Sharon Salzberg quotes

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Sharon Salzberg is a teacher of Asian meditation practices, particularly vipassana (mindfulness) and metta (loving-kindness) methods. Her approaches also touch on the Brahma Viharas meditations. All of these methods have their origins in the Theravada Buddhist tradition. Together with Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein, she founded the Insight Meditation Society in 1974. She also co-founded (with Goldstein) the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies in 1989. In 1998 they co-founded The Forest Refuge as a long term meditation retreat center.


  • Sometimes we think that to develop an open heart, to be truly loving and compassionate, means that we need to be passive, to allow others to abuse us, to smile and let anyone do what they want with us. Yet this is not what is meant by compassion. Quite the contrary. Compassion is not at all weak. It is the strength that arises out of seeing the true nature of suffering in the world. Compassion allows us to bear witness to that suffering, whether it is in ourselves or others, without fear; it allows us to name injustice without hesitation, and to act strongly, with all the skill at our disposal. To develop this mind state of to learn to live, as the Buddha put it, with sympathy for all living beings, without exception.
  • It is never too late to turn on the light. Your ability to break an unhealthy habit or turn off an old tape doesn't depend on how long it has been running; a shift in perspective doesn't depend on how long you've held on to the old view. When you flip the switch in that attic, it doesn't matter whether its been dark for ten minutes, ten years or ten decades. The light still illuminates the room and banishes the murkiness, letting you see the things you couldn't see before. Its never too late to take a moment to look.
  • The mind thinks thoughts that we don't plan. It's not as if we say, 'At 9:10 I'm going to be filled with self-hatred.
  • Mindfulness helps us get better at seeing the difference between what’s happening and the stories we tell ourselves about what’s happening, stories that get in the way of direct experience. Often such stories treat a fleeting state of mind as if it were our entire and permanent self.
  • We need the courage to learn from our past and not live in it.
  • If you’re reading these words, perhaps it’s because something has kicked open the door for you, and you’re ready to embrace change. It isn’t enough to appreciate change from afar, or only in the abstract, or as something that can happen to other people but not to you. We need to create change for ourselves, in a workable way, as part of our everyday lives.
  • Life is like an ever shifting kaleidoscope; a slight change, and all patterns alter.
  • Meditation is the ultimate mobile device; you can use it anywhere, anytime, unobtrusively.
  • By engaging in a delusive quest for happiness, we bring only suffering upon ourselves. In our frantic search for something to quench our thirst, we overlook the water all around us and drive ourselves into exile from our own lives.
  • Restore your attention or bring it to a new level by dramatically slowing down whatever you're doing.
  • We often get caught up in our own reactions and forget the vulnerability of the person in front of us.
  • The difference between misery and happiness depends on what we do with our attention.
  • You are capable of so much more than we usually dare to imagine.
  • If we fall, we don't need self recrimination or blame or anger; we need a reawakening of our intention and a willingness to re-commit, to be whole hearted once again.
  • Mindfulness isn't difficult, we just need to remember to do it.
  • All beings want to be happy, yet so very few know how. It is out of ignorance that any of us cause suffering, for ourselves or for others.
  • Mindfulness, also called wise attention, helps us see what we’re adding to our experiences, not only during meditation sessions but also elsewhere.
  • Metta is the ability to embrace all parts of ourselves, as well as all parts of the world. Practicing metta illuminates our inner integrity because it relieves us of the need to deny different aspects of ourselves.
  • To offer our hearts in faith means recognizing that our hearts are worth something, that we ourselves, in our deepest and truest nature, are of value.
  • Loving kindness is a form of love that truly is an ability, and, as research scientists have show, it can be learned. It is the ability to take some risks with our awareness to look at ourselves and others with kindness instead of reflexive criticism; to include in our concern those to whom we normally pay no attention; to care for ourselves unconditionally instead of thinking, "I will love myself as long as I never make a mistake." It is the ability to gather our attention and really listen to others, even those we've written off as not worth our time. It is the ability to see the humanity in people we don't know and the pain in people we find difficult.
  • We are all too often told by someone that we are too old, too young, too different, too much the same, and those comments can be devastating.
  • We don’t need any sort of religious orientation to lead a life that is ethical, compassionate & kind.
  • We use mindfulness to observe the way we cling to pleasant experiences & push away unpleasant ones.
  • As we practice meditation, we get used to stillness and eventually are able to make friends with the quietness of our sensations.
  • Because the development of inner calm & energy happens completely within & isn’t dependent on another person or a particular situation, we begin to feel a resourcefulness and independence that is quite beautiful and a huge relief.
  • For all of us, love can be the natural state of our own being; naturally at peace, naturally connected, because this becomes the reflection of who we simply are.
  • The art of concentration is a continual letting go. We let go of what is inessential or distracting. We let go of a thought or a feeling, not because we are afraid of it or because we can’t bear to acknowledge it as a part of our experience; but, because it is UNNECESSARY.
  • People turn to meditation because they want to make good decisions, break bad habits & bounce back better from disappointments.
  • The movement of the heart as we practice generosity in the outer world mirrors the movement of the heart when we let go of conditioned views about ourselves on our inner journey. Letting go creates a joyful sense of space in our minds.
  • As an ability, love is always there as a potential, ready to flourish and help our lives flourish. As we go up and down in life, as we acquire or lose, as we are showered with praise or unfairly blamed, always within there is the ability of love, recognized or not, given life or not.


  • Heart as Wide as the World (1999)
  • Voices of Insight (2001)
  • Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience (2003)
  • Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness (2004)
  • The Force of Kindness: Change Your Life with Love and Compassion (2006)