[joe-frank-list] Jack Kornfield

Justin Kempton justin at kempton.com
Tue Jun 20 11:48:21 PDT 2006

Certainly we must admit that Jack Kornfields voice is calm, still and musical. Dare we say effeminate? This style of speech reflects a certain way of being, that is more concerned rather then less concerned with making mistakes with words. He is not John Wayne or George Bush!. All I am saying is that this approach goes only so far. Kornfields approach does work, as it worked to bring me into more interest in Buddhism.

But just as Kornfield is appealing in his desire to be a good person, one of the things I love about Alan Watts, is that he allows for you to be bad. He talks of a irreducible rascality in all of us. It's a morality based upon the understanding that you are just as capable if not more so of being evil in a given situation, and so you do not judge others for their action. "Judge not that you be not judged". Right and wrong action is as simple as efficient and inefficient action, nothing more. There is no God telling you what to do, you are the God figuring it out.

Kornfield says all of this too, in his own way, but like Mike Hurst points out, his speech is given for a certain type of audience. For a western person to receive buddhism, it must be translated, and these translations must be played out into the drama of life. Even this message is part of that drama, as is the continuing saga of the wondering zen master Larry. One of my all time favorite movies, Razor's Edge, had another Larry as it's lead, which also explored eastern thought. Larry finds enlightenment by burning his books! Coincidence? In the Larry of JF, we have that same joking spirit, confronted with life, as we all are.

Stories get translated, and some get lost, others become a part of us forever. Larry Block's elephant / monkey joke has come in handy more then a few times. The best comedy is based upon tragic truth. It is the same with spiritual understanding, you either laugh and get it, or you pretend and never get it. Enlightenment might be called one's ability to find the joke in it.

> > Where would the story be if everyone spoke like
> > Jack Kornfield? If everyone was careful never to
> > step on an ant let's say, or swat a fly, or hurt
> > anyone's feelings.
> Jack Kornfield says no such thing.  He speaks often,
> anc clearly, about the disconnect between the goals of
> Buddhism and the tensions, the distractions of the
> world.  Even in the "Karma" series (where you hear
> Kornfield most often), he is very clear about this.
> It's patently obvious that Joe Frank finds Kornfield's
> quest for peace and deeper understanding to be
> profoundly moving.  Even as recently as his
> web-special program "Fire" he cited Kornfield's
> teachings as an admirable goal.

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