Jack Kornfield – Heart Wisdom – Ep. 153 – Teachers And Cults

This week on Heart Wisdom, Jack Kornfield lectures on false gurus, cults, and finding true teachers along our spiritual path.

This week on Heart Wisdom, Jack Kornfield lectures on false gurus, cults, and finding true teachers along our spiritual path.

Tune in every Monday for new talks and meditations with Jack, check out the 7-week The Power of Awareness with Jack & Tara Brach and subscribe for free practices, videos and meditations at JackKornfield.com


Jack starts off this talk by sharing one of the most important things to understand in relation to teachers: transference. This is a psychological term that means to transfer feelings from our childhood or our inner world onto others. Transference is an unconscious and powerful process. It projects an image (negative or positive) within us and puts it onto another person. This practice happens a lot with spiritual teachers. In a positive projection, we long for a teacher to be perfect and we really start to believe it because it is what we need.

“We have this amazing capacity to take situations and imagine them to be different than they are.” – Jack Kornfield

For more reference on spiritual teachers tune into Ep. 71 of The Road Home: Finding a Teacher, Becoming a Teacher
The Necessity of Teachers (12:57)

Do you think we need teachers? Jack Kornfield thinks that spiritual teachers are necessary because they offer us a dialogue we would otherwise not have. When we get caught in spiritual materialism or start to veer down a wrong path, spiritual guides are the space outside of ourselves. They help us see the things we can not see. 

“We need some kind of a sacred space, a place that’s held as a container for our death and rebirth for our inner initiation and part of the role of the teacher is to have gone through that himself and understand and be unafraid of the darkness.” – Jack Kornfield

Surrender (21:24)

When going through a spiritual awakening one must surrender. We can not shy away from our practice because something uncomfortable surfaces and things get messy. We need to allow the process and surrender to the truth. Jack Kornfield says surrendering to the truth means letting go of what we think things are or should be and accepting everything for what it is. Opening our hearts and seeing things as they are will give us ultimate clarity.

The Heartbreak of Disillusionment (46:33)

If you start to notice that your chosen guru or spiritual community is feeling more like a cult or perhaps people are becoming paranoid and grandiose, it is best to accept the heartbreak. Jack says to pay attention and to question things. Do not be afraid to face reality and suffering. It is better to feel the heartbreak of disillusionment than to stay involved in something that does not align with the truth and does not align with our hearts. Follow what leads you to love, acceptance, and joy.

This dharma talk from Jack was originally published on Dharma Seed

Image via SvetaZi