In September, the BMCM released a new edition of Easwaran's flagship book, Passage Meditation. Our BMCM News team interviewed Duncan and Sue, the husband and wife team who head up our press and editorial departments, and asked them about this latest edition and the new content it offers.
Why Is There a New Edition?
Passage Meditation is Easwaran’s most important instructional book, and it’s also the way in which many people first find out about passage meditation. But the book originally came out in 1978, and in the decades that followed Easwaran spoke a lot more about meditation and spiritual living, answering questions from close students and from retreatants.
We felt that everyone would benefit from reading Easwaran’s answers to some of those questions, and that now would be a good time to share this material in a new edition.
What Is Different About This Edition?
The biggest change internally is that the book has been extended by over thirty percent with material from question and answer sessions at retreats and talks. Some of the questions are short, practical requests for clarification. Others are more searching, with longer answers from Easwaran.
If you’ve been reading all the Q&A sections of the Blue Mountain Journal over the last four years then you will have seen some of this material. But we felt it would help Easwaran’s readers to have the most important questions and answers collected together in one book, arranged logically by point for easy reference.
Are There Other Changes Internally?
The first six chapters of the book have remained largely unchanged. Chapters seven and eight, “Spiritual Fellowship” and “Spiritual Reading” have been updated to include some of Easwaran’s teachings from after 1978.
We’ve also slightly rearranged the material at the start of the book, so that readers on a Kindle, for instance, would get to the instructions in meditation more quickly.
And What About the Cover?
We wanted a cover that would appeal to younger as well as older readers, to all genders, and to people from any spiritual tradition or none. We also wanted to express the seriousness and the calmness of our practice. So we asked a group of our Young Adults to join in a consultation exercise in which we showed them all kinds of different cover designs, before settling on one which we refined several times in response to feedback.
The design we agreed on is rather different from our other books: it is based on typography, with text rather than images, and the color is a calm blue-green. The cover has an unusual velvety finish that we hope will make people want to keep hold of the book once they have picked it up.
Is There a New eBook too?
Yes, and we also released an audiobook on audible.com at the same time as the print and ebooks. The audiobook is complete and unabridged, read by Paul Bazely. Paul is a student of Easwaran’s and a professional actor who has narrated our other audiobooks.
Can I Help With Promotion?
Sharing the book with friends, family, colleagues, sharing quotes and excerpts via social media – all these seemingly small acts can really make a difference. Anything you do at any time to share Easwaran’s wisdom in the world today can help in ways we can’t even predict. We’ve all experienced this, over and over.
What's Your Favorite Chapter of Passage Meditation?
Chapter 1: The instructions in meditation! They become more and more important the longer you meditate. They also make more and more sense – you appreciate the immense depth and practicality of Easwaran’s teachings. And we’ll now also be regularly re-reading the accompanying section on meditation in the questions and answers. There’s some amazing material there on how to deepen your practice.
And a Favorite Q&A Quote?
If we have to select one for right now, given the current situation in the world, it’s this from the new Q&A on meditation. The question is “Can my practice really help other people and not just myself?” Here’s an excerpt from Easwaran’s answer:
I have good reason to believe that even one person who meditates can influence everyone around. Even though we may not see it, the ripples of selfless work do spread. I feel I have concrete evidence now that even a few good, energetic, loving people practicing meditation will be able to bring about salutary changes in our country and our society very quietly, without claiming any credit at all.
Any Last Messages You’d Like to Share With the BMCM Community?
We’re so excited to share this keystone book with a new and growing international audience. It’s been a fantastic privilege to work on it. The Q&As will be a great resource for new and experienced meditators alike, and we hope the new cover will draw people to pick it up in a bookstore. Let us know what you think of the new edition – and do buy a few copies and share with friends!