“A Lamp in the Darkness” by Jack Kornfield

I remember a feeling of exclusion when I read Kornfield’s The Wise Heart, so I read this one warily, and indeed, it did not resonate with me.

Perhaps it’s a target market problem. The writing is clear and kind and detailed, aimed at someone who has never thought about these issues before. I’ve been meditating daily for 9 years. I’m searching for spiritual assistance at a deeper level than (paraphrased), “Yup, we all have problems. Let’s sit with them awhile.”

The writing is gender-neutral and does not focus on class or race. In only one quote is “man” on the Way, but that gender exclusion is not footnoted. Subtly, through the examples and stories, I get the impression that Kornfield is speaking primarily to other white men like himself, wealthy enough to see the Dalai Lama’s personal physician for an ailment.

I feel uneasy when I see “My teacher Sri Nisargadatta explained …” and “My teacher Ajahn Chah said …” mixed with quotes from the Dalai Lama and Black Elk. I’d like to learn about a teacher’s culture and context in detail rather than hearing a mix of pull quotes from around the world.

I also recognized several of the anecdotes from the prior book.

I might have tried the included CD of meditations, but a previous library borrower had replaced it with an old Loreena McKennitt CD.

Available at Powell’s Books.

2 comments to “A Lamp in the Darkness” by Jack Kornfield

  • Hello, Sonia,

    I was cruising the Internet, and found your review of Kornfield’s book, but it appears as if I wrote this unfavorable review – ironically – of a book I LOVE.

    Would you please take my name off of this review right away. Perhaps you could put your “by line” at the top, and my name with “recommended by” at the bottom, so it does not appear in the internet searches, or to the visitor on your site, as my review.

    I enjoy your writing still and wish you well. I really appreciate your correcting this mistaken attribution.


    ~Jenny Davidow

    • Fixed as you requested. Hadn’t thought of that effect of the Recommended By line. I’ll have to consider that. It was originally meant to give credit and links to people, but I can see how some people might not want that.

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