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!
right, meditation is usually the
answer. Does that mean you have to work to keep the material from feeling
repetitive or rote?
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
do you choose which excerpts go in the journal?
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.
is quite a process! Is there anything else you’d like to share about it?
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.