From the 1960s to the 1990s Easwaran gave regular talks to his students on subjects ranging from the mystics of all traditions, to practical everyday applications of his eight-point program. The BMCM has preserved an extensive archive of his audio and video recordings, and we’re pleased to offer access to this content through our new free resource, the Easwaran Digital Library.
“Class” With Easwaran – The Early Days
Night after night, in settings around the San Francisco Bay Area, Easwaran gave what his close students described as “class.” These early recordings already show Easwaran as a warm, engaging speaker with the ability to speak directly to the deepest needs of his audience.
Here one longtime passage meditator describes his experience as a young adult when he met Easwaran in the 1960s. He was listening to Easwaran speak at one of the first locations of the BMCM – 285 Lee Street in Oakland, California.
The room was in half-light, with thirty or forty people gathered around a formidably striking Indian in his mid-fifties, wearing a teal blue turtle-neck, and gray slacks, looking far more the Berkeley English professor than a teacher of meditation from the inscrutable East. He sat in a straight-backed armchair by the fireplace, reading aloud from a small paperback. You found a chair along the back wall, trying to look invisible, but noticed that the speaker had somehow managed, between one word and another, to make you feel welcomed.
Of what might he have spoken that first night? What words would draw you back to the elegant old home on Lee Street, again and then again, until your life had begun to form itself around them?
Perhaps he spoke of the inestimable gift of being human – “It’s taken millions of years to evolve this human form!” Or of a goal beyond success and pleasure. Or of the spiritual treasure that lies in the depths of the human personality – beyond the body and the senses and the mind, beyond even death itself.
He would not have judged. “This is a come as you are party,” you would hear him repeat over the years. “Start where you are.” You did not have to quit your job, leave your family, withdraw to a mountaintop. He hadn’t. There would have been no dogma, no injunctions. “Don’t take my word for it. Test it in your own experience.”At the end he gave instructions in meditation, and then the parlor was darkened, and you would have closed your eyes and tried to meditate for the first time, wondering with alarm at the continuing clatter of distractions you found within.
And when class was over? It is difficult to say. Something had changed. No, you realized, walking through the Oakland streets back to the bus stop – something was the same again. As your bus drifted through the corridor of darkened shops towards Berkeley, you noticed forming within yourself a faint pressure of recognition. Something that had been forgotten for some years was struggling to be remembered. But it wasn’t until you had stepped out under the trees along College Avenue, and started for home, that you found its name.
It was hope. And you began to feel it swelling within you, like spring water rising. The lights of the bus dissolved into the night as you began to understand that this treasure that had been lost, had just been returned.
Easwaran Digital Library: “Class” for the Future
After Easwaran shed his body in 1999, a priority of the work at the BMCM has been to help Easwaran’s audience find ways to connect directly with him and his teachings. In his typically direct fashion, Easwaran left clear guidance:
“I have said many times that Saint Francis lives in the words of his prayer. Gandhi may be said to live in the second chapter of the Gita, on which he based his life. Similarly, you can say that I live in my eight-point program, and I can assure you that I live in my audio and video recordings for those who are practicing my method of meditation to the best of their ability and following the instructions faithfully with an open heart.”
Providing the worldwide community of passage meditators with direct access to Easwaran’s teachings has been a strategic priority of the BMCM over the past years. We’re pleased to say that the Easwaran Digital Library is now live, and available free of charge.
The Library is an easy-to-use platform offering rich video and audio talks previously unavailable to our worldwide audience. In these talks, Easwaran is speaking to his close students about the teachings of the mystics, spiritual living, and his own eight-point program of passage meditation.
The talks have been curated to cover Easwaran’s signature themes across all the different decades of his teaching and new content is published every two weeks.
Building the Digital Library
Building the Library has been no small task! It's required the hard work of a worldwide team of BMCM staff, volunteers, and expert professionals, as well as the generosity of our kind donors to get us to where we are today.
In 2014 the team built the first Library prototype, and in mid 2015 launched a pilot for a small group of testers. At the end of the pilot the team examined what they’d learned from both a user and administrative perspective, and set about making version 2.0.
The challenge for the next couple of years was to build new features to help users engage easily with the content, and technical capabilities to automate the loading of new content, so that we now have the current version which is available to all.
The Library has relied on the efforts of many passage meditators – here are some of their reflections on being part of this project:
I have received many, many benefits from Easwaran’s eight-point program over the years, so I’m very happy to be able to make a small contribution back to the BMCM by participating in projects like the Digital Library. Also, I’m glad that the Library will make more of Easwaran’s talks available to meditators all over the world.
For myself, I’ve found the Digital Library to be a source of fresh inspiration for my practice of the eight points. It’s a delightful combination of satsang (with Easwaran and with others who are watching the videos) and spiritual reading (inspiration and instruction directly from Easwaran).
During this project I felt constantly that I was standing on so many other shoulders because the earlier team (who had implemented the first version of Library) had learned a lot! Our team (for this second version) was distributed internationally and was fabulous to work with – our interactions were slowed down and completely sincere. When a family emergency arose, I felt completely supported as I handed over my assignments so I could direct my attention where it was needed. As I reconnected with the project I discovered that my best contribution was to represent the needs of one community to another – whether I was speaking on behalf of the technical team or the users or the administrator of the backend. This has taught me a lot about speaking up for the needs of the whole.
This was my first project where other programmers did most of the work, and I played a supervisory role. There were a lot of communication issues, especially in the beginning, and I had to spend a lot of time explaining things that to me seemed obvious. Instead of getting frustrated, I took these opportunities to practice techniques I had learned in my practice: one-pointed attention, mantram, seeing myself in others, doing my best while staying detached from the results, etc. Not only did they work great in this project, but I found that they were easier to use in other potentially-frustrating situations as well.
For my own practice, there have been a couple of days during this project that I felt unusually stressed and down, and both times I took some time to watch a library video. Surprisingly, even though a particular video's topic seemed irrelevant to my problems, Easwaran's advice about it somehow seemed to apply to my situation as well. I felt a lot calmer, happier, and energized after watching the videos.
Easwaran Digital Library enables me to be with Sri Easwaran and draw inspiration from him on a daily basis right from my meditation room. I usually write down one or two of his messages from a talk that struck me deeply and reflect on those notes once in a while. It is always amazing to see how relevant his messages are to me and how many of those things I can incorporate into my daily life to deepen my practice. Listening to Sri Easwaran on a regular basis is certainly an important part of my spiritual activities and it keeps me on the sadhana track. Thank you BMCM for making this treasure available for remote aspirants.
Subscribe to the Easwaran Digital Library
We encourage you to learn more about the Library, sign up, and dive right in to Easwaran’s talks – you can watch and listen to them as much or as little as you like. We hope that as many people as possible will make use of this unique new resource!
You may also want to explore the full range of our free audio and video options – we have offerings that support everyone from first-time visitors to longtime meditators.
There is something unique about learning from Easwaran via audio or video, as well as reading his books or articles. By exploring Easwaran’s teachings through all these different media, we have the opportunity to absorb his inspiration at a deep level. In these talks he urges us gently, but insistently, to keep striving on the spiritual path, deepening our practice and being of service to the world around us.
We’ll leave you with this powerful message from Easwaran:
“I am with you always. It does not require my physical presence; it requires your open heart.”