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After the Ecstasy, the Laundry: How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path Paperback – October 2, 2001

4.5 out of 5 stars 130 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“A shining gift of wisdom.”
New Age Journal


Look for other Bantam Books by Jack Kornfield:

A Path With Heart
Buddha’s Little Instruction Book

From the Inside Flap

"Enlightenment does exist," internationally renowned author and meditation master Jack Kornfield assures us. "Unbounded freedom and joy, oneness with the divine ... these experiences are more common than you know, and not far away."
But even after achieving such realization -- after the ecstasy -- we are faced with the day-to-day task of translating that freedom into our imperfect lives. We are faced with the laundry.
Drawing on the experiences and insights of leaders and practitioners within the Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Sufi traditions, this book offers a uniquely intimate and honest understanding of how the modern spiritual journey unfolds -- and how we can prepare our hearts for awakening.
Through moving personal stories and traditional tales, we learn how the enlightened heart navigates the real world of family relationships, emotional pain, earning a living, sickness, loss, and death.
Filled with "the laughter of the wise," alive with compassion, After the Ecstasy, the Laundry is a gift to anyone who is seeking peace, wholeness, and inner happiness. It is sure to take its place next to A Path with Heart as a spiritual classic for our time.
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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: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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Format: Hardcover
Zen stories and Buddhist tales all seem to end with someone becoming enlightened. What happens after that? You never find out. You get the impression that they live in bliss and happiness forever after, and yet you know somehow that can't be true. Jack Kornfield interviewed a lot of people who have awakened, most of them highly accomplished teachers and abbots and lamas, most of them born and raised in the West (but trained in the East), and you get to hear them tell you what life is like after enlightenment. I thought an enlightened person never got angry or afraid or sad. I didn't even realize I held such perfectionistic misconceptions until I noticed this book shattering them.
After the Ecstasy is generously sprinkled with the actual words, sometimes half a page or a page long, of people who have been meditating 15, 30, even 40 years. You'll find out what brought them to the meditative path to begin with, and what they've learned along the way. It's fascinating.
There are lots of good anecdotes in this book; interesting and illuminating anecdotes (most of them are true stories). In many Buddhist and Zen books, you read the same stories again and again in different books, but here you find fresh stories, some ancient, some modern, and all very good.
Jack Kornfield is first and foremost a meditation teacher, so woven throughout the book is plenty of good coaching. The meditative path is difficult, and good teaching is vital. I'm the author of the book, Self-Help Stuff That Works, so I've specialized in knowing the difference between teachings that help and those that are merely interesting. In After the Ecstasy, you'll find interesting reading material AND coaching that will truly help you in your practice.
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