Insight Meditation: The Practice of Freedom by Joseph Goldstein is a collection of teachings, dharma stories and answers to questions that are commonly asked by students at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. Goldsmith co-founded the IMS in 1975, and has over thirty years’ experience leading Buddhist meditation retreats. This is a fact that shines through on every page of this book, and whether you are merely curious about vipassana, have attended a retreat or two or have been practicing extensively for years, you will find it very useful to have a copy of Insight Meditation by your side.
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There are seven sections in this book, each containing up to fourteen mini-chapters. The section titles are fairly self-explanatory (What Is the Path?, How to Practice, Freeing the Mind, Psychology and Dharma, Selflessness, Karma and Practice in the World) but each mini-chapter has its own title which enables you to find exactly the topic you are looking for via the page of Contents.
The book can be approached in one of two ways. You can either read through the sections and mini-chapters in the order that they are presented (and if you take this approach we suggest that you proceed slowly so that you can fully digest the content rather than rushing headlong from beginning to end) or you can dip into whatever part you like as and when you wish. We here at Buddhist Book Reviews think that both approaches can be employed quite effectively, with the reader progressing through the title as it is presented the first time and then dipping into sections for second (and third, and fourth) readings in the future.
Goldstein has a superb talent for being able to get right to the point and convey even potentially tricky ideas in a way that makes them instantly relevant to the reader. This is fantastic as far as ease of reading is concerned, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because Insight Meditation is easy to read means that it is also light on content, because it isn’t. There is plenty of solid material here that could be of great use to your practice for years, so be mindful of that whilst reading if you want to reap the full benefit of this book.