Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening - by Joseph Goldstein
From education and medicine to business and politics, we are in the midst of a great flowering of mindfulness. And with each new application we find for it, priceless benefits emerge. Yet the original purpose of mindfulness has remained throughout the centuries: spiritual awakening. With Mindfulness, Joseph Goldstein shares the wisdom of his four decades of teaching and practice in a book that will serve as a lifelong companion for anyone committed to mindful living and the realization of inner freedom. Goldstein's source teaching is the Satipatthana Sutta, the Buddha's legendary discourse on the four foundations of mindfulness that became the basis for the many types of Vipassana (or insight meditation) found today. Exquisite in detail yet wholly accessible and relevant for the modern student, Mindfulness takes us through a profound study of:
. The four qualities of mind-ardency, clear knowing, mindfulness, and concentration
. Mindfulness of the body, including the breath, postures, activities, and physical characteristics
. Mindfulness of dhammas (or categories of experience), including the Five Hindrances, the Six Sense Spheres, the Seven Factors of Awakening, and much more
"There is a wealth of meaning and nuance in the experience of mindfulness that can enrich our lives in unimagined ways," writes Goldstein. Now readers everywhere are invited to mine these riches together, with Mindfulness.
"A major contribution to the clarifying and deepening of our understanding of mindfulness and its traditional Dharma roots."
-Jon Kabat Zin
"Joseph Goldstein has written an immensely clear, practical, and accessible guide to living a mindful life. From examining its roots to exploring its manifold expressions, this deeply significant work shows the path for mindfulness to become our closest friend. I feel like I've waited a long time for a book just like this, and here it is!"
Author of Lovingkindness and Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation
"In eloquent and compelling detail by a master of the art, Goldstein's new book shows how mindfulness leads to calm, well-being, and the joy of self-realization. The most complete and understandable book on mindfulness in print."
Author of Touching Enlightenment and Mahamudra for the Modern World
"Useful advice that can help any meditator, no matter where they are on the path. Mindfulness should become an instant classic."
Author of Emotional Intelligence
"Lucid, clear, enormously helpful, a wise and mature vision of Buddhism."
Author of A Path With Heart
"America is [banned term] lucky there is a Joseph. He has shepherded Western Buddhism in his ever-expanding teachings . . ."
Author of Turning Toward the Mystery
About the Author
Joseph Goldstein has been leading insight and lovingkindness meditation retreats worldwide since 1974. He is a cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society, the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, and the Forest Refuge. Since 1967, he has studied and practiced different forms of Buddhist meditation under eminent teachers from India, Burma, and Tibet. His books include A Heart Full of Peace and One Dharma. He lives in Barre, Massachusetts. See dharma.org
Review from Amazon:
Joseph Goldstein's Magnum Opus By Jim Willems on November 26, 2013
I believe this to be the magnum opus of Joseph Goldstein's writings. This book is physically exquisite. Sounds True did a fine job of editing and publishing this book. The book is derived from a series of lectures on a particular sutta (talk) of the Buddha, the Satipatthana Sutta, which is found in a collection of talks called the Majjhima Nikaya. (The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, edited by Bhikkhu Nanamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi, Wisdom Publications). However, the sutta itself is also to be found as an appendix in Goldstein's new book. Goldstein's lectures were given at the Forest Retreat of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. Goldstein used, for these lectures, a recent interpretation of this sutta by a Buddhist monk Analayo, named Satipatthana: the Direct Path to Realization, Windhorse Publications. Over a series of retreats Goldstein systematically commented on every verse of the sutta,using the Venerable Analayo's commentary as an comparative guide for his own commentary. This kind of commentary is a classical method of working with a sutta in the Buddhist world. ( Also, Sounds True has issued the actual talks as a three part cd series, Abiding in Mindfulness.)
The Satgtipatthana Sutta is meant to be a complete and sufficient description of a particular form of meditation that is called vipassana or Insight Meditation. (This meditation has also just been called Mindfulness and has become increasingly popular as a means for reducing stress.) The Buddha says that if this sutta's methodology is strictly adhered to, it will led to realization or Enlightenment. Goldstein takes that claim very seriously. His book reflects a careful, years long, relationship to both this sutta and to the meditations revealed by the Buddha. I believe Goldstein's work to be one of the most complete and beautifully written books about Buddhist meditation, I have read in the fifty years of my own Buddhist practice.
So what thematic concerns drive the content of Goldstein's commentary? He addresses four major foundations of inquiry for this form of Buddhist meditation. These four are mindfulness of Body, Feelings, Mind, and the Dhammas. 'Body' is here understood as physical reality, the actual physical basis of the phenomena given to consciousness.' Feelings' include the whole range of emotive reactions to the phenomena being investigated. 'Mind' describes the vehicle for consciousness and its characteristics which help and also hinder realization. Finally, the larger part of Goldstein's book considers the fourth foundation, the Dhammas. This word is from Pali which is the language which the Theravadin school of Buddhism used for its texts. "Dhammas" includes an encyclopedic collection of all those conceptual factors which the Buddha considered necessary for the complete liberation from suffering. Such factors include both negative hindrances and positive aids in one's meditative investigation of Liberation.
Goldstein says four qualities of mind are necessary for this investigation: Ardency, Clearly Knowing, Mindfulness, and Concentration. Briefly these qualities of mind can be described as dedication, a deep knowing of that which is being investigated, a consistent and close awareness of all phenomena being investigated, and, finally, a capacity for single pointed or intense concentration of the subject being examined. In other words, one dedicates to a level of realization which is purified by a complete examination of the subject under consideration, and which is also characterized by deep and undistracted attention.
Okay, why is this book so good? First, because it is complete. Goldstein has been practicing for years, and he has studied with most of the major living Theravadin teachers. In addition he has gone to monasteries, temples, and centers in India and Southeast Asia to study. His knowledge and practice are nuanced and thorough. Second, he is vulnerable. He has learned from his "mistakes". He is open about his limitations and clearly expresses his gifts and learning. Third, he is a very advanced practitioner. He has become truly wise from his experience. I was asked once at a retreat by a well known Theravada monk, Bhante Gunaratana (auhor of Mindfulness in Plain English), if I had a teacher and who was it? I said Joseph Goldstein. BhanteJi (as he is sometimes called affectionately) said, "You could not do better!" You can not do better than with this book if you are serious about Buddhist meditation.
The book is not meant to be read straight through. Rather, it should be considered in the context of one's own meditation practice. When used as a commentary to your own practice, it will reveal how truly comprehensive and cogent the Buddha's teaching was. In the end, the Buddha's Teaching is a radical method to confront and heal your suffering. The Dharma will reveal the true basis of your suffering. It will show the way out of it. It will reveal the very real possibility of a wise, compassionate, and peaceful life.
Joseph Goldstein's new book is fully adequate to the challenge of revealing just what meditation can do in one's life. We live together now in a time when real wisdom and peace is possible. I very much believe that the deepest realization of what it means to be fully human is now available. For the sake of ourselves and for one another, please consider using Joseph's new book as a valuable resource in your own spiritual journey.