American Buddhist Teacher Jack Kornfield

Discussion in 'Spirituality/Worship' started by Rafiki, Mar 28, 2009.

  1. Rafiki

    Rafiki New Member

    Jack Kornfield has been a Buddhist practitioner for 40 years and a teacher for nearly as many years.

    Here he explains how to distinguish what his tradition refers to as "near enemies" - attitudes and feelings which are similar to those we Buddhist work to foster in our practice but which actually contain qualities we wish to rid ourselves of. Sometimes we can be fooled into thinking we have achieved the former while in the thrall of the latter.

    The positive qualities are: loving kindness (metta), compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity.

    There is a great deal of emphasis on equanimity in Buddhism, perhaps more so than other traditions, but I think we all wish to cultivate it. Whatever we believe and whatever we wish to accomplish with our lives, we will be more successful if we have a peaceful heart and mind.

    I would think that these qualities are valued in all spiritual systems and that we all could benefit from being alert to these distinctions.

    I find them very helpful reminders when I feel slightly uncomfortable but I'm not sure why. I may think I am being loving or compassionate or feeling joy for my friend but if I feel slight unease or tension I know something is wrong and looking for the "near enemies" can reveal where I am creating trouble for myself. Something I'm very good at!

    Peace all,

    near enemies

    The near enemies are qualities that arise in the mind and masquerade as genuine spiritual realization, when in fact they are only an imitation, serving to separate us from true feeling rather than connecting us to it . . .

    The near enemy of loving-kindness is attachment. At first, attachment may feel like love, but as it grows it becomes more clearly the opposite, characterized by clinging, controlling and fear.

    The near enemy of compassion is pity, and this also separates us. Pity feels sorry for that poor person over here, as if he were somehow different from us . . .

    The near enemy of sympathetic joy (the joy in the happiness of others) is comparison, which looks to see if we have more of, the same as, or less than another . . .

    The near enemy of equanimity is indifference. True equanimity is balance in the midst of experience, whereas indifference is withdrawal and not caring, based on fear.

    If we do not recognize and understand the near enemies, they will deaden our spiritual practice. The compartments they make cannot shield us for long from the pain and unpredictability of life, but they will surely stifle the joy and open connectedness of true relationships.

    ~ Jack Kornfield, in A Path with Heart
  2. TwoCatDoctors

    TwoCatDoctors New Member

    I very much like the ideas presented and that "near enemies" does not refer to people (as we have come to expect) but instead to qualities within our minds.
  3. Rafiki

    Rafiki New Member

    I'm so glad that you all found this useful. Buddhist teachings can be understood as a kind of psychology and can be very useful to those of all faiths.

    I don't know about the rest of you but I am always slip sliding around the enemies, near and far, and only manage to avoid them by dint of practice and for brief interludes. That's ok, I have my whole life to practice.

    For me, a huge breakthrough was that I was not stuck with all my shortcomings and profound flaws. I had a fixed notion of who I was: a very bad person who could not change. (Legacy of childhood like so many others.) Then, one day it occurred to me that so long as I was blinking and breathing I could change. Studying Buddhist understanding of impermanence helped but I had to "get it", as I have to get everything, on a rather mundane level. I realized that no matter how "bad" I am, with work and practice, I can get just a little bit better. If I could learn the lesson of humility and not have to be perfect, improvement was enough - improvement was terrific! And, each moment holds the potential of a little growth, a little improvement a little less suffering over what I bad girl I believed I was. That was so freeing!

    Namaste everyone,
  4. Debra49659

    Debra49659 New Member

    something to ponder another day... I am still working on mindfulness:). Thanks Rafiki, another great thread!

  5. vivian53

    vivian53 Member

    Thanks for the info Rafiki. I enjoy learning about the teachings and practices of Buddhism. I feel a tug or pull of sorts when I read them. These teachings aren't hard for me to believe. they make perfect sense to me and I feel comforted in understanding them. I think that is significant for me.

    I want to learn more about the near enemy of sympathetic joy. Is it envy or as the Christians say, coveting?

    Also Cate (I am impressed with your knowledge too) what are the far enemies?

    I truly understand that uncomfortable feeling I get when I am being disingenuous. I have to listen to my inner voice carefully or I can just bulldoze over my true feelings. It takes vigilance on my part so I guess I have in me a great ability to fool myself.

    Sometimes it is only later, long after the incident has occurred when I am quiet and still, either getting ready to meditate, or right before I go to sleep it, that the the truth finally occurs to me.

    Please tell me more.

    I want to be a better person.

    I am going to see the YouTube referenced in your other post.


  6. vivian53

    vivian53 Member

    Would you tell us some more about mindfulness please?