Zen stories and Buddhist tales all seem to end with someone becoming enlightened. What happens after that? You never find out. You get the impression that they live in bliss and happiness forever after, and yet you know somehow that can’t be true. Jack Kornfield interviewed a lot of people who have awakened, most of them highly accomplished teachers and abbots and lamas, most of them born and raised in the West (but trained in the East), and you get to hear them tell you what life is like after enlightenment. I thought an enlightened person never got angry or afraid or sad. I didn’t even realize I held such perfectionistic misconceptions until I noticed this book shattering them.
After the Ecstasy is generously sprinkled with the actual words, sometimes half a page or a page long, of people who have been meditating 15, 30, even 40 years. You’ll find out what brought them to the meditative path to begin with, and what they’ve learned along the way. It’s fascinating.
There are lots of good anecdotes in this book; interesting and illuminating anecdotes (most of them are true stories). In many Buddhist and Zen books, you read the same stories again and again in different books, but here you find fresh stories, some ancient, some modern, and all very good.
Jack Kornfield is first and foremost a meditation teacher, so woven throughout the book is plenty of good coaching. The meditative path is difficult, and good teaching is vital. I’m the author of the book, Self-Help Stuff That Works, so I’ve specialized in knowing the difference between teachings that help and those that are merely interesting. In After the Ecstasy, you’ll find interesting reading material AND coaching that will truly help you in your practice.