Sharing Easwaran in Japan

By Kimiko

Stories From Meditators

Kimiko is a passage meditator living in Japan. She describes her experience of meeting Easwaran in person, and how her enthusiasm for the eight-point program prompted her to translate Easwaran's wisdom into Japanese.

How it Began

It was twenty-some years ago when I first attended a BMCM retreat and met Sri Easwaran. Without knowing much about the Meditation Center or even Sri Easwaran, I boldly decided to go to California and meet the author of two books I had read a few months before. One of them was Meditation; the other was Take Your Time, which particularly spoke to my heart. I felt as if Easwaran was speaking to me directly, and I recognized many examples of how the pace of my life was affecting me. The book encouraged me greatly to find good ways to make my life better.

Meeting Sri Easwaran was truly an awesome experience. Despite his ill health, he met all of the participants, showed great interest in what we had to say, and poured so much love onto us. Just seeing him helped to dispel all my futile questions. But one remained: “How can I be like him?” With this first meeting, my pilgrimages to the BMCM began. Until he shed his body in 1999, my secret intention of visiting the Center every year was to see him; the retreats were completely secondary. His bottomless love filled my heart, healed some unknown deep-seated problems, and guided me to lead a much happier and more meaningful life. He totally changed my attitude toward living. Even after he shed his body, there is no change in his presence. I know that he is still here with us and guiding us.

I feel deeply fortunate to be able to have found such a wonderful spiritual teacher. Because of the Zen tradition in Japan, I was quite open to “meditation” and actually had been attending Zen sessions in some temples before. But when I heard Sri Easwaran’s explanation, “we become what we meditate on,” some of the ambiguity that I was struggling with concerning meditation disappeared. It made such good sense to me that we can eventually change our life by sending positive words deep into our consciousness. His systematic method for transforming ourselves with the eight-point program really appealed to me. After many years of practice, although I am still loaded with many duties, compared to before, I feel I have much better control over what I’m doing. Meditation gives me skills to accept life’s challenges with a more calm and detached manner. It certainly is making my mind work much slower under harder circumstances.

Spiritual Companionship & the Language Barrier

Little by little, but seemingly naturally, the idea came to me to introduce Sri Easwaran’s teachings to the Japanese people. I was sure that the practicality and universality of his teachings would appeal to anyone, regardless of nationality. Besides that, by sharing his teachings I wanted to build a base for spiritual companionship.

As my desire to share his teachings with others became more serious, my aspiration to hold a satsang became stronger. However, there was a big barrier in doing so: none of his books had yet been translated into Japanese; added to that, not many people felt easy reading or listening to English. This was true of myself actually. When I read his books or watched the video talks, I often realized that his words slipped away from my understanding; I was missing some important messages (in truth, even now!) So, in order to comprehend his words correctly, I began to translate his books into Japanese mostly for my own study.

Coincidently, there appeared a small group of people who were interested in meditation. Knowing that I was doing this seriously, they asked me to teach them the way I was following. It gave me an excellent opportunity to introduce Sri Easwaran’s method of meditation and the allied disciplines. Passage meditation was quite new to everyone, so along with the translation of Chapter I of Passage Meditation, I added some basic passages from God Makes the Rivers to Flow for them. Also, for the “inspirational reading,” I chose one book at a time and prepared each month a handout of usually one chapter per gathering. When we finish that book, I choose the next one. This method fills the years with true spiritual progress. This was the beginning of our satsangs.

With the passage of time, for one reason or another, one group would dissolve and a new one would arise, all in the course I feel of natural development. In fact, there have been many ups and downs: sometimes I have to deal with people who have quite different expectations, or who want to follow different meditation methods. At other times, I feel I’m too busy to prepare a text, or think that it is difficult to travel a long distance to a satsang venue. But in the end, it is really important for me and others to have satsangs. Having spiritual companionship is an essential part of the practice. Even if there is only one person present, it is a precious experience for both of us. Organizing satsangs have given me strength to go forward. I have learned how to obtain the important sense of detachment. 

Kimiko visiting Ramagiri Ashram during a retreat in Tomales, California.

Publishing Sri Easwaran’s Books In Japan

One of the most fantastic side-products of our satsang, though indirectly, has been the publishing of Sri Easwaran’s books in Japan in Japanese. Over the years I have translated many of his books for our satsang inspirational readings. Of these, three books have now actually been published so far: Take Your Time (2001), Undiscovered Country (2011) and Gandhi the Man (2013). (43,000 copies of Take Your Time have been printed.) All these books were very well received, making Sri Easwaran’s name better known especially among spiritually-minded aspirants. There are many more translations ready to be published whenever the appropriate publisher shows interest. They include the very essential books such as Strength in the Storm, Mantram Handbook and Words to Live By.

Needless to say, translating these has helped me a great deal to understand his teachings more accurately and much, much deeper. In order to make the original texts into sensible Japanese, I often have to search for some connecting background philosophy, history or tradition, and learn to read between the lines. But the most important thing is to convey his humor and loving spirit. It is indeed a very challenging and time-consuming work. Whenever I find some free time, I work on his books. This, of course, is the most joyful, satisfying, and honorable thing to do. I feel I am so blessed to have such opportunities. In the meantime, I have been constantly trying to find publishers, not an easy task, particularly in these digital days. Nevertheless, this can’t be any reason to stop working on his books. Without thinking about the results of my labor, I just want to keep doing my job.

A New Development

Presently, our current satsang is very small, consisting of only four individuals. All of them are very eager and steady in practice. The most gladdening development is that one member has volunteered to translate our next spiritual reading material. Because of her own long religious background, she is interested in Buddhist texts and has chosen to work on Essence of Dhammapada. As we have just finished reading The Mantram Handbook, we will start to use her translation from this coming month. I am very excited about this development. I hope eventually more and more people will be involved in spreading Sri Easwaran’s teachings in this manner. I sincerely hope our satsang will become the core for this mighty spiritual endeavor.