Review: After the Ecstasy, the Laundry

After the Ecstasy, the Laundry: How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path by Jack Kornfield (2000)
298 pages
Summary:  “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.

I picked up this book after it was mentioned by Eckhart Tolle in one of his talks.  I first got it from the library many months ago and my mom actually flipped through it first and then highly recommended it to me.  I picked it up and was immediately hooked because it’s a very easy read and was also pretty calming.

The book is broken down into 4 parts and each part has a few other chapters.  These chapters are then broken down even further with different headings and titles so it makes it easy to read a little bit and then put the book down.  Although some of the portions are quite short, they are packed with a lot of great quotes and passages on spirituality.

What sets this book apart from most spiritual or self-help books is that it tells about the reality of being on a spiritual journey.  Many other books give the impression that you need to search for a long time, then you will have an awakening or enlightenment, and then all your problems will be solved.  This isn’t realistic or the way things really happen.  The author is honest about addressing misconceptions about spirituality and the way monks and other enlightened teachers and practitioners are viewed.

Although it might seem a bit disheartening to learn that spirituality isn’t an instant cure-all for life’s problems, I actually found this book to be pretty uplifting.  There are tons of stories from spiritual leaders and teachers who share their own struggles and it’s nice to see that they are human too and have the same difficulties as me.  Plus there are tons of great quotes and if I re-read this book I’m sure I’ll get more and more out of it each time I do.  Highly recommended for anyone interested in spirituality or already on a spiritual journey and wishing to learn more about themselves.

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

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