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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.
 


"We don't know all the reasons that propel us on a spiritual journey, but somehow our life compels us to go."

Jack Kornfield, After the Ecstasy, the Laundry, Part 2

When the first young seeker comes quaking up to the door of her hut, Baba Yaga demands, "Are you on your own errand or are you sent by another?" The young man, encouraged in his quest by his family, answers, "I am sent by my father." Baba Yaga promptly throws him into the pot and cooks him. The next to attempt this quest, a young woman, sees the smoldering fire and hears the cackle of Baba Yaga. Baba Yaga again demands, "Are you on your own errand or are you sent by another?" This young woman has been pulled to the woods alone to seek what she can find there. "I am on my own errand," she replies. Baba Yaga throws her in the pot and cooks her too.

Later a third visitor, again a young woman, deeply confused by the world, comes to Baba Yaga's house far into the forest. She sees the smoke and knows it is dangerous. Baba Yaga confronts her, "Are you on your own errand, or are you sent by another?" This young woman answers truthfully. "In large part I'm on my own errand, but in large part I also come because of others. And in large part I have come because you are here, and because of the forest, and something I have forgotten, and in large part I know not why I come." Baba Yaga regards her for a moment and says, "You'll do," and shows her into the hut.

Into the Woods

We don't know all the reasons that propel us on a spiritual journey, but somehow our life compels us to go. Something in us knows that we are not just here to toil at our work. There is a mysterious pull to remember. What takes us out of our homes and into the dark of Baba Yaga's forest can be a combination of events. It can be a longing from childhood, or an "accidental" encounter with a spiritual book or figure. Sometimes something in us awakens when we travel to a foreign culture and the exotic world of new rhythms, fragrances, colors, and activity catapults us out of our usual sense of reality. Sometimes it is as simple as walking in the blue-green mountains or hearing choral music so beautiful it seems inspired by the gods. Sometimes it is that mysterious transformation when we attend at the bedside of the dying and a "person" vanishes from existence, leaving only a lifeless sack of flesh awaiting burial. A thousand gates open to the spirit. Whether in the brilliance of beauty or the dark woods of confusion and sorrow, a force as sure as gravity brings us back to our heart. It happens to every one of us.

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