Jack Kornfield offers spiritual advice on the path of parenting, shedding light on engaging the mystery with qualities of consciousness, mindfulness, and love.
In this Dharma Talk stemming from the Spirit Rock Meditation Center on January 1st, 1991, Jack Kornfield shares spiritual practices and perspectives on the multi-faceted realm of raising children in the modern world. Outlining the qualities of conscious parenting, he shares stories from the Buddha, poems from Ralph Waldo Emerson, and leads meditations aimed at bringing awareness to the path of parenting.
“In some way, to parent is to plant something that’s beautiful onto this earth for generations ahead.” – Jack Kornfield
This talk from Jack Kornfield was originally published on DharmaSeed.org
Path of Parenting // The Buddha, The Body & Wellbeing
Speaking to the various ways parents punish children for uninhibitedly expressing themselves, Jack explains how we can begin to offer love to our children from a spiritual vantage that allows the flow of intuition, nature, community and freedom. He then helps parents through the guilt, shame, uncertainty, judgment and fear often experienced in raising children. From here, he shares what we can learn from Buddha’s enlightenment in regard to personal wellbeing and honoring one’s body, mind and heart.
“When we become parents or look at others, what’s most astonishing to see is how what comes out of us like we are on automatic pilot, is what was done to us. We repeat it unless we learn consciously another way.” – Jack Kornfield
Gil Fronsdal shares spiritual lessons from the journey of parenting, on Ep. 98 of the Guest Podcast
Reconnecting with Love & Mystery // Buddhism for Parents // Unborn Love Songs (17:17)
Jack explores parenting as a labor of love and mystery akin to the path of the Bodhisattva in its relation to service, surrender, patience, understanding and sacrifice. Next, he relays a story of talking about the mystery of Santa Claus to his daughter. Then, he reflects on how the Buddha might have adapted a sermon on awareness for an audience of parents; before sharing a story of an African tribe who listens internally to learn the love song of the unborn child they wish to bring into the world.
“Parenting is a labor of love (there’s no other way you’d keep your kids in those difficult moments) and it’s the path of Buddha or a Bodhisattva – it’s service, surrender, patience, understanding, and tremendous sacrifice. It’s also a way to reconnect with the mystery of life and to reconnect with ourselves.” – Jack Kornfield
Sharon Salzberg & Susan Kaiser Greenland talk about mindful parents & mindful children, on Ep. 103 of the Metta Hour
Qualities of Conscious Parenting // Love & Family (33:33)
Jack reads poems and stories showcasing the qualities of conscious parenting: listening (mindfulness); respect (values, boundaries, explanations), integrity (children learn by example, we teach by our being), and lovingkindness (metta). From here, Jack leads a short guided visualization meditation focused on remembering what it was like to be a child, reads a poem from Ralph Waldo Emerson, and offers a guided lovingkindness practice to close.
“Children learn by example—by who we are and what we do, not by what we say. They watch our presence. What do we communicate by the way we drive? By the way we talk about others? By the way we treat the people we meet casually in our life? Or the people close to us?” – Jack Kornfield