Jack Kornfield – Heart Wisdom – Ep. 162 – Practice in Daily Life: Right Action

Exploring Right Action and the Five Precepts, Jack offers modern Buddhist insight on ahimsa, virtue, happiness, drugs, sex, and samadhi.

Continuing a series of talks illuminating the Noble Eightfold Path, Jack sheds light on a prominent aspect of Buddhism: Right Action. Taking you on a journey through the Five Precepts by sharing deep and entertaining stories and insights, Jack offers wisdom around ahimsa (non-harming), reflects on witnessing a transformation prayer from Mad Bear of the Iroquois Nation, and relays down-to-earth Middle Way guidance around drugs, sex, and samadhi.

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“Look in your life at what it is that makes you more conscious rather than less conscious. Rather than running away or deluding yourself, what brings you face to face with life and wakes you up? Cultivate that.” – Jack Kornfield

Right Action & Ahimsa // Us & Them

Why do we hurt people? Taking the next step on the Noble Eightfold Path, Jack explores the important precept of Right Action, along with its fundamental quality of ahimsa – non harming. Noting how simple the concept seems, but how often we end up hurting others, he uncovers that we generally hurt people when we ourselves are in pain. From here, he explains how concepts like, “I, me, mine,” and “us and them,” create a seperation which makes it possible for us to harm.

“Right Action is traditionally taught as the major aspect of the precepts. It’s fundamental quality is ahimsa (in Sanskrit), or non-harming. It’s acting in such a way that we don’t harm other beings. Gandhi said, ‘To come to the heart of consciousness or of truth, one must be able to love the meanest creature as oneself.'” – Jack Kornfield

Jack explores implementing the practice of Right Speech in our daily lives, Ep. 161 of Heart Wisdom
The Path to Happiness // The Prayer of Mad Bear // The 5 Precepts (8:58)

Jack outlines the Buddha’s path to happiness, noting how the tools of virtue, generosity, and meditation can help us live from that same joy. For us on the spiritual path as householders, he explores how the main teachings are working with virtue, with how we act in the world. Continuing on, Jack outlines the Five Precepts. Next, he shares of story of experiencing a transformation prayer from Mad Bear of the Iroquois Nation.

“For householders, which is what we are as a group, our main practice is virtue. You could say our main practice is awareness, but the main teachings are working with virtue; which means, working with how we act in the world, how we speak and act with one another.” – Jack Kornfield

Joseph Goldstein elucidates Right Action & Right Livelihood, Ep. 39 of the Insight Hour
Tales of a Magic Monastery // Drugs, Sex, & Samadhi (26:48)

Jack bookends this section by reading stories from Tales of a Magic Monastery, sparking contemplation into caring and generosity. He then explores why sex is such a powerful and unitive energy force in our lives. After illuminating the Middle Way balance between indulgence and suppression, he talks about the important of awareness and sensitivity when using drugs and alcohol.

“Why is sex so powerful? One reason is because it’s so close to birth and death. Birth comes out of it. Death, they call orgasm in French, “La petite mort,” the little death. It’s powerful because it’s close to our biological being of our incarnation. It’s also powerful because of the union or surrender of it. It’s one of the few places in life where there’s natural samadhi, where the mind becomes unified.” – Jack Kornfield

“It’s precious to live in the present moment, to be alive. It doesn’t mean don’t have a glass of wine or whatever, but it means pay attention, don’t harm yourself or the things around you by indulgence in a way that leads to carelessness, heedlessness, or loss of consciousness.” – Jack Kornfield

Ram Dass lucidly address sex & spirituality, on Ep. 55 of Here & Now
Art via SvetaZi