A Review: The Wise Heart

By Jill Suttie | June 1, 2008 | 0 comments

The Wise Heart: A guide to the universal teachings of Buddhist Psychology
By Jack Kornfield, Bantam Books, 2008, 448 pages

In The Wise Heart, Jack Kornfield, the best-selling author, psychologist, and co-founder of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in California, explains in patient detail the Buddhist concept of mindfulness—the practice of paying attention to sensory information, thoughts, and emotions in a non-judgmental manner—and how it can be used for personal transformation.

“Mindful attention to any experience is liberating,” writes Kornfeld. “Mindfulness brings perspective, balance, and freedom.”

He spends much of the book explaining why and how this happens. Though the concept of mindfulness may seem foreign to some, Kornfield does a good job of making it accessible to a Western audience, including exercises that readers can use to cultivate their own mindfulness practice. For those familiar with the subject, the lessons here may be repetitive. But for the uninitiated, the book imparts a wealth of Buddhist thought on human nature.

As he has done in previous works, Kornfield livens up the text by making ample use of inspiring stories from people he has encountered as a teacher and psychotherapist. But this book marks the first time Kornfield has so intimately described his own story, especially the difficulties he’s had overcoming the trauma of growing up with an abusive father. This, along with the author’s clear writing and lively use of story-telling, makes The Wise Heart an enjoyable and inspiring read.

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About The Author

Jill Suttie, Psy.D., is Greater Good’s book review editor and a frequent contributor to the magazine.


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