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Excerpted from After the Ecstasy, the Laundry by Jack Kornfield. Copyright 2000 by Jack Kornfield. Excerpted by permission of Bantam, a division of Random House, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.
 


"What is it that draws a person to spiritual life?"

Jack Kornfield
After the Ecstasy, the Laundry
, Part 1

What is it that draws a person to spiritual life? From as far back as we can remember, we can each sense a mystery in being alive. When we are present with an infant in the first moments after birth, or when the death of a loved one brushes close to us, the mystery becomes tangible. It is there when we witness a radiant sunset or find a moment's silent stillness in the flowing seasons of our days. Connecting to the sacred is per-haps our deepest need and longing.

Awakening calls to us in a thousand ways. As the poet Rumi sings, "Grapes want to turn to wine." There is a pull to wholeness, to being fully alive, even when we have forgotten. The Hindus tell us that the child in the womb sings, "Do not let me forget who I am," but that the song after birth becomes, "Oh, I have forgotten already."

Still, as surely as there is a voyage away, there is a journey home.

Throughout the world we find stories of this journey, images of the longing to awaken, the steps along the path that we all follow, the voices that call, the intensity of the initiation we may meet, the courage we need. At the heart of each is the original sincerity of the seeker, who must honestly admit how small is our knowledge of the universe, how great the unknown.

The honesty the spiritual quest requires of us is addressed in the Russian initiation tales about Baba Yaga. Baba Yaga is an old woman with a wild, haglike visage who stirs her pot and knows all things. She lives deep in the forest. When we seek her out we are frightened, for she requires us to go into the dark, to ask dangerous questions, to step outside the world of logic and comfort.

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