Jack Kornfield's Ten Qualities of Spiritual Maturity

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Jack Kornfield's Ten Qualities of Spiritual Maturity

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Apr 16, 2010 5:54 am

Greetings,

As mentioned in the reading topic, I'm presently reading Jack Kornfield's "A Path With Heart". I'm enjoying it and finding it a very useful counterbalance to some of the drier and more technical works I might normally find myself reading.

I'm getting towards the end of it, and came across the following list of spiritual qualities presented in Chapter 21, and I'm just trying to work out the origins of the list. Did Mr. Kornfield come up with this himself, or is it derived from other spiritual sources?

1. Non-idealism
2. Kindness
3. Patience
4. Immediacy
5. Integrated and personal
6. Questioning
7. Flexibility
8. Embracing opposites
9. Relationship
10. Ordinariness

In addition to my question about this list, feel free to discuss these individual qualities and to request me to provide more details. I'll happily type things up if you have questions about them.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Jack Kornfield's Ten Qualities of Spiritual Maturity

Postby Ben » Fri Apr 16, 2010 5:59 am

Hi Retro

For those of us who haven't read the book, the list of ten spiritual qualities are so open to interpretation to be nearly meaningless. Would it be possible for you to provide a brief synopsis of each quality. No more than a sentence or two each should be suffice to aid discussion.
Thanks and metta

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in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Jack Kornfield's Ten Qualities of Spiritual Maturity

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Apr 16, 2010 6:27 am

Greetings Ben,

Sure, here's a few select sentences from each.

1. Non-idealism.

Non-idealistic spirituality does not seek a perfect world; it does not seek to perfect ourselves, our bodies, our personalities. It is not romantic about teachers or enlightenment based on images of the immense purity of some special being out there. It does not seek to gain or attain in the spiritual life, but only to love and be free.

2. Kindness

Based on a fundamental notion of self-acceptance, rather that guilt, blame, or shame, for the ignorant acts we've committeed or the fears that still remain within us. It understands that opening requires the warm sun of loving-kindness. It is all too easy to turn spirituality and religion into what Alan Watts calls "a grim duty".

3. Patience

Understanding that the process of awakening goes through many seasons and cycles. It asks for our deepest commitment, that we take the one seat in our heart and open to every part of life. Constancy, a capacity to be with what is true moment to moment.

4. Immediacy

As Ajahn Chah said, "Even the extraordinary experience are of no use, only something to let go of, unless they are connected with this moment here and now". This immediacy is the true source of compassion and understanding. "Only within our own body, with its heart and mind", said the Buddha, "can bondage and suffering be found, and only here can we find true liberation."

5. Integrated and Personal

"Integrated" in that it does not create separate compartments of our life, dividing that which is sacred from that which is not. "Personal" in honouring spirituality through our own words and actions. Otherwise, our spirituality is not of any true value. Integrated and personal spiritual practice includes our work, our love, our families and our creativity.

6. Questioning

Rather than adopting a philosophy or following blindly a great teacher or compelling path, we come to recognize that we must see for ourselves. This quality of questioning is called by the Buddha, "Dhamma-vicaya", our own investigation into the truth. It is a willingness to discover what is so, without imitation or without following the wisdom of others.

7. Flexibility

Their flexibility understands that there is not just one way of practice or one fine spiritual tradition, but there are many ways. It understands that spiritual life is no about adopting any one particular philosophy or set of beliefs or teachings, that it is not a cause for taking a stand in oppositioj to something else or someone else.

8. Embracing opposites

More comfortable with paradox, more appreciative of life's ambiguities, its many levels and inherent conflicts. One develops a sense of life's irony, metaphor, and humour and a capacity to embrace the whole, with its beauty and outrageousness, in the graciousness of the heart.

9. Relationship

We are always in relation to something. It is in discovering a wise and compassionate relationship to all things that we find a capacity to honour them all. While we have little control over much of what happens in our life, we can choose how we relate to our experiences.

10. Ordinariness

We are just ourselves, without pretense or artifice, we are at rest in the universe. In this ordinariness there is no higher or lower, nothing to fix, nothing to desire, simply an opening in love and understanding to the joys and suffering of the world. This ordinary love and understanding brings an ease and peace of heart to every situation. It is the discovery that salvation lies in the ordinary.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)

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Re: Jack Kornfield's Ten Qualities of Spiritual Maturity

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Apr 16, 2010 6:48 am

Hi, Retro,
While you were busy typing, I was taking another path.
The list didn't look at all familiar to me but Google Advance Search, as we know (I hope :smile: ) is omniscient, so I asked.
Results: "Your search - Non-idealism Kindness Patience Immediacy Integrated Questioning Flexibility "Embracing opposites" Relationship Ordinariness -Kornfield - did not match any documents." ("-Kornfield" is "without 'Kornfield'", in case you don't use the search engine often enough to be sure.) :broke:
Without excluding Mr K, I got ... wait for it ... 7 results.

I think the list must be his own creation.
:namaste:
Kim

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Re: Jack Kornfield's Ten Qualities of Spiritual Maturity

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Apr 16, 2010 6:48 am

Thanks Kim.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)

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Re: Jack Kornfield's Ten Qualities of Spiritual Maturity

Postby nathan » Fri Apr 16, 2010 7:09 am

This sounds like the kind of pragmatism that often arises from a maturing practice after some years of confronting many of the forms of idealism that are encountered in the course of that study and practice and also in interaction with various buddhist communities. Its fine imho. More specifically however, in regards to forums like this one, it is a difficult stance to adopt in most discussion threads and it will usually result in the poster finding themselves on the receiving end of one or another torrent of posts that do take a very idealistic stance. It is very easy to find suttas and other literature to support very idealistic positions for the purpose of making points in various discussions while any kind of hard won real life experience is typically given relatively no credence whatsoever.

So I guess I would say, you can get away with writing this kind of stuff if you are, for instance, Jack Kornfield but you can not get away with it if you are, for instance, Daniel Ingram. I don't know why that is, probably for the same kinds of reasons that one person can be popular for the same reasons that another person can be unpopular. Which is why I'm forced to conclude that while this kind of understanding can be very helpful in day to day life, it is probably going to be very difficult to try to incorporate it into most of the discussion threads like many of those here at Dhamma Wheel.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}

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Re: Jack Kornfield's Ten Qualities of Spiritual Maturity

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Apr 16, 2010 8:15 am

Jacks writing includes quotes from a lot of diverse sources, they are always attributed to the source as far as I've noticed so I think you can probably assume that he developed the list through his own observations over years of practice, which is after all what you expect from a life of practice.

Looking at the list though interestingly you could take out the word "Spiritual" from the chapter title and just call it "Maturity" the list would still be valid.

What is Maturity in a worldly sense is also what develops in your life when you apply Buddhadhamma, as Buddhadhamma is not so much a religion as a universal truth.

It's also interesting that many of these factors are the opposite of what often develops in a religious or beliefist mind. I think we all go through a phase of idealism at some stage but hopefully eventually learn to let go of that and come to terms with reality.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah

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Re: Jack Kornfield's Ten Qualities of Spiritual Maturity

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Apr 17, 2010 2:55 am

Greetings Nathan,

Firstly - thank you as always for your well considered input.

nathan wrote:This sounds like the kind of pragmatism that often arises from a maturing practice after some years of confronting many of the forms of idealism that are encountered in the course of that study and practice and also in interaction with various buddhist communities. Its fine imho.

Agreed.

nathan wrote:More specifically however, in regards to forums like this one, it is a difficult stance to adopt in most discussion threads and it will usually result in the poster finding themselves on the receiving end of one or another torrent of posts that do take a very idealistic stance. It is very easy to find suttas and other literature to support very idealistic positions for the purpose of making points in various discussions while any kind of hard won real life experience is typically given relatively no credence whatsoever.

It doesn't seem quite as either/or to me.

nathan wrote:So I guess I would say, you can get away with writing this kind of stuff if you are, for instance, Jack Kornfield but you can not get away with it if you are, for instance, Daniel Ingram. I don't know why that is, probably for the same kinds of reasons that one person can be popular for the same reasons that another person can be unpopular.


Daniel's redefinition of arahant and claim to having possessed it has a lot more to do with it. I'm not saying anything for, or against Daniel, just that as (I think it was you) identified in the topic about him, that approach isn't going to wash well with Theravadins. Alternatively, there are others to whom his "open" approach will be beneficial.

nathan wrote:Which is why I'm forced to conclude that while this kind of understanding can be very helpful in day to day life, it is probably going to be very difficult to try to incorporate it into most of the discussion threads like many of those here at Dhamma Wheel.

Again, I don't see the approaches as mutually exclusive. Often the best (in my naturally subjective opinion) posts combine aspects of both. Even more importantly perhaps in the context of discussion forums, cultivating these qualities that Jack Kornfield discusses, can lead to one to participate in a Dhamma discussion without being attached to being exclusively right or 'winning' a debate. There certainly seems some parallels to Jack's list and (tolerance of) the eight worldly winds/conditions.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)

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Re: Jack Kornfield's Ten Qualities of Spiritual Maturity

Postby Monkey Mind » Sat Apr 17, 2010 5:45 am

retrofuturist wrote: There certainly seems some parallels to Jack's list and (tolerance of) the eight worldly winds/conditions.


My limited experience with Jack Kornfield material... He often rewrites old Buddhist material in modern language. Almost a "Dhamma for Dummies" type of approach. I acquired a copy of a guided meditation he made on tape, years ago, and consider this my first instruction in meditation. As I listen to this tape now, I can see his guided meditation was similar to the Satipattana Sutta, in simple to understand language. So your statement above is probably right on the mark.
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710


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