No Time Like the Present: Finding Freedom, Love, and Joy Right Where You Are

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9781451693690: No Time Like the Present: Finding Freedom, Love, and Joy Right Where You Are

In this landmark work, internationally beloved teacher of meditation and mindfulness Jack Kornfield reveals that you can be happy now, this minute, with the keys to inner freedom.

In his first major book in several years, the inspiring author of the classic A Path with Heart, Jack Kornfield, invites us into a new awareness. Through his signature warmhearted, poignant, often funny stories, with their Aha moments and O. Henry-like outcomes, Jack shows how we get stuck and how we can free ourselves, wherever we are and whatever our circumstances. Renowned for his mindfulness practices and meditations, Jack provides these keys for opening gateways to immediate shifts in perspective and clarity of vision, allowing us to see how to change course, take action, or—when we shouldn’t act—just relax and trust.

Each chapter presents a path to a different kind of freedom—freedom from fear, freedom to start over, to love, to be yourself, and to be happy—and guides you into an active process that engages your mind, heart, and spirit, awakens your spirit, and brings real joy, over and over again. Drawing from his own life as a son, brother, father, and partner, and on his forty years of face-to-face teaching of thousands of people across the country, Jack presents a stirring call to be here, in the power of the now, the present, as we work through life’s passages. His keys to life will help us find hope, clarity, relief from past disappointments and guilt, and the courage to go forward.

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About the Author:

Jack Kornfield, PhD, is one of the best known, most respected meditation teachers in the world. A psychologist and founder of two of the largest Buddhist centers and communities in America, he is one of the key teachers to introduce mindfulness to the West. His books, which include A Path with Heart; After the Ecstasy, the Laundry; and The Wise Heart, are classics, selling well over a million copies, and translated into twenty-one languages. Jack has taught at major universities and centers worldwide, including Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, and Berkeley; he teaches regular classes to four hundred at Spirit Rock in Marin County and to large crowds nationwide at retreats, conferences, and events. To learn more, please visit: JackKornfield.com or SpiritRock.org.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

CONTENTS

Invitation to Freedom

Part I – FREEDOM OF SPIRIT

1. Vastness Is Our Home

The Dance of Life · The One Who Knows · Sacred Stillness · Loving Awareness · Running from Hyenas · Rest in Love

Practice: Opening to Spacious Awareness 

                 Mind Like Sky

2. Free to Love
 The Beloved · Love's Many Faces · Grace and Angst · Respond with Love · The Sparkle in Your Eyes · Encounter with the Gods · Embodying Love · Love Baked Fresh · Blessing of Respect.

Practice: Lovingkindness
 

3. Trusting the Living Universe

Tending Our Garden · The Dance of Life · Wise Trust · Beyond Despair · Embraced by a Living Universe · Aging with Trust

Practice: Trust in the Big Picture

Trust Your Inner Knowing

Be Inspired by Trust

4. The Eternal Present

Touching the Eternal Present · Notice Now · Moral Mathematics of the Moment · Beginner’s Mind · How Then Shall We Live? · Finding Sanctuary · Timelessness of the Natural World · Lover of the Moment · Nous Sommes, We Are

Practice: Open to Timelessness

Part II – OBSTACLES TO FREEDOM

5. Fear of Freedom

 Trauma, Fear and Freedom · Self-Hatred · Trying to Please · Fear of Falling · Acting Flawlessly · Lean into the Wind

Practice: Entering Difficulties with an Open Mind and an Open Heart

6. Forgiveness

Forgiving Yourself and Another · Your Spirit Is Not Bound by Your History · Honoring the Past · Heart of Forgiveness · Courage and Clarity · True Release · I’m Going to Kill You · Letting Go: The Chord That Completes the Song

Practice: Forgiveness

7. Freedom from Troubled Emotions

Praying for Our Enemies · Powerful Inner Forces · Befriending the Trouble

 · Resolving Conflicts · Facing Demons · Dawn of Compassion

Practice: Compassion.

Practice with Troubled Emotions

Part III – REALIZING FREEDOM

8.  Elegance of Imperfection

Invitation to Care · Tyranny of Perfection · Wild, Uncharted, Imperfect Glory · Eyes of Love · What You Have Left · Mastery · It’s Already Broken

Practice: I See You Mara  

Practicing Imperfection

9. Gift of an Open Mind

Zen and the Art of Openness · Prejudice and Perspective · Breaking Barriers · Are You Sure? · Actually See Her · The Healing Power of Words · Heartfelt Communication

Practice: Is This True?

10. The Gift of Authenticity

You Were Born to Do This · Staying True · To Whom Are You Faithful? · Start Where You Are · Aware Inside, Calm Outside · Honoring Your Feelings · Desire · Free to Be Human

Practice: Being True

11. Free to Dream

Express Your Heart · “Bird Got My Wings” · They’re Your Dreams · Crafting Your Life · Conscious and True · The Currents of Life · Dream Big and Dance

Practice: You Are An Artist

Part IV – LIVING FREEDOM

12. Deliver Your Gifts

Free to Act · Vision and Action · Bring Your Gift · Selfless Service · The World Needs You · Your Very Flesh Shall Be a Poem

Practice: Deliver Your Gifts

13. Live in Mystery

Not Far Away · The Mystery of Incarnation · The Earth Is Breathing You · Beyond History and Self · Interbeing: You Are Not Alone · Everyone Gains · Outer and Inner Freedom · Emptiness Is Our Home · Vision · “I Told You So”

Practice: Open to Mystery

   Just Like Me

14. The Joy of Being Alive

Happiness for No Cause · Bouncing for Joy · Gateways to Joy · Gratefulness · Pure Heart · You Deserve Happiness · Wonderful! · It’s in Your Hands · Coursing in Gratitude
 
 
Invitation to Freedom
 
Dear friends, after more than forty years teaching mindfulness and compassion to thousands on the spiritual path, the most important message I can offer is this: You don't have to wait to be free. You don't need to postpone being happy.
All too often these beautiful spiritual practices of mindfulness and compassion become entwined with a vision of self-discipline and duty. We see them as taking us through a long road of obstacles that leads eventually to distant benefits. Yes, there is hard work of the heart and there are demanding cycles in our lives. Yet wherever you are on your journey, there is another wonderful truth called “Living the Fruit” or “Starting with the Result.” The fruits of well-being and the experience of joy, freedom, and love are available now, whatever your circumstance!
When Nelson Mandela walked out of Robben Island prison after twenty-seven years of incarceration, he did so with such dignity, magnanimity, and forgiveness that his spirit transformed South Africa and inspired the world. Like Mandela, you can be free and dignified wherever you find yourself. Inner freedom is not reserved for exceptional people. No one can imprison your spirit.
When your boss calls and you feel fear or anxiety, when someone in your family is in conflict or duress, when you feel overwhelmed by the world, you have choices. You can be bound and constricted or you can use this difficulty to open and discover what’s next in your unfolding journey. Sometimes life gives us ease, sometimes it is challenging, and sometimes profoundly painful.  Whatever your circumstances, you can take a breath, soften your gaze, and remember that courage and freedom are within, waiting to awaken. Even under the direst conditions, freedom of spirit is available. Freedom of spirit is mysterious, magnificent, and simple. We are free and able to love in this life—no matter what.
Deep down we know this is true. We know it whenever we feel a part of something greater—listening to music, making love, walking in the mountains or swimming in the sea,  sitting at the mystery of a dying loved one as her spirit leaves her body silently as a falling star, or witnessing the miraculous birth of a child.  At times like these, a joyful openness swells through our body and our heart is surrounded by peace.
Sara, a single mom with two kids, found out that her eight-year-old daughter Alicia had leukemia. Sara was terrified, anxious, grieving the loss of her child’s health, scared that she would lose her. For the first year, Alicia went through long rounds of chemotherapy, hospital stays, and doctors. A fearful sadness filled the house and anxiety colored Sara’s days. Then, one afternoon when they were out on a walk, Alicia said, “Mama, I don’t know how long I’m going to live, but I want them to be happy days.”
Her words were a splash of cold water on her mother’s face. Sara realized that she had to step out of the fearful melodrama to meet her daughter’s freedom of mind with her own, to return to a trusting spirit. Sara grabbed her daughter and did a little waltz, holding her tight. Her fear dissipated. And in time, Alicia healed. She is now twenty-two and just graduated from college.
But even if she hadn’t healed, what kind of days would you have had her choose? You can’t do much with your life if you’re miserable. You might as well be happy.
 
When I was eight-years old, on an especially bitter windy winter day, my brothers and I dressed in jackets and scarves and gloves and went out to play in the snow. I was skinny as a rail and shivering with cold. My twin brother, Irv, stronger, wilder, and more robust, looked at me, contracted and fearful, and laughed. Then he began to remove layers of clothing, first the gloves, his coat, then a sweater, his shirt, undershirt, all the while laughing. He danced and paraded around half-naked in the snow, the icy wind whipping around us. We were all wide-eyed, laughing hysterically.
In that moment, my brother taught me about choosing freedom, manifesting a spirit that to this day I still remember. Whether we’re in a wildly blowing snowstorm or feeling the cold wind of loss, blame, or insecurity, we want to be free. We want to be released from fear and worry, not confined by judgments. We want to allow ourselves to trust, love, express ourselves, and be happy.
Each chapter of this book is an invitation to experience a particular dimension of freedom—freedom of spirit, freedom to start over, freedom beyond fear, freedom to be yourself, freedom to love, freedom to be happy. There are stories, reflections, teachings, and practices that illuminate how we get stuck and how we can free ourselves. This isn’t a book that you read just to make yourself feel better for a little while, then put on your shelf. Finding freedom is an active process that engages your intellect, your heart, and your whole spirit. The means and the goal are one—be yourself, dream, trust, and act. May each chapter awaken your spirit and bring you joy.

You can choose your spirit. Freedom, Love, and Joy are yours, in your very life, your exact circumstance. They are your birthright.
Jack Kornfield
Spirit Rock Meditation Center
Spring 2017
 

                                                    
Part I
FREEDOM OF SPIRIT
 
“What do you plan to do with this one wild and precious life?”
— Mary Oliver

 
Chapter 1
VASTNESS IS OUR HOME
“Sometimes I go about pitying myself, when all the while
I am being carried by great winds across the sky.” —Ojibwa saying

            We are being carried on a luminous star, sharing in the dance of life with seven billion beings like us. Vastness is our home. When we recognize the spaciousness that is our universe, around us and within us, the door of freedom opens. Worries and conflicts fall into perspective, emotions are held with ease, and we act in the world with peace and dignity.
The Dance of Life
Whitney was caught in midlife troubles. Her mother was scheduled for hip surgery and her father was suffering from early-stage Alzheimer’s. She wanted her parents to continue living in their home in Illinois, but their disabilities made independent living challenging. Whitney’s brother in St. Louis was not involved and wanted his sister to “take care of it.” So Whitney took a month’s leave from work and went to her parents’ home to help. When she arrived, the house was in shambles. Her mom needed time to heal from the surgery, and her father was unable to care for himself. They could not afford round-the-clock care, and it was clear they would have to move.
            Whitney took a walk up a hillside she’d known since childhood. She didn’t want to lose the family home; she wanted her parents to stay there until the end—and she didn’t want to lose her parents. She wept as she walked, but when she reached the top of the hill, she sat quietly,  calmed herself and looked across the vast Midwestern fields stretching to the horizon. The sky was filled with cumulus clouds bringing shade to the many small houses clustered at the edge of town and beyond.
Facing this unbounded vastness, she suddenly felt less alone. She could sense how everything has its rhythm—arriving and departing, flourishing and struggling, coming into being and fading away. How many people, she wondered, are in the same predicament we are right now? As she breathed with more ease, her mind opened further. I am not the only person with aging parents. It is part of the human journey., And as the space within her opened, she felt more trust.
We can all see this way. We can gain a broader perspective. With a spacious heart, we can remember the bigger picture. Even when illness strikes, a parent is dying, or any other form of loss is upon us, we can recognize that it’s a part of life’s seasons.
What would it feel like to love the whole kit and caboodle—to make our love bigger than our sorrows. Among the multitudes of humans, many are experiencing loss and change. Many need renewal. And the world keeps turning, farmers growing food,  markets trading,  musicians playing. We live in the midst of a great and ever-changing paradox.
Breathe. Relax. Live each day one at a time.
The One Who Knows
As your spacious heart opens, you can rediscover the vast perspective you’d almost forgotten. Spacious heart reveals the spacious mind. This is the mind that, after you’ve stubbed your toe, hopped around, and howled, finally laughs. The mind that, when you are upset with your partner, goes to sleep and wakes up, and sees that what was such a big deal has fallen into perspective.
Your spacious mind is the natural awareness that knows and accommodates everything. My meditation teacher in the forests of Thailand, Ajahn Chah, called it “The One Who Knows.” He said this is the original nature of mind, the silent witness, spacious consciousness. His instructions were simple: Become witness to it all, the person with perspective, the One Who Knows.
Pay attention to the movie showing in your life right now. Notice the plot. It might be an adventure, a tragedy, a romance, a soap opera, or a battle. “All the world’s a stage,” wrote Shakespeare. Sometimes you get caught in the plot. But remember, you are also the audience. Take a breath. Look around. Become witness to it all, the spacious awareness, The One Who Knows.
I sat at the bedside of a woman with pancreatic cancer near the end of her days. She was only thirty-one-years old. We looked in one another’s eyes, and the layers just peeled away. Her skinny body, her gender, poetic accomplishment, her family and friends. I was graced to be a witness to her spirit. “How’s it going?” I asked, with great gentleness. “It looks like this incarnation is going to be over soon. It’s okay. It’s natural to die, you know.” And what peered back through her deep, knowing eyes were vastness, tenderness, and a timeless freedom.
Rest in spacious awareness and feel the presence of love. The One Who knows becomes the loving witness of all things. You become loving awareness itself. The freedom of loving awareness is available; it just takes practice for you to remember it, and to trust that it is always here. When you feel lost, stuck in a tiny part of the big picture, contracted, or caught up, take a breath and visualize yourself stepping back. With a spacious mind, you can witness even these contracted states and hold them in loving awareness.
 Relax. With loving awareness you can notice your feelings, your thoughts, your circumstances. Just now. Even as you read this book, witness the one reading and smile at him or her with loving awareness. Begin each morning with loving awareness. Tune in to the space around you, the space outside, the huge landscape that spreads across the continent. Feel the vastness of the sky and of the space that holds the moon and planets and galaxies.
Let your mind and heart become that space. Breathe into your heart. Observe the clouds floating in the endless sky and become the sky. The clouds are not just outside; they are in you as well. Feel the landscape, the trees, the mountains and buildings all arising in your own heart. Let yourself open, merge into space with love. Relax...

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Book Description Hardcover. Book Condition: New. In this landmark work, internationally beloved teacher of meditation and mindfulness Jack Kornfield reveals that you can be happy now, this minute, with the keys to inner freedom.In his first major book in several years, the inspiring author of the classic A Path with Heart, Jack Kornfield, invites us into a new awareness. Through his signature warmhearted, poignant, often funny stories, with their Aha moments and O. Henry-like outcomes, Jack shows how we get stuck and how we can free ourselves, wherever we are and whatever our circumstances. Renowned for his mindfulness practices and meditations, Jack provides these keys for opening gateways to immediate shifts in perspective and clarity of vision, allowing us to see how to change course, take action, or—when we shouldn’t act—just relax and trust. Each chapter presents a path to a different kind of freedom—freedom from fear, freedom to start over, to love, to be yourself, and to be happy—and guides you into an active process that engages your mind, heart, and spirit, awakens your spirit, and brings real joy, over and over again. Drawing from his own life as a son, brother, father, and partner, and on his forty years of face-to-face teaching of thousands of people across the country, Jack presents a stirring call to be here, in the power of the now, the present, as we work through life’s passages. His keys to life will help us find hope, clarity, relief from past disappointments and guilt, and the courage to go forward. Bookseller Inventory # 5643920

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Book Description Atria Books, 2017. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In this landmark work, internationally beloved teacher of meditation and mindfulness Jack Kornfield reveals that you can be happy now, this minute, with the keys to inner freedom. In his first major book in several years, the inspiring author of the classic A Path with Heart, Jack Kornfield, invites us into a new awareness. Through his signature warmhearted, poignant, often funny stories, with their Aha moments and O. Henry-like outcomes, Jack shows how we get stuck and how we can free ourselves, wherever we are and whatever our circumstances. Renowned for his mindfulness practices and meditations, Jack provides these keys for opening gateways to immediate shifts in perspective and clarity of vision, allowing us to see how to change course, take action, or--when we shouldn t act--just relax and trust. Each chapter presents a path to a different kind of freedom--freedom from fear, freedom to start over, to love, to be yourself, and to be happy--and guides you into an active process that engages your mind, heart, and spirit, awakens your spirit, and brings real joy, over and over again. Drawing from his own life as a son, brother, father, and partner, and on his forty years of face-to-face teaching of thousands of people across the country, Jack presents a stirring call to be here, in the power of the now, the present, as we work through life s passages. His keys to life will help us find hope, clarity, relief from past disappointments and guilt, and the courage to go forward. Bookseller Inventory # ABZ9781451693690

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