Jack Kornfield engages the topic of how and why we become enlightened, talking about how we can experience the qualities of enlightenment at different times and in different ways.
This Jack Kornfield dharma talk was originally published on Dharma Seed
Jack explores a paradox of spiritual life: awakening happens both suddenly and gradually. He talks about the different forms of ‘everyday nirvana’ that occur at a moment’s notice, like when we become deeply still and open to the reality of the way things are. Jack then turns to the more gradual paths of awakening and says something potentially dangerous about enlightenment.
“There is not one enlightenment. To have a wise approach to enlightenment you have to change the word by one letter and add a plural; there are enlightenments of all different kinds.” – Jack Kornfield
Ram Dass offers perspective on the paradoxes of life in Here and Now Ep. 191
How and Why We Become Enlightened (20:15)
Jack talks about how we can experience the qualities of enlightenment at different times and in different ways. He invites us to open to our own unique ways that we will connect to these qualities. Jack turns to an exploration of the Brahmaviharas, which are the virtues of the awakened heart, beginning with loving-kindness and compassion.
“Sometimes you turn the crystal and enlightenment is experienced as love, that everything is love, that we’re connected in love because we are love. And that the universe is love.” – Jack Kornfield
Joseph Goldstein provides a comprehensive view of enlightenment in Insight Hour Ep. 104
The Dance of Humanity (44:15)
Jack covers the other two virtues of the awakened heart, joy and equanimity. He talks about how the point isn’t to suffer, the point is to be willing to open our hearts to the whole dance of humanity. For equanimity, the secret is to act well without attachment to the fruits of the action. As we practice, the sense of freedom and awakening grows within us.
“These qualities of the awakened heart, of love, of compassion, of a deeper joy, of greater freedom, they grow in us as we sit and walk and bring our self to the experience of life from spacious attention rather than being lost in it.” – Jack Kornfield