Jack Kornfield – Heart Wisdom – Ep. 166 – The Buddha’s Last Teachings

Gather around for story time as Jack Kornfield offers a dharma talk centered around the Mahāparinibbāṇa Sutta, which contains the teachings from the last year of the Buddha’s life.

This dharma talk was originally live-streamed by Spirit Rock on 8/22/22
A Visit From Mara

Jack begins, “The myth of the Buddha, or the story of it, is a story of what’s possible for us.” He introduces us to the Mahāparinibbāṇa Sutta, which contains the teachings from the last year of the Buddha’s life. He shares these mythic stories of the Buddha’s “goodbye tour” after announcing his impending death, including the Buddha’s final encounter with his old friend, Mara. Jack asks us to reflect on each of the Buddha’s teachings along the way.

“This teaching, or this text, has two main themes. One is how the Buddha wants to leave his teachings as guidance to practice for the community and people who are following him, to empower them. And the second is to foster or empower wise relationships, to one another, in the spiritual community, and to the world.” – Jack Kornfield

Sharon Salzberg explores the life of the historical Buddha in Metta Hour Ep. 43
The Deepest Values of the Dharma (19:50)

Storytime with Jack continues. He tells tales of the Buddha dealing with earthquakes, disciples begging him not to leave, and issues of what will happen to the Sangha, the community, when he is gone. Jack shares a beautiful teaching from the Buddha about the deepest values of the Dharma and who is worthy of liberation. He tells the story of the Buddha’s final meal, which made him quite sick but was cooked with the intention of a pure heart. 

“Because it’s the shaking of the foundation of all the ground that we stand on. Enlightenment, the teachings of birth and death, the earthquake says this is what wakes us from the dream of separateness and solidity. There’s something greater here in this human incarnation. Who are you really? Remember. You are consciousness itself born into this body. You are the witness to it all. And the earthquake reminds you of this.” – Jack Kornfield

Joseph Goldstein explores how we can turn our minds toward the Dharma in Insight Hour Ep. 129
The Buddha’s Last Teachings (40:45)

Finally, we reach the Buddha’s last teachings. Jack talks about how the Buddha was given a set of golden robes and what that gold symbolizes. He tells the story of the Buddha settling in a location that his disciples think is an unworthy place for him to die, but the Buddha teaches us that every place is sacred. Jack shares the Buddha’s final remarks to his disciples and talks about how the Buddha is ultimately released from this incarnation.

“I love this. Because what it says is that any place, and every place, can be the center of justice, can be the kingdom of righteousness. Every place is the still point of the turning world, the place where dharma can be awakened.” – Jack Kornfield

RamDev talks about how we can see death as a mirror in Healing at the Edge Ep. 80
Art via Terd486