Hey! We’re starting a new blog series here called “Authentic Definition”. Each week we’ll spend a few minutes looking at someone well-known for walking their own unique path, speaking their authentic voice – someone who personifies the definition of the word “authentic”.
What I’ll do in this series is read a couple of pages from a book that is either by or about a truly authentic person (with permission from the author, of course). This way, we can get a glimpse at some shining examples of people who have embraced their curiosities and passions, creating a life path like no other’s.
Here’s the first video in the series, featuring Jack Kornfield:
And, here’s the Transcript (minus the introduction)
So, getting right to it.Today, the feature is on Jack Kornfield. He is a best-selling author of many wonderful books and he is considered to be one of the key teachers that helped bring mindfulness practice to the West. As a young man he trained as a Buddhist monk in Thailand,
Burma and India,and he has since taught meditation worldwide since 1974. In 1975, he co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, with Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein, and then in 1987, he started the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California. More than anything, there are few that have brought more understanding in the West to the subjects of mindfulness and meditation than Jack Kornfield.
Today, I’ll be reading from his best-seller – A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life.
An excerpt from Chapter 1: Did I Love Well
“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.
In beginning a genuine spiritual journey, we have to stay much closer to home, to focus directly on what is right here in front of us, to make sure that our path is connected with our deepest love. Don Juan, in his teachings to Carlos Castaneda, put it this way:
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.
When we ask, “Am I following a path with heart?” we discover that no one can define for us exactly what our path should be. Instead, we must allow the mystery and beauty of this question to resonate within our being. Then somewhere within us an answer will come and understanding will arise. If we are still and listen deeply, even for a moment, we will know if we are following a path with heart.
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 forgotten this essential art of taking time to converse with our heart. When we ask it about our current path, we must look at the values we have chosen to live by. Where do we put our time, our strength, our creativity, our love? We must look at our life without sentimentality, exaggeration,, or idealism. Does what we are choosing reflect what we most deeply value?”
Sandra M Bell