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The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology

4.35  ·  Rating Details ·  3,726 Ratings  ·  173 Reviews
Experience the Transformational Power of Buddhism’s Psychology of the Heart with Bestselling Author Jack Kornfield

You have within you unlimited capacities for extraordinary love, for joy, for communion with life, and for unshakable freedom—and here is how to awaken them. In The Wise Heart, celebrated author and psychologist Jack Kornfield offers the most accessible, compr
Paperback, 448 pages
Published May 19th 2009 by Bantam (first published January 1st 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Alex Bourke
Jan 17, 2010 Alex Bourke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
Most of the Buddhist and meditation books I've read are either appallingly written, dull as ditchwater though good for insomnia, and with too much Sanskrit mumbo jumbo, or they keep you stuck at the beginner level. Jack Kornfield holds a western PhD in psychology, is a practising psychotherapist, has lived as a monk for years in Asian monasteries, and works with several editors and multiple drafts to create a book that is highly readable, to the point, in plain English, and uplifting. Like the ( ...more
Steve Cann
Apr 24, 2013 Steve Cann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a remarkable book! I receieved it as a surprise Christmas present from a very dear friend, & it's been so enlightening for me. It's not a book to rush through - I found reading roughly one chapter per week was perfect, reflecting on each one's contents as I went along.

Jack Kornfield recovered from a violence-filled childhood to go on his own personal jounrey, eventually becoming a Buddhist master after many years of learning & teaching, & here he imparts his own wisdom to us - p
May 10, 2009 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book. I'm not much of a Buddhist, but that doesn't matter. These are teachings of wisdom and love. Kornfield is an authentic voice of true compassion. You sense that from the start. He holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and this book is an excellent study on the nature of heart and mind. One of the cool things is the range of references from Michael Ventura and Dipama Barua among others. I used a highlighter and read the book slowly. When you find the right teacher learning is a j ...more
Jan 04, 2009 Christie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
WOW- everyone should read this. It is a discussion on the ten principles of Buddhist philosophy & psychology. "Buddhism isn't a "religion" it's a way of thinking". Cultivate your consciousness! The quotes and simplicity are life-changing, and the book will TEACH you how to process information and emotions in a healthy, constructive way. Probably in the Top 3 best books EVER.
Did you ever find yourself drawn to a culture or spiritual belief that was outside your cultural and social experience, so drawn, in fact, that it was more like you had experienced it all before. Theravada Buddhism has been like that for me, but lack of understanding and my western, scientific orientation has made it impossible to fully embrace. This book written by Jack Kornfield who embraced in the late 60's the spiritual wisdom of Asia while the rest of us where embracing the uniquely western ...more
Jul 24, 2009 Happyreader rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spirituality
This book made me cry. After almost 400 pages, I'm left with so many heartfelt stories of pain and transformation through the power of mindfulness. Probably his best book for how to sit through pain and confusion and how to shift your mind and heart positively towards a more open and loving way of being. Couldn't put it down.
Feb 27, 2009 Djrmel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This was probably not the best book for me to choose as I switch from being curious about Buddhism to actively investigating it as a path I might want to follow, as it goes deep into the how Buddhism heals the troubled mind and skims the fundamentals. I still got a lot from it, possibly because I have a small background in Jungian psychology (I had no idea they shared so much) and also because Kornfield has so much experience in the are of Insightful Meditation that he's pretty much got an easy ...more
Dec 25, 2008 Ozma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: free-copy
Although a bit longer than it needs to be, this well-written book cross-references Buddhist philosophy with traditional Western pyschoanlaysis. Other books do this too, but Kornfield is a better than average writer. He uses many examples from his own patients' stories to illustrate the principles. It's a lot of things most self-aware people know already, but it never hurts to re-visit them again.
May 19, 2009 Paige rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, psychology
A little cumbersome to get through for me, but contains lots of wisdom. Psychology from a Buddhist perspective is much more holistic and less reactionary than Western traditions. Just breathe....this too shall pass. :-)
Peter Landau
Jul 29, 2015 Peter Landau rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My wife suggested I read this, or listen to it, because she found the audiobook on YouTube. She said it was practical, that Jack Kornfield spoon-fed the complexity of Zen for the Western mind, through a psychological lens. I found all this true. That is, as much as I could retain. Reading trumps listening when it comes to holding onto something. But then Buddhist say you have to let go of attachments. I’m not ready to do that just yet. The first thing I did after finishing this was click back to ...more
This is a good book about Buddhist psychology and mindfulness. Mindfulness means being aware, being grateful, being courageous, being free, and changing. Mindfulness leads to compassion and love. There are some good thoughts in this book. Here are some of my favorites:

"See the inner nobility and beauty of all human beings (p. 12)."

"Whether practiced in a forest monastery or in the West, Buddhist psychology beings by deliberately cultivating respect, starting with ourselves (p. 18)."

"Aim to see a
Dec 31, 2010 Lene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is great food for thought, and is a reminder that compassion (especially toward oneself) is the most honest and productive way to find a path through the enormous piles of manure that life (and other people) heap on us. It is proving to be a quite effective salve for my wounds.
I don't believe in organized religion or a lot of cosmic mumbo-jumbo, and I have a very loosely organized code of morality. It takes in pieces of the Hippocratic oath; "I will remember that I remain a member of s
Amber Foxx
Dec 10, 2014 Amber Foxx rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In The Wise Heart, Kornfield tells anecdotes of his meditation students’ difficulties and discoveries, and stories about his family, his teachers, and his own life. These flow seamlessly into his philosophical teachings and instructions in various meditative practices. His honesty and his flowing style make this book accessible, more of a page-turner than you might expect for an integration of psychology and Buddhist philosophy. I’ve read it three times and will keep it to study again.
Steve Woods
To say that this book is inspiring would be an understaement. it is not only that but it serves as a clear practical guide to introducing the basic tenets of Buddhist practice and psychology into daily life. After 4 years of intense study and practice this book has provided the key that will allow me to integrate so much of what I have learned into my daily life. It is timely and it will form the structure of my practice for the next few months. I am very grateful to this great teacher for his e ...more
Dec 26, 2014 Jobie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014
It was interesting and very easy to read.

The stories did muddle the "points" - - - I think there were far to many of them. I almost found myself asking "What is this chapter about again?"

I still give it 5 stars. It's informative; a good introduction to Buddhist Psychology. It is both Buddhist and Psychological so you can't fault the title for anything. It is an engaging read; though it took me about six months to finish (I read more than one book at a time) - it is almost 400 pages long - I neve
Sue Harrington
Sep 23, 2015 Sue Harrington rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book with such depth weaving together western psychology and Buddhist psychology with lots of practical application and exercises to help the reader join the journey, practice the understanding as you read. Only got a bit tired of some of the examples which often happens for me in a book like this where the author wants to put examples in to flesh out the concepts and understanding. But the down side forme is they seem too good to be true as you read a life transformation in a paragr ...more
Jun 24, 2015 Mamatdunord rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book helped me feel better a lot of times, so I loved it at first.

Several years have passed since I read it and now I prefer humanistic psychology to westernized buddhism.

Jack Kornfield is a good writer, and he makes this big theoretical book very readable. He tells about many personal cases, either from his long experience as a monk in Burma, or a teacher at spirit rock meditation center, which illustrate his point.

But a lot of the cases end up this way:"Clara had been struggling with (ch
Aug 06, 2008 Dale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book speaks to the connection between Eastern philosophy (Buddhism) and the Western model of psychology. The mindfulness idea has worked so well with many and this book opens that and other Buddhist ideas to Western readers. I especially liked the ideas and concepts presented around forgiveness and how to use this with others struggling with that issue in their lives. A good book. I would recommend it.
Stephanie McClure
Jul 23, 2009 Stephanie McClure marked it as to-read
This is definitely on my to read soon list:)

"In this book Kornfield explains that each of us has unlimited capacity for joy and for sharing it with others. He charts a journey form the seeds of consciousness to the ultimate flowering of human potential. And, with lessons, exercised and examples from his own practice, he shows you how to make that journey yourself."
Bruce Fred Knotts
Good explanation of Buddhist psychology. There are some seemingly "magical" elements, which I believe detract from the more believable elements. I was not terribly inspired.
Jul 12, 2008 Kathy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nothing new for people who have read a lot of Eastern religion or Western psychology. I also went to a workshop in Seattle by the author and I was not impressed with his constant references to his meetings with the Dalai Lama and the Pope. This might be interesting to someone who has not read or studied much Eastern religion.
Jan 01, 2009 Laurie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jack Kornfield's book is outstanding. He really explains with examples and stories what Buddhist psychology is all about. It is a way of life I really agree with--love, compassion, joy and peace.

He also has some great exercises and meditations to integrate into your life.

I highly recommend this book.

Josh Alfred
Mar 25, 2010 Josh Alfred rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a magnificent book, that covers a wide range of Buddhist philosophy that can be found next to no where else. Kornfield adds a unique flare to this book by writing from personal experience, and adding stories that correlate wonderfully with his studies, message, and admiration for the Buddhist lifestyle.
Mar 09, 2010 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautifully written guide to Buddhist psychology and meditation. Jack Kornfield is accessible, funny, heartfelt and wise. His stories are a delight; his wisdom is humbling. He steadfastly leads, guides and encourages anyone on a path to Illumination. I've just re-read it. It is a treasure to be savored.
Christy Hart
Mar 29, 2008 Christy Hart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished
I was lucky enough to get an advance reading copy of this and it is excellent. He really takes his earlier books into greater depth. It made me cry in several parts because he is so open with his own experiences. And he is really funny!
Gemma Williams
Jul 01, 2008 Gemma Williams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An uplifting and encouraging guide to Buddhist psychology by an author very well qualified to discuss both. Especially good on mindfulness and working with difficult emotions, heart felt and supportive.
Sep 24, 2012 Elise rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was read by the author and I had a hard time listening to him. He sounded high most of the time and it was hard to follow a linear path. I don't think I'd recommend this.
Oct 08, 2008 William rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All Jack's books are great. This one is deep and full of Buddhist psychological insights. He gives us a vocabulary for subtle states of mind the way google map gets us around NY
Apr 05, 2009 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent read from Kornfield, taking the introduction from A Path With Heart and giving a more practical, how-to on Buddhist psychology. This will almost certainly be re-read.
Lots of "lessons" and stories of inspiration. I've plucked several stories to use in classes and sermons. Excellent inspirational reading and a wonderful resource.
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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
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“In this world, hatred never ceases by hatred, but by love alone is healed. This is the ancient and eternal law.” 2 likes
“As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn puts it, “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who among us is willing to destroy a piece of their own heart?” 2 likes
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