The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace by Jack Kornfield

You hold in your hand an invitation:

To remember the transforming power of forgiveness and lovingkindness. To remember that no matter where you are and what you face, within your heart peace is possible.

In this beautiful and graceful little book, internationally renowned Buddhist teacher and meditation master Jack Kornfield has collected age-old teachings, modern stories, and time-honored practices for bringing healing, peace, and compassion into our daily lives. Just to read these pages offers calm and comfort. The practices contained here offer meditations for you to discover a new way to meet life’s greatest challenges with acceptance, joy, and hope.

Jack Kornfield, Ph.D. co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, in 1975 and later, the Spirit Rock Center in Woodacre, California. He holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. His books include After the Ecstasy, the Laundry and the national bestseller A Path with Heart (over 100,000 copies in print).

Look Inside

Jack Kornfield: The Ancient Heart of Forgiveness

The renowned teacher and author shares extraordinary stories of forgiveness–and explains how the next story could be yours.


A Lamp in the Darkness: Illuminating the Path Through Difficult Times by Jack Kornfield PhD (Author)

When the path ahead is dark, how can we keep from stumbling? How do we make our way with courage and dignity? “Inside each of us is an eternal light that I call ‘the One Who Knows,’ writes Jack Kornfield. “Awakening to this wisdom can help us fin dour way through pain and suffering with grace and tenderness.” For anyone seeking answer during a trying time, he offers “A Lamp in the Darkness,” a book-and-CD program filled with spiritual and psychological insights, hope-giving stories, and guided meditations for skillfully navigating life’s inevitable storms.

The practices in this book are not positive thinking, quick fixes, or simplistic self-help strategies. They are powerful tools for doing “the work of the soul” to access our inner knowing and to embrace the fullness of our life experience. With regularly practice these teachings and meditations enable you to transform your difficulties into a guiding light for the journey ahead. Join Jack Kornfeld as your trusted guide as you explore:

· Shared Compassion-a guided practice for planting the seeds of compassion and opening the heart to all that life brings

· The Earth Is My Witness-a meditation to establish firm footing in the midst of darkness, centered by a steady witnessing presence

· The Practice of Forgiveness-what Jack calls “the only medicine that can release us from the past and allow us to truly begin anew.”

· The Temple of Healing-a guided visualization to meet our own inner healer

· Equanimity and Peace-a meditation for maintaining balance and acceptance regardless of the situation

Just as it is certain that each life will include suffering, explains Kornfield, it is also true that in every moment there is the possibility of transcending your difficulties to discover the heart’s eternal freedom. With A Lamp in the Darkness, he offers you a beacon for yourself and others until joy returns again.

Jack Kornfield, Ph.D. co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, in 1975 and later, the Spirit Rock Center in Woodacre, California. He holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. His books include After the Ecstasy, the Laundry and the national bestseller A Path with Heart (over 100,000 copies in print).

Table of Contents

Foreward by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Introduction: An Invitation to Awaken

1. The Wisdom of Our Difficulties

2. The Earth is My Witness

3. Shared Compassion

4. Awakening the Buddha of Wisdom in Difficulties

5. The Practice of Forgiveness

6. The Temple of Healing

7. The Zen of an Aching Heart

8. Equanimity and Peace

9. Your Highest Intention

10. The Four Foundations of Mindfulness and the Healing Journey

Afterword: The Return of Joy


If you’re reading these words, you’ve probably hit hard times. Perhaps you’ve lost a loved one, or maybe you’ve lost your job, or received a difficult diagnosis, or someone close to you has. Maybe you’re divorcing or you’re in bankruptcy or you’ve been injured, or your life is falling apart in any number of ways. Maybe daily life itself has become too much for you.or not enough. But even in the best of times there’s plenty to worry about: seemingly endless wars and violence, racism, our accelerating environmental destruction. In difficult times, personally or collectively, we often begin to wonder not only how we can get through this difficult patch; we begin to question existence itself.

Look Inside

Jack Kornfield: 12 Principles of Forgiveness

The acclaimed author and teacher explains the principles that are integral to the process of forgiving, according to Buddhist philosophy.

How Can People Be Deeply Spiritual and Emotionally Immature? An Interview with Jack Kornfield

By: Sam Mowe

Over the last 40 years, Jack Kornfield has been a significant force in bringing Buddhist practices to the United States. In 1967, he graduated from Dartmouth College, joined the Peace Corps, and was assigned to service in Thailand. Kornfield then trained as a Buddhist monk in the monasteries of Thailand, India, and Burma, studying under many influential teachers. After returning to the United States, Kornfield earned a PhD in clinical psychology and, in 1975, cofounded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. In 1987, he became a founding teacher of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California, where he currently lives. He is the best-selling author of many books, including The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology, A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life, and After the Ecstasy, the Laundry: How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path.

Over the years you’ve written a lot about bringing spiritual work together with psychological work. What is the relationship between spiritual practice and emotional development?

What’s most simple to say is that, for our hearts to be wise and free, we have to attend to the mandala of our being—which includes body, emotions, mental states, and thought structure—and their relations with one another.

Certain meditation can bring tremendous benefits to us. But it’s also possible to use meditation as a spiritual bypass, so that we can escape our difficulties by finding some peace and calm. But later on—at work, with family, or in relationships—old patterns and ways that we get caught up in begin to show themselves.

I’m an “all of the above” kind of person. I have used meditative practices, psychotherapy, sacred medicine, and the arts, all as dimensions of being more fully alive and being freer in body, heart, and mind.

Part of the reason I’m asking this is to better understand the meaning of “spiritual work,” because it’s interesting that it’s possible for people to be spiritually brilliant and yet lacking in their emotional maturity.

Human development is a mandala, and so we can develop certain aspects, and others don’t come along; thus, you have Olympic-level athletes who are brilliant in awareness of their body, but might be emotional idiots. Or you have Nobel-prize-winning physics professors who can’t find their shoes or their body. So it turns out that to live a fully realized life—or a life of wisdom and compassion—those qualities need to be directed to each of the major dimensions of our humanity—our body, our feelings, our mental states, our relationships and history, and our connection with the world around us. Spiritual teachers can be one-sided just the way an athlete or a physics professor can.

Fortunately, what we’ve learned in the West over many decades now is that it’s possible for us to heal deeply traumas of the past. It’s possible for us to embody and bring into our relationships and our actions the same beautiful spirit that we might find in a deep, silent meditation, that those become integrated.

But let me go to a related topic. We can look at the current global situation and see that no amount of science and technology is going to save us. No amount of computers and worldwide Internet and nanotechnology and biotechnology, and all these amazingly great, new capacities is going to stop continuing warfare, racism, tribalism, environmental destruction. Those spring from the human heart. And the outer technologies now have to be married to inner development that is both a development of mind and a development of heart and a development of the connection of our body to the body of the earth. We need to have a transformation of human consciousness, inwardly, that’s the balance to or the support for the amazing outer transformations.

You’ve been teaching meditation since the mid-1970s. What has changed in the last 40 years?

Thirty or 40 years ago, there was a great resistance to using the tools of Western psychotherapy and Western psychology. People at various ashrams or Zen centers or Buddhist centers and so forth would say, “All you need to do is chant, or do the mantra, or sit in Zen meditation, and it will take care of everything.” And other tools were considered to be unnecessary or even kind of lower-level practices.

Now, I could tell you the names of the therapists of half of the main Zen teachers and lamas around the country, because they realized that in our modern, Western time, we need all the help we can get. We need to marry these powerful spiritual disciplines with the wisdom and the understanding of this particular culture. That wisdom and understanding includes tools for healing, tools for trauma work, tools for emotional intelligence. And in the last 40 years, these have become integrated much more actively across the spiritual teachings.

In addition, we found that in Western culture there’s a common experience of self-judgment and self-hatred that will arise for people when they’re doing spiritual practice—an unworthiness that will arise. Often, a spiritual practice can be turned against ourselves, and we use it to judge ourselves further or feel inadequate or not good enough. “I’m not doing it right. I’m not enlightened enough.” When we asked the Dalai Lama about this in the 1980s, he was shocked. He’d never heard the word self-hatred. That word doesn’t exist in the Tibetan language. And after some pondering, he said, “This is a mistake.”

What we have done is to incorporate a tremendous amount of compassion and loving-kindness as the basis for the other dimensions of spiritual discipline. Training in mindfulness and concentration have to be married to compassion and loving-kindness. And with that field of love, which it turns out is a form of mindfulness or awakening, people begin to discover that they are loving-awareness itself, and that spiritual practice isn’t to change or perfect oneself. Spiritual practice is about perfecting their love.

Otherwise, spiritual practice can become just another grim duty that you have to perform. You go on a diet and you go to the gym and you go to therapy, and you do all these kinds of self-help trainings, trying to make yourself a better person. But in the deepest way, spiritual practice is more mysterious. It opens us up to the mystery of human incarnation and to our fundamental dignity and goodness and capacity for freedom and love that’s born in every human being. It touches that. It rests on that realization. And this is a very different vision of spiritual practice than one that is focused on some great future attainment of enlightenment in some more idealistic way.

What do you think about self-improvement as an idea? Doesn’t it get in the way of accepting ourselves just as we are?

There’s nothing wrong with self-improvement. Kids want to learn how to read. Adults want to learn how to speak another language or keep their body in shape or develop their capacities to listen and connect more deeply. All of those are beautiful. They can be done in a positive and loving way, to enhance the life that we have, to enhance our human incarnation. Or they can be done in a striving way, with judgment and self-criticism, thinking, I’m not good enough, and I have to make myself better and more enlightened and more spiritual and more—whatever it is. And that undermines the very essence of them.

We’re always growing as an organism, and it’s a beautiful thing. We can grow out of love. We can grow out of care. We can grow out of wanting to flower. And then the self-improvement becomes really an expression of our fundamental dignity and goodness, not trying to become something that we’re not, but to express our beauty and our courage in this very life.

So it has more to do with the spirit that you have while engaging with activities in your life, rather than what the activities are themselves.

Yes. That’s critical.

Mindfulness is having a moment these days. Part of the reason for this is that it’s promising to make people more productive and happy as individuals. It doesn’t seem to have much to do with enlightenment or ethics. Can you comment on that?

I celebrate the spreading of mindfulness, just as I celebrate the spreading of yoga or the spreading of all kinds of very good spiritual tools and disciplines. When I was a boy in the 1950s, if you mentioned yoga, the only images were of Indian fakirs with a loincloth on and their legs wrapped around their neck. Culturally, it was very strange. Now there’s a yoga studio next to a Starbucks on every block.

Sometimes it’s just done to have a beautiful body or to meet an attractive partner. But it still helps. It still begins to give people tools of attention and care for their bodies and brings a spiritual dimension into their lives. This is also true for mindfulness. Mindfulness is being taught in law schools, and I know a judge who’s using it as part of the instructions to the jury so that they listen in a respectful and mindful way to all of the evidence before making their decisions. It’s also being used successfully in thousands of school systems for social and emotional learning.

Out of this broad understanding of the value of attention to one’s inner states starts to grow a more humane approach to medicine and a more humane approach to law. Or there starts to grow in an individual an understanding that the mind and the heart can be awakened and developed. And then certain people will take it much further.

But what if mindfulness is used to do the sort of bypassing that you were talking about earlier, by allowing us to focus on our inner selves rather than on underlying, systemic issues?

Another way to ask this question is: Can you focus on personal development in a way that ignores the need for justice and well-being of human beings? Anybody who is wise recognizes that they go hand in hand. I’ve trained large numbers of activists, many of whom have been burned out because they’ve been so angry, fighting, bitter, and frightened that they haven’t been able to actually engage over the long term, because they let the troubles and the suffering outside come into their own body and heart.

In fact, when you learn how to regulate yourself and develop a deep compassion for yourself and for the world, you realize that they can’t be separated; they’re really the same thing—then it becomes possible, and even necessary, to engage in the world because you’re a part of it, and you feel that. But you engage in a different way. It gives you the power to sustain that love and that work for the benefit of all beings.

Understanding the relationship between contemplation and social action is central to the work that we do at the Garrison Institute. Can you say more about how looking inside leads to social action out in the world?

In Zen, they say there are only two things: you sit and you sweep the garden. And it doesn’t matter how big the garden is. That is, you learn to quiet the mind and open the heart and to remember in that stillness what really matters. Those are the values of the heart and who you are. You discover that who you are is loving-awareness itself, incarnated into this mystery. And as you do, the sense of connection to life shows itself. You don’t even have to cultivate it. As you get quiet, you feel it and you know it. And then you get up from your cushion and you sweep the garden. If people are hungry, you feed them. If people are sick and you have medicine, you offer it, because they’re part of you.

When you hurt your hand, if you’re slicing tomatoes in the kitchen and you accidentally cut yourself, you don’t go, “Oh, that poor hand. I wonder if I should help it. Should I do something about it?” It’s you. It’s part of you. It’s so deeply obvious that you wash it and you put a Band-Aid on it or whatever. And as you quiet the mind and open the heart, you begin to realize that the world is yours, that you are the world. And so it becomes a spontaneous and beautiful expression of your fundamental Buddha-nature, your fundamental goodness, that you tend the world.

Without mindfulness or compassion training, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and think, Well, all the problems of the world are too great, and I just have to get through the day and try as best I can. Mindfulness makes it easier to step out of the sense of being overwhelmed. You see with clarity. And you realize, I can respond in a wise way. I have some agency and capacity. And I can add my piece. And by adding your drop into the river—the river of justice or the river of mutual care or the river of caring for the environment—it nurtures you, and it nurtures the world.

You’ve mentioned “the mystery” a couple of times during this conversation. What do you mean?

One of the great gifts of a contemplative moment or practice is that as we quiet the mind and soften the heart and look around, we see the mystery all around us, whether it’s of trees or rainfall or the forms of the earth or our own human body. How did we get in here, this strange, bipedal form with a hole at one end, into which we regularly stuff dead plants and animals and grind them up with bones that hang down, and glug them down through the tube for energy, and poop them out the other end? We ambulate by falling in one direction and catching ourselves, and falling in the other direction and catching ourselves. Where we have the capacity to make sounds by pushing air by our vocal cords and shaping our mouths, and I can say “Golden Gate Bridge,” and you can picture that. No one really knows exactly how that happens. They know how the sodium-potassium balance changes in the auditory nerve and goes to the auditory centers of the brain. But beyond that, that interdependence, the web in which we live is so mysterious. And it’s the same web that spins the galaxies and turns our seasons.

So, to meditate, in some way, is to be able to stop and listen to the dance or the music of life with a sense of reverence and connectedness and awe. And from that, then tend your life and tend this world beautifully.

And yet, some not-so-positive stuff also comes up when we meditate, such as grief and despair. Is it important to focus on the positive stuff on a spiritual journey?

No. A spiritual path opens you to the 10,000 joys and to the 10,000 sorrows. It cracks the heart open to weep at the loss of species. It allows you to honorably feel the tears that you carry from your own personal trauma or from the death and loss or tragedy around you personally and more broadly. But we can also become loyal to our suffering. And suffering, while it’s vast and can be tended with great compassion, is not the end of the story. The end of the story is love and freedom. And this is possible for you. We don’t do it by ignoring the suffering around us, but by knowing that who we are and what this life is, is greater than that.

Sam Mowe is the Communications Manager at the Garrison Institute in New York, a nonprofit dedicated to exploring the intersection of contemplation and social action. Jack Kornfield will be leading a retreat at the Garrison Institute on July 31–August 2.

Source: Health & Spirituality

Jack Kornfield: Awakening To Pure Consciousness

By Jack Kornfield: In the next chapter we will examine consciousness in its particle-like nature…

For now, let us consider the unbounded sky or mirror-like nature of consciousness. We need to be practical. Our first task is to learn to distinguish the mirror-like nature of consciousness from its content, our sense perceptions and thought. When we learn to distinguish consciousness from the states and experiences that color it, we are freed from reactioning to each passing state.

While studying Buddhism in college, I tried a little meditation on my own. But it was unfamiliar and I was unsuccessful because I didn’t know what I was doing. It wasn’t that I was afraid of silence or of some terrible darkness that I would find inside, though these are common misunderstandings of meditation. It was that my body would get uncomfortable and my mind would spin out in a million directions. When I got Ajahn Chah’s teaching, the practice became gradually clearer. He taught me to relax and feel my breath carefully, which helped focus and quiet my mind. Then he taught me just to mindfully notice the stream of thoughts and sensations without reacting to them as a problem. This took some practice.

Finally he taught the most important lesson, to rest in consciousness itself. As his own teacher Ajahn Mun explains, “We become the witnessing of experience, abiding in pure consciousness or awareness.” He goes on, “We can notice the distinction between consciousness and all the transient states and experiences that arise and pass away within it. When we do not understand this point, we take each of the passing states to be real. But when changing conditions such as happiness and unhappiness are seen for what they are, we find the way to peace. Most people lump everything together as the mind itself, without distinguishing between the temporary states of mind and the knowing of them. If you can rest in the knowing, the pure consciousness, there’s not much more to do.”

Does resting in consciousness mean we are simply checking out of the world, or withdrawing into navel gazing? Not at all. Resting in the knowing is not the same as detachment. When I look back at my own life I can see my struggles to discover this truth. Because of the conflict and unpredictable violence in my family, there were many times I wanted to run away but couldn’t. To cope with the trauma, at times I became depressed, angry or cynical. But as a primary protection, I developed the capacity to detach myself from what was happening. Detachment came naturally to me. I used it to become peaceful within myself and to try to calm those around me. Of course, these patterns persist and now I do it for a living.

So when I began Buddhist practice, shifting my attention to rest in consciousness felt familiar, natural. It seemed similar to my strategy of detachment. But gradually I discovered how wrong I was. My detachment had been a withdrawal from the pain and conflict into a protective shell. It was more like indifference. In Buddhist psychology indifference is called the “near enemy” to true openness and equanimity, a misguided imitation. To rest in consciousness, I had to unlearn this defensive detachment and learn to feel everything. I had to allow myself to recognize and experience the feelings and thoughts, the conflicts, the unpredictability of life in order to learn that I could trust the openness of consciousness itself. Ajahn Chah invited us to rest in consciousness and allow every experience in a fearless way. To rest in consciousness is the opposite of contraction and fear. When we rest in consciousness we become unafraid of the changing conditions of life.

In the monastery Ajahn Chah would point us back to rest in the pure knowing, consciousness itself. Sometimes he would notice that we were caught up in a state of worry or anger or doubt or sorrow. He would smile with amusement and urge us to inquire, Who is doubting? Who is angry? Can you rest in the consciousness that is aware of these states? Sometimes he would instruct us to sit at the side of a person who was dying, to be particularly aware of the mysterious moment when consciousness leaves and a person full of life turns into a lifeless corpse. Sometimes he would say, “If you are lost in the forest, that is not really being lost. You are really lost if you forget who you are.”

This knowing or pure consciousness is called by many names, all of which point to our timeless essence. Ajahn Chah and the forest monks of Thailand speak of it as the Original Mind or the One Who Knows. In Tibetan Buddhism it is referred to as Rigpa, silent and intelligent. In Zen it is called the mind ground or mind essence. The Hindu non-dual tradition speaks of this as the timeless witness. While these teachings may sound abstract, they are quite practical. To understand them we can simply notice the two distinct dimensions to our life, the ever-changing flow of experiences, and that which knows the experiences.

Perhaps we can better understand this through a story of a Palestinian named Salam, one of my good friends. I met Salam when I was doing some teaching for the hospices of the Bay Area. He was able to sit with the dying because he had no fear of death. In the late 1960’s and 70’s Salam lived in Jerusalem as an activist and a journalist. Because he was writing about creating a Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem and the establishment of a Palestinian state, he was regularly arrested. He spent nearly six years in Israeli prisons. He was frequently interrogated and periodically beaten and tortured. This happens on every side in war.

One afternoon after he had been badly beaten, his body was lying on the floor of the prison and he was being kicked by a particularly cruel guard. Blood poured out of his mouth, and as the police report later stated, the authorities believed he had died.

He remembers the pain of being beaten. Then, as is often reported by accident and torture victims, he felt his consciousness leave his body and float up to the ceiling. At first it was peaceful and still, like in a silent movie, as he watched his own body lying below being kicked. It was so peaceful he didn’t know what all the fuss was about. And then Salam described how, in a remarkable way, his consciousness expanded further. He knew it was his body lying below, but now he felt he was also the boot kicking the body. He was also the peeling green paint on the prison walls, and the goat whose bleat could be heard outside, he was the dirt under the guard’s fingernails—he was all of it and the eternal consciousness of it all with no separation. Being everything, he could never die. All his fears had vanished. He realized that death was an illusion. A well-being and joy beyond description opened in him. And then a spontaneous laughter arose at the astonishing folly of humans, believing we are separate, clinging to nations and making war.

Two days later, as Salam describes it, he came back to consciousness in a bruised and beaten body on the floor of a cell, without fear or remorse, just amazement. His experience changed his whole sense of life and death. He refused to continue to participate in any form of conflict. When he was released, he married a Jewish woman and had Palestinian-Jewish children. That, he said, was his answer to the misguided madness of the world.

This excerpt is taken from the book, “The Wise Heart” VIEW HERE
Source: Jack Kornfield

The Wise Heart Chapters 1 through 4

Published on Nov 7, 2014

Introductory Announcement at 0 minutes and 0 seconds

The Wise Heart: Introduction at 0 minutes and 35 seconds

Chapter 1: Nobility at 13 minutes and 33 seconds

Sacred Perception at 20 minutes and 57 seconds

Chapter 2: A Psychology of Compassion at 28 minutes and 44 seconds

Chapter 3: Who Looks in the Mirror? at 41 minutes and 45 seconds

The Two Dimensions of Consciousness at 49 minutes and 1 second

Chapter 4: The Colorings of Consciousness at 1 hour 0 minutes and 30 seconds

Healthy and Unhealthy Mental States at 1 hour 7 minutes and 25 seconds

Rest in the Timeless – Full Lecture

Published on Jan 28, 2015
With an introduction from Jack Kornfield, for the keynote address to the International Transpersonal Association conference, Ram Dass reflects on the predicament our technology has created. He suggests steps we need to make within ourselves to become a force of transformation in the world

LIVE: Cultivating Grace with Ram Dass & Jack Kornfield

Streamed live on Oct 12, 2014
Join Ram Dass & Jack Kornfield for a LIVE webcast on Sunday, October 12th at 2pm HST/5pm PDT/8pm EDT.

Visit to watch the Cultivating Grace film in it’s entirety.

Please consider supporting the Love Serve Remember Foundation so we can continue to provide live events and films:

How do we transform suffering into grace? How do we cultivate a process that allows grace to fill our lives? How do we turn anger into compassion – chaos into equanimity – separation into unity and oneness?

1. Loving Awareness: A Conversation with Jack Kornfield & Eckhart Tolle 2. Jack Kornfield on Nisargadatta Maharaj

Published on Dec 21, 2013

Eckhart speaks with renowned Buddhist meditation teacher and author Jack Kornfield about mindfulness, meditation, and the journey of awakening.

Jack Kornfield on Nisargadatta Maharaj

From a conversation with Eckhart Tolle (2013).
See also the documentary on Nisargadatta Maharaj “Awaken To The Eternal” here:

Oprah and Jack Kornfield: The Awakened Life

How Jack Kornfield Went From Ivy League Grad To Buddhist Monk (VIDEO)

Jack Kornfield was raised in a Jewish home with a father he says had an explosive, violent temper. During his childhood, Kornfield sought refuge in books about the mystical adventures of monks living in Tibet, and he eventually attended Dartmouth College, where he majored in Asian studies. Yet the spiritual teacher and author didn’t quite find all he was looking for in his Ivy League education.

So, Kornfield decided to become a monk. Sharing his story with Oprah on a recent episode of “Super Soul Sunday,” Kornfield explains that there were two main reasons why he was compelled to make such a big change in his life.

“I became a monk partly because I read these cool books about Zen masters and I said, ‘I wonder if there still are any,’ and partly because I had so much suffering in my family and nothing about my education taught me about my emotional life or my values,” Kornfield tells Oprah.

Of his time at Dartmouth, Kornfield says, “It was only half of an education. I learned science and history and philosophy, but nobody taught me how to deal with my fear or my anger.”

In search of peace and tools to help him manage the emotional aspects of his life, Kornfield asked the Peace Corps to send him to a Buddhist country. “They sent me to Thailand and I was sent way out on the Mekong River Valley,” he recalls. “And then I looked around I said, ‘Who are the good teachers? I need to learn how to deal with my own inner life and my broken heart, really, from my family.'”

Also in the above video, Oprah shares why she thinks Kornfield’s story is “a beautiful acknowledgement” and what it is about this acknowledgement that many people overlook within themselves.

Oprah sits down with Jack Kornfield, one of the leading Buddhist teachers in America. Jack reveals the surprising secret to growing one’s spiritual practice, introduces the basic principles behind Buddhism and shares the steps involved in mindful living.

Click here to view

The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace by Jack Kornfield

You hold in your hand an invitation:

To remember the transforming power of forgiveness and lovingkindness. To remember that no matter where you are and what you face, within your heart peace is possible.

In this beautiful and graceful little book, internationally renowned Buddhist teacher and meditation master Jack Kornfield has collected age-old teachings, modern stories, and time-honored practices for bringing healing, peace, and compassion into our daily lives. Just to read these pages offers calm and comfort. The practices contained here offer meditations for you to discover a new way to meet life’s greatest challenges with acceptance, joy, and hope.

Jack Kornfield was trained as a Buddhist monk in Thailand, Burma, and India and has taught meditation worldwide since 1974. He also holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. He is a founder of the Insight Meditation Society and of Spirit Rock Center. He lives with his wife and daughter in northern California. His previous books include After the Ecstacy, the Laundry, A Path with Heart, Seeking the Heart of Wisdom (with Joseph Goldstein), Teachings of the Buddha, Living Dharma, A Still Forest Pool (with Paul Breiter), and Soul Food (with Christina Feldman).

Click here to look inside.

Jack Kornfield: 12 Principles of Forgiveness

The acclaimed author and teacher explains the principles that are integral to the process of forgiving, according to Buddhist philosophy.

Balancing Act: How Meditation Lets Us Look Inside Ourselves to See the Whole World: A Conversation with Jack Kornfield

Jack Kornfield, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, author, and one of the most well-known teachers of Buddhism in the West. He’s a founding teacher of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and Spirit Rock Center in California. Here, he talks about meditation, his signature loving-kindness practice, an upcoming Kripalu retreat, and why he loves to teach.

What’s at the core of the trainings you teach?

The trainings are centered in equanimity and balance—it’s the training of the heart and mind to stay balanced. I teach a series of steps for equanimity, beginning with reflections on the vastness of time and changing circumstances, ever-changing winds of gain and loss, praise and loss, pleasure and pain. Training has to do with reflecting on the value of keeping a peaceful heart and envisioning others with compassion. We realize that people can love enormously, and that you can’t love on behalf of someone else; we try to understand the limits of love. It’s also using a series of deep intentions: May I live with peace in the joys and sorrows of the world. May you find peace.

What transformations can people have when they practice meditation?

There’s a glow people have, a “meditation facelift” that leaves people profoundly refreshed, their eyes open and skin clear. You don’t have to become a card-carrying Buddhist. You can tend to the beauty that’s awakened in yourself from meditation practice in moments, by skillful use of intention, and the practice of loving-kindness. You can do this anywhere—in the airport, supermarket, or workplace. In any circumstance, even tending young children, having the skills of wise intention is invaluable and makes that circumstance more alive.

Body-based practices, such as being aware of the breath, can help you embody the power of mindfulness and live fully in the present, whether you’re jogging or cooking. The result is the ability to live your life in the reality of the present, rather than in the worries of the future and regrets of the past. And you have the flexibility and ability to respond to your circumstances with a tremendous sense of inner power.

How can someone use mindfulness and loving-kindness every day?
You can sit on a subway in New York City and begin, without looking weird at all, to direct the force of loving-kindness to those around you. See a person as he was as a child in his original beauty. In a minute, your relationship to him becomes transformed and he’s connected with your heart. Another training, mindfulness of intention, is learning to take a few breaths before speaking to someone you’re in conflict with. Ask yourself, “What is my highest, or best, intention?” Your intention isn’t to be right or one-up the person, or defend yourself. Look into your heart, and it will show you that you’re looking for ways to connect and create bridges.

How do these practices connect us with others?

Mindful awareness practices are found in many ancient traditions: Hinduism, Buddhism, and mystical Christianity. As humans, we’ve always known about this capacity to live with a gracious, wise heart, and we’ve needed practices to help us do so, even in the ancient days. When we practice, we’re entering a stream of literally millions of humans before us who also awakened to the inner freedom, compassion, and dignity of their own true nature using the same disciplines passed down from warm hand to warm hand.

What is your current view and understanding of meditation and its effects?

My meditations used to be more directed, but they’ve become much simpler. I rest my attention in loving-kindness, an image or thought, or a part of the world or the body. I am very present in the world of unbearable beauty and an ocean of tears, and respond to it with what I can. Thich Nhat Hanh once said that on crowded refugee boats, if everyone panicked, all would be lost. If just one person remained calm, it showed a way for everyone to survive. I hope that my own meditation path lets me be one of those people on the beautiful boat of the world where we can share the love and centeredness so that everyone can survive.

There’s a remarkable new field, the science of inner transformation. Within this field, there are already thousands of studies on mindfulness showing the capacity for transforming the brain and nervous system. Even a little bit of training can start to reorganize the nervous system, and that transformation is possible for everyone. Some choose to emphasize hatha yoga or martial arts while, for others, it’s walking in mountains. All of them become vehicles for awakening a sense of the sacred.

What mantras do you like to use, if any?

I use a loving-kindness meditation at times, for inner recitation. When I encounter people, I use, “May you be well, may you be safe.” Sometimes, I use one from the Beatles: “Let it be.” I really take it to heart in a deep way when I recite that. There’s a way I’m letting the world be as it is, I know how to respond, and I don’t have to be worried or rushed. I feel what response comes from silence.

What inspires you to teach?

I love life. This earth. I feel more and more connected with everyone I meet. Teaching is a privilege. When we come together, we’re exchanging notes. It’s as if we’re all holding hands together as we all share what we know.

What question do students ask you the most?

Over 35 years, I’ve heard every kind of question, from “How do I work with mindfulness and my dog?” to “How do I deal with bringing a cancer I’m trying to heal from to a spiritual practice?” I’ve been asked, “How can I support my son, who’s been deployed to Afghanistan?” and “How do I deal with the overwhelm I feel when I watch the news because of all the concerns I have for the world?”

Each question is a person, and if I listen—and if we listen together with respect, tenderness, and interest to each person—kind of wisdom shows itself. Loving-kindness and compassion are central to the trainings I teach and can transform every part of your life. Other practices are important, too, like joy. It becomes important to understand not to put off happiness amid other pursuits and live in the reality of the present with a joyful heart.

What advice do you give people struggling with meditation?

Meditation presents challenges. Like other spiritual practices, it can be a grim duty that you impose on yourself. Or, in the course of healing, it can make you aware that you’re actually loyal to your suffering and are scared by the idea of how you’d be if you were to really live with joy. But living with joy is possible and, I believe, a birthright.

It can be a challenge to sit down to meditate. What arises is the unfinished business of life, tensions, grief or trauma, unspoken longing, unwept tears, and, without a deep understanding, you don’t know how to turn difficulties into a path of practice. With training, the fears, confusion, and agitation, we encounter become workable. We learn to liberate our energy and compassion.

If someone is having a challenging time, I have them close their eyes while we talk and have them feel what there is in that moment. I say, “Let’s ask what makes it so difficult to be present.” Often, it’s fear that they have to feel the grief of a relationship, or fear about what to do with anxiety about the future if they stop and listen to what they are actually feeling. When they do it with compassion, they realize they can live in the present. Become curious: what’s here that’s hard to experience? When you become curious, you discover all kinds of things. If anything, the world becomes more and more mysterious.

What should students expect from your upcoming Kripalu retreat?

It’s one of the most beautiful programs because it weaves together deep meditation, mindfulness, experiencing joy, the opening of heart, and finding inner freedom. It’s quite an intimate program. We spend the day together doing storytelling, meditation, question-and-answer sessions, and dialogue. Practicing together like this is one of the most satisfying teaching opportunities I’ve ever had. People become a community of spirit, as if we make a temple together.

I love how joyful and open people are by the end of the retreat, more content and compassionate. And they carry a wonderful set of tools back home to nourish them. I’ve had a woman with an eating disorder who said she tasted food for the first time. Another student was a mother who had conflict with her daughter for years, and, at the end of the retreat, she said, “I will live a life of forgiveness and start anew.” The practices we do bring out people’s dignity and joy, and their hearts get touched and filled. It’s beautiful to witness. A treasure.

Are you finding more and more diversity among your students these days?

I’m so happy that people with diverse ages and ethnic backgrounds are exploring meditation. It’s what the world needs. We are a marvelously, wildly diverse species—but at the core, we’re all humans with the same fundamental nature. Every child has a secret beauty and spirit that gets covered over as they age, but it can always shine underneath. All it takes are the right circumstances to reawaken their true selves. That sense of inner dignity and nobility is a basis for all the spiritual practice we do.

What are your goals as a teacher?

My goal is for people to awaken to their fundamental dignity, nobility, and freedom of the heart regardless of their circumstances. My goal is for them to remember how to love and bring compassion to all parts of their lives. Also, to give people ancient practices and tools in a modern form that they can use when they return to their everyday lives so they can quiet the mind, open the heart, and develop a spirit of compassion no matter where they are. So they can heal and transform themselves and learn to be their own enlightened master. My goal is for them to trust their innate wisdom.

Find out more about Jack Kornfield and his upcoming programs at Kripalu.

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