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The Experience of Insight: A Simple and Direct Guide to Buddhist Meditation (Shambhala Dragon Editions) Paperback – June 12, 1987

4.6 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This attractive volume is in the tradition of Krishnamurti's books and various classics like The Three Pillars of Zen in its strength, clarity, and simplicity."— Brain Mind Bulletin



"The Experience of Insight comes about as close to delivering the promise of its title as any written material can." —East West Journal



"A broad-minded, open-handed invitation to come and experience for oneself the everchanging nature of mind and body." —New Age

From the Inside Flap

A modern classic of instruction for the practice of Buddhist meditation.
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Product Details

  • Series: Shambhala Dragon Editions
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala; Reissue edition (June 12, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0877732264
  • ISBN-13: 978-0877732266
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #121,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
What makes Joseph Goldstein's THE EXPERIENCE OF INSIGHT such an excellent book is that it lives up to its subtitle, "A Simple and Direct Guide to Buddhist Meditation." And yet at the same time it is both subtle and profound. The book is organized around a thirty day meditation retreat, and the chapters are each an evening's talk, starting with beginning instruction, moving through Concepts and Reality, through Death and Loving Kindness, all the way to Buddhist Paths and Closing. Goldstein writes well and clearly, and he knows when to throw in a little Zen story,. It is not a talky, chatty book; it has the cool lucidity of Zen instruction. Some of the chapters end with questions from the meditation participants, like "Why does greed arise?" or "How would you describe the happiness of nirvana?" and Goldstein responds with both Buddhist doctrine and real life examples.
Some of his stories may sound quite familiar since his book was first published in 1976 and those very stories are told widely around the meditation circuit. Goldstein is a serious Buddhist, and besides laying down basic principles of the faith, he also goes into more esoteric issues like the three pillars of Dharma, the five hindrances (desire, anger, sloth and torpor, restlessness, and doubt), the meaning of Hesse's SIDDHARTHA, and others.
This book should satisfy both the curious beginner and the serious student of Buddhism. Goldstein is truly a guru, who encourages us: "Do not be discouraged by wandering thoughts or daydreams. Each time there is awareness of the mind wandering, gently bring it back to the breath or sensations. No matter how many times this happens, if each time the wandering mind is brought back, the hour will be well spent. Be gentle with yourself. Be persevering."
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Format: Paperback
I picked up this book in hopes of becoming more acclimated with Insight (or Vipassana) meditation. The format is unique in that it is excerpts from speeches given by Mr. Goldstein during a 30 day meditation retreat. Each "chapter" is a different topic, some consisting of a page or two (usually the morning talks) while others span upwards of 10 pages. I liked this format because it felt a little like reading a daily journal. You can follow along, reading a passage in the morning, then one in the evening or whatever pace you choose. One aspect that I really liked was the question and answer section at the end of each evening talk. Many of the questions that I had after reading the passage were brought up and explained in these sections.
The topics chosen by Mr. Goldstein are basic but interesting. The author has a great skill of bringing in outside sources to help clarify and reinforce the ideas that are being expressed. Whether it be Taoism, Japanese Zen, or Tibeten Buddhism, Goldstein shows how closely the hearts of these teachings resemble each other. He also takes time to show that the different schools of Buddhism are just different ways of looking at the same thing or, as he puts it, different fingers pointing to the same moon. To become pre-occupied with the finger is to miss the main point.
As for actual instruction on sitting meditation, this book covers some things lightly but doesn't get into a lot of depth on it. He talks briefly about the common "Mindfulness of Breathing" meditation (along with some small variations on it) and also meta bhavana (lovingkindness) meditation. As far as this aspect of the book goes, I still prefer Pramanada's meditation guide, "Change Your Mind," to this one because of it's detail.
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Format: Paperback
If you've ever been perplexed or baffled by books on Buddhism - especially books on Zen Buddhism - your perplexity will vanish when you read this book. The Experience of Insight is a well-edited transcription of many talks given to participants over the course of a one-month meditation retreat. The teachings are largely coaching for meditation. During the retreat, these short talks were small pockets of coaching between large stretches of silence and meditation. That may be why the information comes across so clearly and so usefully.
You'll learn, probably with more understanding than you've ever had before, the Buddhist fundamentals: The Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, the seven factors of enlightenment, etc. But they are explained in a way that makes their relevance and importance to your practice perfectly clear. I'm the author of the book, Self-Help Stuff That Works, and I've specialized in knowing the difference between information that merely sounds great and instruction that actually helps, and Joseph Goldstein manages to deliver teachings that will really help you in your meditation practice. He will inspire you, encourage you, and teach you good technique. If you meditate and would like support for your practice, The Experience of Insight is the best you will find.
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By bda on October 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
After reading all the glowing reviews of this book I couldn't wait to read it. As usual, when your expectations are high, you're usually disappointed. Since this book is based on a thirty-day retreat. I thought it would be more of an intermediate level book than the beginner's book that it is. It didn't go into the specific problems meditators have on a lengthy retreat, rather, it skips around covering different points of Buddhist philosophy in an unorganized way, and which have been covered better in other books. I'm not saying that this book doesn't have something to offer--there are certainly passages that I will go back to again and again. It's just that overall, those passages are few and far between.

A far superior guide to beginning Insight Meditation is "Mindfulness in Plain English" by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana. A better betginner's guide to Buddhist philosophy is "What the Buddha Taught" by Walpola Rahula. And a good combination of the two is "The Heart of Buddhist Meditation" by Nyanaponika Thera.
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