From the Jacket
We have all had glimpses from the far shore, where with openness we experience and are fully in touch with ourselves. From the far shore we see with honesty, clarity, and true acceptance.
The Far Shore offers reflections on this experience in everyday life, and is addressed to all who are drawn to the path of awareness and compassion.
About the Author
Mitchell Ginsberg, Ph.D., is a teacher in the Thai Buddhist Vipassana Meditation Tradition. Presently he leads retreats in Britain, Europe and America.
I cannot communicate by this or any other book what can only be communicated in person. Still, there is something I feel I can get across through writing, and I have an interest here in trying. Our communication will be greatly helped by earnest interest and a clear awareness of what I want to express to you, on my part, and an openness on your part to hear what I have to say and to see how it touches you personally.
In this book, of course, my communication to you in black and white represents living speech. I could have tried a recording instead of a book. But I have not, and so, I ask you to listen to what you see. If you do not hear what I am saying, I suggest that you read aloud—and see if it really doesn’t talk to you.
My getting these pieces down has been easy at times, at times demanding; done sometimes in a serious mood and sometimes in a playful one, but always as a labor of love. Friends who have become acquainted with these writings these last few years tell me that they find value for themselves in them. Perhaps these pieces will touch you, too.
I find a deep poetry in clear awareness. I see that there is a power in this sort of awareness, a power to lead us to a heartfelt appreciation of life, Some might speak here of the awe we feel before what strikes us as divine or mysterious: I simply want to share some of my experience and observations with you in a way which may help you in looking at how your life is coming along and in realizing how we either move along with changing reality or work towards what we feel to be valuable in the context of life’s flow. Insight here, as elsewhere, is a product of looking and so seeing.
This watchful attitude towards life was systematized long ago by the Buddha as the practice of mindfulness (sati-patthana). As this practice has as its fruit the arising of insight into life, it has also been called Vipassana (Insight Meditation).
This collection comes from various talks I have given while leading Vipassana Meditation Retreat Courses and Workshops over the past several years in England, France, and the United States, as well as from letters exchanged with friends and students. There are also a number of pages which began as part of jotted-down ideas and observations on my own. These pieces illustrate sati-patthana (open mindfulness) as the investigation into the process of consciousness.
The coming to be familiar with this accepting awareness, an awareness which can at the same time be very acute and crisp in its perception, occurs in many ways and is spurred on by the widest of contexts. We do not have to sit motionless in seated meditation to have this frame of mind and heart strengthen. This collection offers one such context, from the words to Ms. Kitty to the question about the mouse.
I offer this collection under the title The Far Shore to those of you who are on the path of self discovery and on the path of opening to relationship with others. It does not matter if you do or do not have familiarity with Buddhist Insight (Vipassana) Meditation, or with Buddhist psychology and its way of conceptualizing. The far shore is certainly not limited to those who are “Buddhists”.
Still, some of these writings will be especially pertinent to those who have attended vipassana meditation retreat courses and to their on flowing practice. For those of you interested in attending vipassana courses, a list of some contact addresses is given, in the section “Meditation Centres”.
A few terms are occasionally used here which may not be familiar to you. A Glossary at the back gives an idea of what these various terms mean: from some possibly familiar to you such as Buddha, Dharma, Bodhisattva, and Arahat, to some lesser-known ones such as Anupassana, Sadhu, and Satipatthana.
A glance at the titles in the Table of Contents gives a feeling for the range of topics included. Some of the writings focus on issues in the practice of open mindfulness. I find that people with no background in the tradition, either practical or theoretical, follow these writings with ease. There is nothing esoteric here.
This book is not meant to be a primer in vipassana meditation, in Buddhist psychology, or in Buddhism. Following the Glossary is a list of sonic available books which already fulfill this function, for those of you who are interested in further study. Nevertheless, in this collection you will find Instructive Dharma, an explanation of the Dharma as the matrix of the vipassana practice, perspective, and tradition; and also, Descriptive Dharma, an illustration of Dharma as the various on flowing realities within the domain of mindfulness practice. Pieces with a manifestly Instructive Dharma aspect include “Vipassana in Munich”, “Spiritual Development”, “Mind Clouds”, “The Past”. Some of you may find this distinction unimportant. Sadhu!
Excerpts from reviews and opinions:
The Far Shore is a precise, simple and clear practical book on the development of non-judgmental, choice less and insightful awareness which leads to the complete evolution of consciousness.
-International Vipassana Meditation Master, and Author of Turning To The Source
The Venerabe Mahasi Sayadaw believes that your approach to Vipassana Meditation
.. is basically correct
You have done great work for the progress of the Vipassana Meditation.
-Dr. Ba Glay
-Secretary of Mahasi Sayadaw, Sasana Yeiktha, Buddha Sasana Nuggaha Organization, Rangoon
These essays, like letters from a wise spiritual friend, emphasize the respect and kindness that are central to the heart's spiritual awakening.
-Author of A Path With Heart and Vipassana Teacher
To Vipassana practice, certainly different approaches are possible and desirable; and certainly yours of "soft Vipassana" can be helpful and effective. Those who are helped by it, may then feel encouraged to take up a stricter regimen.
-Forest Hermitage, Kandy Sri Lanka
When I was introduced to The Far Shore, it was already not in print and hard to find. The joy in my heart is for those
who can enjoy it, knowing Motilal Banarsidass will print it again, for it is a wonderful contribution for those on the path of awakening.
Contemplation articulated, insight and concern expressed, it is as though getting in touch with a place within our own minds.
-The Venerable Tenzin Kachoe
-Teacher and Lecture in Tibetan Boddhisattva practices and President of the Thubten Dhargye Ling Center (U.S.A.)
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