Written by Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield (2018) Shambhala Pocket Library
I came across this book directly by way of the Sam Harris podcast but also via 10% Happier (which I need to write a report on also it would seem…).
The more I look at meditation the more I learn it is interpreted many ways, by many people. Like anything we all have our own individual experience of the ‘same’ thing and sometimes the only way to know something truly is to experience it. There are many who say ‘Meditation is not for me’ and perhaps that is true, yet I would also argue that many people practice meditation in their own way experiencing similar benefits to the formal secular Buddhist sitting practice that I am enjoying.
I would also argue that most people aren’t committed enough to the practice to go through the uncomfortable beginning stages, which lets face it, occurs when you set forth to learn any new skill, and let me be clear here, meditation is a SKILL, in the same way that learning to brush your teeth and tie your shoe laces are skills… and I would suggest most of the people who condemn meditation having ‘Tried it’ are the ones who truly need it and are also falling into the second category…
“Meditation is… a skill of attentional regulation.”
Joseph Goldstein – Sam Harris Podcast
That’s it… attentional regulation. A pretty cool skill, a pretty necessary skill, something I would consider a skill worth investing in.
And in our current society I feel like it is something sorely needed and I know it is something that I personally really need. I must also expand on that previous sentence… I only truly realised how much I needed it AFTER beginning to try and concentrate my attention. It was only after beginning the practice did I notice how distracted I truly was, and how much distraction in the form of random thoughts (often in the disguise as ‘helpful ideas’…) disrupted the flow of my day and therefor my life.
But really I am not writing this to try and convince you either way, I’m just going to put this book out there and share with you some of my favorite parts. I’m not sure that this is a book I would advise if you are a total newb and have adverse feelings towards the subject, I would suggest its only for people who are already warm on the subject, have started a formal sitting practice and want a bit more ‘meat and potatoes’, but that’s just me…
Wisdom replaces ignorance in our minds when we realise that happiness does not lie in the accumulation of more and more pleasant feelings, that gratifying craving does not bring us a feeling of wholeness or completeness.
Don Juan says that only with courage can we withstand the path of knowledge…
Wisdom does not arm us with new knowledge or armour us with spiritual power. If anything, it leaves us more open and vulnerable, to be touched by and in touch with all the things around us.
The difficulties and mysteries of life are inseparable… When we begin practice, we are afraid of making mistakes. Later we can discover that all greatness comes first from error. This is actually how we learn. As one meditation master put it, ‘Life is one continuous mistake.’
(The bold is my addition…)
We could well be rid of 90 percent of our thoughts and still have plenty left for the useful purposes of thought.
People learn more from what we are than from what we say.
The old man said, “I have just one thing to tell you. If, as you are approaching the bus stop, you see that the bus is about to leave without you, don’t panic. There will be another bus.” There can be no hurry to be in the moment. There is no rush to re-assume our true nature.
Choose a life of voluntary simplicity.