At first I was put off by Eknath Easwaran’s Passage Meditation. The prose was too anecdotal, the advice too simple. The book was for beginners. Didn’t I already know all of this? I wanted the answers to my deeper questions, not a parable on the hectic pace of life.
But because I promised my meditation teacher I would finish the book, I continued to read. And once I tucked my ego and arrogance away (and admitted I am a beginner!) I discovered that this book is a gem of subtle yet powerful insights.
Embracing a daily meditation practice requires discipline that, quite honestly, isn’t easy for me to summon. I keep trying. There are rare mornings when finding my seat and watching my breath feels like my natural state. As if this is how it has always been and always will be. On most mornings, however, the clarity and stillness I’m looking for spends most of the thirty minutes competing with random thoughts about clients, classes and topics for my next blog post. On these days I sit, I breathe, I wait and then, when the timer sounds, I smile. Have I failed? No. I showed up. And as long as I continue to show up I know that eventually the days I feel meditation is my natural state will outnumber the days when stillness has to compete with my chattering mind.
Tonight I was reading about the power of thoughts and control of the senses. Easwaran writes that this is our goal:
When we stimulate the senses unduly, vitality flows out through them like water from a leaky pail, leaving us drained physically, emotionally and spiritually. Those who indulge themselves in sense stimulation throughout their lives often end up exhausted, with an enfeebled will and little capacity to love others. But when we train the senses we conserve our vital energy, the very stuff of life. Patient and secure within we do not have to look to externals for satisfaction. No matter what happens outside – whether events are for or against us, however people behave towards us, whether we get what pleases us or do not – we are in no way dependent.
Then it is that we can give freely to others; then it is that we can love.
Initially I thought I’d write that Passage Meditation is a simple book. It feels like a simple book. But once the heart and mind are open to its teaching, it becomes a rich and layered set of ideas that will move us forward in our practice.