Sharon Salzberg

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  • Born: August 5, 1952
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Author, Meditation Teacher

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Sharon Salzberg is a New York Times Best selling author and teacher of Buddhist meditation practices in the West. In 1974, she co-founded the Insight Meditation Society at Barre, Massachusetts with Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein. Her emphasis is on vipassanā (insight) and mettā (loving-kindness) methods, and has been leading meditation retreats around the world for over three decades. All of these methods have their origins in the Theravada Buddhist tradition. Her books include Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness (1995), A Heart as Wide as the World (1999), Real Happiness - The Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program (2010), which was on The New York Times Best Seller list in 2011, and the follow-up Real Happiness at Work (2013).

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As we hone the ability to let go of distraction, to begin again without rancor or judgment, we are deepening forgiveness and compassion for ourselves. And in life, we find we might make a mistake, and more easily begin again, or stray from our chosen course and begin again. Life
As we look around, it's very clear that in this world people do outrageous things to one another all of the time. It's not that these qualities or actions make us bad people, but they bring tremendous suffering if we don't know how to work with them. Time ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
As we work to reweave the strands of connection, we can be supported by the wisdom and lovingkindness of others. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
At times when I am myself sitting at a retreat, and at the end I get into my car to drive away, I watch my hand move forward to turn on the radio. When I can be mindful, I notice the fact that I actually don't want in that moment to listen to the news or hear some music. Music, Chants & Rapps
Chanting is a simple practice. When you notice you are thinking about something else during the chant, let go of the thought and come back home, to the chant, to that place where we are expressing our inner purity.
Compassion isn't morose; it's something replenishing and opening; that's why it makes us happy.
Dedicating some time to meditation is a meaningful expression of caring for yourself that can help you move through the mire of feeling unworthy of recovery. As your mind grows quieter and more spacious, you can begin to see self-defeating thought patterns for what they are, and open up to other, more positive options. Time
Develop a mind so filled with love that it resembles space. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
Doing nothing means unplugging from the compulsion to always keep ourselves busy, the habit of shielding ourselves from certain feelings, the tension of trying to manipulate our experience before we even fully acknowledge what that experience is.
Even on the spiritual path, we have things we'll tend to cover up or be in denial about.
Everyone loses touch with their aspiration, and we need the heart to return to what we really care about. All of this is based on developing greater lovingkindness and compassion.
Everyone's mind wanders, without doubt, and we always have to start over. Everyone resists or dislikes the thought of or is too tired to meditate at times, and we have to be able to begin again.
Faith is not a commodity that you either have or don't have enough of, or the right kind of. It's an ongoing process. The opposite of faith is despair. Religion & God
From the Buddhist point of view, it is true that emptiness is a characteristic of all of life - if we look carefully at any experience we will find transparency, insubstantiality, with no solid, unchanging core to our experience. But that does not mean that nothing matters. Life
I call myself a meditation teacher rather than a spiritual teacher. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
I had a very turbulent and painful childhood, like many people. I left for college when I was 16 years old and up until that point I'd lived in five different family configurations. Each one ended or changed through a death or some terrible loss. Death ;Families, Children & Parenting
I think so many people tend to think of faith as blind adherence to a dogma or unquestioned surrender to an authority figure, and the result is losing self-respect and losing our own sense of what is true. And I don't think of faith in those terms at all. Religion & God
I think the associations people have with kindness are often things like meekness and sweetness and maybe sickly sweetness; whereas I do think of kindness as a force, as a power. Power
I think we spend so much of our lives trying to pretend that we know what's going to happen next. In fact we don't. To recognize that we don't know even what will happen this afternoon and yet having the courage to move forward - that's one meaning of faith. Religion & God
If we have a very strong commitment, so that we can trust ourselves and be beacons of trust for others no matter what the circumstance, then we're protected from suffering the consequences of many actions. We can be protected from that pain. Trust
If you go deeper and deeper into your own heart, you'll be living in a world with less fear, isolation and loneliness.
In a single moment we can understand we are not just facing a knee pain, or our discouragement and our wishing the sitting would end, but that right in the moment of seeing that knee pain, we're able to explore the teachings of the Buddha. What does it mean to have a painful experience? What does it mean to hate it, and to fear it?
In Buddhist teaching, ignorance is considered the fundamental cause of violence - ignorance... about the separation of self and other... about the consequences of our actions.
In our own lives and in our communities, we need to find a way to include others rather than exclude them. We need to find a way to allow our pain and suffering, individually and collectively.
In our usual mind state, we are continually activating the process that in Buddhist terminology is known as 'bhava,' which literally means 'becoming.' In this space of becoming, we are subtly leaning forward into the future, trying to have security based on feeling that we can hold on, we can try to keep things from changing. Future
It is so powerful when we can leave behind our ordinary identities, no longer think of ourselves primarily as a conductor, or writer, or salesclerk, and go to a supportive environment to deeply immerse in meditation practice.
It is sometimes difficult to view compassion and loving kindness as the strengths they are.
It's a rare and precious thing to be close to suffering because our society - in many ways - tells us that suffering is wrong. If it's our own suffering, we try to hide it or isolate ourselves. If others are suffering, we're taught to put them away somewhere so we don't have to see it. Society
It's difficult to admit to ourselves that we suffer. We feel humiliated, like we should have been able to control our pain. If someone else is suffering, we like to tuck them away, out of sight. It's a cruel, cruel conditioning. There is no controlling the unfolding of life. Life
It's interesting that people bring different things to oppressive and difficult situations, when they're reduced to the barest terms of survival. That's what provides tension in a lot of films.
I've always said that lovingkindness and compassion are inevitably woven throughout meditation practice even if the words are never used or implied, no matter what technique or method we are using.
I've spent quite a bit of my life as a meditation teacher and writer commending the strengths of love and compassion. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Life ;Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
Love and compassion don't at all have to make us weak, or lead us to losing discernment and vision. We just have to learn how to find them. And see, in truth, what they bring us. Truth ;Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
Meditation is not the construction of something foreign, it is not an effort to attain and then hold on to a particular experience. We may have a secret desire that through meditation we will accumulate a stockpile of magical experiences, or at least a mystical trophy or two, and then we will be able to proudly display them for others to see.
My earliest experiences in meditation were in a context of intensive retreats.
My ideal registration system would be an opt-out one, where every single person is registered once they turn 18. In Australia, I'm told, everyone is registered to vote and you pay a fine if you don't vote.
Once in a while, you have to let your mind just go.
Patience doesn't mean making a pact with the devil of denial, ignoring our emotions and aspirations. It means being wholeheartedly engaged in the process that's unfolding, rather than ripping open a budding flower or demanding a caterpillar hurry up and get that chrysalis stage over with. Patience
Protection, as we use the word in Buddhism, is actually wisdom, it's insight. Protection is seeing and knowing deeply that all things in our experience arise due to causes, due to conditions coming together in a certain way.
Some people have a mistaken idea that all thoughts disappear through meditation and we enter a state of blankness. There certainly are times of great tranquility when concentration is strong and we have few, if any, thoughts. But other times, we can be flooded with memories, plans or random thinking. It's important not to blame yourself.
Someone who has experienced trauma also has gifts to offer all of us - in their depth, their knowledge of our universal vulnerability, and their experience of the power of compassion. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Power
Sometimes people don't trust the force of kindness. They think love or compassion or kindness will make you weak and kind of stupid and people will take advantage of you; you won't stand up for other people. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Trust
The first of the four noble truths of Buddhism, that there is suffering in life, was enormously important to me. No one had ever said it out loud. That had been my experience, of course, but no one had ever talked about it. I didn't know what to do with all the fear and emotions within, and here was the Buddha saying this truth right out loud. Life
The meditation traditions I started and have continued practicing have all emphasized inclusivity: anyone can do this who is interested.
The middle way is a view of life that avoids the extreme of misguided grasping born of believing there is something we can find, or buy, or cling to that will not change. And it avoids the despair and nihilism born from the mistaken belief that nothing matters, that all is meaningless. Life
The moment that we realize our attention has wandered is the magic moment of the practice, because that's the moment we have the chance to be really different. Instead of judging ourselves, and berating ourselves, and condemning ourselves, we can be gentle with ourselves.
There are many different ways to practice meditation; it's good to experiment until you find one that seems to suit you.
There's no commodity we can take with us. There is only our lives, whether we live them wisely or whether we live them in ignorance. And this is everything.
Things don't just happen in this world of arising and passing away. We don't live in some kind of crazy, accidental universe. Things happen according to certain laws, laws of nature. Laws such as the law of karma, which teaches us that as a certain seed gets planted, so will that fruit be. Nature
To cherish others is to cherish ourselves. To cherish ourselves is to cherish others. And in that same way, we relate to the truth. If we support it, if we embrace it, if we uphold it, we will be embraced by it, we will be supported and upheld by it. Truth
To remember non-attachment is to remember what freedom is all about. If we get attached, even to a beautiful state of being, we are caught, and ultimately we will suffer. We work to observe anything that comes our way, experience it while it is here, and be able to let go of it. Freedom & Liberty ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Voting is the expression of our commitment to ourselves, one another, this country and this world.
We all want to be happy. We need to expand the notion of what that means, to make it bigger and wiser.
We apply our effort to be mindful, to be aware in this very moment, right here and now, and we bring a very wholehearted effort to it. This brings concentration. It is this power of concentration that we use to cut through the world of surface appearances to get to a much deeper reality. Power
We are taught that revenge is strong and compassion is weak. We are taught that power is more important than love. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Power
We can always begin again.
We can have skills training in mindfulness so that we are using our attention to perceive something in the present moment. This perception is not so latent by fears or projections into the future, or old habits, and then I can actually stir loving-kindness or compassion in skills training too, which can be sort of provocative, I found. Future
We can learn the art of fierce compassion - redefining strength, deconstructing isolation and renewing a sense of community, practicing letting go of rigid us-vs.-them thinking - while cultivating power and clarity in response to difficult situations. Power ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
We can't give the truth to someone as an object, we can only point to it, inviting inspection. It is in that spirit that we can hear or read a teaching and then look at our own lives, at our own experiences to see whether anything might have been revealed about them. Truth
We come to meditation to learn how not to act out the habitual tendencies we generally live by - those actions that create suffering for ourselves and others, and get us into so much trouble.
We like things to manifest right away, and they may not. Many times, we're just planting a seed and we don't know exactly how it is going to come to fruition. It's hard for us to realize that what we see in front of us might not be the end of the story.
We live in this world of great promise, where everything seems to offer an unchanging final happiness, if we can only get enough of it. It is very intoxicating. Happiness & Unhappiness
We need the compassion and the courage to change the conditions that support our suffering. Those conditions are things like ignorance, bitterness, negligence, clinging, and holding on.
We need to redefine community and find a variety of ways of coming together and helping each other.
We think of ourselves as our titles or our jobs or our position in a family. We depend on being praised by others. But something happens when that praise is undermined. Families, Children & Parenting
What is important is not getting intoxicated with a good feeling or getting intoxicated even with an insight. These take many forms in our practice. We go through times of great release, where there has been physical holding for what feels like forever, and something opens up and releases.
What you learn about pain in formal meditation can help you relate to it in your daily life. Life
When we see the relatedness of ourselves to the universe, that we do not live as isolated entities, untouched by what is going on around us, not affecting what is going on around us, when we see through that, that we are interrelated, then we can see that to protect others is to protect ourselves, and to protect ourselves is to protect others.
When you're wide open, the world is a good place.
While you are meditating, if your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the present moment.
You don't have to believe anything, adopt a dogma in order to learn how to meditate.