden awakening can come a gradual
cultivation and ripening of the enlightened mind.

The
Buddha declared straightforwardly that our mind in its natural state is pure
but that it is obscured by visiting defilements. In one of his discourses he
said, "The mind is radiant, shining, glowing forth; but it is stained by
the defilements that visit it. The mind is radiant, shining, glowing forth, and
from the uprooting of defilements that visit it, it is freed."

Techniques
may vary, but the essential teachings of the Buddha—on the nature of suffering
and the realization of freedom—are found in all the Buddhist traditions.
Countless forms have evolved in all the places where the Dharma has flourished:
India, Burma, Thailand, Tibet, China, Japan, Korea, Sri Lanka, Cambodia,
Vietnam, and elsewhere. Munindra-ji told me long ago that he was familiar with
over fifty techniques of insight meditation in Burma alone.

Do
not become attached to the idea that there is only one right way or technique
of practicing the Dharma. Freedom and compassion are the reference points for
all practice. Everything else is skillful means. There are many experiences
along the way. As soon as we take a stand any place at all, thinking "this
is it," we have already overshot the great jewel of emptiness, creating
yet another sectarian view.

One
of my teachers voiced what I think is true for all traditions, practices,
techniques, and views. He said, "Unless a practice cools the fires of
greed, aversion, and ignorance it is worthless." This is the measure of
everything we do.

What
is truly wonderful about the Dharma in the West is the opportunity for
practitioners of all traditions to meet and learn from one another. Each of the
great traditions—Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana (Tibetan Buddhism)—has so
much to offer. As the Buddha said, "The Dharma has one taste, the taste of
freedom."

And
for all of us practice is the key. There is a wonderful story of Milarepa, the
great Tibetan yogi. It seems that at the end of his life Milarepa took his
foremost disciple to a remote mountainside in order to transmit the most secret
teachings. With great reverence and devotion the disciple requested the
transmission. Milarepa then bent over, exposed his backside, and pointed to the
leatherlike calluses that had developed from his years of sitting.

As
individuals we will have different cycles as our practice unfolds. There are
times when you might have a lot of energy for intensive, silent meditation
retreats that can help stabilize strong awareness and open new levels of
insight. At a certain point, however, you might find yourself losing energy for
such intensity in practice. This waning in the cycle might come after a few
years, a few months, or even, at first, after a few days of intensive practice.
When it comes depends on each person's level of development and particular life
situation.

I
knew one retreatant who had been practicing in Asia for several months. His
practice had reached a certain level of maturity, but for some reason he could
not make any further progress. When our teacher asked him about conditions at
home, he spoke about a compelling desire to see his family again. Our teacher
advised him to return home for a visit. After seeing his family, his mind was
cleared of that obstacle, and when he came again to practice, he finished that
particular course of training.

Be
wary of holding a fixed model of how your practice should proceed. At times you
may be drawn to investigate your mind in a secluded retreat situation. At other
times, you may not feel this need for solitude. Just follow the rhythm of the
cycle in a simple, natural way. If liberation is the central aspiration of your
life, periods of intensive meditation practice can be of inestimable value.
They generate tremendous energy, power, and insight. But there are also cycles
of living actively in the world, developing generosity morality, truthfulness,
and compassion, qualities more easily expressed in daily life than in retreat.
Then in turn these great strengths of mind will further empower your intensive
meditation.

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Table of Contents

Preface
xiii

Acknowledgments
xv

1. What
Is the Path?

The
Dharma 3

Fear
of Enlightenment 5

Intelligence
and Progress 6

One
Taste 8

Four
Noble Truths 11

Signposts
16

Grace,
or Help Along the Way
18
The
Role of a Teacher 22

Roads
to Fulfillment 24

2. How
to Practice

Purpose,
Effort, and Surrender
29
Training
the Heart 32

Meditation
Instructions 34

Nintendo
Dharma 37

Acceptance
39

Not
Seeing Dukkha Is Dukkha
42
Understanding
Pain 44

Feeling
Good, Feeling Bad: Progress in Meditation 47

Spontaneity
and Practice 49

Coming
Home 50

Energy
51

Insight
53

3. Freeing
the Mind

Hindrances: A
Dirty Cloth 57

Relating
to Thoughts 59

Views
and Opinions 62

Judgment
500 64

Conceit
and the Comparing Mind 66

Liberating
Emotions 68

Emotional
Bondage, Emotional Freedom 72

Use
Your Umbrella 75

Fear
Itself 77

Thank
You, Boredom 80

Unworthiness
82

Guilt
84

Jealousy
87

Desire
88

4. Psychology
and Dharma

Ego
and Self 93

Personality
and Transformation 96

Psychotherapy
and Meditation 100

Yogi
Mind 104

5. Selflessness
Big
Dipper 109

Birth
of the Ego 114

No
Parachute, No Ground 116

Coming
to Zero 118

Ecstasy
and Emptiness 120

6. Karma
The
Light of the World 123

Obvious
Karma 125

Subtleties
of Karma 127

Ignorance,
the Root of Harming 130

Mindfulness,
the Root of Happiness 131

Karma
and No-Self 134

Animals
136

7. Practice
in the World

Staying
Present 139

Wisdom
and Love 141

Lovingkindness
143

Compassion
147

The
Art of Communication 150

Sharing
the Dharma 153

Relationship
with Parents 155

Right
Livelihood 159

On
Reading Texts 161

Humor
163

Training
for Death 165

Vipassana
and Death 166

Metta
and Death 168

To
Benefit All Beings 170

For
More Information

173

Index
175

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