One Person’s Thoughts on Unconditional and Universalism

Lois Allen – Book Review

The following paragraphs are thoughts from Lois Allen after reading Jack Kornfield’s latest book about how spiritual journeys unfold.

Jack Kornfield is one of the leading Buddhist teachers in the West. He has lived and taught with many Christian monks, nuns, Jewish mystics, Hindu saints, Surfi teachers and leaders in transpersonal psychology .  From this rich experience, he has now written a moving and fascinating work about how the modern spiritual journey unfolds, and the difficulties even the most dedicated people encounter – whatever their faith.

It is incredible, the history that reveals itself in the abuses of such a peaceful teaching as the Buddha.  Unfortunately, the teachings of people like Jesus, Buddha, Socrates have been turned into religious dogmas with rules and regulations telling people how they should and should not worship.  He calls it spiritual materialism.  The same elements of human nature exist in the spiritual as well as the material world, all ready to compete for dominance, control, power, and money.  On the other hand there are many wonderful people living simple and rewarding lives. He says the sacred is found in the ordinary.

Idealism seems to be the biggest danger in religion, trying to reach an unreachable standard, and glorifying religious enlightenment and experience.  The only perfection can be found in the imperfect. Ideals should inspire us to surpass ourselves.  Ideals are tools for inspiration not realities within themselves.  Buddha, saint, or sage, pure human beings don’t exist.  The following are a few examples in his book:

In awakening our whole sense of identity shifts, we let go of our small sense of self and enter the unbounded consciousness out of which we come.  What becomes known with absolute certainty is that we are not and never have been separate from the world.  It is as if our heart, our knowing, expands further and further until we contain everything, until we are the world.

When our identity expands to include everything, we find a peace with the dance of the world. The ocean of life rises and falls within us – birth and death, joy and pain, it is all ours and our heart is full and empty, large enough to embrace it all.

In the deeper meanings beneath the profound, the answers come only as we deepen our ability to live in the reality of the present, to open and close like the lotus, to enter the dark forest and dance in the market.

They do not point to an ideal state, but to the flexibility of the Tao, the naturalness of the lotus. They teach a letting go of fear and self-consciousness of worldly and spiritual clinging, until we are free to be ourselves.

The goal of reflecting on past failures is to seek understanding that contributes to healing and redemption rather than blame.

This paragraph is my thoughts. It seems to me the hardest achievement is to find the middle path, as humans we are so prone to extremes or unbalanced thinking.

I think that for every idea we need the opposite to balance it. I am not my mistakes but at the same time because of my genetic link I am likely to repeat my mistakes. The good news is I can change and gain knowledge to practise healthy principles and evolution is then possible. We can find the freedom of our own spirit, and discover that our family history is not who we are. Wes says that truth is not found in what it confirms but what it denies.

The middle path embraces opposites. It rests between them, acknowledging both truths, caught by neither side. In this way we can see from one perspective that human life is suffering, with its inevitable string of losses culminating in sickness, aging and death. Yet from another perspective it is also grace – filled with gifts and blessings, expressing a divine beauty. Our very suffering can be seen as the grace that brings us to compassion, surrender and humility.