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

Jack Kornfield
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 2 2001
“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.

Frequently Bought Together

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
Price For All Three: CDN$ 48.79

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Product Description

From Amazon

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.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What happens after awakening? July 9 2002
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Year in the Life Feb. 2 2002
Format:Audio Cassette
I wrote a review of this book in April of 2001. Here it is January 2002 and I'm writing a second review for this book.
I haven't re-read or revisited it, but it's wisdom stays with me. I'm concerned with my thinning hair, have troubled relations with friends, am pulled into politics at work. My apartment is a mess, my finances aren't in much better shape, I don't go out as much as I would like, I'm not making art as much as I would like. I get angry, tired, frustrated, upset, bored, all within the course of a day.
There's a book out there "The Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A book that changes lives." I read it despite it's silly name and silly cover. It didn't do much to change my life.
Then there's "After the Ectacy the Laundry." Has it changed my life? No, it hasn't either.
I can almost see you, the reader of this review saying "It didn't change your life? And you're still giving it 5 stars?" and in that, I see myself a just a year ago.
Our society makes too much of escaping the every day: The Laundry, the chores, work, commuting, cooking, cleaning, strained relationships with parents, family, and friends, guilt, anger, frustration, fear, and worry. We seek to escape these things into the magical world of unlimited money and advanced spirituality.
Advertising is based almost entirely on this aspect of our lives. "Buy my product and your life will change" each commercial seems to say. Buy a book by Dan Millman to become a Peaceful Warrior. Buy a sneaker by Nike and escape into a world of physical perfection and love of challenge. Buy some real estate (or a book on buying real estate by Robert Kiyosaki) and become financially independant. Everyone, every single one of us wants to escape.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jewel of wisdom for anyone on a spiritual path July 25 2010
By C. Park
Something that anyone who has even had a glimpse of ecstasy will enjoy. Details the spiritual path and the responsibilities that entail.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Books on the Spiritual Life June 12 2004
Format:Audio Cassette
This book helped me deal with the conflict that attempting to follow a spiritual path had always engendered in me. I, too, have had experiences of spiritual manifestations, lived in a state of peace and love, then become frustrated when I couldn't maintain it in my work, my relationships, and my entire outlook. This book helped me to deal with that, and to remember the sacred nature of my life a thousand times better than any of the more sophist-esque works from those who really don't seem to empathize with this struggle.
Jack Kornfield is down to earth, he is unpretentious, he is humble, and these are traits rare in today's culture of demigogues and snake-oil salesmen. This work must be read to be appreciated. It has myriad insights from great mystics and more munmdane practictioners. Kornfield includes an eclectic and open treatment of many traditions--Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, etc. In so doing, the words it teaches are applicable to any person who tries to follow a more meaningful path amidst the clutter and cacaphony of our modern lives.
I very highly recommend this work. It will not change your life, but it will remind you how to live it more consciously.
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5.0 out of 5 stars REFLECTIONS OF WISDOM Nov. 7 2001
All human situations arise through the medium of awareness. People do many things and feel many different ways, but the central factor of all activities is always awareness. Perhaps we do not notice the presence of this knowing quality, or we may take it for granted. This can lead to problems. It is important for us to know that there are many kinds of awareness, which arise according to definite principles, and which affect our health, our understanding, and our happiness.
This book provides enlightening thoughts and examples from spiritual teachers and religious traditions, in order to make us take responsibility for the condition of our awareness, since so-called external affairs correspond to this condition very precisely. This is the basic theme the author wishes to convey to his readers.
To the extent that this work can offer understanding of the value of each type of awareness available to us, and of the methods or circumstances which activate each type, it can be very valuable.
*****Pursuing this understanding is more serious and immediately useful than casual research into "altered states of consciousness"----surely a necessary step before a guided research into these states...AstarX teaches this right through its Path to eXtasy (AstarX.com)----Truly valuable penetrating awareness is usually covered over and forgotten by most human beings, and this situation is like being trapped in a burning house, oblivious to any danger.
In these days and times, a book like this is a portal to better understanding of self and world alike. Then, it's up to you to continue walking the Path...
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars In a very simplistic way. All I can say ...
In a very simplistic way.

All I can say is : " Every word a treasure. ..every sentence a well of wealth ". Read more
Published 1 month ago by Bruce Novotny
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written
Beautifully written, clear and comprehensive guide to the ethics of Buddhism complete with personal experiences and the words of great masters, past and present.
Published 23 months ago by Janet M. Burke-Gaffney
3.0 out of 5 stars Poor binding
I would advise prospective purchasers to look at the reviews for the Bantam publications: ISBN 0553378295 (Paperback) & 0553102907 (Hardcover)

The reviews for this book... Read more
Published on April 19 2012 by D. V. Short
5.0 out of 5 stars After the Ecstasy, the Laundry
The typical spiritual-illumination story ends with enlightenment. But Buddhist teacher and clinical psychologist Jack Kornfield goes beyond, asking the question we're dying to have... Read more
Published on Aug. 8 2011 by Constance Brochet
5.0 out of 5 stars What no other book does
In any of Kornfield's work may be found great wisdom and a heart that knows deeply the folly of attaching strongly to anything, especially to this or that single Dharma style (I... Read more
Published on June 19 2004 by Issa
4.0 out of 5 stars Waking up can have it's bumps and bruises too
I really liked this book because it helped me realize that waking up or trying to wake up has it's setbacks at times. Read more
Published on March 5 2004 by "cappy-craig"
4.0 out of 5 stars like a magazine investigative report.
Mr. Kornfield's extensive experiences in buddhist meditation and his wide contact with other meditative traditions gave him an unique insight into the core of spiritual life. Read more
Published on July 2 2003 by imind
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone does laundry...
I loved this book. I have read many books on philosophy, religion, and spirituality, but this one stands out as one of my all time favorites. Read more
Published on June 9 2003 by Nurcan Kozanli
5.0 out of 5 stars Am Amazing Book
I just love how Jack Kornfield shares comments from Buddhists, Christians, and others on how the mystical path is at times very arduous. Read more
Published on April 21 2003 by Janet Boyer
5.0 out of 5 stars Affirmation of the value of daily spiritual practice
The book could be summed up as, "After the Ecstasy IS the Laundry." It affirms the value of daily prayer and meditation that leads to the desire to serve others. Read more
Published on April 12 2002 by Elizabeth Laden
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