Jack Kornfield in Tucson

Recently I had the privilege and opportunity to hear American author and leading Buddhist teacher, Jack Kornfield speak at a weekend workshop in Tucson. Trained as a Buddhist monk in monasteries in Thailand, India and Burma, Jack has taught meditation internationally since 1974, introducing Buddhist mindfulness to the West. In 1975 he co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Massachewsetts and then in 1987, Spirit Rock Meditation Center in California. Though he has a great sense of humor and is profoundly inspirational himself, I especially loved his emphasis on the writing of others. Here are just a few moving eamples.

“You can cut all the flowers, but you can’t keep Spring from coming.” — Pablo Neruda

“Dew evaporates and all this world is dew. So dear, so refreshing, so fleeting.” –Kobayashi Issa on the death of his daughter.

“My life is filled with terrible misfortunes, many of which never happened.” — Mark Twain

“Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I’d like to see you in better living conditions.” — Shams-ud-din Muhammad Hafez

“Be grateful for you are made of stars; be humble for you are made of mud.” — Serbian proverb

“There are three rules for writing the great English novel. Unfortunately no one knows what they are.” — Somerset Maugham

“Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there and I am prepared to expect wonders.” — Henry David Thoreau

Prayer in the Schools

In the name of the daybreak
and the eyelids of morning
and the wayfaring moon
and the night when it departs,

I swear I will not dishonor
my soul with hatred,
but offer myself humbly
as a guardian of nature,
as a healer of misery,
as a messenger of wonder,
as an architact of peace.

In the name of the sun and its mirrors
and the day that enbraces it
and the cloud veils drawn over it
and the uttermost night
and the male and the female
and the plants bursting with seed
and the crowning seasons
of the firefly and the apple,

I will honor all life
— wherever and in whatever form
it may dwell — on Earth my home
and in the mansions of the stars.” — Diane Ackerman

A Brief for the Defence

“Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise, the mornings before summer dawns would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulnes
in their future, smiling and laughing while someone
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
everyday in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubborness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafes and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.” — Jack Gilbert

Winter and the Nuthatch

“Once or twice and maybe again, who knows,
the timid nuthatch will come to me
if I stand still with something good to eat in my hand.
The first time he did it
he landed smack on his belly, as though
the legs wouldn’t co-operate. The next time
he was bolder. Then he became absolutely
wild about the walnuts.

But there was a morning I came late, and, guess what,
the nuthatch was flying into a stranger’s hand.
To speak plainly, I felt betrayed.
I wanted to say: Mister
that nuthatch and I have a relationship.
It took hours of standing in the snow
before he would drop from the tree and trust my fingers.
But I didn’t say anything.
Nobody owns the sky or the trees.
Nobody owns the hearts of birds.
Still, being human and partial therefore to my own
successes —
though not resentful of others fashioning theirs —
I’ll come tomorrow, I believe, quite early.” Mary Oliver

2 Responses to “Jack Kornfield in Tucson”
  1. Guess who? says:

    enjoyed the poetry! also the comments by Jack too.


  2. grimspound says:

    Thanks, Dan!!


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  • Copyright © 2011-16, Dianne Ebertt Beeaff. All Rights Reserved.
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