Since you’re here, you probably know who Jack Kornfield is.
Maybe you’ve read one of his life-changing books, like After The Ecstasy, The Laundry, or A Path with a Heart, or listened to his meditations and teachings.
As a bestselling author, Buddhist practitioner, trained Buddhist monk, meditation teacher, Ph.D. in clinical psychology, and founder of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California, Jack Kornfield is a fount of knowledge and experience related to mindfulness.
We’ve curated some of the best teachings and inspiring words from this modern sage that anyone interested in mindfulness should read and savor like a prized gift.
So take a deep breath, sit back, and open your heart and mind to these Jack Kornfield quotes.
65 of the Most Inspiring Jack Kornfield Quotes
Once you’ve read through these quotes, take his words further by making them a mindfulness activity. How do you do that? Here are some thoughts:
- Use a quote as a focus for a meditation on the main point of the words.
- Write down a quote in your journal and use it as a prompt for writing.
- Read the quote aloud with your family, friends, or a meditation class to discuss.
- Read the quote out loud and record yourself. Then listen to yourself reading it.
Armed with these ideas, enjoy these quotes from this brilliant teacher and practitioner.
1. “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.”
2. “It is not about you. It is about us. Life is difficult for everyone.”
3. “Do not be afraid of your difficulty. Turn toward it. Learn to lean into the wind. Hold your ground.”
4. “Most of us have spent our lives caught up in plans, expectations, ambitions for the future; in regrets, guilt, or shame about the past. To come into the present is to stop the war.”
5. “Wisdom says we are nothing. Love says we are everything. Between these two, our life flows.”
6. “The present moment is really all that we have. The only place you can really love another person is in the present.”
7. “Love in the past is a memory. Love in the future is a fantasy. To be really alive, love – or any other experience – must take place in the present.”
8. “Being on a spiritual path does not prevent you from facing times of darkness. But it teaches you how to use the darkness as a tool to grow.”
9. “To begin to meditate is to look into our lives with interest in kindness and discover how to be wakeful and free.”
10. “When we take time to quiet ourselves, we can all sense that our life could be lived with greater compassion and greater weakness.”
11. “Have respect for yourself, and patience and compassion. With these, you can handle anything.”
12. “Acceptance is not passivity. It is a courageous step in the process of transformation.”
13. “We do not have to improve ourselves; we just have to let go of what blocks our heart.”
14. “As you become more intimate with your suffering, your heart grows tender.”
15. “Anger shows us precisely where we are stuck, where our limits are, where we cling to beliefs and fears.”
16. “When we feel anger toward someone, we can consider that he or she is a being just like us, who has faced much suffering in life.”
17. “Life is so hard; how can we be anything but kind?”
18. “The trouble is, you think you have time.”
19. “We each need to make our lion’s roar – to persevere with unshakable courage when faced with all manner of doubts and sorrows and fears – to declare our right to awaken.”
20. “True love and prayer are learned in the hour when love becomes impossible, and the heart has turned to stone.”
21. “No matter how difficult the past, you can always begin again today.”
22. “As we encounter new experiences with a mindful and wise attention, we discover that one of three things will happen to our new experience: it will go away, it will stay the same, or it will get more intense. Whatever happens does not really matter.”
23. “The unawakened mind tends to make war against the way things are.”
24. “No amount of meditation, yoga, diet, and reflection will make all of our problems go away, but we can transform our difficulties into our practice until little by little they guide us on our way.”
25. “True emptiness is not empty but contains all things. The mysterious and pregnant void creates and reflects all possibilities. From it arises our individuality, which can be discovered and developed, although never possessed or fixed.”
26. “In this life, we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”
27. “The words of the Buddha offer this truth: ∼ Hatred never ceases by hatred but by love alone is healed.”
28. “When we struggle to change ourselves we, in fact, only continue the patterns of self-judgment and aggression. We keep the war against ourselves alive.”
29. “True love is not for the faint-hearted.”
30. “Love creates a communion with life. Love expands us, connects us, sweetens us, ennobles us.”
31. “Buddhist teachings are not a religion; they are a science of mind.”
32. “When we are lost in delusion, it’s hard to see even the most obvious truths.”
33. “We need energy, commitment, and courage not to run from our life nor to cover it over with any philosophy—material or spiritual.”
34. “Letting go does not mean not caring about things. It means caring for them in a flexible and wise way. In meditation, we pay attention to our body with care and respect.”
35. “We are rarely lazy—we are simply afraid.”
36. “If you expect your life to be up and down, your mind will be much more peaceful.”
37. “Meet this transient world with neither grasping nor fear, trust the unfolding of life, and you will attain true serenity.”
38. “Though outer events may be difficult, the key to our happiness is how our mind responds to them.”
39. “If we gain something, it was there from the beginning. If we lose anything, it is hidden nearby.”
40. “The suffering and happiness in our world, both individual and collective, depend on our consciousness.”
41. “The path of awakening begins with a step the Buddha called right understanding.”
42. “There is a palpable relief when I teach the perspective of nobility, of training in compassion, of non-religious ways to transform suffering and nurture our sacred connection to life.”
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43. “We must look at ourselves over and over again in order to learn to love, to discover what has kept our hearts closed, and what it means to allow our hearts to open.”
44. “The basic principle of spiritual life is that our problems become the very place to discover wisdom and love.”
45. “May I be filled with loving-kindness. May I be well. May I be peaceful and at ease. May I be happy.”
46. “We note feelings and find that they last for only a few seconds. We pay attention to thoughts and find that they are ephemeral, that they come and go, uninvited, like clouds.”
47. “The adult brain and nervous system grow and change throughout our lives. Until the very end, we are neurologically transformed by whatever we practice. We are not limited by the past.”
48. “Our belief in a limited and impoverished identity is such a strong habit that without it we are afraid we wouldn’t know how to be.”
49. “To live in this precious animal body on this earth is as great a part of spiritual life as anything else.”
50. “Through practice, gently and gradually, we can collect ourselves and learn how to be more fully with what we do.”
51. “The purpose of a spiritual discipline is to give us a way to stop the war, not by our force of will, but organically, through understanding and gradual training.”
52. “Meditation is not a process of getting rid of something, but one of opening and understanding.”
53. “We need to learn how to honor and use a practice for as long as it serves us.”
54. “The root of the problem is that everyone has to first discover the root of anger and hatred inside themselves before they can understand how it operates in the outside world.”
55. “For instance, the near enemy of love is attachment. It masquerades as love, it feels like love, but it is essentially different.”
56. “Human freedom must come from practicing a life of inner and outer balance, and he called this discovery the Middle Path.”
57. “Though one may conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, he who conquers himself is the greatest warrior.”
58. “To protect the separate self, we push certain things away, while to bolster it, we hold on to other things and identify with them.”
59. “Trying to hold onto “how it was” will only create suffering and disappointment, because life is a river, and everything changes.”
60. “Do not scratch when itched, nor shift when cramped, nor pause when tired.”
61. “Know that joy is rarer, more difficult, and more beautiful than sadness. Once you make this all-important discovery, you must embrace joy as a moral obligation.”
62. “Accumulated knots in the fabric of our body, previously undetected, begin to reveal themselves as we open.”
63. “The focusing of attention on the breath is perhaps the most universal of the many hundreds of meditation subjects used worldwide.”
64. “In truly listening to our most painful songs, we can learn the divine art of forgiveness.”
65. “Two qualities are at the root of all meditation development: right effort and right aim—arousing effort to aim the mind toward the object.”
A quote in this list (or maybe two or three or four) spoke to the depths of your heart and encapsulated exactly what you need to hear today. Which one was it for you?
Use these words to bring yourself back to the present moment and embrace the emotions and thoughts they provoke for you.
Words are powerful, and the compelling words of Jack Kornfield can change the course of your day – or maybe even your life.