Just as the serene beauty of the lotus blossom grows out of muddy water, Buddha's simple instructions have helped people to find wholeness and peace amid life's crisis and distractions for more than 2,500 years. For this small handbook, a well-known American Buddhist teacher and psychologist has distilled and adapted an ancient teaching for the needs of contemporary life. Its practical reminders and six meditations can infuse smallest everyday action with insight and joy.
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 northeast Thailand, which is home to several of the world’s oldest Buddhist forest monasteries. He met and studied under the Buddhist master Ven. Ajahn Chah, as well as the Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw of Burma. After returning to the United States, Jack co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, with fellow meditation teachers Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein. He is also a founding teacher of the Spirit Rock Center in Woodacre, California, where he currently lives and teaches. Over the years, Jack has taught in centers and universities worldwide, led International Buddhist Teacher meetings with the Dalai Lama and worked with many of the great teachers of our time. He holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and is a husband, father and an activist.
His books have been translated into 20 languages and sold more than a million copies. They include, A Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology, A Path with Heart; After the Ecstasy, the Laundry; Teachings of the Buddha; Seeking the Heart of Wisdom; Living Dharma; A Still Forest Pool; Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart; Buddha’s Little Instruction Book; The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness and Peace, Bringing Home the Dharma: Awakening Right Where You Are, and his most recent book, No Time Like the Present: Finding Freedom, Love, and Joy Right Where You Are.
Buddhism is a complex practice of self-reflection, investigation, introspection, and hard work, with no easy or pat answers. Although some Buddhist philosophies can indeed be expressed simply and succintly, I found many (and maybe most) of the (typically one-sentence) mottos comprising Buddha's Little Instruction Book to be overly trite platitudes which “dummy down” Buddhism to appeal to a pop culture hungry for cutesy, inspirational quotes, which they then render in the font of the moment, adding an attractive, public-domain nature stock photo and posting that sucker on Instagram. Sayings such things as “The mind contains all possibilities”, “No matter how difficult the past, you can always begin again today”, and “Whoever sees truth sees the Buddha”, do not provoke much more than a “well, duh!” reaction from even the non-Buddhist layperson, let alone a serious student of the dharma – but I guess they look good on Instagram? (Don’t get me wrong – sometimes these types of simple observations have some worthwhile meat to them, but not as contextless, one-sentence-per-page, standalone platitudes, the way they are presented here.) Additionally, some of the “instructions” are highly recycled from other authors, proverbs, and even movies, such as “Live every act fully, as if it were your last”, and “Wherever you go, there you are”.
The book is not completely without merits. Tucked in with the overly cutesy truisms are some contemplations which do actually provoke thought and reflection, although they are few and far between.
For someone interested in delving into a better collection of Buddhist “slogans”, I would much more highly recommend a study of the Lojong teachings (aka the Seven Points of Mind Training) as detailed in many great books, such as Chögyam Trungpa's Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness. These instructions (which can even be purchased as display cards with a little easel) are far more profound, thought-provoking, original, and cohesive than this unfocused and overly diverse collection of Jack Kornfield's.
This review is from a layperson who has no formal training in Buddhism, so if you are looking for a review that speaks to the aphorisms in this book in a detailed and reductionist view you won’t find it here. Furthermore, to me it also irrelevant where these aphorisms/quotes originated from because, regardless of their origin, they provoke contemplation for personal discovery.
I believe the nature of all spiritual development occurs at a personal level and each individual has to find their own way and discover their own truth.
Jack Kornfield presents just over 100 aphorisms/quotes/thoughts that are very brief (a sentence or two in length) that will stimulate thought and encourage the reader to determine the meaning for themselves. By not clouding the reader’s mind with personal opinions, Jack Kornfield is simply sharing his light and allowing the reader to choose the path. This, I believe, is the ultimate way to self-discovery.
I know there are those that want to be “given the answers” or who want ‘X’ steps to enlightenment, and perhaps that does work for some, but you won’t find the answers at the back of this book.
There is a proverb that says, “When the wise man points at the moon the fool looks at the finger” and this book points to the moon: it is your choice to look for your moon on these pages, or to look elsewhere to find the finger.
I've been reading this book very slowly for about the last year. I didn't want to rush through it so I could let each quote sink in. Each page has one simple line of inspiration, truth and beauty. The end of the book then has 6 beautiful meditations. Very enlightening and thought provoking. Amongst my favorite quotes: "Things to do today: inhale, exhale, inhale. Ahhhhh." "If you can't find the truth right where you are, where else do you think you will find it?" "If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete."
A small, pocket sized book with beautiful, watercoloured background images throughout quoting thousands of years of Buddhist wisdom, each quote presented in the centre of its own page. Unfortunately, as beautiful as it is, for anyone especting something deep and philosophical discussion from Kornfeild will be disapointed. This is little more than a pretty little flipbook for the layman looking for some easy access Buddhist enlightenment.
It's small but packed with great tidbits of insight. It is not a read if you are looking for information on Buddhism so much but it is a great book Buddhist or not if you are looking for small tidbits of insight. Jack Kornfield is an amazing speaker and author and this is a small sampling of what you will find.
This cute book contains various quotes that help one understand the wisdom and teachings of the Buddha. Each quote was very refreshing, reflective, and inspiring. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Buddha’s teachings, as well as anyone interested in the path to happiness and loving kindness.