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About Jack Kornfield



Jack Kornfield (born 1945) is a bestselling American author and teacher in the vipassana movement in American Theravada Buddhism. He trained as a Buddhist monk in Thailand, Burma and India, first as a student of the Thai forest master Ajahn Chah and Mahasi Sayadaw of Burma. Wikipedia

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Quotes by Jack Kornfield

Jack Kornfield (quotes)

  • We can always begin again.
  • What we seek is what we are.
  • How well we have learned to let go
  • Life without forgiveness is unbearable.
  • True love is not for the faint-hearted.
  • There is no higher happiness than peace.
  • The waves do keep coming, so learn to surf.
  • Every individual has a unique contribution.
  • The trouble is that you think you have time.
  • The quieting of our mind is a political act.
  • As we step out of the way new things are born.
  • May you know the beauty of your own true nature.
  • Live in joy, in love, even among those who hate.
  • Life is so hard, how can we be anything but kind?
  • Equanimity arises when we accept the way things are.
  • It’s much better to become a Buddha than a Buddhist.
  • It is the place of feeling that binds us or frees us.
  • Without integrity and conscience we lose our freedom.
  • Indifference is a misguided way of defending ourselves.
  • Peace requires us to surrender our illusions of control.
  • Every individual in the world has a unique contribution.
  • Nobody knows why they were born or where they come from.
  • Samadhi doesn’t just come of itself; it takes practice.
  • Those who are Awake live in a state of constant amazement.
  • The goal of practice is always to keep our beginner’s mind.
  • Much of spiritual life is self-acceptance, maybe all of it.
  • In deep self acceptance, grows a compassionate understanding.
  • As surely as there is a voyage away, there is a journey home.
  • You have to accept the way things are before you can move on.
  • If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.
  • Everyone and everything is in some degree or other our teacher.
  • The task is not to perfect yourself, it’s to perfect your love.
  • In the crystal of the awakened consciousness, one facet is love.
  • The unawakened mind tends to make war against the way things are.
  • Buddhist teachings are not a religion, they are a science of mind.
  • Buddhists were actually the first cognitive-behavioral therapists.
  • Use whatever has come to awaken patience, understanding, and love.
  • No matter how difficult the past, you can always begin again today.
  • Know that the freedom you seek can be found right here where you are.
  • Of course, you play the game of life because you got to be incarnated.
  • Be mindful of intention. Intention is the seed that creates our future.
  • The wholeness and freedom we seek is our true nature, who we really are.
  • The only way to live is by accepting each minute as an unrepeatable miracle.
  • There is a web of life into which we are born, from which we can never fall.
  • Tending to ourselves, we tend the world. Tending the world, we tend ourselves.
  • Great pain, when it is honored from the heart, opens into great understanding.
  • To see the preciousness of all things, we must bring our full attention to life
  • The path of awakening begins with a step the Buddha called right understanding.
  • The awakened heart and mind can be experienced as clarity itself, pure knowing.
  • Your happiness and suffering depend on your actions and not on my wishes for you.
  • We can easily become loyal to our suffering‚¶ but it’s not the end of the path.
  • Weigh the true advantages of forgiveness and resentment to the heart. Then choose.
  • Whatever we cultivate in times of ease, we gather as strength for times of change.
  • At the end of our life our questions are simple: Did I live fully? Did I love well?
  • In the end, forgiveness simply means never putting another person out of our heart.
  • We do not have to improve ourselves; we just have to let go of what blocks our heart.
  • Compassion is our deepest nature. It arises from our interconnection with all things.
  • We can bring a heart of understanding and compassion to a world that needs it so much.
  • There are no holy places and no holy people, only holy moments, only moments of wisdom.
  • Skill in concentrating and steadying the mind is the basis for all types of meditation.
  • Embodied courage chooses not to wait until illness or notice of death demands attention.
  • The first level of practice is illuminated by the qualities of courage and renunciation.
  • Wisdom says we are nothing. Love says we are everything. Between these two our life flows.
  • Virtue and integrity are necessary for genuine happiness. Guard your integrity with care.
  • Have respect for yourself, and patience and compassion. With these, you can handle anything.
  • You need a community. They remind you when you forget, and you remind them when they forget.
  • We must especially learn the art of directing mindfulness into the closed areas of our life.
  • Most people discover that when hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with their own pain.
  • Live in joy, luminosity, and peace even among the troubles of the world. Remember who you are.
  • To live fully is to let go and die with each passing moment, and to be reborn in each new one.
  • Everything that has a beginning has an ending. Make your peace with that and all will be well.
  • Each moment of every day is new and then it vanishes. Where is that day? Where is that moment?
  • Though outer events may be difficult, the key to our happiness is how our mind responds to them.
  • We have only now, only this single eternal moment opening and unfolding before us, day and night.
  • Within each of us there is a silence as vast as the universe. We long for it. We can return to it.
  • Meditation is a vehicle for opening to the truth of this impermanence on deeper and deeper levels.
  • Yet I knew that spiritual practice is impossible without great dedication, energy, and commitment.
  • Breathing meditation can quiet the mind, open the body, and develop a great power of concentration.
  • Where we tended to be judgmental, we became more judgmental of ourselves in our spiritual practice.
  • Everybody needs to take some time, in some way, to quiet themselves and really listen to their heart.
  • All of spiritual practice is a matter of relationship: to ourselves, to others, to life’s situations.
  • Only a deep attention to the whole of our life can bring us the capacity to love well and live freely.
  • To understand ourselves and our life is the point of insight meditation: to understand and to be free.
  • Anger shows us precisely where we are stuck, where our limits are, where we cling to beliefs and fears.
  • There are many ways up the mountain and each of us must choose a practice that feels true to our heart.
  • As we learn to bow, we discover that the heart holds more freedom and compassion than we could imagine.
  • Letting go does not mean not caring about things. It means caring about them in a flexible and wise way.
  • We are awakened to the profound realization that the true path to liberation is to let go of everything.
  • The words of the Buddha offer this truth: ‚ຠHatred never ceases by hatred but by love alone is healed.
  • With mindfulness, we are learning to observe in a new way, with balance and a powerful disidentification.
  • To live in this precious animal body on this earth is as great a part of spiritual life as anything else.
  • We don’t know all the reasons that propel us on a spiritual journey, but somehow our life compels us to go.
  • A second quality of mature spirituality is kindness. It is based on a fundamental notion of self-acceptance.
  • As desire abates, generosity is born. When we are connected and present, what else is there to do but give?
  • In Buddhist practice, the outward and inward aspects of taking the one seat meet on our meditation cushion.
  • A factor that greatly supports the opening of energy in practice is exercise and care of the physical body.
  • When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another – and ourselves.
  • Since death will take us anyway, why live our life in fear? Why not die in our old ways and be free to live?
  • It is our commitment to wholeness that matters, the willingness to unfold in every deep aspect of our being.
  • It is not enough to know that love and forgiveness are possible. We have to find ways to bring them to life.
  • The basic principle of spiritual life is that our problems become the very place to discover wisdom and love.
  • Whenever we forgive, in small ways at home, or in great ways between nations, we free ourselves from the past.
  • Train your mind the same way you’d train a puppy: Be patient, be consistent, and have some fun along the way.
  • The willingness to empty ourselves and then seek our true nature is an expression of great and courageous love.
  • Through practice, gently and gradually we can collect ourselves and learn how to be more fully with what we do.
  • The heart is like a garden. It can grow compassion or fear, resentment or love. What seeds will you plant there?
  • The work of your heart, the work of taking time, to listen, to help, is also your gift to the whole of the world
  • Knowledge and achievements matter little if we do not yet know how to touch the heart of another and be touched.
  • To begin to meditate is to look into our lives with interest in kindness and discover how to be wakeful and free.
  • We as human beings have the amazing capacity to be reborn at breakfast everyday and say, This is a new day.‚ù
  • The things that matter most in our lives are not fantastic or grand. They are the moments when we touch one another.
  • Religion and philosophy have their value, but in the end all we can do is open to mystery and live a path with heart
  • May I be given the appropriate difficulties so that my heart can truly open with compassion. Imagine asking for that.
  • The aim of spiritual life is to awaken a joyful freedom, a benevolent and compassionate heart in spite of everything.
  • No one knows how this world came into being. It is a creation of consciousness itself. It’s extraordinary, a mystery.
  • In the end, just three things matter: How well we have lived How well we have loved How well we have learned to let go
  • To open deeply, as genuine spiritual life requires, we need tremendous courage and strength, a kind of warrior spirit.
  • Our ideas of self are created by identification. The less we cling to ideas of self, the freer and happier we will be.
  • Meditation practice is neither holding on nor avoiding; it is a settling back into the moment, opening to what is there.
  • We need a warrior’s heart that lets us face our lives directly, our pains and limitations, our joys and possibilities.
  • Attention to the human body brings healing and regeneration. Through awareness of the body we remember who we really are.
  • There is beauty to be found in the changing of the earth’s seasons, and an inner grace in honouring the cycles of life.
  • Meet this transient world with neither grasping nor fear, trust the unfolding of life, and you will attain true serenity.
  • The person who betrayed you is sunning themselves on a beach in Hawaii and you’re knotted up in hatred. Who is suffering?
  • Without being aware of it, you take many things as being your identity: your body, your race, your beliefs, your thoughts.
  • The way I treat my body is not disconnected from the way I treat my family or the commitment I have to peace on our earth.
  • Love is based on our capacity to trust in a reality beyond fear, to trust a timeless truth bigger than all our difficulties.
  • No matter what situation we find ourselves in, we can always set our compass to our highest intentions in the present moment
  • When we feel anger toward someone, we can consider that they are a being just like us, who has faced much suffering in life.
  • What would we have to hold in compassion to be at peace right now? What would we have to let go of to be at peace right now?
  • To let go in the deepest recesses of the heart, to release all struggle and wanting, leads us to that knowing which is timeless.
  • When we take time to quiet ourselves, we can all sense that our life could be lived with greater compassion and greater weakness.
  • The focusing of attention on the breath is perhaps the most universal of the many hundreds of meditation subjects used worldwide.
  • To let go does not mean to get rid of. To let go means to let be. When we let be with compassion, things come and go on their own.
  • In this there is no judgment and no blame, for we seek not to perfect the world but to perfect our love for what is on this earth.
  • We need energy, commitment, and courage not to run from our life nor to cover it over with any philosophy‚îmaterial or spiritual.
  • To live life is to make a succession of errors. Understanding this can bring us great ease and forgiveness for ourselves and others.
  • An honorable spiritual practice recognizes the losses we have suffered, tells our story, and sheds our tears to free us from the past.
  • Whatever you believe cosmologically, we all know the tears of the world. We each carry a certain measure of those tears in our hearts.
  • We must look at our life without sentimentality, exaggeration or idealism. Does what we are choosing reflect what we most deeply value?
  • We need a repeated discipline, a genuine training, in order to let go of our old habits of mind and to find and sustain a new way of seeing.
  • Two qualities are at the root of all meditation development: right effort and right aim‚îarousing effort to aim the mind toward the object.
  • Only in the reality of the present can we love, can we awaken, can we find peace and understanding and connection with ourselves and the world.
  • Let go of the battle. Breathe quietly and let it be. Let your body relax and your heart soften. Open to whatever you experience without fighting.
  • But forgiveness is the act of not putting anyone out of your heart, even those who are acting out of deep ignorance or out of confusion and pain.
  • The light around someone who speaks truth, who consistently acts with compassion for all, even in great difficulty, is visible to all around them.
  • Built on the foundation of concentration is the third aspect of the Buddha’s path of awakening: clarity of vision and the development of wisdom.
  • Do not doubt your own basic goodness. In spite of all confusion and fear, you are born with a heart that knows what is just, loving, and beautiful.
  • According to Buddhist scriptures, compassion is the “quivering of the pure heart” when we have allowed ourselves to be touched by the pain of life.
  • Gratitude is confidence in life itself. In it, we feel how the same force that pushes grass through cracks in the sidewalk invigorates our own life.
  • When we have for so long been judged by everyone we meet, just to look into the eyes of another who does not judge us can be extraordinarily healing.
  • In sitting on the meditation cushion and assuming the meditation posture, we connect ourselves with the present moment in this body and on this earth.
  • When we struggle to change ourselves we, in fact, only continue the patterns of self-judgement and aggression. We keep the war against ourselves alive.
  • Compassion for ourselves gives rise to the power to transform resentment into forgiveness, hatred into friendliness, and fear into respect for all beings.
  • To meditate is to discover new possibilities, to awaken the capacities of us has to live more wisely, more lovingly, more compassionately, and more fully.
  • Forgiveness is primarily for our own sake, so that we no longer carry the burden of resentment. But to forgive does not mean we will allow injustice again.
  • We can bring our spiritual practice into the streets, into our communities, when we see each realm as a temple, as a place to discover that which is sacred.
  • In this world there are two great sources of strength. One rests with those who are not afraid to kill. The other rests with those who are not afraid to love.
  • Refraining from stealing: care with material goods. Undertake for one week to act on every single thought of generosity that arises spontaneously in your heart.
  • The purpose of a spiritual discipline is to give us a way to stop the war, not by our force of will, but organically, through understanding an gradual training.
  • We must look at ourselves over and over again in order to learn to love, to discover what has kept our hearts closed, and what it means to allow our hearts to open.
  • It does not matter whether you have religion or are an agnostic believe in nothing, You can only appreciate (without knowing or understanding) the mysteries of life.
  • We each need to make our lion’s roar – to persevere with unshakable courage when faced with all manner of doubts and sorrows and fears – to declare our right to awaken.
  • When you rest in presence and pure awareness, sometimes everything is experienced as love because you’re connected with all that is, and love is simply the nature of being.
  • To undertake a genuine spiritual path is not to avoid difficulties but to learn the art of making mistakes wakefully, to bring them to the transformative power of our heart.
  • When we let go of our battles and open our hearts to things as they are, then we come to rest in the present moment. This is the beginning and the end of spiritual practice.
  • You awaken your True spirit by way of the broken heart: ragged, vulnerable, fierce and finally compassionate. Chris trod this rough way and shows honestly how it can be done.
  • There are many good forms of meditation practice. A good meditation practice is any one that develops awareness or mindfulness of our body and our sense, of our mind and heart.
  • Most of us have spent our lives caught up in plans, expectations, ambitions for the future; in regrets, guilt or shame about the past. To come into the present is to stop the war.
  • Spiritual life doesn’t make you a good person; you ARE a good person, you are a holy being when you are born. What spiritual life does is remind us that this is who we really are.
  • The knowledge of the past stays with us. To let go is to release the images and emotions, the grudges and fears, the clingings and disappointments of the past that bind our spirit.
  • This life is a test-it is only a test. If it had been an actual life, you would have received further instructions on where to go and what to do. Remember, this life is only a test.
  • Beneath the sophistication of Buddhist psychology lies the simplicity of compassion. We can touch into this compassion whenever the mind is quiet, whenever we allow the heart to open.
  • The grief we carry is part of the grief of the world. Hold it gently. Let it be honored. You do not have to keep it in anymore. You can let go into the heart of compassion; you can weep.
  • When repeated difficulties do arise, our first spiritual approach is to acknowledge what is present, naming, softly saying ‘sadness, sadness’, or ‘remembering, remembering’, or whatever.
  • Even Socrates, who lived a very frugal and simple life, loved to go to the market. When his students asked about this, he replied, “I love to go and see all the things I am happy without.
  • To learn to concentrate we must choose a prayer or meditation and follow this path with commitment and steadiness, a willingness to work with our practice day after day, no matter what arises.
  • The Sufis have a saying: “Praise Allah, and tie your camel to a post.”  This brings together both parts of practice:  pray, yes, but also make sure that you do what is necessary in the world.
  • Great spiritual traditions are used as a means to ripen us, to bring us face to face with our life, and to help us to see in a new way by developing a stillness of mind and a strength of heart.
  • Every facet, every department of your mind, is to be programmed by you. And unless you assume your rightful responsibility, and begin to program your own mind, the world will program it for you.
  • Part of spiritual and emotional maturity is recognizing that it’s not like you’re going to try to fix yourself and become a different person. You remain the same person, but you become awakened.
  • Refraining from false speech: speech from the heart. Undertake for one week not to gossip (positively or negatively) or speak about anyone you know who is not present with you (any third party).
  • No amount of meditation, yoga, diet, and reflection will make all of our problems go away, but we can transform our difficulties into our practice until little by little they guide us on our way.
  • In all practices and traditions of freedom, we find the heart’s task to be quite simple. Life offers us just what it offers, and our task is to bow to it, to meet it with understanding and compassion.
  • How did we get into this funny-looking body that has a hole at one end in which we regularly stuff dead plants and animals? It’s bizarre that we got here, incarnated into this world with these bodies.
  • Wherever you are is the perfect place to awaken. This moment is the exact place to practice compassion and loving awareness. You have all the ingredients to breathe and find freedom just where you are.
  • In our charade with ourselves we pretend that our war is not really war. We have changed the name of the War Department to the Defense Department and call a whole class of nuclear missiles Peace Keepers!
  • You hold in your hand an invitation: to remember the transforming power of forgiveness and loving kindness. To remember that no matter where you are and what you face, within your heart peace is possible.
  • What is truly a part of our spiritual path is that which brings us alive. If gardening brings us alive, that is part of our path, if it is music, if it is conversation…we must follow what brings us alive.
  • If grief or anger arises, Let there be grief or anger. This is the Buddha in all forms,Sun Buddha, Moon Buddha, Happy Buddha, Sad Buddha. It is the universe offering all things to awaken and open our heart.
  • The questions asked at the end of lie are very simple ones: Did I love well? Did I love the people around me, my community, the earth, in a deep way? And perhaps, Did I live fully? Did I offer myself to life?
  • If we are engaged in actions that cause pain and conflict to ourselves and others, it is impossible for the mind to become settled, collected, and focused in meditation; it is impossible for the heart to open.
  • …Spiritual opening is not a withdrawal to some imagined realm or safe cave. It is not a pulling away, but a touching of all the experience of life with wisdom and with a heart of kindness, without any separation.
  • It is hard to imagine a world without forgiveness. Without forgiveness life would be unbearable. Without forgiveness our lives are chained, forced to carry the sufferings of the past and repeat them with no release.
  • The independence and rebelliousness of our adolescence offer us yet another quality essential to our practice; the insistence that we find out the truth for ourselves, accepting no one’s word above our own experience.
  • As long as you are trying to be something other than what you actually are, your mind wears itself out. But if you say, ‘This is what I am, it is a fact that I am going to investigate and understand,’ then you can go beyond.
  • When we take the one seat on our meditation cushion we become our own monastery. We create the compassionate space that allows for the arising of all things: sorrows, loneliness, shame, desire, regret, frustration, happiness.
  • Strength of the Heart comes from knowing that the pain that we each must bear is part of the greater pain shared by all that lives. It is not just ‘our’ pain, but ‘the’ pain and realizing this awakens our universal compassion
  • It is true that the heart has its seasons, just as a flower opens to the sunlight and closes to the night. We need to be respectful of those rhythms. But we can’t close down for long. It is our true nature to have an open heart.
  • If you put a spoonful of salt in a cup of water it tastes very salty. If you put a spoonful of salt in a lake of fresh water the taste is still pure and clear. Peace comes when our hearts are open like the sky, vast as the ocean.
  • In deep self-acceptance grows a compassionate understanding. As one Zen master said when I asked if he ever gets angry, ‘Of course I get angry, but then a few minutes later I say to myself, ‘What’s the use of this,’ and I let it go.’
  • Everything has a beginning and an ending. Make peace with that and all will be well…In life we cannot avoid change, we cannot avoid loss. Freedom and happiness are found in the flexibility and ease with which we move through change.
  • Even the most exalted states and the most exceptional spiritual accomplishments are unimportant if we cannot be happy in the most basic and ordinary ways, if we cannot touch one another and the life we have been given with our hearts.
  • True emptiness is not empty, but contains all things. The mysterious and pregnant void creates and reflects all possibilities. From it arises our individuality, which can be discovered and developed, although never possessed or fixed.
  • In any moment we can learn to let go of hatred and fear. We can rest in peace, love, and forgiveness. It is never too late. Yet to sustain love we need to develop practices that cultivate and strengthen the natural compassion within us.
  • To become mindful ‚¶ present ‚¶ is really the invitation to work with the joys and the sorrows of the world, and to do so with this gift, this capacity of loving awareness, of attention that actually can be present for the whole dance.
  • We have so many ideas and beliefs about ourselves. We told ourselves story about what we want and who we are, smart or kind. Often these are the unexamined and limited ideas of others that we have internalized and then gone on to life out.
  • For most of us, generosity is a quality that must be developed. We have to respect that it will grow gradually; otherwise our spirituality can become idealistic and imitative, acting out the image of generosity before it has become genuine.
  • To bow to the fact of our life’s sorrows and betrayals is to accept them; and from this deep gesture we discover that all life is workable. As we learn to bow, we discover that the heart holds more freedom and compassion than we could imagine.
  • As we willingly enter each place of fear, each place of deficiency and insecurity in ourselves, we will discover that its walls are made of untruths, of old images of ourselves, of ancient fears, of false ideas of what is pure and what is not.
  • Yes, there are troubles in the world. There’s war and hatred, there’s sickness and difficulty. And there is also an undying spirit, an inviolable consciousness that is born in each of us. It is who we are, and it’s everything and it’s nothing.
  • With growing awareness, you can see where you’re caught or where you suffer or where you create suffering. You can then turn toward the difficulties that arise in your life with compassion, bow, and say, these too are part of human incarnation.
  • We need to learn how to honor and use a practice for as long as it serves us‚îwhich in most cases is a very long time‚îbut to look at it as just that, a vehicle, a raft to help us cross through the waters of doubt, confusion, desire, and fear.
  • The best of modern therapy is much like a process of shared meditation, where therapist and client sit together, learning to pay close attention to those aspects and dimensions of the self that the client may be unable to touch on his or her own.
  • As we encounter new experiences with a mindful and wise attention, we discover that one of three things will happen to our new experience: it will go away, it will stay the same, or it will get more intense. whatever happens does not really matter.
  • When we let go of yearning for the future, preoccupation with the past, and strategies to protect the present, there is nowhere left to go but where we are. To connect with the present moment is to begin to appreciate the beauty of true simplicity.
  • We each have been betrayed. Let yourself picture and remember the many ways this is true. Feel the sorrow you have carried from this past. Now sense that you can release this burden of pain by gradually extending forgiveness as your heart is ready.
  • One of the essential tasks for living a wise life is letting go. Letting go is the path to freedom. It is only by letting go of the hopes, the fears, the pain, the past, the stories that have a hold on us that we can quiet our mind and open our heart.
  • When our identity expands to include everything, we find a peace with the dance of the world. The ocean of life rises and falls within us – birth and death, joy and pain, it is all ours, and our heart is full and empty, large enough to embrace it all.
  • You are the mystery incarnating itself, and it’s beautiful when you remember. It’s also painful and awesome and it contains unbearable beauty and unfathomable pain – the ocean of tears and galaxy of bliss. I don’t say that lightly, but it’s what we have.
  • In opening we can see how many times we have mistaken small identities and fearful beliefs for our true nature and how limiting this is. We can touch with great compassion the pain from the contracted identities that we and others have created in the world.
  • As we follow a genuine path of practice, our sufferings may seem to increase because we no longer hide from them or from ourselves. When we do not follow the old habits of fantasy and escape, we are left facing the actual problems and contradictions of our life.
  • The present moment is really all that we have. The only place you can really love another person is in the present. Love in the past is a memory. Love in the future is a fantasy. To be really alive, love – or any other experience – must take place in the present.
  • When attachment arises in the place of love, it sees the other as separate; it grasps and needs. Attachment is conditional; it seeks control and it fear loss. Ask your heart if attachment has replaced love. If we speak to our heart, it will always tell us the truth.
  • Ours is a society of denial that conditions us to protect ourselves from any direct difficulty and discomfort. We expend enormous energy denying our insecurity, fighting pain, death and loss and hiding from the basic truths of the natural world and of our own nature.
  • In a society that almost demands life at double time, speed and addictions numb us to our own experience. In such a society, it is almost impossible to settle into our bodies or stay connected with our hearts, let alone connect with one another or the earth where we live.
  • We can struggle with what is. We can judge and blame others or ourselves. Or we can accept what cannot be changed. Peace comes from an honorable and open heart accepting what is true. Do we want to remain stuck? Or to release the fearful sense of self and rest kindly where we are?
  • Nirvana manifests as ease, as love, as connectedness, as generosity, as clarity, as unshakable freedom. This isn’t watering down nirvana. This is the reality of liberation that we can experience, sometimes in a moment and sometimes in transformative ways that change our entire life
  • There are several different kinds of painful feelings that we might experience, and learning to distinguish and relate to these feelings of discomfort or pain is an important part of meditation practice, because it is one of the very first things that we open to as our practice develops.
  • Expressing gratitude to our benefactors is a natural form of love. In fact, some people find loving kindness for themselves so hard, they begin their practice with a benefactor. This too is fine. The rule in loving kindness practice is to follow the way that most easily opens your heart.
  • When we come into the present, we begin to feel the life around us again, but we also encounter whatever we have been avoiding. We must have the courage to face whatever is present – our pain, our desires, our grief, our loss, our secret hopes our love – everything that moves us most deeply.
  • Love creates a communion with life. Love expands us, connects us, sweetens us, ennobles us. Love springs up in tender concern, it blossoms into caring action. It makes beauty out of all we touch. In any moment we can step beyond our small self and embrace each other as beloved parts of a whole.
  • The emotional wisdom of the heart is simple. When we accept our human feelings, a remarkable transformation occurs. Tenderness and wisdom arise naturally and spontaneously. Where we once sought strength over others, now our strength becomes our own; where we once sought to defend ourselves, we laugh.
  • It is possible to speak with our heart directly. Most ancient cultures know this. We can actually converse with our heart as if it were a good friend. In modern life we have become so busy with our daily affairs and thoughts that we have lost this essential art of taking time to converse with our heart.
  • Acceptance does not mean inaction. We may need to respond, strongly at times…From a peaceful center we can respond instead of react. Unconscious reactions create problems. Considered responses bring peace. With a peaceful heart whatever happens can be met with wisdom…Peace is not weak; it is unshakable.
  • Peace requires us to surrender our illusions of control. We can love and care for others but we cannot possess our children, lovers, family, or friends. We can assist them, pray for them, and wish them well, yet in the end their happiness and suffering depend on their thoughts and actions, not on our wishes.
  • The purpose of spiritual life is not to create some special state of mind. A state of mind is always temporary. The purpose is to work directly with the most primary elements of our body and our mind, to see the ways we get trapped by our fears, desires, and anger, to learn directly our capacity for freedom.
  • I used to think that to become free you had to practice like a samurai warrior, but now I understand that you have to practice like a devoted mother of a newborn child. It takes the same energy but has a completely different quality. It’s compassion and presence rather than having to defeat the enemy in battle.
  • Indifference pretends to create peace, but it is based on not caring, a silent resignation. It is a movement away, a separation fed by a subtle fear of the heart. We pull back, believing that what happens to others is not our concern. Our courage leaves us. Indifference is a misguided way of defending ourselves.
  • It takes courage to grieve, to honor the pain we carry. We can grieve in tears or in meditative silence, in prayer or in song. In touching the pain of recent and long-held griefs, we come face to face with our genuine human vulnerability, with helplessness and hopelessness. These are the storm clouds of the heart.
  • Once we see that everything is impermanent and ungraspable and that we create a huge amount of suffering if we are attached to things staying the same, we realize that relaxing and letting go is a wiser way to live. Letting go does not mean not caring about things. It means caring about them in a flexible and wise way.
  • Grant that I have enough suffering that my heart really opens to the great compassion of this world, that I be given enough so that I don’t wall myself off from the world, that it breaks down the heart and the separation and the ego and the fear, and it lets me touch the nectar, the milk of kindness itself, of something greater.
  • Taking the one seat describes two related aspects of spiritual work. Outwardly, it means selecting one practice and teacher among all the possibilities, and inwardly, it means having the determination to stick with that practice through whatever difficulties and doubts arise until you have come to true clarity and understanding.
  • No amount of outer technology, no amount of computers and biotechnology and nanotechnology is going to stop the continuation of warfare and racism and environmental destruction. What’s called for on the Earth at this time is really a change of heart … the question is really not the future of humanity, but the presence of eternity.
  • Meditation takes discipline, just like learning how to play piano. If you want to learn how to play the piano, it takes more than a few minutes a day, once a while, here and there. If you really want to learn any important skill, whether it is playing piano or meditation, it grows with perseverance, patience, and systematic training.
  • The near enemy of love is attachment. Attachment masquerades as love. It says, you will love this person because I need them. I’ll love you if you’ll love me back. I’ll love you, but only if you will be the way I want. This isn’t love at all – it is attachment – and attachment is rigid, it is very different from love.
  • Letting go is not the same as aversion, struggling to get rid of something. We cannot genuinely let go of what we resist. What we resist and fear secretly follows us even as we push it away. To let go of fear or trauma, we need to acknowledge just how it is. We need to feel it fully and accept that it is so. It is as it is. Letting go begins with letting be.
  • We need courage and strength, a kind of warrior spirit. But the place for this warrior strength is in the heart. We need energy, commitment, and courage not to run from our life nor to cover it over with any philosophy-mate rial or spiritual. We need a warrior’s heart that lets us face our lives directly, our pains and limitations, our joys and possibilities.
  • A bulging portfolio of spiritual experiences matters little if it does not have the power to sustain us through the inevitable moments of grief, loss, and change. Knowledge and achievements matter little if we do not yet know how to touch the heart of another and be touched. Wisdom is alive only as long as it is lived, understanding is liberating only as long as it is applied.
  • Gratitude is the confidence in life itself… As gratitude grows it gives rise to joy. We experience the courage to rejoice in our own good fortune and in the good fortune of others… We can be joyful for people we love, for moments of goodness, for sunlight and trees, and for the very breath within our lungs. Like an innocent child, we can rejoice in life itself, in being alive.
  • Forgiveness does not mean that we have to continue to relate to those who have done us harm. In some cases the best practice may be to end our connection, to never speak to or be with a harmful person again. Sometimes in the process of forgiveness a person who hurts or betrayed us may wish to make amends, but even this does not require us to put ourselves in the way of further harm.
  • Compassion arises naturally as the quivering of the heart in the face of pain, ours and another’s. True compassion is not limited by the separateness of pity, nor by the fear of being overwhelmed. When we come to rest in the great heart of compassion, we discover a capacity to bear witness to, suffer with, and hold dear with our own vulnerable heart the sorrows and beauties of the world.
  • If you can sit quietly after difficult news; if in financial downturns you remain perfectly calm; if you can see your neighbors travel to fantastic places without a twinge of jealousy; if you can happily eat whatever is put on your plate; you can fall asleep after a day of running around without a drink or a pill; if you can always find contentment just where you are: you are probably a dog.
  • Whatever your difficulties – a devastated heart, financial loss, feeling assaulted by the conflicts around you, or a seemingly hopeless illness – you can always remember that you are free in every moment to set the compass of your heart to your highest intentions. In fact, the two things that you are always free to do – despite your circumstances – are to be present and to be willing to love.
  • What brings the karmic result from the patterns of our actions is not our action alone. As we intend and then act, we create [our] karma: so another key to understanding the creation of karma is becoming aware of intention. The heart is our garden, and along with each action there is an intention that is planted like a seed. The result of the patterns of our karma is the fruit of these seeds.
  • Thich Nhat Hanh has the ability to express some of the most profound teachings of interdependence and emptiness I’ve ever heard. With the eloquence of a poet, he holds up a sheet of paper and teaches us that the rain cloud and the tree and the logger who cut the tree down are all there in the paper. He’s been one of the most significant carriers of the lamp of the dharma to the West that we have had.
  • The longing for initiation is universal and for modern youth, it is a desperate need. When nothing is offered in the way of spiritual initiation to prove one’s entry into the world of men and women, initiation happens instead in the road or the street, in cars at high speed, with drugs, with dangerous sex, with weapons. However troubling, this behavior is rooted in a fundamental truth; a need to grow.
  • Finding a way to extend forgiveness to ourselves is one of our most essential tasks. Just as others have been caught in suffering, so have we. If we look honestly at our life, we can see the sorrows and pain that have led to our own wrongdoing. In this we can finally extend forgiveness to ourselves; we can hold the pain we have caused in compassion. Without such mercy, we will live our own life in exile.
  • We can step out of our small sense of self and awaken to this reality. One of the reasons people get confused about freedom, enlightenment, and liberation is because this awakened consciousness has different facets or different dimensions, a bit like a crystal. If you hold this luminous crystal up to the light and turn it, it will take a beam of white light and refract it into the many colors of the spectrum.
  • When I sit with students, I do not just want to help them solve their problems. I want to find a moment with each person where their mind stops and their eyes open. I want us to be together as if we were lying in a field on the underside of the earth on a clear summer night, held only by the magnet of gravity, looking down into a bottomless sea of stars. I want us to remember together the beauty all around us.
  • Forgiveness sees wisely. It willingly acknowledges what is unjust, harmful, and wrong. It bravely recognizes sufferings of the past, and understands the conditions that brought them about.Forgiveness honors the heart’s greatest dignity. Whenever we are lost, it brings us back to the ground of love.Without forgiveness our lives are chained, forced to carry the sufferings of the past and repeat them with no release.
  • It is the basic principle of spiritual life that we learn the deepest things in unknown territory. Often it is when we feel most confused inwardly and are in the midst of our greatest difficulties that something new will open. We awaken most easily to the mystery of life through our weakest side. The areas of our greatest strength, where we are the most competent and clearest, tend to keep us away from the mystery.
  • In spiritual life there is no room for compromise. Awakening is not negotiable; we cannot bargain to hold on to things that please us while relinquishing things that do not matter to us. A lukewarm yearning for awakening is not enough to sustain us through the difficulties involved in letting go. It is important to understand that anything that can be lost was never truly ours, anything that we deeply cling to only imprisons us.
  • Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself and yourself alone one question. This question is one that only a very old man asks. My benefactor told me about it once when I was Young. And my blood was too vigorous for me to understand it. Now I do understand it. I will tell you what it is: does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good. If it doesn’t, it is of no use.
  • It only take a few minutes of meditation to directly realize we are a river of sensations, feelings, thoughts, perceptions. How can we navigate this evanescent river of life wisely? With mindful awareness and love it becomes clear. You can fight against the river of change, or use its wisdom to teach you how to graciously move and create and flow with the full measure of joy and sorrow, gain and loss, praise and blame that make up every human incarnation.
  • When the stories of our life no longer bind us, we discover within them something greater. We discover that within the very limitations of form, of our maleness and femaleness, of our parenthood and our childhood, of gravity on the earth and the changing of the seasons, is the freedom and harmony we have sought for so long. Our individual life is an expression of the whole mystery, and in it we can rest in the center of the movement, the center of all worlds.
  • The ends do not justify the means. If our actions will bring harm to others, even in the service of some ‘good,’ they are almost certainly deluded. If our actions do not come from a kind heart, from loving courage and compassion, they are deluded. If they are based on a distinction between ‘us’ and ‘them,’ they stem from delusion. Only to the extent that we act from the wisdom of no separation, understanding how we are woven together, will our intention bring benefit.
  • When we let go of our battles and open our heart to things as they are, then we come to rest in the present moment. This is the beginning and the end of spiritual practice. Only in this moment can we discover that which is timeless. Only here can we find the love that we seek. Love in the past is simply memory, and love in the future is fantasy. Only in the reality of the present can we love, can we awaken, can we find peace and understanding and connection with ourselves and the world.
  • One day Mara, the Buddhist god of ignorance and evil, was traveling through the villages of India with his attendants. He saw a man doing walking meditation whose face was lit up in wonder. The man had just discovered something on the ground in front of him. Mara’s attendants asked what that was and Mara replied, “A piece of truth.” “Doesn’t this bother you when someone finds a piece of the truth, O evil one?” his attendants asked. “No,” Mara replied. “Right after this they usually make a belief out of it.”
  • If you want to love, take the time to listen to your heart. In most ancient and wise cultures it is a regular practice for people to talk to their heart. There are rituals, stories, and meditative skills in every spiritual tradition that awaken the voice of the heart. To live wisely, this practice is essential, because our heart is the source of our connection to and intimacy with all of life. And life is love. This mysterious quality of love is all around us, as real as gravity… Yet how often we forget about love.
  • Some other people think that awakened consciousness is really about fullness or presence, being completely present for every moment, but these experiences are only one of the dimensions of awakened consciousness. Understanding these different dimensions as facets of awakening can help with the confusion surrounding the different spiritual paths. They’re not leading to different places, but rather reflect the luminous and liberated aspects of consciousness itself. These qualities are not far away; in fact, they are right here.
  • 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 become 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 and pleasures that by their nature can never be satisfying.
  • In the West, there’s a myth that freedom means free expression-that to follow all desires wherever they take one is true freedom. In fact, as one serves the mind, one sees that following desires, attractions, and repulsions is not at all freedom, but is a kind of bondage. A mind filled with desires and grasping inevitably entails great suffering. Freedom is not to be gained through the ability to perform certain external actions. True freedom is an inward state of being. Once it is attained, no situation in the world can bind one or limit one’s freedom.
  • Even time is a concept. In reality we are always in the eternal present. The past is just a memory, the future just an image or thought. All our stories about past and future are only ideas, arising in the moment. Our modern culture is so tyrannized by goals, plans, and improvement schemes that we constantly live for the future. But as Aldous Huxley reminded us in his writings, “An idolatrous religion is one in which time is substituted for eternity…the idea of endless progress is the devil’s work, even today demanding human sacrifice on an enormous scale.
  • Within the mystery of life there is the infinite darkness of the night sky lit by distant orbs of fire, the cobbled skin of an orange that releases its fragrance to our touch, the unfathomable depths of the eyes of our lover. No creation story, no religious system can fully describe or explain this richness and depth. Mystery is so every-present that no one can know for certain what will happen one hour from now. ‚ú It does not matter whether you have religion or are an agnostic believe in nothing, You can only appreciate (without knowing or understanding) the mysteries of life.