Lamp in the Darkness   

Discussion Group – Class Schedule – Wednesday 2pm – 3:30 pm

All readings from:  “A Lamp in the Darkness” by Jack Kornfield. 

  • September 10th – Chapters 10 & afterwards
  • September 24th – Pema Chodron – “Don’t Bite the Hook”
    • Stan will summarize this audio book
  • October 8th – Movie Paper Clips – DVD
  • October 22nd – Tara Brach – Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha – Chapters 1 and 2



Jack Kornfield – Equanimity and Peace


CHAPTER 10 – The Four Foundations of Mindfulness and the Healing Journey

Mindfulness of Mind

  • Mindfulness is a balanced, kind, non-judging attention. With mindfulness we can see clearly, free ourselves from reactivity, and respond wisely.
  • The Buddha goes on: mindfulness is to be established in four ways. We must establish mindfulness of the body in the body, mindfulness of the feelings in the feelings, mindfulness of the mind in the mind, and mindfulness of Dharma (the laws that govern life), in the Dharma.
  • Mindfulness is the means by which we can bring our full presence to the world and, with balance and understanding, experience its 10,000 joys and sorrows. The open attention of mindfulness liberates us from reacting to and being caught up by all things in the world.
  • Mindful presence has respect and care in it. It is spacious and sacred attention. There’s an alchemy that happens when we listen in this way that transforms the struggles and difficulties of the moment into something larger. We become aware of everything-our joys and sorrows, the relationships between ourselves and others-with a calm mind and open heart.

Mindfulness of the body

  • Without mindfulness you take your body for granted, or ignore the body as if it is not important. James Joyce described this relationship in the line “Mr. Duffy lived a short distance from his body.” Or you fall into the other extreme of clinging and fear and over identification with this body.
  • When you sit down to meditate, you might expect to become peaceful and quiet, but often the first thing you actually experience is tightness and pain in the sensations of your body. You become aware of all the tensions you are carrying. If you’ve been busy running around or your experienced a period of difficulties, as you slow down and become mindful, you’ll probably first become aware of everything that you’ve been ignoring in your body.
  • The important question is, can you touch the difficulties in your body with mindfulness? Do you ignore your body and convince yourself that your physical body doesn’t matter? Do you react against what is unpleasant? You continually struggle to fix it? Do you hate the way your body feels and looks? Do you fear it as it ages and brings you pain?
  • When things get difficult, pay benevolent attention to your body. Do this the same way you hold a child who is ill.
  • So the first step of healing comes from attention itself, the deep healing that comes from being held. As our attention and mindfulness grow compassion naturally arises. With mindfulness and compassion together we can begin to listen more deeply.
  • Listening deeply, your body will connect you back to the body of the earth. As you sense that you are not separate from the planet, you know what to take care of your body you also must take care of the streams and the rivers, and the web of life within which you exist.

Mindfulness of feelings

  • The second foundation of mindfulness is awareness of feelings in the feelings. This is a critical foundation, because much of the insanity in the world comes from people not knowing what to do with their feelings. We are nuclear giants and emotional infants.
  • Without mindfulness, you react automatically to these primary feelings, habitually clinging to the pleasant ones, avoiding the unpleasant ones, and remaining unaware of what is neutral to us. This constant reactiveness limits your ability to find balance and clarity in your daily life, and limits your ability to love.
  • With awareness you see that feelings are not who you really are, that you are not your emotions. Instead you see that the ever-changing feelings and emotions are simply part of the dance of life that you can hold with appreciation and wisdom.
  • If you are not aware of your emotions you can become lost in them were frightened of them. But if you can create enough space to hold them with mindfulness and wisdom, you can see how they represent an important part of the picture, but not the entirety of the truth. You can see the anger has some truth in it, but it also has some delusion in it. And when you see love clearly, you can see that often love has some truth in it and that it also has some delusion. You can learn to become mindful of the river of emotions, just as we became aware of the river of sensations in the body, knowing that we are not limited by what is arising in the river.

Mindfulness of the mind

  • The third foundation is mindfulness of the mind in the mind. “Who is your enemy?” Asked Buddha. “Mind is your enemy. No one can harm you more than your own mind untamed. And who is your friend? Mind is your friend. No one can help you more than your own mind, wisely trained-not even your own mother and father.”
  • There is a roadside sign that says, “Your own tedious thoughts for the next 200 miles.”
  • But most of the time your thoughts are like it a bureaucracy that continues to perpetuate itself even when the need for it has been outgrown, even when it’s actually become an unpleasant and restrictive and possibly dangerous to you.
  • You can step back and listen to your thoughts mindfully and then decide whether they’re useful or not.
  • So the first thing you can do is listen to your thoughts with mindful awareness. You will see the effervescent nature of thoughts, that they are fleeting ideas, all impermanent. And then you can begin to realize that just because you have a thought doesn’t mean you have to believe it-much less act on it-and certainly not get it caught up in the whole stream of them.
  • My teacher Ajah Chah said is time to stop the battle with life. “We human beings are constantly in combat, at work, to escape the fact of being limited by circumstances we cannot control.” We can’t control the actions of others. We can’t control actions of our family and loved ones, not what happens to them. We can’t control the actions of our government. We can’t control our fate.

Mindfulness of Dharma

  • The last foundation of mindfulness of the Dharma in the Dharma. Dharma is a Sanskrit word that has several meanings. It means truth, it means the path to truth, and means the elements that make up life. To see the Dharma in the Dharma mean to see the truth of the way things are.
  • You make peace with the limits of the body. With the mindfulness you acknowledge the river of feelings, and the endless play of thoughts. Wakeful and free, you learn to rest in the vastness. This is the Dharma of the Dharma.
  • Everyone around you also wants to be listened to respectfully. This is something that you can offer them no matter what your situation is. This is not some grim duty or an onerous task that you have to do. It’s actually very beautiful.


Afterwards  – The return of joy

  • If we cannot be happy in spite of our difficulties, what good is our spiritual practice?


Future Classes at West U

These are 3 hour introductory classes to meditation.   It is the same class that most of you have attended.

  • Thursday September 18th from 2 – 5 PM
  • Thursday October 23rd from 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm


Jung Center – The Four Noble Truths for Everyday Life

Saturday November 1, 2014 – 9 am – 1 pm – Jung Center – 5200 Montrose Blvd

Call (713) 524-8253 to register


Jung Center – Free Movie – “The Way Home” 

Thursday October 30, 2014 – 7 pm – 9:30 pm – Jung Center – 5200 Montrose Blvd – Call (713) 524-8253 to register


Additional Resources

Any questions email me at

Copies of the handouts and homework on