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A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life Paperback – June 1, 1993
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Part of what makes this book so accessible is Kornfield's use of everyday metaphors to describe the elusive lessons of spiritual transformation. For example, he opens with "the one seat" lesson taught to him by his esteemed teacher. Literally it means sitting in the center of a room and not being swayed or moved by all the people and dramas happening around you. On a spiritual level it means sticking "with one practice and teacher among all of the possibilities," writes Kornfield; "inwardly it means having the determination to stick with that practice through whatever difficulties and doubts arise until you have come to true clarity and understanding." The same could be said for this "one book." Among all the spiritual self-help books, this is a classic worth sticking with and returning to--a highly approachable teacher that can only lead to greater clarity and understanding. --Gail Hudson
Top Customer Reviews
A Path with Heart is pretty much my favorite book on spirituality. It contains both useful practical advice on living a spiritual life and amazing esoteric descriptions of super-normal states. Numerous pages contain "gems" that speak directly to my personal struggles and experiences. And Kornfield has a great sense of humor with deep compassion.
One of the things that attracts me to Buddhism is its relative lack of superstition and dogmatism. The essential teaching is practical, down-to-earth, and perfectly acceptable to a scientifically minded person. Still, many Buddhists believe in reincarnation, and Kornfield describes some pretty far out experiences involving, for example, reincarnation, angelic beings, and psychic powers.
Kornfield is a wonderful writer, and I hear that he is such a good teacher that one has to enter a lottery to get the chance to go to one of his retreats. He seems to be a charismatic, highly advanced being (though, who am I to judge?). But he would be the first to warn against starry-eyed adulation of him. An oft-repeated theme throughout the book -- and the topic of one whole chapter -- was the need to beware of unhealthy, exploitative relationships with teachers. Every spiritual seeker has one or more fallings-out with a teacher, he says. These fallings-out can be painful and damaging, but we must learn to learn from such events.
Many people get the impression that Buddhism is an austere, impersonal, ascetic religion, with little of the bhakti (devotion) found in many Christian and Hindu faiths. This book challenges that perception. Indeed, it's amazing how loving Buddhists can be, considering that they tend not to believe in God! One thing that impresses me is his apparently complete lack of cynicism and pessimism. Kornfield has only good things to say about every major religion.
In fact, another theme of the book is that Buddhism too should not be treated as a dogmatic teaching that we should grasp on to. Rather, it is a tool to be used to get where we want to go. Teachings and paths should be left behind when no longer needed, like a boat used to cross a river. (I'm reminded of Kornfield's story about a retreat in which two of his students, a married couple, were struggling hard to relax into meditation. Kornfield advised them to stop being so serious and to make love. They started to show up in the meditation hall smiling.)
I'm still not completely convinced that a spiritual seeker can get by without faith and trust in some sort of divine being or essence. But this books goes a long way to showing how an atheist can have faith and hope.
If you're on a spiritual path, or even if you're just curious and open-minded, read this book. (I feel like I'm writing an ad.)
It's a must for anyone seeking guidance for a spiritual journey or inspiration to begin one. A Path With Heart speaks to the heart, the mind, the body and the soul. It is accessible, it is not religious, it is not heavy duty philosophy. Read it.
Jack Kornfield realizes that a lot of people look towards a spiritual life when faced with difficulty, and he takes the reader by the hand and guides him/her with loving-kindness, gently but clearly. He gives the reader confidence in the power of transforming life to the better without being a victim. You feel positively empowered to structure your life after reading this amazing book.
I can only recommend this book to anyone feeling lost - no matter what causes that feeling.