Category: Jack Kornfield

SoulTalk with Kute Blackson Ep. 199: “How To Heal From Pain & Trauma Through The Art of Compassion”

Mindfulness is that spacious attention that says, “Yes, this is what’s here and who I am as the loving witness of it all.”

Episode Summary: ‘Love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at it’s best is love.’

In This Episode You Will Learn: How to let go of the pain and traumas of life. A key practice to help you forgive yourself, and others. How to develop compassion and tenderness even in the most difficult times. What is the real meaning of mindfulness and of meditation and the difference between. How to navigate through an overwhelming impulse or addiction. The role of plant medicine in spiritual development and the healing process. A few misconceptions and myths about the term enlightenment and where to find your true internal bliss.


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Video: Dharma Talk on Death

How can we find a freedom of heart in this world of birth and death? We can start by acknowledging that everything is subject to change. Death is an advisor that can give us clarity about what really matters. We can be the loving witness of this life, yet not cling to it. We can cherish life, yet in the end we will have to let go.

As Mary Oliver writes:
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones
knowing your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

For more teachings like this, please subscribe to my YouTube channel HERE.

This talk was originally livestreamed by Spirit Rock on 10/11/21.

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Video: Mindful Loving Witness Meditation

Gently acknowledge any strong waves of thought or emotion that pull you away from the breath. Let them rise and fall, then return to breath. Become the mindful loving witness of each breath.

For more teachings like this, please subscribe to my YouTube channel HERE.

This meditation was originally livestreamed by Spirit Rock on 10/11/21.

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Video: The Forgiving Heart Dharma Talk

There’s a truth and reality deeper than conflict. Who we really are is not the stories we tell. How do we touch our measure of suffering? With a forgiving heart. Step out of the tyranny of self-judgment. Forgive yourself for being a learner in this life.

Three principles of wise forgiveness of others:
1. Forgiveness is not weak, naïve. It’s not “forgive or forget.” It takes real courage. Forgiveness does not condone what happened nor allow it to continue.
2. Forgiveness is not quick. It is often a long, difficult, tender process of the heart digesting the pain of what happened.
3. Forgiveness is not for them—it’s for you. It’s about our own heart not being chained to the past.

Sometimes it’s your loving heart that opens your broken heart. We can let go. We can put down the burden of resentment. We can live with a gracious heart.


For more teachings like this, please subscribe to my YouTube channel HERE.

This talk was originally livestreamed by Spirit Rock on 9/20/21.

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Video: The Forgiving Heart Meditation

If it’s helpful, you can whisper in the back of your mind “ease” or “calm,” as suggested by Thich Nhat Hanh. Try to meet every breath with lovingkindness and loving awareness. Wish calm and peace for beings everywhere, far and near. Rest in stillness and love.

For more teachings like this, please subscribe to my YouTube channel HERE.

This meditation was originally livestreamed by Spirit Rock on 9/20/21.

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Heart Wisdom – Ep. 133 – Training The Inner Child

We need to give attention, love, and energy—it’s called Wise Attention in Buddhist practice—to our inner child, just as we need to give attention to any child we’re trying to raise. It’s important to mindfully tend our inner growth, learn how to heal/grieve our childhood wounding, love, and let go.

*This dharma talk was recorded on January 1, 1988 at Spirit Rock Meditation Center,

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The Wisdom of Insecurity

The Wisdom of Insecurity

“Security is mostly a superstition.  It does not exist in nature nor do children as a whole experience it.  Avoiding danger
is not safer in the long run than outright exposure.  Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” —
Helen Keller

One day my teacher Ajahn Chah held up a beautiful tea cup, “To me this cup is already broken. Because I know its fate, I can enjoy it fully here and now. And when it’s gone, it’s gone.”  When we understand the truth of uncertainty, we become free.

The broken cup helps us see beyond our illusion of control. When we commit ourselves to raising a child, building a business, creating a work of art, or righting an injustice, some measure of failure as well as success will be ours. This is a fierce teaching.

We may lose our best piece of pottery in the firing, the charter school we work so hard to create may fold, our start up business may go under, our children may develop problems beyond our control. If we only focus on the results, we will be devastated. But if we know the cup is broken, we can give our best to the process, create what we can and trust the larger process of life itself. We can plan, we can care for, tend and respond. But we cannot control.  Instead we take a breath, and open to what is unfolding, where we are. This is a profound shift, from holding on, to letting go.  As Suzuki Roshi says, “When we understand the truth of impermanence and find our composure in it, there we find ourselves in Nirvana.”

When people asked Ajahn Chah questions about enlightenment or what happens at death or whether meditation would heal their illness, or whether Buddhist teachings could be practiced equally by westerners, he would smile and say “It’s uncertain, isn’t it?” Chögyam Trungpa called this uncertainty “groundlessness.” With the wisdom of uncertainty, Ajahn Chah could simply relax.  Around him was an enormous sense of ease. He didn’t hold his breath or try to manipulate events. He responded to the situation at hand. When a senior western nun left the Buddhist order to become a born again Christian missionary, and then returned to the monastery to try to convert her old friends, many were upset. “How could she do this?” Confused, they asked Ajahn Chah about her. He responded with a laugh, “Maybe she’s right.” With these words, everyone relaxed.  When called for, Ajahn Chah could plan the construction of a great temple or oversee the network of over 100 monasteries started by his monks. When disciplining misbehaving monks, he could be decisive, demanding and stern.  But there was a spaciousness around all these actions, as if he could turn to you a moment later and smile – like a wink – and say, “It’s uncertain, isn’t it?”   He was living proof of the secret of life described in the Bhagavad Gita, “to act well without attachment to the fruits of your actions.”

The trust expressed by Ajahn Chah comes whenever our consciousness rests in the eternal present. “From where I sit,” he said, “nobody comes and no one goes.”  “In the middle way, there is no one who is strong or weak, young or old, no one who is born and no one who dies. This is the unconditioned. The heart is free.”  The ancient Zen masters call this enlightenment “the trusting mind.” The Zen texts explain how to do so, “To live in Trusting Mind is to be without anxiety about non-perfection.”  The world is ‘imperfect.’ Instead of struggling to perfect the world, we rest in the uncertainty. Then we can act with compassion and we give our best. Without attachment to the outcome, we bring fearlessness and trust to any circumstances.



This excerpt is taken from the book The Wise Heart

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Heart Wisdom – Ep. 132 – Finding Your Own Goodness

Part of the process of meditation and spiritual practice is to come to rest in our being, to a center that is unshakable. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t move in the wind, but that there’s a place in the heart where we’ve touched an ability to feel all the things of life, of death, of birth—what the Taoist call the 10,000 joys and sorrows—and to accept every one of those. Then we can approach life with a fresh mind, fresh ear, and fresh eye.



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Mindfulness and Compassion

Mindfulness and Compassion


Just as our compassionate heart can be touched by the sorrows of the world, we must also remember that it is not our responsibility to fix all the brokenness of the world—only to fix what we can. Otherwise we become grandiose, as if we were put here to be the savior of the humanity around us.

Mindfulness and compassion are genuinely undertaken one step at a time, one person, one moment. Without this understanding we become overwhelmed by all the problems that must be attended to: the dilemmas of our extended family and community, the injustice and suffering worldwide.

Compassion is most real in the particulars, in our response to the immediacy of this moment. Every conscious act contributes to the healing of the whole. Small acts can be important, as seen in the story of a man who was walking along a beach after an unusually strong spring storm. The beach was covered with dying starfish tossed up by the waves, and the man was tossing them back in the water one by one. A visitor saw this and came up to him. “What are you doing?” “I’m trying to help these starfish,” the man replied. “But there are tens of thousands of them washed up along these beaches. Throwing a handful back doesn’t matter,” protested the visitor. “Matters to this one,” the man replied as he tossed another starfish into the ocean.

To serve in this way, we must remember one more essential truth—it is never too late to begin. When we see with wisdom, the heavy press of time, the responsibility for all things is transformed. We find perspective, a long view. We are not in charge. In our relationships, in our community, on this earth, we may not live to see all the changes we work for—we are the planters of seeds. When the seeds of our actions are caring and sincere, we can know that they will bear nourishing fruit for all beings. No matter what has passed, we can begin again. We can only begin now, where we are, and it is this now that becomes the seed for all that lies ahead. Our responsibility, our creativity is all that is asked. With such sincere motivation, we will naturally ask wise questions and offer true care, tending what we love with a far-reaching wisdom. This is the long-term tending of a farmer for his orchard, a parent for a child. This broad perspective is that of the elder, the sage. It grows naturally out of a committed life of spiritual dedication.

Whether it is our ailing next-door neighbor or the building of a worldwide campaign to address climate change, each day, each step is like breathing, a practice of expanding the heart. In these small steps our truth can blossom.

Excerpt: “After the Ecstasy, the Laundry”

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