A Doorway to Mystery


A Doorway to Mystery

Creating a Sacred Space in Therapy

By Jack Kornfield

January/February 2015


A Conversation with Jack Kornfield

Therapists are seekers by nature. Research shows that as a group, we’re driven less by the prospect of material reward than many other professions and more by curiosity about new ideas, the hope of acquiring wisdom, and the desire to achieve deeper self-understanding. No doubt this inclination toward exploring new dimensions of experience has fueled the growing popularity of mindfulness among therapists in recent years. But what exactly is it that mindfulness helps bring into focus that our other theories and methods of therapeutic practice haven’t already addressed? For an answer to that question, we asked Jack Kornfield—Buddhist teacher, psychotherapist, and someone who’s been at the forefront of those helping Westerners grasp Eastern spiritual concepts and practices since the 1970s.

Kornfield himself first went to Southeast Asia to study Buddhism after graduating from Dartmouth in the late 1960s. There he underwent traditional training in the Theravada tradition, sometimes walking five miles a day with a begging bowl to collect food for a single midday meal and practicing long hours of meditation. As part of his training, he even went on a year-long silent retreat. In 1969, he was ordained a monk. After his return to the West, he founded the Insight Mediation Center in Massachusetts and later Spirit Rock in California. He also wrote a series of popular books on meditation practice and worked as a psychotherapist…

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