In this landmark work, internationally beloved teacher of meditation and “one of the great spiritual teachers of our time” (Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple) Jack Kornfield reveals that you can be instantly happy with the keys to inner freedom.
Through his signature warmhearted, poignant, often funny stories, with their a-ha moments and O. Henry-like outcomes, Jack Kornfield shows how we can free ourselves, wherever we are and whatever our circumstances. Renowned for his mindfulness practices and meditations, Jack provides keys for opening gateways to immediate shifts in perspective and clarity of vision, allowing us to “grapple with difficult emotions” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) and know how to change course, take action, or—when we shouldn’t act—just relax and trust.
Each chapter presents a path to a different kind of freedom—freedom from fear, freedom to start over, to love, to be yourself, and to be happy—and guides you into an active process that engages your mind and heart, awakens your spirit, and brings real joy, over and over again. Drawing from his own life as a son, brother, father, and partner, and on his forty years of face-to-face teaching of thousands of people across the country, Jack presents “a consommé of goodness, heart, laughter, tears, and breath, nourishing and delicious” (Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird). His keys to life will help us find hope, clarity, relief from past disappointments and guilt, and the courage to go forward.
Sometimes I go about pitying myself, when all the while I am being carried by great winds across the sky. —OJIBWA SAYING
We are being carried on a luminous star, sharing in the dance of life with seven billion beings like us. Vastness is our home. When we recognize the spaciousness that is our universe, around us and within us, the door of freedom opens. Worries and conflicts fall into perspective, emotions are held with ease, and we act amid troubles of the world with peace and dignity.
The Dance of Life
Whitney was caught in midlife troubles. Her mother was scheduled for hip surgery, and her father was suffering from early-stage Alzheimer’s. She wanted her parents to continue living in their home in Illinois, but their disabilities made independent living challenging. Whitney’s brother in St. Louis was not involved and wanted his sister to “take care of it.” So, Whitney took a month’s leave from work and went to her parents’ home to help. When she arrived, the house was in shambles. Her mom needed time to heal from the surgery, and her father was unable to care for himself. They could not afford round-the-clock care, and it was clear they would have to move.
Whitney took a walk up a hillside she’d known since childhood. She didn’t want to lose the family home; she wanted her parents to stay there until the end—and she didn’t want to lose her parents. She wept as she walked, but when she reached the top of the hill, she sat quietly, calmed herself, and looked across the vast midwestern fields stretching to the horizon. The sky was filled with cumulus clouds bringing shade to the many small houses clustered at the edge of town and beyond.
Facing this unbounded vastness, she suddenly felt less alone. She could sense how everything has its rhythm—arriving and departing, flourishing and struggling, coming into being and fading away. How many people, she wondered, are in the same predicament we are in right now? As she breathed with more ease, her mind opened further. I am not the only person with aging parents. It is part of the human journey. And as the space within her opened, she felt more trust.
We can all see this way. We can gain a broader perspective. With a spacious heart, we can remember the bigger picture. Even when illness strikes, a parent is dying, or any other form of loss is upon us, we can recognize that it’s a part of life’s seasons.
What would it feel like to love the whole kit and caboodle—to make our love bigger than our sorrows? Among the multitudes of humans, many are experiencing loss and change. Many need renewal. And still the world keeps turning, farmers growing food, markets trading, musicians playing. We live in the midst of a great and ever-changing paradox.
Jack Kornfield, PhD, is one of the best known, most respected meditation teachers in the world. A psychologist and founder of two of the largest Buddhist centers and communities in America, he is one of the key teachers to introduce mindfulness to the West. His books, which include A Path with Heart; After the Ecstasy, the Laundry; and The Wise Heart, are classics, selling well over a million copies, and translated into twenty-one languages. Jack has taught at major universities and centers worldwide, including Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, and Berkeley; he teaches regular classes to four hundred at Spirit Rock in Marin County and to large crowds nationwide at retreats, conferences, and events. To learn more, please visit: JackKornfield.com or SpiritRock.org.
“Any reader of this work will find a compassionate, light-hearted, and humorous teacher who leads readers to grapple with difficult emotions.”
– Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"In this book, Jack Kornfield wonderfully evokes the spaciousness, the ease, and the radiance of a free heart and mind. Even more important—he clearly lays out a path whereby any one of us can move from distant admiration of the idea to actually living it day by day."
– Sharon Salzberg, author of Real Love
"A consommé of goodness, heart, laughter, tears, and breath, nourishing and delicious. Rich in hope and deep wisdom for these revved up, rattling times."
– Anne Lamott author of Grace (Eventually)
"With its incomparable blend of deep wisdom, evocative stories, and powerful meditations, No Time Like the Present is the fruit of a lifetime of spiritual teaching. Jack Kornfield’s message is, we don’t have to wait. Love, peace, freedom . . . it’s all available right here, in this very heart."
– Tara Brach, author of Radical Acceptance and True Refuge
“'Only in the darkness can you see the stars,' said Martin Luther King, in days that were almost as dark as our own. Like a brilliant star to guide us in these days of darkness Jack Kornfield’s new book appears just at the right moment. It reminds us that there is No Time Like the Present—no matter how dark—to rescue threatened values—freedom, love, joy—within us and in the world around us. Like Rabbi Hillel, Jack challenges us: 'If not now, when?'”
– Brother David Steindl-Rast, Benedictine monk, co-founder of Gratefulness.org
"A treasure trove of emotionally inspiring stories revealing the paths to freedom in our diverse lives. In this magnificent book, Jack Kornfield guides us with his transformative teachings of wisdom and inner peace. This is a work of heart, a gift of Jack's personal experiences as well as his lifetime of learning about what brings meaning, connection, and clarity to life. There is no time like the present to soak in the life-affirming invitations and practices that can enrich how we engage with others, the world, and ourselves. Enjoy!"
– Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., author of Mind: A Journey to the Heart of Being Human and Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation
"This book is a treasure of useful insights and practical ways of coping with our egoic and false-self search for satisfactions that lead nowhere, except to needless suffering. His charming and sympathetic suggestions for healing fill this book with encouragement and compassion for ourselves and others."
– Fr. Thomas Keating, founding member and the spiritual guide of Contemplative Outreach, LTD
"Jack is one of the world’s wisest, kindest, and most helpful teachers. Reading his book is like sitting and chatting with him about the most important things in your life. He is so warm, so full of practical suggestions, and so generous with simple but transformative practices. This book is beautiful, inspiring, and profound."
– Rick Hanson, Ph.D., author of Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom
Praise for Jack Kornfield
"One of the great spiritual teachers of our time."
– Alice Walker
"Jack Kornfield is a wonderful storyteller and a great teacher."