In the New Testament there is a small story in which Jesus and a Samarian woman chat beside a well. In later describing Jesus to the people of her town, she says, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.” Easwaran’s teachings often remind me of this description. To me, Easwaran is the teacher who’s told me everything I need ever do. With every step I’ve followed of his eight-point program, I’ve never been led astray; I’ve only been led into fuller joy and peace.
From early in my life I was internally driven to give my very best. Until my mid-twenties, however, my very best was given to all the wrong things: as Easwaran lists them, prestige, power, pleasure. It was after my latest and greatest sorrow from this misdirection that I received Easwaran’s book, Words to Live By, from my sister. Since then, the slow process of redirecting myself along the path of the eight-point program has changed everything in my life for the better.
This previous misdirection of my vitality was noticed by a university professor and close spiritual friend of mine. She wrote me at my convocation: Don’t be a great man; be a good man.
She is now the godmother of our eldest daughter, which is fitting given that family life is where I’ve found the perfect space to put Easwaran’s eight points to work. I never fathomed the joy I know now of family life, of the minute-to-minute demands I now know to be an endless string of opportunities to slowly extinguish my selfishness. There is much joy in meeting these demands: in preparing breakfast quietly each morning, in packing my wife a lunch on the days she leaves for work, in paying close attention to our daughters’ stories and questions, in baking bread and delivering it to a neighbour.