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A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life
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A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life

4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  5,724 ratings  ·  162 reviews
A guide to reconciling Buddhist spirituality with the American way of life addresses the challenges of spiritual living in the modern world and offers guidance for bringing a sense of the sacred to everyday experience.
Paperback, 384 pages
Published June 1st 1993 by Bantam
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I really like books about meditation, and I think the amazingly prolific Jack Kornfield, an American psychologist (Ph.D. in clinical psych), former Buddhist monk in Thailand, Burma and India, and now a husband, father, teacher, and popular lecturer, is a great place to start and to continue. The title of this book emphasizes Kornfield's favorite theme that love is what life is ultimately all about and whatever path one follows in life, one must be sure that it is a "path with heart," one that w ...more
Craig Shoemake
I can sincerely say this is an excellent book but that it is not the correct book for me at this time. Books tend to be time sensitive documents, meaning if you read one at the “right” time, it can light fireworks under your butt, while if you had read the same book at an earlier or later time of your life, you might toss it aside and pick up instead the latest copy of Time (pun intended). My experience with what is probably Kornfield’s most widely read book is somewhere in between, but again, t ...more
This is a Kornfield's attempt at a general guide book to Buddhist spiritual inquiry. It makes an attempt to draw parallels between Buddhism and other spiritual traditions, but in general it's intended audience is practicing Buddhists with some familiarity with the tradition. I bought this book after seeing Kornfield speak at the Evolution of Psychotherapy conference. He got a room of about a thousand mental health practitioners to chant and do meditation in concert. It was a powerful experience. ...more
Ben Batchelder
One of my spiritual advisors recommended this book, which makes me wonder if she wanted me to feel even more the spiritual midget than I am. While it is full of entertaining quotes (e.g. “People with opinions just go around bothering one another” says Buddha) and genuine, if therapeutic, insights, I couldn’t help feel Buddhism (the author’s specialty) is horribly complicated. The chapter titled Expanding and Dissolving the Self details myriad levels of meditative nirvana which entail months and ...more
Sidney Luckett

Buddhism has many strands. As the original teachings of Buddha through North India, South India, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Burma, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Japan it took on flavors of the local contexts and thus different forms of Buddhism emerged. It's arrival in North America took on a form known as Insight Meditation. (I'm not a scholar of Buddhism and I don't doubt that there there are others) . Insight Meditation, with a number of centers in the Cambridge/Boston area has had significant influence
Oct 21, 2007 Mary rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: yogis, wanna-be-yogis
good ol' kornfield. i'm unsure how well this book would read if you didn't have a meditation practice already, but i'm finding it to be a fantastic support for my current practice. he lays out the key obstacles that people find as they build their spiritual practice, as well as how to support yourself when you come up against these roadblocks. gentle, wise, funny, sometimes weird, i'm finding that this book is very much reflecting the challenges i'm currently in the midst of.

i'd be interested t
Subtitled "A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life", this book lives up to its promise and offers a serious, yet enjoyable and readable look at living under the influence of (or in the bosom of) an Eastern religion. Kornfield is a Buddhist, a former monk in the Thai Theravadan tradition, which is affiliated with the Insight Meditation movement. I first came across this book at an IM center, and am very glad I picked it up. In contrast to many Eastern writers on Buddhism and spi ...more
Oct 06, 2013 Liz rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
"Compassion is the heart's response to sorrow. We share in the beauty of life and ocean of tears, Sorrow in life is part of each of our hearts and what connects us to one another. It brings tenderness, mercy, and all embracing kindness that has the ability to touch every being".

"Our compassioned heart can untangle our sorrow".

"The temple bell stops
but the sound keeps coming out of the flowers".
Dec 29, 2008 Jim is currently reading it
I've been reading this book for a long time. I read a chapter, put it down. Pick it up months later. Not because it is bad or poorly written--it's not. It's just something I do with some books. I have learned from it...and I'm sure I will learn more in the future.
This book put into words much of what I've been experiencing in the past year or so through my yoga practice. It's a must.
This is one of my all time favorite metaphysical/spiritual books. Well written and full of heart.
Diane  Holcomb
I picked up a copy of A Path with Heart in a used bookstore to read on Sunday mornings, a time that I devote to inspirational texts. Every week I headed into nature and read one chapter. The idea was to reflect upon the teachings through the week; but of course my attention went elsewhere, to all those minute tasks that filled my days.

I definitely needed the lessons in this book.

Kornfield’s “guide through the perils and promises of spiritual life” is written from a Buddhist perspective. I could
Claire Elizabeth
Great book for Mindfulness!

This is a true reflection piece.

I have been going through a spiritual season of forgiveness as a result of awareness of bitterness and fear for the past few weeks. Therefore, the sections on awareness of difficult emotions was very helpful. Also the sections on forgiveness were especially meaningful for me.

“When any experience of body, heart, or mind keeps repeating in consciousness, it is a signal that this visitor is asking for a deeper and fuller attention. While th
Dharmamitra Stefani
Jack brings his experience as one who has Won Stream Entry, and the Transcendental Wisdom that comes along with this. a Level of attainments so distinctly profound, that it resonates loundly and cleaerly in his soft, peaceful voice. (I LOVE the Audio Book Format, for this very reason.

In this Installment, I learned so much more about Jack's personal journey, from the Monastic life of a Thai Forest Monk, to Ph.D. Doctor of Psychology, through the ups and downs (And some HARD FALLS after the Glow i
Susan Taylor
A gift from my daughter. I love Dr. Kornfield, his dry sense of humor, the lessons he's learned and shared,both during his experience as a Buddhist monk, father, and invested in life. I can attest, it was with this man's wisdom, his ability to impart into my thick head, the understanding of how to be present and at the same time letting go. Dr.Kornfield is adept at imparting the means to accept the changes, the pain, the frustration of having a life torn apart and that peace and joy were possibl ...more
Pam Meserve
May 25, 2011 Pam Meserve rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone and all seeking 'insight' and peace
Recommended to Pam by: Akasha
This is a spiritual guide book I find that you can refer to frequently.. it focuses on our body, emotions, relationships, spirituality and helps the reader to develop and enhance the skills we need now to be present in all life has to offer. I find it helps opening up your inner self and awareness to help you look and see in a different way perhaps, the world around us, and it does this by aiding you in finding a healing, compassion, and freedom within you. It comes with a variety of special med ...more
Ron Christiansen
Another solid guide to eastern thought for westerners. I keep reading them though my meditation practice is never amazing...though while reading about meditation I feel like I'm basically meditating.

Kornfield suggest we should become a "connoiseur of our neuroses" without judgment and that's my only new years resolution for 2015.
I give this book five stars with a small but important disagreement. Towards the close of the book, the author discusses spiritual materialism and eludes to the Krishna Consciousness movement in that light. On page 310, Kornfield calls such an experience "self absorbed" and posits it as a dead end. Perhaps the culture of the 1960's/1970's failed to support the movement long term, however I would not call Srila Prabhupada's methods impure and certainly not self absorbed nor spiritually materialis ...more
I liked this book, even though it wasn't quite what I was expecting. The book was much more about meditation, per se, than the broader commentary on living a "spiritual life." That said, it's a really good book on meditation and contains a variety of suggested meditations that are good. I've actually been trying to incorporate one in particular, with good results (I think). Also, there are some thoughtful insights about the fruits of meditation - various realizations about the nature of life and ...more
Esther Ruvalcaba
I loved how he took something that can be so vague and made it into something so practical! I loved how he pointed out the flaws in every religion/spiritual leader and then said what to look for in someone that you want to learn from. His characteristics of a mature spiritual person were spot on.
I read this book as part of a yoga teacher training and I'm so glad it was one of our required readings as I now suggest it to everyone. It's a book that speaks to everyone and can help create a pathway to navigate difficult and beautiful experiences in life.
Jim Morris
This is an excellent introduction to some basic Buddhist concepts and some exercises to get you started. Jack Kornfield is both a Buddhist and a PhD psychologist, and a kind and gentle man. So he is well suited to this task.
During a period of seeking my to define my spirituality, this book was one that I found very helpful. I recommend it along with writings of Thich Nhat Hanh and Steven Levine.
Nadia Y
What a beautiful book. I read this in small bites (a couple of chapters a week), and was somewhat sad when I finished because I felt like my weekly conversations with a wise old soul had come to an end. Kornfield makes the practices of Buddhism accessible and meaningful to those living in the West. He goes through many of the issues unique to life in the West, such as loneliness, alienation, and materialism, and how a spiritual practice could ease such struggles. He distills the core principle o ...more
Marc Perry
I would say that while this is truly a wonderful, and spiritual book, it is not intended for the absolute novice, or beginner, in buddhism. I think there are probably better books for that purpose. However, if you have been sitting for some time, and are feeling perhaps a bit stuck, or are being hard on yourself--perhaps for what you see as a lack of progress, then this is an incredible book to read. Impermanence, suffering, selflessness, lovingkindness, all right there in your day-to-day life, ...more
Trung Thiều
haven't got enough wisdom to understand all of this book.
Will read again and again
Immensely valuable to Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. Do yourself a favor and try it.
Chris Lemig
Just an awesome book. What I liked most about it was that probably 10% of it was quotes from other sources. Not just Buddhist sources but everyone you can imagine: The Sufi poet Rumi, Thomas Merton, Kurt Vonnegut, William Blake, Walt Whitman and a score of various teachers and psychologists.

I also really liked his take on psychotherapy and spirituality. The two are not diametrically opposed and he shows that the knowledge of East and West can work harmoniously together.

All in all it was very ins
Found his workshop more helpful than his book.
Bette Wood
Jack Kornfield's writings are very inspiring.
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Jack Kornfield 1 3 Apr 06, 2014 09:39AM  
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Jack Kornfield trained as a Buddhist monk in the monasteries of Thailand, India and Burma. He has taught meditation internationally since 1974 and is one of the key teachers to introduce Buddhist mindfulness practice to the West. He began his training after graduating from Dartmouth College in Asian Studies in 1967. Then he joined the Peace Corps and was assigned to the Public Health Service in no ...more
More about Jack Kornfield...
The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology After the Ecstasy, the Laundry: How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path Teachings of the Buddha Meditation for Beginners The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace

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“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.” 29 likes
“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.”
More quotes…