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The Wise Heart:
A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology

by Jack Kornfield

      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 improvement.

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.

The Book

Sounds True
January 2008
Abridged Audio 6 CDs / 7.25 hours
Mind & Body / Psychology
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The Reviewer

Deborah Adams
Reviewed 2008
NOTE: Reviewer Deborah Adams is the Flair and Macavity Award winning author of the Jesus Creek Mystery Series: All The Great Pretenders, All The Crazy Winters, All The Dark Disguises, All The Hungry Mothers, All The Deadly Beloved, All The Blood Relations, and All The Dirty Cowards. She was also an Agatha Award nominee for Best First Novel.
© 2008