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

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  5,636 ratings  ·  271 reviews
“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 imp
Paperback, 336 pages
Published October 2nd 2001 by Bantam (first published 2000)
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Steve Woods
Sep 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality
This is a great book. Kornfield has written quite a lot and it's all quality. This book will mean most to those who have been on "the path" for a while; who have struggled with the sense of confusion and doubt from time to time, just not knowing where they are or what they are doing there. That the journey is consistent for all (though not exactly the same) no matter what their tradition is reassuring in many ways. The orientation this work provides and the relaxed way in which it is presented h ...more
Robert Day
Oct 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: knowledge
So, I started reading this about 5 years back and reached the end of chapter 13, then stopped. It was too deep and too fast for me to keep up, so back on the shelf it went.
Then, about 2 years ago it came back off the shelf, and, because I enjoyed it so much the first time, I started reading from the beginning. I reached chapter 7, and back it went on the shelf. Can't remember why; I probably started reading something else instead knowing me.
A couple of weeks ago I started to keep track of the bo
Camilla Lombard
Mar 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I've read this book a few times and now I enjoy picking it up at random like an oracle: it is always spot on and devastatingly true (in a good way). Definitely a desert island book for me, and it continues to provide great perspective on this human experience. And Jack is funny! That always helps. ...more
I'd shelve After the Ecstacy, the Laundry by Jack Kornfield next to Shunryu Suzuki's Zen Mind Beginners Mind.

"Strictly speaking, there are no enlightened people, there are only enlightened events" (Shunryu Suzuki, xx-xxi). "In awakening, our whole sense of identity shifts. We let go our small sense of self and enter the unbounded consciousness out of which we come. What becomes known with absolute certainty is that we are not and never have been separate from the world. . . . When our identity
Bish Denham
Oct 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This is not a "how-to" book on how to attain enlightenment, meditate, or become a Buddhist. What it is can best be described by what is written on the back cover. "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 awaking. Through moving personal stories and traditi ...more
The flavor of the lessons in this book by Jack Kornfield reminds me of the song at the end of The Hobbit 3, "The Last Goodbye" (https://youtu.be/q8ir8rVl2Z4):

"...Over hill and under tree,
through lands where never light has shone,
by silver streams that run down to the sea,
under cloud, beneath the stars,
over snow on winter's morn –
I turn at last to paths that lead home.
And though, where the road now takes me, I cannot tell,
We came all this way, but now comes the day to bid you farewell.
Sep 27, 2010 rated it liked it
I didn't like the beginning of the book where Kornfield provides many different accounts of enlightenment. I am not going to reach enlightenment, or go on a week-long meditation retreat, or join a monastery for years. I am just trying to meditate regularly and be here now and see the world for what it is, rather than what I want it to be. The second half of the book was better, but I found that the first person narratives interspersed throughout the book took away from the lesson as often as the ...more
May 26, 2022 added it
Highly recommended for anyone who has had a spiritual experience and who is working through how to integrate it into their life.

Reading this book has been a pressing to-do item looming over me precisely for what it is about — a multifaith discussion of what happens after the peak experiences that many of us have. In modern paganism and polytheism, we often take these experiences to be life-changing, as if we are living in The Matrix or the Harry Potter series, when in fact many of us have ordina
Belikin Ilya
Jan 31, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed it! I love how many familiar aspects it touches and how grounded the offered reflections are. It is interesting to read it immediately after Waking Up by Sam Harris, who shares a different point of view on the unity of spiritual paths between religions, religions as institutions, and near-death experiences. While advocating for similar practices of mindfulness.

The reality of laundry 🧺 after ecstasy 🤩 is universal and profound. It is common to see people cling to extreme experiences ins
Angelica Taggart
Mar 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club, re-reading
This is my current spiritual book circle read ... and the first time I've read Kornfield. We've gotten lots of discussion from each of the chapters. I really like it!
Today we finished the book -- excellent!! (Took us 17 weeks as we did a chapter a week - each one was meaty!) I'm going to find some of Kornfield's other works ... loved the simplicity and the stories.

Feb 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book has been a constant go-to for strength and inspiration since I first read it years ago. It's filled with countless stories and examples of patience, perseverance and grace through the eyes of a man owning his spiritual path. A must-read for anyone that is exploring buddhism or just merely a more spiritual way to life without dogma of a Religion and the social stigmas that go with it. ...more
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
More of us have experienced moments of enlightenment awakening than we think. The thing is that after we have that moment of transcendence, that feeling of connection to limitless cosmos, that divine love, we're...still ourselves. Because of that, and because so often these moments don't contain an external witness, we might feel we have less experience of spiritual awareness than we do.

This book is a wonderful affirmation of these moments from a wide range of spiritual traditions, though Buddh
Nov 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010, nonfiction
Meditation and recognition of inner self can be the basic stone of every religion and every philosophical movement. The book is just about that. Finding inner self, calm and the satori or whatever you call it in different ways from Hindu, Jewish to Christianity way. The author put synthesis of the movements and religions only to show how one can reach the ecstasy but also that after touching the peak, there is always the day after which is demanding in the same ways as reaching. However when you ...more
Heidi The Reader
After the Ecstasy, the Laundry is a masterpiece. Kornfield outlines the shifts of consciousness that we all make each day and how even enlightened monks struggle with their spirituality and families. He brings examples from different religions to create a unified picture of enlightened spirituality and expresses the hope that by raising our own individual consciousness that we may in time change the world. May it be so.

This was the first book that I have read by Jack Kornfield. I may need to pic
Sep 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book, along with everything I've ever read or listened to by Pema Chodron, has added so much to my serenity! Thank goodness for these gentle and fearless souls who attempt to make the philosophy of Buddhism available to the western mind and heart! ...more
Amy Beth
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one I will be reading again. Packed with juicy wisdom. It should be savored.
Nov 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
After the Ecstasy, the Laundry (2000) is a book by Jack Kornfield, a renowned Buddhist and meditation teacher. This is the second book I’ve read by Kornfield, the first being the best-selling A Path With Heart (1993), which I’d highly recommend as an introduction to Buddhism and a practical guide to Buddhist meditation, including the practices of mindfulness and metta.

In the late 60s, after graduating from Dartmouth College, Kornfield trained as a Buddhist monk in the monasteries of Thailand, My
Lisa Shultz
Oct 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spiritual
I started this book years ago and didn't finish it but I kept it. I tried again this year and finished it. I had to sometimes force myself to read not because it wasn't well-written but rather because it is best to read it slowly and contemplate along the way.
I found the gates of awakening of value and in particular the gate of sorrow. It explained my a growing compassion for those who are suffering. "It is as if our consciousness has broken open to the struggles of humanity and the earth itsel
Dec 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a grounding, generous-hearted book perfect for the come-down from a huge spiritual experience. It reminds us that all people--and especially those who've dedicated themselves to spirituality--are still messy humans, and that compassion and acceptance is meant to be practiced not just on retreat or on the cushion, but in our regular, everyday lives. Kornfield manages to instill forgiveness for one's all too human foibles, while still holding unethical spiritual leaders (such as those who ...more
Joseph Gendron
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good stuff from a knowledgeable and experienced teacher.
"Enlightenment is our Inherent State"
"Spiritual Practice is only What You are Doing Now"
"The Wise Heart is at Peace with the Way Things Are"
Jun 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
As a beginning mediator, the first few chapters were a bit lost on me, but I enjoyed the rest of the book quite a bit.
Jenni Clark
Feb 16, 2021 rated it it was ok
Loved some of the chapters/thoughts but others were a little hokey for me. It wouldn't be one I would suggest for everyone. ...more
Lucy McCoskey
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
at last, common sense advocating living here & now & just plain loving instead of spending the equivalent of 20 years in a cave. as Kornfield points out, you have to deal with the real world & its & your issues eventually. reality happens
Nov 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jack Kornfield has a great knack for writing in a meaningful, pleasant way. You don't get the feeling that he is arrogant or pretentious despite having great knowledge in an assortment of different spiritual disciplines, primarily Buddhism. The basic premise of this book is that even though it's possible to obtain a fantastic sense of enlightenment and bliss on the spiritual path, we eventually have to come back down to our day-to-day lives. After the Ecstasy the Laundry.

This book has numerous
Aug 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well read audio that definitely would do me good to listen to more than once. I've recommended it to at least one friend who follows the sort of principles outlined in the book. At first I thought this was some sort of "this book is only for people who have reached enlightenment and now what do I do" book, but it isn't. It is for anyone seeking spiritual growth but does focus a lot on those who have reached enlightenment and realized "hey, not much has changed" lol. Which serves as a good exam ...more
May 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
There seems to be a sincere attempt to reconcile the world's various spiritual traditions, but in so doing there is a dilution of the messages of each tradition. In trying to find common ground, there is a sense of groundlessness.
In his previous book, "A Path With Heart", Kornfield makes the argument that if one is to achieve fruit in any spiritual practice they must dig one deep whole and stick with their practice; rather than digging a multitude of shallow wholes. Well, in this book he seems
Jul 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I have a complicated relationship with laundry. I have been thwarted from clean clothing by power outages, a literal bus load of youth campers and the need for one last quarter. The guys at my laundromat duck and laugh when they see me walk through the door. So when I was looking at a list of Jack Kornfield's books and saw this title I knew that I had to read it.

In the book Kornfield discusses the process of spiritual enlightenment and how to return to the world as part of the cycle. I like how
Feb 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Took awhile for me to get through, because it was so thought provoking. I found it, for lack of a better word, enlightening. I loved the comparison of different religious and philosophical teachings, and I very much liked how it delved into the "real life" aspect of each person's spiritual journey. We can't all go living in monestaries, convents or retreat houses....most of us live in the real world and have to balance spirituality and secularism. The only difficulty I had with this book was som ...more
Apr 26, 2015 rated it liked it
I'm rating this book which I only read 3/4. Some gems, in here of interest. But at some point
, it felt to me that most of the Seekers who basically stepped out of society to find themselves, had a reason to want to step out. Eventually, what they were put in a position to have to step back into the normal demands of life and face the challenges that caused them to look elsewhere. Life is a challenge, period. And we have to experience it no matter how much you retreat, physically, spiritually or
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Jack Kornfield trained as a Buddhist monk in the monasteries of Thailand, India and Burma. He has taught meditation internationally since 1974 and is one of the key teachers to introduce Buddhist mindfulness practice to the West. He began his training after graduating from Dartmouth College in Asian Studies in 1967. Then he joined the Peace Corps and was assigned to the Public Health Service in no ...more

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