“We are limited only by our imagination. Yes, there will always be a shadow. Yes, greed and fear and ignorance will be a part of our psychology. But there are ways we can live wisely…Human beings can live with more compassion, with more care for one another, with less prejudice and racism and fear. There are wise ways of solving conflict that await our hands and hearts.” – Jack Kornfield
A wealth of wisdom lies in the pages of Jack Kornfield’s book A Wise Heart. Mr. Kornfield trained as a Buddhist monk in Asia, holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, and co-founded the Spirit Rock Center in Northern California. He draws on both his own extensive experience, his work with students over the years, and the experiences of illuminated leaders throughout time and across the globe to teach and inspire the reader. A Wise Heart covers a wide range of issues related to meditation and ultimate mental health, including the nature of consciousness from a Buddhist perspective (which, as Mr. Kornfield notes, has been called “a science of the mind” by the Dalai Lama), mindfulness meditation and its healing impact, transforming the roots of suffering, freedom in the midst of every day life, and embodying a wise heart.
Mr. Kornfield translates the dense language of Western psychology texts and ancient Buddhist texts into simpler and more tangible language, and provides context for the modern reader: “Instead of using the technical terms of the West, such as countertransference and cathexis, or the Eastern terms averting consciousness and mutable intimating phenomenon, I find it helpful to speak of longing, hurt, anger, loving, hope, rejection, letting go, feeling close, self-acceptance, independence, and inner freedom.” The stories in this book tell of life experiences to which many of us can relate – difficulties with work, relationships, family, and other everyday struggles. They are linked to time-tested techniques for releasing suffering and developing wisdom, loving-kindness, joy, compassion, and equanimity.
Like those who teach Street Yoga classes, Mr. Kornfield has also worked with people who have experienced severe trauma and its effects. For example, he writes of Katie, “a young woman who had been abducted and raped” for whom “mindfulness of the body was a delicate and painful journey.” Using the tools of mindfulness and compassion, as well as movement-based tools such as yoga, his students have been able to progress on the path of healing: “By taking it a little at a time, [Katie] was gradually able to tolerate and release more and more of the memory…Katie began to feel free.”
This book offers many tools for developing wisdom, a full heart, and balance in an increasingly complex world. It is a great gift to have teachers like Jack Kornfield bringing these ancient Eastern practices to the modern Western world. May we all find and practice the tools that help us to live in a wiser and more compassionate way.
Do you have a book or article that has inspired you? If so, we would love to read your recommendations below or hear from you on Facebook.