Eknath Easwaran’s book Passage Meditation: Bringing the Deep Wisdom of the Heart into Daily Life is a kind, thoughtful guide to meditation for beginners and more experienced practitioners alike. Mr. Easwaran takes the tone of a helpful friend and mentor; the book is an easy read that makes meditation seem doable.
Mr. Easwaran starts by discussing the many benefits of meditation, describing how he came to meditation in the first place as a busy young professor at a university in India. He then details his method for meditation: in essence, to find a passage from spiritual literature that appeals to you and touches you deeply, to memorize that passage, and then to repeat it, word by word, in your mind during your meditation practice. Remembering each word of the passage gives your mind something to focus on. In addition, Mr. Easwaran believes that we are what we think about, and if you spend time thinking about an inspiring passage, that passage will become part of your consciousness, enabling you to become a better person.
You could probably start practicing this simple passage meditation technique just based on my description above, but Mr. Easwaran’s book is so finely written and so pleasant to read that I recommend it strongly. The rest of the book discusses the benefits of a personal mantra in daily life and of slowing down instead of racing through each day; Easwaran also talks about improving concentration and training the senses (pratyahara), and other just good ideas for spiritual practice, such as putting others first and finding companions to practice with.
Not since reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s Peace is Every Step have I been able to recommend a book of spiritual instruction so highly. I loved this book. It is appropriate for any spiritual seeker regardless of religious tradition, as Mr. Easwaran is conscientious about using inclusive language and making his meditation techniques accessible to all. Mr. Easwaran is well read in the religious scriptures of many traditions and recommends spiritual passages from writers as diverse as St. Teresa of Avila to the Buddha. I highly look forward to reading more of Mr. Easwaran’s work.