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After the Ecstasy, the Laundry: How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path Paperback


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After the Ecstasy, the Laundry: How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path + A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life + The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (October 2, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553378295
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553378290
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,479 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Jack Kornfield, one of America's most beloved teachers of meditation, assures us that enlightenment does occur on the spiritual path but warns that it is not the end of the road. Bringing his thoughts to a personal level, Kornfield looks up many of the notable spiritual teachers of our times (Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Sufi, etc.) and presents extended quotations of their trials and epiphanies. These anecdotes are woven together with fables and ruminations from Kornfield's own decades-long experience as a practitioner and teacher, creating an image of the spiritual life as challenging, multidimensional, rewarding, and, yes, mundane. In the old days in China, Zen monks were encouraged to travel for instruction under a variety of masters. Here, Kornfield introduces us to today's masters, but off their podiums, as equals. Genuine experiences of awakening, despair, fault, serious transgression, and simple childlike joy all appear as bridges on the way to the divine. After the Ecstasy, the Laundry is not just another inspirational bestseller, it is a lasting record of concrete insights forged from the fires of dedicated practice. --Brian Bruya --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

What to do after one has achieved enlightenmentAor a flash of it? How do the problems of everyday life look different? Which, if any, go away? And what is it like to have lived for decades under a spiritual discipline? Kornfield (A Path with Heart, Teachings of the Buddha, etc.) devotes his latest volume of advice and meditation to such questions. Kornfield has been a teacher in the Theravada Buddhist tradition since the mid-1970s; he also holds a degree in clinical psychology. His methods and counsels here reflect Buddhist teachings, but he also tries hard to be ecumenical: Kornfield interviewed lamas, Buddhist elders and Zen teachers, but also Sufi masters, rabbis and Catholic nuns and monks. Anecdotes and quotations draw on Hindu mythology, medieval Christian theologians, Native American visionary traditions and even decidedly secular modern writers (e.g., Albert Camus and Sharon Olds). Bits of interviews alternate with Kornfield's own interpretations and with anecdotes and lessons drawn from sacred Scripture, anthropology and current events. A chapter about circumstantial hardships jumps from postwar Japan to America's overcrowded prisons; a noteworthy chapter on self-esteem and self-abasement vaults from William Blake to The Tassajara Bread Book. Kornfield wants to help readers attain "a welcoming spirit, to greet all that life presents to us with a wise, respectful and kindly heart." Some may find Kornfield's words vague, or self-evident: "Spiritual life involves a maturing of understanding, a continual unfolding, wherever we are." Even unsympathetic browsers, though, might enjoy the compressed life stories of the many interviewees. And the audience Kornfield envisions may well want and use his admittedly general counsel that "no matter how isolated or embattled our lives, we need one another as family, we need each other's hearts and songs to help one another find the way." That's hardly news, but isn't it the truth? (June)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Jack Kornfield, Ph.D. co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, in 1975 and later, the Spirit Rock Center in Woodacre, California. He holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. His books include After the Ecstasy, the Laundry and the national bestseller A Path with Heart (over 100,000 copies in print).

Customer Reviews

He said it was a really great book, so I read it too.
N. Marsak
Jack Kornfield is one of the few thinkers who writes about the intersection of traditional, academic thought and personal, faith-based spirituality.
Jussi Bjorling
I have learned how to live my life with mindfulness and how to deal with the past and how better to cope with the pains that memories can bring.
Kelli Wells

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

155 of 158 people found the following review helpful By Grant Thompson on June 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a book primarily about the experience of persons who have traveled the spiritual adventure. They are presented as very human and not like gods at all. This gives hope and encouragement to the rest of us who often after a weekend seminar or month long retreat on returning to the frustrations of the "real" world pause to wonder whether or not the time spent silently studying, listening,visualizing or meditating really produced any meaningful change. I found the book did not put mystics, spiritual masters and the like on a pedestal, rather it showed us that these people have similar reactions to the day to day events of everyday life like the rest of us with perhaps more understanding and tolerance. The many quotations and poetry from esteemed persons such as Rumi,Ryokan and others are worth the price of the book itself. Although dealing with a very serious topic Kornfield weaves a sense of humor throughout the book and gives us a sense of what it is like to seriously undertake a spiritual journey. Go and buy this book.
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74 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Jussi Bjorling on July 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Jack Kornfield is one of the few thinkers who writes about the intersection of traditional, academic thought and personal, faith-based spirituality. The result is an astonishingly successful blend of philosophy, memoir, and literary commentary. While Kornfield's spiritual background is Buddhist, he is aware of and receptive to the theories of enlightenments in all major religions and even the more secular Emersonian beliefs that have helped shape American spirituality.
The book is not tightly organized, but is written in a series of short sections, which variously touch on Kornfield's personal history, his current belief system, and his favorite authors, blending them into a coherent whole. I found the sections on T.S. Eliot and Walt Whitman to be among the most insightful commentaries on their work available to the lay reader.
At the same time that Kornfield is astonishingly well-read and deeply wise, he is never scolding or pedantic. As his title suggests, he is well aware of our human foibles and failings, and he displays a deep understanding and tolerance of the ways in which most of his readers will fall short of the example he sets.
This is Kornfield's finest work, and a book that be read for decades to come by those interested in exploring their spirituality.
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94 of 97 people found the following review helpful By Mark Wieczorek on April 29, 2001
Format: Audio Cassette
One of the stories relayed in this book is that of a spiritual seeker who goes to find a master who lives on the mountain. He tracks down this master while he is carring a heavy burden to his home higher on the mountain. The seeker asks "What is the way of Enlightenment?" and the master puts his burden down. The seeker instantly understands, and thanks the master asking "Now what?" and the master picks up his burden and continues walking up the mountain.
Life is not easy. I don't think entering a spiritual practice will make it any easier. Work will still be work, family will still be family, and bills will still be bills. What we can hope to change is the constant chatter of our minds, and the worry of what tomorrow will bring.
I always thought that a spiritual life meant escaping the world and living in a monestary, or a small mountain community where I would meditate and live simply. I thought it meant giving up all of my earthly wants and desires. Now I'm faced with the odd realization that my life is perfect just the way it is. That I need only to slow down and appreciate what is around me.
I also thought a spiritual life would end suffering for me - the anxiety, and the avoidance of discomfort. That life would become stress free because I would be unattached to everything. That I would have no neurosis, and that I would be able to let everything slide off my back. Now I realize that that too isn't the purpose of spiritual practice. Spiritual practice doesn't help you escape your life, but helps you face it head on. The analogy I've begun to use is that enlightenment is like living with a great insult. The refusal to run away from that which is painful or cling to that which is comforting is what spirituality has become for me.
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75 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Brooks Jordan on June 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Jack Kornfield, the man, gives me hope that we can transform our lives a little bit at a time with some rushing moments of grace. And, we can help to change the world around us. He makes me want to try.
"A Path With Heart" (1993) helped me to commit to a spiritual practice. "After the Ectasy, the Laundry" reminded me that my practice is at the core of my life and that so many others are aspiring for wholeness, and yes, enlightenment (there is actually such a thing).
I recommend it highly.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Jack Kornfield's newest book gives hope to those of us on the spiritual path who have maybe gotten confused and off track! Thinking that enlightenment will solve all our problems and that our lives will be forever changed is only a half truth. Our lives will be forever changed but real life tasks will not!
Some of us get depressed when we have "enlightening" experiences, but then find ourselves reverting to type shortly afterwards. Kornfield explains why and gives us a feeling of tremendous relief and continued hope. This book is uplifting, unique, and sorely needed for all seekers on all paths. A perfect blending of spiritual depth and psychological maturity.
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