Jack Kornfield is a well-known author, teacher, and practitioner in the field of mindfulness and meditation. He is one of the most influential voices in the Western world on Buddhist meditation and spirituality.
Through books like The Wise Heart, No Time Like the Present, The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness and Peace, and many others, he emphasizes the importance of developing a compassionate and mindful approach to life, and his work has helped many people find greater peace, happiness, and fulfillment.
22 Life-Changing Lessons to Learn from Jack Kornfield
1. Let go of the battle.
“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.” ~Jack Kornfield
2. Only in the reality of the present can we find peace.
“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.” ~ Jack Kornfield
3. We must look at ourselves over and over again in order to learn to love.
“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.” ~ Jack Kornfield
4. “True love is not for the faint-hearted.” ~ Jack Kornfield
5. In our charade with ourselves we pretend that our war is not really war.
“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!” ~ Jack Kornfield
6. Misunderstanding leads us to fight against life.
“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.” ~ Jack Kornfield
7. Seek not to perfect the world but to perfect your love for what is on this earth.
“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.” ~ Jack Kornfield
8. Wisdom says we are nothing. Love says we are everything.
“Wisdom says we are nothing. Love says we are everything. Between these two our life flows.” ~ Jack Kornfield
9. The heart holds more freedom and compassion than we could imagine.
“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.” ~ Jack Kornfield
10. These three things matter most.
“In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go?” ~ Jack Kornfield
11. “We are rarely lazy—we are simply afraid.” ~ Jack Kornfield
12. Peace requires us to surrender our illusions of control.
“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.” ~ Jack Kornfield
13. Everything that has a beginning has an ending.
“Everything that has a beginning has an ending. Make your peace with that and all will be well.” ~ Jack Kornfield
14. “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” ~ Jack Kornfield
15. When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with ourselves.
“When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another – and ourselves.” ~ Jack Kornfield
16. “As surely as there is a voyage away, there is a journey home.” ~ Jack Kornfield
17. Nothing is worth holding on to.
“The entire teaching of Buddhism can be summed up in this way: Nothing is worth holding on to.” ~ Jack Kornfield
18. To let go is to release the clingings and disappointments of the past that bind our spirit.
“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.” ~ Jack Kornfield
19. This life is only a test.
“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.” ~ Jack Kornfield
20. Die in our old ways and be free to live.
“Since death will take us anyway, why live our life in fear? Why not die in our old ways and be free to live?” ~ Jack Kornfield
21. When the stories of our life no longer bind us, we discover within them something greater.
“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.” ~ Jack Kornfield
22. The things that matter most in our lives are not fantastic or grand.
“The things that matter most in our lives are not fantastic or grand. They are moments when we touch one another” ~ Jack Kornfield
“There are many ways that I have hurt and harmed others, have betrayed or abandoned them, caused them suffering, knowingly or unknowingly, out of my pain, fear, anger, and confusion.
Let yourself remember and visualize the ways you have hurt others. See the pain you have caused out of your own fear and confusion. Feel your own sorrow and regret. Sense that finally you can release this burden and ask for forgiveness. Take as much time as you need to picture each memory that still burdens your heart. And then as each person comes to mind, gently say: I ask for your forgiveness, I ask for your forgiveness.”
“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.”
“The suffering and happiness in our world, both individual and collective, depend on our consciousness.”
“Know that joy is rarer, more difficult, and more beautiful than sadness. Once you make this all-important discovery, you must embrace joy as a moral obligation.”
“Our life is shaped and determined by our thoughts. Usually we are only half conscious of the way thoughts direct our life; we are lost in thoughts as if they are reality. We take our own mental creations quite seriously, endorsing them without reservation.”
“The problem with the “wanting mind” is that even if you get what you think you want, it does not stop. It says, “All right, I have got the nice car, but now I need more money.” It is always something that we do not have in the present moment—something that we want to obtain in order to satisfy our longing.”
“We need to learn how to honor and use a practice for as long as it serves us—which in most cases is a very long time—but to look at it as just that, a vehicle, a raft to help us cross through the waters of doubt, confusion, desire, and fear.”
“True love and prayer are learned in the hour when love becomes impossible and the heart has turned to stone.”
“The warrior in your heart says stand your ground. Feel the survival of a thousand years of ancestors in your muscles and your blood. You have all the support you need in your bones.”
“Feel your own precious body and life. Let yourself see the way you have hurt or harmed yourself. Picture them, remember them. Feel the sorrow you have carried from this and sense that you can release these burdens. Extend forgiveness for each of them, one by one.”