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The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology Paperback – May 19, 2009

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The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology + A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life + Meditation for Beginners
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (May 19, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553382330
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553382334
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,250 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Author, psychologist and pioneering Buddhist teacher Kornfield writes his best book yet (and his previous ones were pretty good). His newest uses the same sweet narrative voice, provides convincing and illustrative anecdotes and stories, and reaches into world traditions and literature as well as contemporary scientific research. This book offers a systematic and well-organized view of Buddhist psychology, complete with occasional diagrams. Concepts and practices are placed in a framework that explains and connects them. It's all done with an eye toward application; most chapters end with exercises. Kornfield has been practicing Buddhism for close to 40 years, a lasting discipline that has produced this masterful book and a seasoned view of life that acknowledges a lot of oopses. As a mediator and psychologist, he has also witnessed some serious angst, including his own, and draws on it for illustrative power. Not everything here is new, least of all the title, but then the Buddha isn't either. The best is left for last: joy you can seek for yourself and others. Just keep your meditative seat, and this book by your bed. Kornfield comes across as the therapist you wish you'd had. (Apr. 29)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


“I love this gentle, brilliant, and incisive book. I read it slowly, with amazement at its richness and wisdom, relief at feeling so understood, pleasure in Kornfield’s beautiful writing and sweet humor, and gratitude that such understanding has been expressed in the written word. This Wise Heart changed me.” —Anne Lamott, author of Traveling Mercies and Grace (Eventually)

“What an extraordinary mind is Jack Kornfield’s. Curious by nature and brightly shining from birth, tempered by suffering, both personal and worldly, it guides us, in this profound and useful book, on a journey of consciousness unfamiliar to most of us born in the West. The Wise Heart is one of those books, more than a book, more like a companion, that encourages our bravery to meet whatever confronts us in life with a caring and tranquil heart. It is a transformative gift from one of the great spiritual teachers of our time.”—Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple

The Wise Heart is Jack Kornfield at his most wonderful and illuminating. He brings to life a way to understand and cultivate mindfulness, compassion, lovingkindness and true wisdom that penetrates to the core of what liberation is all about.”—Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Coming to Our Senses and Arriving at Your Own Door

The Wise Heart offers more than remedies—it points the way to a life of flourishing.”—Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence

"This masterpiece of a dedicated life’s work unveils the principles of an ancient ‘science of mind’ that are woven seamlessly into a wondrous map of the human heart—one that is astonishingly consistent with the discoveries of modern neuroscience.”—Daniel Siegel, M.D., author of The Developing Mind and The Mindful Brain

"Warm, funny, moving, and tremendously inspiring, The Wise Heart brings Buddhist psychology to life. Reading it is, in itself, a transformational experience.” —Mark Epstein, M.D., author of Thoughts without a Thinker and Psychotherapy without the Self

“Jack Kornfield harvests a lifetime of experiences to create a masterful, clear, and moving picture of the human mind and heart, a picture whose hopeful healing power I find astounding.”—Norman Fischer, former abbot, San Francisco Zen Center; author of Sailing Home: Using the Wisdom of Homer's Odyssey to Navigate Your Spiritual Journey

“Through clear teaching and wonderful storytelling, Jack Kornfield inspires us to realize and embody the love, presence and freedom that is our very essence.”—Tara Brach, author of Radical Acceptance

"One of today's most compeling and inspiring guides to spiritual growth."—Science of Mind

“His best book yet…. Kornfield comes across as the therapist you wish you’d had…. Provides convincing and illustrative anecdotes and stories, and reaches into world traditions and literature as well as contemporary scientific research.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

From the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Jack Kornfield, Ph.D. co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, in 1975 and later, the Spirit Rock Center in Woodacre, California. He holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. His books include After the Ecstasy, the Laundry and the national bestseller A Path with Heart (over 100,000 copies in print).

Customer Reviews

It is very well written and accessible.
Lois H. Oppenheim
Thank you Jack Kornfield for this book filled with life level wisdom and heart warming stories.
I've read this book cover to cover multiple times.
Scott P

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

525 of 578 people found the following review helpful By EinLA on June 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
I see that there are something like 32 reviews of this book, each one giving it 5 stars. It is a very nice book. A reasonable introduction to Buddhism for many people, an invitation to practice and learn. But let us have a slightly deeper look, OK? IMHO. For me, a relatively intense (in terms of time on retreats, reading material, study and daily practice) Buddhist practitioner of about 9 years, this books skims the surface. It skims a wide and useful surface and this can be quite a good thing in terms of a place to start. I acknowledge that it is very difficult to find good introductory texts, places to start. I will recommend this book to friends - BUT. There is also something a bit trite and monotonous about the structure of the book - for example: Introduce a concept, enlarge and expound a bit and then tell the story of Aleesha, James, Mitch, Kyle, on and on (no disrespect to these people or to those whose true experience contributed to these little blurb/stories). Jack gives them a practice or two "I encourage her to continually ground herself in her body" and then, magically, everything unfolds and soon they are crying or dancing or laughing or reconciling, recognizing their early childhood abuse, volunteering at literacy programs for immigrants, and so forth. It is too cookbook, too simplistic, slightly melodramatic and, unfair. Unfair because, while we can have many wonderful periods of clarity, healing, insight, etc. in our practice, it takes a lot of time for these things to unfold, a lot of right-effort and tremendous patience - many, many, many, many breaths! And typically this unfolding is very gradual, over years of practice.Read more ›
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150 of 168 people found the following review helpful By Robert Feraru on May 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This wonderful book makes the timeless teachings of Buddhist psychology explicable and accessible to all.
With explanations and exercises that are not culture specific and with a healthy helping of Jack's great stories that further illuminate the psychological wisdom of the Buddha, this book opens the deep understandings of Buddhist thought for all to use for their own benefit and for the benefit of all beings.

As the Dalai Lama says, "Buddhism isn't a religion. It is a science of mind"

and IMHO, a science of mind that can help bring healing to our own lives and to our wounded world.
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Format: Hardcover
There's an irony that at times Buddhists can become stuck in ideology, clinging to their ideas of what they believe the Buddha intended as THE right way. Jack Kornfield avoids this. He has the soft touch, open heart and discerning wisdom that comes from his own struggles and decades of meditation, practicing therapy, and teaching. He knows there is no such thing as a formula for happiness. Kornfield generously quotes from a wide range of thinkers, mystics and disciplines, knowing Buddhists don't have a lock on insight.

Still, Kornfield is steeped in and dedicated to Buddhist practices; his goal is to transmit what may at times be difficult to discern insights from Buddhist psychology to a wide audience. As he writes:

"At this moment, a winter rainstorm is drenching my simple writer's cabin in the woods above Spirit Rock.On my desk are classic texts from many of the major historic schools of Buddhism: the Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma, the eight-thousand-verse "large version" of the Heart Sutra, with its teachings on form and emptiness, and a Tibetan text on consciousness by Longchenpa.

Over time, I have learned to treasure these texts and know that they are filled with jewels of wisdom. Yet the Abhidhamma (or Abhidharma in Sanskrit), considered the masterwork of the early Theravada tradition and the ultimate compendium of Buddhist psychology, is also one of the most impenetrable books ever written. What are we to make of passages such as, "The inseparable material phenomena constitute the pure octad; leading to the dodecad of bodily intimation and the lightness triad; all as material groups originating from consciousness"?
Read more ›
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Bohdan Sirant on June 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Jack Kornfield richly expounds on 26 principles of Buddhist psychology.

The first of these is: "See the inner nobility and beauty of all human beings" and the 26th being: "A peaceful heart gives birth to love. When love meets suffering it turns to compassion. When love meets suffering it turns to joy."

Jack Kornfield provides the reader with a philosophical discussion of each principle and the basis of it in the Buddha's teachings. These principle are demonstrated with numerous cases from Jack Kornfield's many years of practice. Several of these are followed by practices and practical exercises, such as loving-kindness meditations.

Buddhist teachings, which as the Dalai Lama describes as "a science of mind", have had a profound influence on modern cognitive behavioral psychotherapy. Neuroscience and evidence-based research increasingly validates the efficacy of Buddhist practices, such as mindfulness and forgiveness for mental health, happiness and well-being. This accessible guidebook will be of interest to any one who is interested not only in self-help, or clinical psychotherapy, but in better understanding the rich Buddhist traditions and ideas behind them.
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