meditation mid-life, while he was teaching on a college campus in central
India. In the midst of a successful career he found himself haunted by age-old
questions: Why am I here? What is life
for? What will happen when I die?
Meanwhile in a few short months he lost two people
passionately dear to him: Mahatma Gandhi, whom he’d visited in his ashram, and his
beloved grandmother, who was his spiritual teacher. Finally he came home one
day to find his dog had been killed by a passing truck, and his sense of loss
would not subside. His dog stood for death itself, for all who had passed away.
“Almost instinctively,” Easwaran said, “I went to my room
and picked up my Gita, most of which I knew by heart. I closed my eyes, and as
I began to repeat the verses silently to myself, the words opened up and took
me deep, deep in.”
Over the next weeks
he continued in the same way, seated in silence in the early morning. His
meditation practice had begun.
Still leading a full life at the university, Easwaran looked
for guidance in this new inner world. He read the Upanishads, Patanjali, the
Catholic mystics, the Buddhist scriptures, the poetry of the Sufis. In addition
to his Bhagavad Gita, he found passages for meditation from every major
spiritual tradition. Some of the mystics he studied had chosen not to retire
into monasteries but, like himself, to seek the spiritual path in the midst of
In meditation, he found a deep connection between the wisdom
in the passages and the way he conducted himself throughout the day. It was a
thrilling discovery. “The passages were lifelines, guiding me to the source of
wisdom deep within and then guiding me back into daily life.”
Years passed, and Easwaran’s inner and outer life became
richer and more challenging as his meditation deepened.
In 1959 he came to the US on the Fulbright scholarship and lectured
widely on the spiritual heritage of India. Some students were eager to learn
about meditation, and Easwaran loved teaching. He developed a simple, effective
eight-point program of passage meditation based on his own spiritual experience.
Thousands of people of all ages and backgrounds now follow this program all
around the world.