This morning I woke up with the lyrics of that En Vogue song stuck in my head: "Free your mind and the rest will
follow." Ironically it is that same looping of a phrase or thought that so often traps the mind in negativity and
suffering. Buddhist philosophy, with its emphasis on development and training of the mind, seems to be custom-made
for addressing psychological issues.
The Wise Heart, an audio book based on the book by the same title, is an insightful and enlightening
journey through the basic principles of Buddhist psychology. Author Jack Kornfield, a psychologist and revered
Buddhist teacher, invites us to experience the teachings of Buddhism for ourselves, using this approach to
psychology and life. He tells us that we are perfect just the way we are, but that there’s always room for
Buddhism teaches that we suffer because we are blind and that the cure for this blindness is compassion. This
isn’t just Kornfield’s do-unto-others reminder, however. Compassion for ourselves is essential to healing, but
extending compassion to ourselves is not so easy as it ought to be. Kornfield relates the story of a particularly
revealing incident that occurred during one of the Dalai Lama’s visits with a group of Western Buddhist teachers.
When questioned about how to deal with self-hatred, the Dalai Lama needed several minutes of translation in order to
be sure that he’d understood the question. Self-hatred was a term and a concept he’d never encountered, and when all
the teachers present assured him that they and their students struggled with this problem, the Dalai Lama could only
exclaim, "But that’s a mistake! All beings are precious."
Throughout this audio book, Kornfield teaches basic Buddhist concepts and shows us how to apply these teachings
in the real world. When we find that our unruly minds are being critical, Kornfield suggests that we simply say to
the mind, "Thanks for your opinion," and move on, recognizing that a thought is only a thought. "Instead of being
the star of your own movie," he suggests, "pretend you are in the audience." Merely observing our thoughts with
objectivity can show us that much of our suffering isn’t real anywhere except in our minds. Most importantly, he
shows through numerous anecdotes and exercises that extending compassion to others is the one sure way to relieve
our own suffering.
These six CDs contain over seven hours of Kornfield’s teaching and deliver a wealth of insights and ideas
presented in many different ways to ensure that any listener will find a suitable and transforming path to follow.