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5 Questions That Help Us Wake Up.... PDF Print E-mail

5 Questions That Help Us Wake Up…

Trying to push away our emotional distress can throw us into “cognitive shock” that turns our mind into a muddle.  Ezra Bayda1 shares five simple questions to help us cut though confusion.

On a recent trip to Alcatraz prison I had the fascinating experience of walking through the halls, standing in the cells, and imagining what it would be like to be confined there.  Before Alcatraz was closed as a functioning prison, it was unique in that it kept all of its prisoners isolated in solitary cells.  I heard the story of one prisoner, who when put into a pitch-black solitary cell as punishment, ripped a button off his shirt and threw it in the air.  He would then get on his knees and look for it, then throw it again—just to avoid going crazy in the dark.

This example may sound like it has nothing to do with us, but the fact is we all have our own ways of avoiding the dark, and our own strategies for throwing buttons.  They may look more sane and more productive, but they’re still attempts to push away our difficulties.

Likes and Dislikes PDF Print E-mail

Likes and Dislikes

Years ago I asked a six-year-old friend, “If God should appear to you, what would you ask him for?”

Josh replied immediately, “To make me a football star.”

“And suppose he said, ‘Josh, I’ll do that, but only if you eat your zucchini’?”

There was a long pause; I could see the titanic struggle going on in that young chest. Finally Josh said in agonized tones, “Thank you, Lord – but no.”

As grown-ups, we smile at the idea of a life aspiration being nipped in the bud by a harmless squash. But likes and dislikes go deep. Beneath the surface of the mind lies a propensity for passing judgment on anything and everything that comes to our attention: tastes, colors, objects, opinions, and – naturally – other people.



Last Updated on Monday, 07 June 2010 21:50
Devotion to the Mystic Adept PDF Print E-mail

Devotion to the Mystic Adept
by Lekh Raj Puri

Devotion to the Mystic Adept.  Now the question arises, whom should we love?  Whom should we give our devotion?  Why should we love the Mystic Adept1, and not any other person?  First of all, it is plain that unless we consider another person superior to us, we cannot learn from him.  We must have regard for him, and the more we respect and look up to him, the quicker and better do we learn.  This is a great principle.  Now the highest form of regard is devotion; therefore if we are devoted to the Mystic Adept, we shall easily and quickly learn the method of ‘Mystic Transport’ from him.

Moreover, when we love some man, we tend to become like him.  In the long run, we are transformed after the person whom we most strongly love.  Therefore if we love the Mystic Adept deeply and give him our devotion, we are bound to become Mystics ourselves and be united with God. 


Last Updated on Thursday, 20 May 2010 21:17
Stormy Seas PDF Print E-mail

Stormy Seas

by Eknath Easwaran


My first encounter with an ocean storm came on my passage from India to the U.S. on the Fulbright exchange program. I sailed from Bombay on an ancient P&O liner that had been in service before the First World War. There were no luxuries, but I enjoyed the trip because of the variety of passengers – from empire builders to scholars from the Far East – and the ever-changing beauty of the sea.

But July in the Arabian Sea is monsoon season, and three or four days out our little ship began to be tossed like a toy by winds and rain.

A storm is a great equalizer. All distinctions of class and color were swept away. Empire builders hung at the railings side by side with Asian academics, clutching identical brown bags. All of us cheered with relief when the weather passed and we were obliged to put in at Aden for repairs.  


Last Updated on Thursday, 20 May 2010 21:23
Tremendous Trifles PDF Print E-mail

Eknath Easwaran

Eknath Easwaran (1910-1999) is respected around the world as the originator of passage meditation and an authentic guide to timeless wisdom. His method is a practical approach that fits naturally into any faith, philosophy, or lifestyle, enabling us to bring universal ideals into daily life. Easwaran was a professor of English literature and well-known in India as a writer and speaker before coming to the U.S. in 1959 on the Fulbright exchange program. In 1961, while at the University of California at Berkeley, he founded the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, where he taught meditation and world mysticism for more than forty years. Although best known through his books — primarily his translations of the classics of Indian spirituality, The Bhagavad Gita, The Upanishads, and The Dhammapada, all bestsellers in their field—Easwaran personally touched the lives of thousands of people who have heard him speak. His work is carried forward through publications and programs offered by the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation in Tomales, California. www.easwaran.org.

Tremendous Trifles


In our lessons we’ll be examining the dynamics of such conscious choice-making, which involves several spiritual skills. One is memory, which allows us to remember our spiritual aspirations at the time we are making a choice. Another skill is to aim high – to keep our eyes on the long-term direction of our life. This enables us to direct our attention more to how we act rather than what we’ll get from our action. And the third skill is to learn to forget ourselves – to look past the little ups and downs, cravings, and irritations that swirl around our self-will, so as to better understand and love the people around us.

As we acquire these three skills we start to see opportunities everywhere, and the trifling occurrences of life reveal a tremendous capacity for satisfaction and joy.

The movie Murder by Death, a spoof with some of fiction’s most famous detectives, opens with a strange scene. Alec Guinness, a favorite of mine, plays an old, blind butler who comes in with a sheaf of envelopes to which he must affix stamps. He puts the envelopes to one side, and the camera, with surrealistic flair, shows only a wide-open mouth with the tongue sticking out. Up comes the hand with the stamps one by one and one by one the tongue licks the stamps and the hand returns to stick them to the envelopes. We hear the fist pounding lightly to make sure each stamp is secure. Then, after the entire sheaf has been gone through, the camera backs up and we see all the stamps – carefully affixed to the desk.


All of us are capable of this if we do not pay attention to little things. Don’t you have a saying that if we take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves? It may sound trite, yet even people with the best of intentions and the soundest of plans often fail because they overlook details that turn out to matter. If you want to see someone who will succeed, watch for the rare man or woman who takes pains over each small step. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 May 2010 21:24
Swimming Against The Current PDF Print E-mail

Gems of Wisdom

Eknath Easwaran 

Swimming Against the Current


The village in South India where I grew up didn’t have swimming pools, but we had something better: a river. And I don’t mean a creek that you can jump across with the help of a pole. Ours was a broad, rushing torrent that would swell to full flood during the monsoon rains, when most young people took great delight in trying to swim against the turbulent currents that boiled over the riverbanks and swept downstream. The game was to see if you could make it to the other shore directly across from where you started rather than let the current carry you downstream.

It was hard; that was the challenge of it. I was a good swimmer, yet often I would finish up somewhere down the river. Two or three of my cousins, however, were particularly skilled at gauging the strength of the current. They would single out a rock or tree on the opposite bank to aim for, far upstream, and then plunge in and swim for all they were worth. For every stroke they took, the river would take two – but if they had gauged the current correctly, they would climb out on the opposite shore precisely across from they started. Occasionally an alligator or two would get mixed up in the proceedings, and some of the slowest swimmers would put on sudden spurts of speed.





Last Updated on Thursday, 20 May 2010 21:03