Jack Kornfield | The Ancient Heart of Forgiveness

image credit: Louise Docker

Original article by Jack Kornfield on Greater Good Web site, dated August 23, 2011.

For me cultivating patience is a lot like cultivating forgiveness. You’ve got to pause in all of your frustration and self-involved pain and anger to take a breath in and move gracefully toward a different direction, being both open and willing to receive whatever you get. In the beautifully told story by Jack Kornfield (below) one woman does this again and again. We learn forgiveness is a powerful thing.

On the train from Washington to Philadelphia, while on my way to my father’s memorial funeral service, I sat down next to an interesting fellow who worked with young boys, particularly those in jail and prison, as part of an inner-city project in Washington, DC. He told me this story.

A young kid, 14 years old, wanted to get into a gang. The way that he proved himself to enter the gang was to shoot somebody—it was an initiation rite. He shot this kid he didn’t know. He was apprehended, brought to trial, and at the end of the trial, convicted.

Just before he is taken away in handcuffs, the mother of the boy who was shot stands up, looks him in the eye, and says, “I’m going to kill you,” and then sits down.

Read more…

More on Forgiveness

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Visit Jack Kornfield’s website

Check out Dr. Kornfield’s latest book, The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology.

Read more about the science of forgiveness, and learn about Dr. Fred Luskin’s nine steps to forgiveness.


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  1. Great aitcrle. Unfortunately many men, though well intentioned and intelligent, overlook ‘the missing women’ because they are not directly affected by it. (The knee is nearer than the shin – e.g., you notice what affects you personally). However, if they’re decent chaps, once it’s brought to their attention – they do notice the disparity. They have to be helped to see it.This is merely my own opinion from observation over my 48 years wandering on this planet.If you google ‘Sujato’s Blog’ you will find a world of information on the ‘Bhikkhuni question’. Venerables Sujato and Brahm are fighting the manly (if you’ll forgive the expression) fight on this issue. (I’m sure you’re aware of this).Venerable Bhante Bodhi wrote a scholarly paper tracing back Bhikkhuni ordination to show that the Theravadin Bhikkhuni Sangha could indeed be reconstituted. Good old Bhante Bodhi … always on the side of right. There is a link to this on Ven. Sujato’s blog as well as other fascinating reading.Sadhu,V.

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