Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Long and Winding Path

My first introduction to Buddhism in the 1970s was a series of books by a Tibetan lama who called himself Tuesday Lobsang Rampa. Whether or not Rampa was either a Tibetan or a lama is the subject of considerable controversy, but he and his writings still have serious followers. At the time, I was captivated.

Rampa as Cyril Hoskin, or Cyril Hoskin as Rampa (part of the controversy) came to Canada in the early 1960s, to my hometown Saint John, New Brunswick.

I found this out with a jolt while reading one of Rampa's books in my new hometown in British Columbia. He mentioned the kindness of a woman in Saint John who lived in a little house behind the church that I had attended from birth to 18. I knew that woman.

It was an oddly surreal dose of reality amidst the astral travel, transmigration of souls, and talking cats. I'm no longer sure what I believe from within those pages (except for the church and the woman!), but they did influence me greatly and push me to investigate further.

Over the course of many, many years, from Rampa's books, to Alan Watts's The Way of Zen, I found the work of Jack Kornfield and the more western face of Buddhism.

I am still captivated, but more at home, and no one questions Kornfield's credentials or authenticity.

Kornfield is a Buddhist monk, co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society in Massachusetts and the Spirit Rock Center in California. He has a Ph.D. in psychology, a sense of humour, and a fine writing style.

Two of my favourite's of Kornfield's books are After the Ecstasy, the Laundry and A Path with Heart.

I look forward to reading Kornfield's latest book The Wise Heart. If it's as good as his other books, then I am in for a few days of good teaching and pleasurable reading.

I would like to invite Jack Kornfield to my soiree.

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