How Jack Kornfield Went From Ivy League Grad To Buddhist Monk (VIDEO)

Why An Ivy League Grad Decided To Become A Monk

Jack Kornfield was raised in a Jewish home with a father he says had an explosive, violent temper. During his childhood, Kornfield sought refuge in books about the mystical adventures of monks living in Tibet, and he eventually attended Dartmouth College, where he majored in Asian studies. Yet the spiritual teacher and author didn't quite find all he was looking for in his Ivy League education.

So, Kornfield decided to become a monk. Sharing his story with Oprah on a recent episode of "Super Soul Sunday," Kornfield explains that there were two main reasons why he was compelled to make such a big change in his life.

"I became a monk partly because I read these cool books about Zen masters and I said, 'I wonder if there still are any,' and partly because I had so much suffering in my family and nothing about my education taught me about my emotional life or my values," Kornfield tells Oprah.

Of his time at Dartmouth, Kornfield says, "It was only half of an education. I learned science and history and philosophy, but nobody taught me how to deal with my fear or my anger."

In search of peace and tools to help him manage the emotional aspects of his life, Kornfield asked the Peace Corps to send him to a Buddhist country. "They sent me to Thailand and I was sent way out on the Mekong River Valley," he recalls. "And then I looked around I said, 'Who are the good teachers? I need to learn how to deal with my own inner life and my broken heart, really, from my family.'"

Also in the above video, Oprah shares why she thinks Kornfield's story is "a beautiful acknowledgement" and what it is about this acknowledgement that many people overlook within themselves.

"Super Soul Sunday" airs Sundays at 11 a.m. ET on OWN.

Go To Homepage

Before You Go

Mt. Kailash in Tibet

Buddhism's Sacred Places in Black and White