The Wise Heart

If you are looking for a practical guide on Buddhist psychology, Jack Kornfield’s “The Wise Heart” would be a great read for you. 

It was once stated that although many people view Buddhism as a religion, the teachings are more of a science of the mind. The Buddha was not a god, he was a human being who was able to discover extraordinary teachings through his own experiences.

One of the principles of Buddhist psychology is to see the inner goodness and beauty of all human beings. This can be tough to accept for some but we are inherently good and noble. Admire the human spirit and you have the potential to change your life. 

It is in our deepest nature to be compassionate. When we remember that all things and beings are connected, it is natural to be compassionate about the suffering of others. 

Wisdom arises when we shift our attention from experiences to the spacious consciousness that knows. 

At first, I struggled with this principle. But when I began to practice observing rather than getting caught up in an experience, it became easier and I became calmer and more thoughtful. It is liberating, as Jack Kornfield says. 

The next principle is to recognize the mental state of consciousness and then shift from unhealthy states to healthy states. There is a long list of mental states demonstrated in the book, which I found helpful when trying to recognize my own mental state. 

Another principle that I found to be life-changing: The less we cling to ideas of self, the freer and happier we will be.

The idea of self is created when we identify with it. Most of us have this sense of self that we identify with, whether it’s a profession or “father” or “mother.” What we believe is the self is something that is actually tentative, fictitious, and a temporary identification with some parts of the experience. But is this really who we are? If we identify with things that are constantly changing, how can that truly be the self? 

Another important principle is that thoughts tend to be one-sided and untrue. Instead of getting caught up in thoughts, be mindful of them. Investigate your thoughts (and thinking process) and you may notice that the constant repetitive process habitually creates your sense of self or others. 

The last principle I’ll mention here is to be mindful of intention. Jack says intention and motivation are central to Buddhist psychology. In fact, the best way to direct our karma is to set an intention and clarify our motivation. 

Experience with Buddhist psychology? Comment below and thanks for reading today!  

*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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