Thursday, March 11, 2010

Learn Passage Meditation : Eknath Easwaran

Eknath Easwaran is well known as a spiritual teacher and the author of books on meditation and how to lead a fulfilling life, as well as a translator and interpreter of Indian literature. Eknath Easwaran was influenced by Gandhi, whom Easwaran met when he was a young man. Easwaran developed a method of meditation — silent repetition in the mind of memorized inspirational passages from the world's great religions — which later came to be known as Passage Meditation.

Practiced for one-half hour daily on first arising, meditation on a passage is the first point in Easwaran’s eight point program of Passage Meditation for drawing spiritual ideals into every aspect of daily life:
  1. Meditation on a passage
  2. Repetition of a mantras (mantra, or prayer word)
  3. Slowing down
  4. One-pointed attention
  5. Training the senses
  6. Putting others first
  7. Spiritual fellowship
  8. Spiritual reading
Meditation on a passage involves silent, focused repetition during meditation of memorized selections from scriptures of the world and writings of great mystics. According to Easwaran, the practice of meditating on a specific passage of text (Easwaran suggests the Prayer of Saint Francis or Psalm 23 as examples) has the effect of eventually transforming "character, conduct, and consciousness." The term passage is chosen to describe a spiritually-inspired text that one meditates on, during an extended period of time set aside for meditation, as compared to a mantras (or mantra)
Repetition of a mantras, Easwaran describes a mantras as a short, powerful spiritual formula which can be repeated, at any time during the day or night, to call up the best and deepest in ourselves, and help to slow down, to become more one-pointed, and to put others first. Recommended Mantras. The Gandhi's Mantra, which transformed Eknath is

Hare Rama Hare Rama 
Rama Rama Hare Hare 
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna 
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare

He says "the sweetest sound I have ever heard, and it echoes in my consciousness strongly still"
Slowing Down is an important spiritual discipline. Living faster and faster gives no time for inner reflection or sensitivity to others, making our lives tense, insecure, inefficient, and superficial. Slowing down helps achieve freedom of action, good relations with others, health and vitality, calmness of mind, and the ability to grow.
One-pointed attention helps to unify consciousness and deepen concentration. Training the mind to give full attention to one thing at a time, whether it is in science or the arts or sports or a profession, is a basic requirement for achieving a goal.
Training the senses means freeing the mind from the tyranny of likes and dislikes so as to “live in freedom”, “live intentionally”
Putting others first. Dwelling on ourselves builds a wall between ourselves and others. Those who keep thinking about their needs, their wants, their plans, their ideas, cannot help becoming lonely and insecure. As human beings, it is our nature to be part of a whole, to live in a context where personal relationships are supportive and close.
Spiritual Fellowship with people whose companionship is elevating, and working together for a selfless goal without expecting any reward or recognition, augment and enhance the individual’s capacities.
Spiritual Reading Mystical literature differs from other forms of writing in that as our understanding deepens, we draw more from it.The spiritual life is so arduous, so challenging, that it can be likened to an ascent up a lofty and noble mountain. We start from the plains – we might even say Death Valley – and slowly, very slowly, work our way up.
Easwaran says that the eight points, though they may at first seem unrelated, are closely linked. “Quieting your mind in morning meditation, for instance, will help your efforts to slow down at work, and slowing down at work will, in turn, improve your meditation…. Unless you practice all of them, you cannot progress safely and far" .
Passage Meditation does not require adherence to any particular religion or belief.

Read Full Instruction to "Passage Meditation".