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Jack Kornfield is an internationally renowned Buddhist teacher and meditation master, and a cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society and of Spirit Rock Center in Northern California. A former Buddhist monk, he holds a PhD in clinical psychology. His books include A Path with Heart, Buddha's Little Instruction Book, and After the Ecstasy.
Kornfield, a founding teacher of the Insight Meditation Society, is one of the seminal figures in the introduction and development of Theravada Buddhist practice in the West. At first glance, this book may appear indistinguishable from the flood of recent titles offering a Buddhist perspective on the integration of daily life with spiritual practice. What sets it apart, however, is Kornfield's clear and engaging style and his ability to be uncompromising in presenting a perspective on all aspects of the spiritual path. Few books in recent memory, for example, deal practically with the rather unspectacular but necessary nature of day-to-day practice following an experience of spiritual opening. Also, Kornfield, who draws on interviews with nearly 100 practitioners and teachers from a wide variety of Eastern and Western traditions, is unusually successful at presenting a consistent picture of the unity of the spiritual endeavor. This is particularly welcome, as practice in the West can often seem confusing and fragmented. Clearly aimed at readers with some experience of spiritual practice, this makes a nice companion to Kornfield's previous A Path with Heart (LJ 6/93). Recommended for all collections.DMark Woodhouse, Elmira Coll., NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
"A shining gift of wisdom."--New Age Journal
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 Cahners Business Information.