Jack Kornfield inspires us with a dialogue on stillness, suffering, and how we can set intentions to help others.
We enter into this dharma talk with a discussion about the rhythms of nature. Each year we watch birds come and go; we see stillness and then movement. Sometimes, we forget that humans too are a part of nature. Jack reads us a poem by Pablo Neruda about being still and making each moment exotic. The poem is an invitation to quiet the mind, be present, and live from our hearts. Jack empathizes with how difficult it can be to relish in the stillness of life.
“We stop and try to sit quietly and it’s like there is a layer of ice that needs to thaw before the water can even move inside.”
Being Greater than Ourselves (8:44)
Enduring the recent pandemic, economic disparities, and global conflicts, has been stressful on us all. Jack says that to handle all of this pain, it is almost as if we are being asked to be greater than ourselves. However, when we reflect upon the values of The Bodhisattva, we can see that it doesn’t matter who we are supposed to be or what we are supposed to do. It matters that we can be of service to others. How can you help those who are suffering?
“When we sit quietly there’s the stillness and the immense beauty, and there is also the problems and difficulties that we share. If we try to hold these in our mind and heart with our small self, our limited self, they’re overwhelming. They’re just too much to bear. But if we hold them as The Bodhisattva that we are, the great heart of compassion born in you, the being that’s committed to being in this world and alleviating or diminishing suffering, then all of a sudden it becomes possible.”
Oh Boy Oh Boy, Oh Joy Oh Joy (13:53)
Jack takes a moment to reflect on the inspirational life of Ram Dass. Despite being an imperfect human with his own challenges, Ram Dass still helped others. He devoted himself to being present with those suffering. He helped grieving mothers, started the Seva Foundation, and sat with thousands of ill people during the AIDS epidemic. While amidst all of this suffering, Ram Dass held so much joy in his heart. Near the end of his life, while being quite ill, he would still swim in the ocean with the happiness of a child. We can all take lessons from his way of being.
“Though there is suffering in the world, it is not the end of the story.”
To hear Ram Dass’ perspective on suffering check out Episode 132 of Here and Now: The Roots of Suffering.
Deliver Your Cargo (23:52)
Each of us has a gift and purpose in this life. Jack vitalizes us through a folktale about the cargo we all have to deliver. What cargo were you born with, and how can you deliver it to the world? We must find what moves and motivates us, and where we want to spend our energy in helping others. Jack says the first element of knowing our purpose is to have trust. We must let ourselves open up to that which is difficult, and something new will be born.
“Sometimes we have to go through the darkness and sometimes we have to go through the fire and endure things. But the heart wants to heal. The body wants to heal. It turns out even the inner monsters, in the end, want to be loved.”