Author and Buddhist practitioner Jack Kornfield sits down for a candid, in-depth interview to help you suppress self-doubt and find inner calm.
Calling on decades of experience as one of the key teachers to introduce Buddhist mindfulness practice to the West, Kornfield offers valuable insights into how to best deal with conflict and stress in your life and how to handle harmful outside influences in healthy, constructive ways.
Kornfield trained as a Buddhist monk in the monasteries of Thailand, India and Burma. He has taught meditation internationally since 1974, co-founding the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Mass., and the Spirit Rock Center in Woodacre, California. His books have been translated into 20 languages and sold over a million copies.
Here are a few highlights from our conversation:
One of the great gifts of mindful awareness is that as you train and sit, it doesn’t take a lot in meditation for your emotions to show themselves. You learn, the neuroscientist call, you learn to expand the window of tolerance.
Ritual is probably our oldest human language. Some ritual of meeting, another signaling in some way that you’re not going to harm them–or maybe that you are going to harm them and they better take note of that–or signaling in some way our connection to one another. Rituals are elemental. So I used the image of a candle, which is fire, and just lighting a candle and all of a sudden it changes the environment and how we’re relating.
It’s said in the Buddhist teachings that intention is also the basis of karma or cause and effect, that the state behind your action matters as well as the action itself.
Compassion combines empathy with the heart’s response to alleviate suffering.
Close the door and the two windows, wrap yourself up in all your robes and if you’re going to be angry, do it right. And just sit there until you know anger, until you can hear the story it tells, the many stories until you can feel the energy of it pulsing through your body. Until you can find a way to actually be with it and not run away from it.
00:00 – Intro
00:28 – Jack’s experiences as a monk
06:50 – How can we deal with our emotions?
13:22 – On dealing with the stories we tell ourselves
15:58 – Practical solutions to dealing with those stories
21:55 – On feeling undeserving of positive feelings
24:12 – What is self-compassion?
27:09 – On emotions and feelings
31:40 – On maintaining inner peace
34:50 – How to create the habit of a reflexive pause
44:03 – Being at war with ourselves
52:26 – On perspective taking
57:50 – On rituals
1:02:03 – What is intention?
01:10:05 – How striving helps and hurts us
01:16:11 – How thoughts influence behavior
01:19:10 – Why nature influences our thoughts?
01:25:23 – On deflecting compliments
01:29:39 – Judgement vs. discernment
01:30:59 – Should we struggle alone? Or with others?
01:39:21 – Difference between compassion and empathy