Some brief quotes from 'AFTER THE ECSTASY, THE LAUNDRY' (Bantam Books, NY. 2000)

by Jack Kornfield - Buddhist Pyschologist, former Theravadan Buddhist monk and expert Buddhologist.


“”… you may have read traditional accounts of fully enlightened sages in Asia or of wholly unblemished saints and mystics in the West. But these ideal narratives can be misleading. In fact, in the awakening of the heart there is no such thing as enlightened retirement. This is not how it happens to us.

We all know that after the honeymoon comes the marriage, after the election comes the hard task of governance. In spiritual life it is the same: After the ecstasy comes the laundry.  Most spiritual accounts end with illumination of enlightenment. But what if we ask what happens after that?” (p. xii)

“Confusing Charisma with Wisdom”  Another source of spiritual misunderstanding is our confusion of charisma with true wisdom. Certain spiritual leaders possess the ability to evoke extraordinary states. Amplified by our hope, feelings of bliss and transcendence arise easily around the charismatic ministers, priests, Zen masters, mystics rabbis, and gurus. It is easy to mistake such spiritual powers as definite signs of wisdom or enlightenment or divine love. We forget that power and charisma are just power and charisma, that these energies can just as easily serve demagogues, politicians and entertainers.

It is possible for some to be charismatic but not wise. Conversely. Wisdom is not necessarily flashy or powerful – it can manifest in a humble and simple heart, and in the most ordinary-seeming of lives. In communities where special spiritual power is highly valued, students should take special care: when secret teachings or ancient lineages are evoked, when one group is chosen to be saved above all others in the world, spiritual communities are ripe for becoming cults.” (p. 146)

“The problem comes when denial of our humanity is built into our spiritual view. For students this means cutting themselves off in a puritanical or fearful way from their own experience. For teachers, too, the prolonged expectations of selfless or sinless purity can translate into repression or ignorance of their own shadow.” P. 149.


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