Jack Kornfield

"Did I Love Well?" (excerpt) A PATH WITH HEART — A GUIDE THROUGH THE PERILS AND PROMISES OF SPIRITUAL LIFE by Jack Kornfield

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In undertaking a spiritual life, what matters is simple: We must make certain that our path is connected with our heart. Many other visions are offered to us in the modern spiritual marketplace. Great spiritual traditions offer stories of enlightenment, bliss, knowledge, divine ecstasy, and the highest possibilities of the human spirit. Out of the broad range of teachings available to us in the West, often we are first attracted to these glamorous and most extraordinary aspects. While the promise of attaining such states can come true, and while these states do represent the teachings, in one sense, they are also one of the advertising techniques of the spiritual trade. They are not the goal of spiritual life. In the end, spiritual life is not a process of seeking or gaining some extraordinary condition or special powers. In fact, such seeking can take us away from ourselves. If we are not careful, we can easily find the great failures of our modern society—its ambition, materialism, and individual isolation—repeated in our spiritual life…

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"Qualities of Spiritual Maturity" (excerpt) A PATH WITH HEART by Jack Kornfield

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Let us look at the qualities of spiritual maturity:

  1. Nonidealism: The mature heart is not perfectionistic: it rests in the compassion of our being instead of in ideals of the mind. Nonidealistic spirituality does not seek a perfect world; it does not seek to perfect ourselves, our bodies, our personalities. It is not romantic about teachers or enlightenment based on images of the immense purity of some special being out there. Thus, it does not seek to gain or attain in spiritual life, but only to love and be free.


The frustration of seeking perfection is illustrated by a story of Mullah Nasrudin. One day in the marketplace he encountered an old friend who ! was about to get married. This friend asked the Mullah whether he had ever considered marriage. Nasrudin replied that years ago he had wanted to marry and had set out to find the perfect woman. First he traveled to Damascus, where he found a perfectly gracious and beautiful woman but discovered she was lacking a spiritual side…

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"Stopping the War" (excerpt) A PATH WITH HEART by Jack Kornfield

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The unawakened mind tends to make war against the way things are. To follow a path with heart, we must understand the whole process of making war, within ourselves and without, how it begins and how it ends. War's roots are in ignorance. Without understanding, we can easily me frightened by life's fleeting changes, the inevitable losses, disappointments, the insecurity of our aging and death. Misunderstanding leads us to fight against life, running from pain or grasping at security pleasures that by their nature can never be truly satisfying. Our war against life is expressed in every dimension of our experience, r and outer. Our children see, on average, eighteen thousand murders and violent acts on TV before they finish high school. The leading cause of injury for American women is beatings by the men they live with. We carry on wars within ourselves, with our families and communities, among races and nations worldwide. The wars between peoples are a reflection of our own inner conflict and fear…

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