Timeless Wisdom for Today

The Blue Mountain Journal


At the BMCM, we are always looking for ways to help our worldwide community access Easwaran’s teachings and put his timeless wisdom into practice in our modern world. The Blue Mountain Journal is an invaluable resource that provides our audience with a new, curated set of Easwaran’s writings, twice a year.

This week we’ve interviewed Sue, the head of the BMCM Editorial Team to learn more about the process of curating the journal, and to hear about the brand new journal edition available in May 2017.

BMCM Team:

Hi Sue, thanks for chatting with us. To start, what exactly does it mean to be an editor for the journal?

Editorial Team:

Great question! Some people think that being an editor means that you spend your time writing, and there are times in the BMCM when we do write, or, more often, support our colleagues with their writing.

But with the Blue Mountain Journal, our goal is solely to share Easwaran’s teachings. The writing comes from Easwaran, not from us, so this means that the role of the journal editor is primarily about curation.

BMCM Team: 

That’s interesting. What do you mean that it’s a curation role?  And where do you start? 

Editorial Team:

You have to dive deeply into Easwaran’s teachings and spend time immersed in his words. You have to be very familiar with his writings – and love all his books and talks. So along with the rest of the work, longtime practice of the eight points is absolutely necessary for anyone working in the BMCM Editorial Team. 

And then you’ve also got to have a sense of what people want to read about. When we begin working on a journal we start by identifying a key question – something we hear coming up repeatedly in retreats, or online programs, or in messages written to the BMCM from our worldwide community. My BMCM colleagues will often share something they’re hearing, some hot topic. I’m also lucky enough to have some great Editorial Team members – Stephanie in California, Hasmita in India, and Kirsten in Australia – so we discuss themes, too. 

We then take our key question, as it were, to Easwaran. What would he say to our readers? He’s told us that he lives on in his books, his eight-point program, and his talks, so with the question as our lens, we turn to the archives and read through early journals, the Little Lamps (which came before the journal), Easwaran’s books, notes, his talks, and so on.

BMCM Team: 

So what was the question for this upcoming journal edition? 

Editorial Team:

The world has been going through a great deal of turmoil, and friends of the BMCM have been writing in and asking how they should respond. So the question was something like: How do you hold to your spiritual principles and live out your responsibilities as a citizen of the world? And this includes questions such as: How do you live out your high ideals under the pressures of modern society? How do you work for peace? How do you deal with your own anger, when you see injustice?

Our goal is always to give readers both inspiration and practical tips on these themes. Of course, this is where Easwaran is so brilliant.

BMCM Team: 

When you go through the archives, what exactly are you looking for? 

Editorial Team:

Before I took on this role, I was privileged to spend time with two senior editors who compiled Easwaran’s books under close supervision from Easwaran and Christine, and one of the many things they taught me was to keep an open heart and mind throughout this process. So although at this stage we may have a good idea of the main themes we’re researching, there are always some surprises. You may not quite find the answers you expect, or even that you want.

Easwaran is a living teacher in this sense: he has a message he wants to share and it’s our job to bring forward his words. We have to trust he knows what we need to hear.  

Our first step is to look for recurring messages: what is it that Easwaran wants us to keep uppermost in our minds? It’s so easy (and understandable) to get agitated by events in the news, but Easwaran directs our attention to the timeless wisdom that will always help us, always guide and support us, no matter what’s happening.

 So with this most recent journal, we looked at material that he wrote around the time of other major political events. We saw over and over that he came back to Gandhi as a spiritual example. He kept reminding us to never to let go of our highest ideals, to keep our eyes on the unity of life, and to keep the needs of the whole in mind. So these were some of the themes that came into the journal.

And the underlying practical advice was: meditate, transform your anger, be kind. No surprises there. As always, Easwaran’s focus is on meditation – it’s usually the answer!

BMCM Team: 

You’re right, meditation is usually the answer. Does that mean you have to work to keep the material from feeling repetitive or rote? 

Editorial Team:

Isn’t that interesting? If you look at Easwaran’s writings, his answer to any dilemma, personal or global, is so often to put your meditation first, deepen your meditation, and repeat your mantram. It’s a very consistent spiritual message. Because Easwaran is speaking from a place of such spiritual depth, he’s always holding the supreme goal in front of us, and in that sense his message can look the same.

But equally, as a master teacher, Easwaran is so skilled at keeping us engaged and entertained. He’s constantly looking for everyday situations that he can use to illustrate his spiritual perspective, like the story of the surfers. In this upcoming journal, you’ll find his anecdote about how he helped a bear. So he gives us timeless teachings, presented with endless variety.

BMCM Team: 

How do you choose which excerpts go in the journal? 

Editorial Team:

One of our core editorial principles is to present Easwaran’s words “unmixed, unfiltered, and undiluted.” The journal, and, for that matter, all our presentations of Easwaran’s words in the BMCM, must be an accurate representation of what he said and how he taught.

This means that we are extremely careful how we put excerpts together. The content for the journal does come from different sources, in order for the journal to be fresh and relevant for our readers, but we edit and compile the excerpts very carefully. When the journal draft has been completed, we have an internal review process across the organization with longtime meditators and students of Easwaran who check that the journal still authentically represents Easwaran. We ask friends who are newer to the practice to look the journal over to ensure that it’s fresh and appealing to new audiences.

We also try to balance up the different kinds of material, to reflect Easwaran’s teaching style. So we present the main themes, and include some of his loftiest teachings, but we combine these with his stories, practical tips, and the passages he chose for meditation. This time we have also asked some longtime meditators to share their responses to Easwaran’s teachings and show us the ways in which he’s inspiring them right now, around the world, to make their own contributions to society.

BMCM Team:

This is quite a process! Is there anything else you’d like to share about it? 

Editorial Team:

Yes. It is a lot of work, but it’s a huge privilege, and it’s so valuable to my own spiritual practice. There’s always something I keep with me after finishing a journal – something I keep in my heart. I’m always asking myself what I’ve learned, and what I can do differently. I look at my own practice and see places where I can improve.

 For example in this current journal, there’s a piece where Easwaran talks about negative discrimination, and what we can do about it. He writes that “separating people on the basis of superficial differences – race, religion, gender, age – is a kind of optical delusion. Discriminating against others on any pretense whatever shows a defect in our vision.” And he goes on to remind us that “the greatest service any of us can render is to correct people’s vision – not by preaching, but by personal example.”

This message has stuck with me.

The cover of the Spring/Summer 2017 journal, to be published in May 2017.

BMCM Team: 

What a powerful excerpt. Would you share another excerpt from the journal? 

Editorial Team:

I’d be happy to. Here’s the final section from Easwaran, titled “Ideals Are Living Forces.”

From Easwaran:

If there is one thing I would say to the young people of the world, it is this: don’t ever lose your ideals. Time has a subtle way of stealing them when you least expect it. Nothing matters so much as keeping the flame alive.

Yet for all of us there is hope. I know from my own experience that it is possible to rekindle that flame, even after the rough winds of life have reduced it to a flicker. It is possible, by the light of that ideal, to make a significant contribution to the health of the world.

To me, ideals are not vague, abstract concepts, but living forces. People who have the daring and determination to live out their ideals release a tremendous beneficial power into their lives, and that power will begin to transform the world we live in. It doesn’t so much call for great acts of heroism as for a continuing, persistent effort to transform ill will into good will, self-interest into compassion.

Remember, when we sit down to meditate in the morning, we are not just remaking ourselves. We are remaking our families, our community, our nation, and, in the end, our entire world.