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Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening Paperback – March 1, 2016
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
—Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Mindfulness for Beginners
“Joseph Goldstein is one of our most brilliant teachers. This is a masterwork of wisdom, depth, and experience, combining careful analysis, meditative guidance, and great love.”
—Jack Kornfield, author of A Lamp in the Darkness
“Author Joseph Goldstein—one of the most wise, lucid, and experienced teachers of our times—has written a book on mindfulness that calls forth the depth and power of classical Buddhist teachings. If you are drawn to meditation out of a longing to realize spiritual freedom, this book will be a cherished resource on your path.”
—Tara Brach, PhD, author of True Refuge
“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!”
—Sharon Salzberg, author ofReal Happiness
“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.”
—Reggie Ray, author of Touching Enlightenment and Mahamudra for the Modern World
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, One Dharma, Insight Meditation, and The Experience of Insight.
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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.
To give my own example: i started with Headspace app and after finishing all the basic and intermediate levels i knew that mindfulness meditation helps but the app is limited enough and will not help you make the connection between concentration on breathing or bodyscan or visualization and its bearing on meditation and in short you'll be left with insufficient information. Then i looked into books by Dan Harris and even his second book on meditation is comprehensive it may not give you the full gist of why some types of meditation practice helps under certain circumstances e.g. metta and noticing. There always felt a question of 'why am i doing this now?'
Joseph's book is comprehensive enough to cover almost all questions that an intermediate meditator might face; note that this is not a book about religion or buddhism but a book strictly on mindfulness. Things like metta and noticing finally cleared up and i finally got to know the answer on why a meditator should do them and under what circumstances. The source of this book is through his talks on 'Satipatthana sutta' and available on dharmaseed.org I would suggest hearing those talks because he gives examples (some of which have not been sourced into the book) and Joseph makes even hearing about meditation fun. And use this book as a reference when you're done with almost 46 hours of talk on Mindfulness.
The more that I read on this subject and philosophy the more fascinating I find it.
Buddha knew far more about the human condition than Freud by far. I can't help but think that as a applied philosophy this is by far a more superior technique than medications and therapy in dealing with depression, anxiety, host of other neurosis.
I see this as a book that will reread and use for references for years to come.