Foundations of Mindfulness Practice

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Foundations of Mindfulness Practice, by Joseph Goldstein:

I first became interested in the Buddha’s teachings when I was in the ___ in Thailand. It was back quite a few years. It was in the mid-60’s. I spent two years there. Just as a kind of introduction I would be going to discussion groups to some of the temples. And when I came back to the states after my two years in Thailand, I tried to practice by myself, and realized very quickly that I needed a teacher. Haven’t gotten much meditation instruction, and trying to figure it all out by myself led to a lot of confusion. So I went back to Asia, stopping in India on the way, going to various places, teachers, that I had heard of, couple of ___ in India. Finally ended up in ___, which as you know is the place of the Buddha’s enlightenment. And it’s there where I first met my first teacher, ____. And he has just returned from 9 years in Burma, practicing and studying. And at one point, very early on, we were sitting in the roof of this place called the Burmese ___. It was a place made for Burmese pilgrims, but at that time, Burma was closed, and so they weren’t any pilgrims and only Westerners and a few Westerners at that time, or staying. We were sitting on this roof of the ___, it was a flat roof, a few of us and ___. And he went around, asking each one of us why we wanted to practice, why we would come to India. Because at that time, there were very few Westerners who were there to study meditation. And people gave various reasons, but for me, the reason was very clear—and it really was the possibility of awakening. That’s what drew me to go back to India, to study the teachings, and then ___ went on to explain the basic of ___ practice. And as soon as he started talking about it, and just giving me outline of the meditation, I felt immediately at home. It was such a direct, simple, common sense approach to understanding. And something he said, which really captured my interested and fueled my commitment, he said, if you want to understand the mind, sit down and observe it. And it seems so obvious. You know, how else can we understand our minds, except by observing them? You know, there were no rituals, there was nothing to join, it was just sit down and look at what’s happening. So it’s this very simple, direct, immediate approach to understanding the nature of our minds, what are the patterns that cause suffering, what are the patterns that lead to peace, that lead to happiness. This is what inspired me to really devote many years to this practice.

This simple, but not always issue practice of ___. And ___ is a ___ word, which literally means seeing clearly. And so when people ask you what kind of meditation you’re practicing, you can say, I’m practicing seeing clearly meditation, because that’s what it’s about. And that has many important implications, which we’ll ___ into. So all of the practices of ___ are rooted in one discourse of the Buddha. It’s called the ___. The ___ discourse. And ___ can be translated into ___ word. It’s often translated as the four foundations of mindfulness. Or it can be translated as the four ways of establishing mindfulness. The Buddha begins this discourse. This very fundamental teaching of meditation practice with a very bold and unambiguous statement. I’d like to read this first lines of the ___: ___, and again I think Sally mentioned, ___ refers to anyone walking on the path. So he’s really talking to us here. ___, this is the direct path for the purification of beings. For the overcoming of sorrow, and lamentation. For the disappearance of ___, of suffering, and discontent. For the attainment of the true way. For the realization of ___. Namely the four ___. It was a very simple, direct statement of what is this practice is about. So given the magnitude and the import of this declaration, I thought it would be useful to explore some aspects of this teaching from the ___ discourse in some detail. What’s amazing as we hear or read this teaching, we find that all of the quite vast amount of teachings of the Buddha, really are contained within in. And in some ___, a few pages long. One of the amazing aspect of the Buddha’s genius is that when you open any doorway into the dharma, you approach it to any side, and you open the doorway, and as you enter, it’s all of the aspects of the dharma are revealed. And it’s very obvious. You know, as we read and study this particular discourse. So the Buddha began the ___ by declaring that this is the direct path to awakening. And it then goes on to point out what the four fields, they call the four pastures for our mindfulness. Where do we apply our mindfulness? What are the areas that we should be looking at and exploring? So the Buddha goes on and it’s very explicit. He says what are the four? Here, ___ in regard to the body, abide contemplating the body, ___, clearly knowing and mindful. Free from desires and discontent in regard to the world. In regard to feelings. The second ___, abide ___ feelings, ___, clearly knowing and mindful. Free from desires and discontent and regard to the world, in regard to the body, in regard to feelings, in regard to the mind. Abide, contemplating the mind. ___, clearly knowing, and mindful. Free from desires and discontent, and regard to the world. In regard to Dharmas, which here, means the different categories of experience, like the hindrances, like the factors of enlightenment, like the four noble truths, so in regard to all these categories of experience, abide contemplating dharmas, ardent, clearly knowing, and mindful. Free from desires and discontent in regard to the world.

If you liked this recording and would like to make a direct financial contribution to this teacher, please contact them here: http://www.dharma.org/joseph-goldstein

 

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About the Author Sean Fargo

Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at [email protected]

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