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The Wise Heart, by Jack Kornfield

JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matterNetherlands Veteran

I’m currently reading this, and if you want a book that is aimed towards Buddhist psychology as seen by a western teacher, this suits the bill admirably. Jack Kornfield was a student of Ajahn Chah’s for a number of years, but also studied western psychology on his return to the USA and has had a psychotherapy practice for some years where he mixes buddhist approaches with western.

It’s a book with quite a few anecdotes, quotes from Ajahn Chah and other sources. Also quite a few stories from Jack’s psychotherapy practice. I found it quite moving, with a fair amount of material that was new to me. I’m only about a quarter of the way through it, but liking it so far.



  • KotishkaKotishka Veteran
    edited October 2022

    Thank you.

    I'm finally learning about psychotherapy techniques at university-though a few theory subjects still remain to be gnawed off- and while Jack Kornfield is not on my syllabus, he is on my personal syllabus!

    I have to say I came to Psychology from Buddhism thanks to this video. Ajahn Sona, while not a student of Ajahn Chah, belongs to the lineage of the Thai Forest Tradition.

    I will definitively pick it up for my reading!

  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited October 2022

    When was that book published? This is the first I've heard of it.

    When I signed up for a special course on The Bodhisattva Way of Life, nearly half the class was made up of psychologists and psychotherapists. They wanted to learn about Buddhist psychology. I'm not sure that was the right venue for them, but it goes to show, that there's interest and curiosity about Buddhist psychology in the psychotherapy field. That was back in the 90's, and interest has only grown, I gather.

  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran
    edited October 2022

    First published April 29th, 2008 by Bantam

    It’s interesting because it goes quite in depth in how buddhist psychology tackles the pathologies that western psychologists end up dealing with. There is a lot of practical experience thats carried in this book.

  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    I’ve so far read about half the book. Later on the book becomes more in-depth buddhist, with quite a few stories about the author’s time in Thailand as a monk. I’ve enjoyed its many examples of the healing power of awareness and meditation and compassion.

  • Thus have I heard...
    Awareness & Meditation leads to Wisdom and Wisdom & Compassion together are the two wings which help us to navigate the Path out of Samsaric existence of which (more often than not) tends to leads one up the less favourable garden path so to speak...

  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    Its an exceptional book, I may have to read it multiple times, come back to read it again every so often.

  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    I especially enjoyed the chapter where he talks about desire. He goes into his own monkish past, and how as a psychology student he had to undergo treatment by a clinical psychologist who had worked a lot with Reichian methods. This allowed him to release some suppressed desires, where as a monk he had learned to ignore all desires… he had gotten into some difficulties with a girlfriend, they were living together and when she asked him what kind of restaurant they should go to he would reply, they’re all delicious. Taking desirelessness to it’s logical extreme. But therapy got him to acknowledge there were good desires and bad desires, and it was fine to be in touch with the good desires.

  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    I finished it. The last few chapters are about the bodhisattva vow, the four immeasurable qualities, and the middle way.

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