Tag Archives: Eknath Easwaran

a happy story

I saw this picture on Facebook and the story behind it really touched my heart, and literally brought tears to my eyes.

This story is evidence of Eknath Easwaran‘s theory that people are inherently good. I really do truly believe that people aren’t born cruel. Just somewhere along the way they got influences in a negative direction. Everyone has the ability and power to be a positive individual in this universe.

Anyways, take a minute to read this story. Life is good y’all.

Taken from Aspberger Syndrome Awareness’s Facebook page:
In the small town of Braymer Missouri people were touched as they seen Courtney Cox and Kent Brown ride up to their proms grand march on scooters decorated with bright green and pink.. As they pulled up tears of joy was shed by the small community. Kent was a Senior that year and Courtney was a Braymer High School graduate from the year before. Kent was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome as a young child. Today he still enjoys the Power Rangers and riding scooters all around town. His senior year he had built up the courage and asked Courtney his crush all through Jr. High and high school to attend his senior prom with him. She right away said yes! Kent was so942361_387869307995542_343723899_n ecstatic when she said yes that he went around telling everyone he had seen. When the day for prom finally arrived Kent’s heart was full of flutters as he came to pick up Courtney with his brother so they could go to dinner before the grand march. Courtney came up with the perfect idea to have two scooters decorated to match their prom attire since that was one of Kent’s favorite things to do.. They took many of pictures for their family and friends then they were off to show the town their sweet rides as they passed by all the limousines and fancy cars on their scooters. When people realized what was happening they started clapping and cheering. That night not only did Courtney make Kent’s dream come true but he also gave her the best prom she could have ever asked for. That was memory that will forever be cherished by them and all their loved ones. This is a story that needed to be shared to everyone. It goes to show that no matter who you are and what disabilities you may have; dreams can always come true.

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5 ways to live simply

“It is exhilarating to be reminded here that the real meaning of simplicity is singling out what is worth living for, and then shaping our lives around what matters and letting go of everything else.” Eknath Easwaran

When I first started thinking of resolutions for the new year, habits that I wanted to instill, routines I wanted to make a part of my life, one of the first things that popped into my head was that I really want to live as much of a natural and organic lifestyle as possible. However, I didn’t really have a game plan to take on this challenge. I told myself I’d eat healthier and use reusable shopping bags as much as possible. Little did I know that living a natural life encompassed a lot more than just using reusable shopping bags.

Luckily as the year went on, I’ve had many an opportunity to learn more about living a natural life. I’ve met some pretty awesome people, and had conversations about living a simpler life, a no-impact life, a raw life, etc. The more I heard these words come up, the more I started to do research and reconfigure my idea of a “natural and organic life”.

I don’t think my answer was completely finished until I read the book Discovering Your Hidden Spiritual Resources by Eknath Easwaran. He has an entire chapter on living a simple life. I finally got it.

Living simply is more than just an external way of life; it starts with an internal attitude and a fresh perspective. I realized that I’m going to have to do a whole lot more than just eat organic and use reusable shopping bags. A simple life to me is about not being attached to all the things we surround ourselves with. Absolutely use all of the technological devices you have sitting around your house, but realize that at the end of the day that those things don’t define your status, they don’t define your well-being, and most importantly they don’t define you. Living simply is about having a positive outlook on life. There’s no point in wasting your time focusing in on the bad stuff that’s going around. In a simple life, the goal is to let go of our own egos, and begin to act and think from a place of pure love and compassion. Pay attention to the creations of this Earth. Eat healthy, use reusable shopping bags, love your friends and family, walk instead of drive—all of this is living simply.

Here are 5 easy ways to start living a simpler life:

  • Eat dinner at home. Make dinner at home and turn it into a family production. This way, you’re spending good, quality time with your loved ones, you are cooking yourself so you know exactly what’s going into your food (made at home meals tend to be a lot healthier than meals we eat at restaurants), and you’re not using your car.
  • Go for a walk. Spend time with Mother Nature, and take in the beauty this world has to offer. If you can, try to walk or use your bike instead of driving your car. This way, you’re getting exercise, and you start to appreciate the little beauties.
  • Volunteer. Giving back to the community that we live in is such a simple and easy way to show our gratefulness. It is also a great reminder to count our own blessings.
  • Recycle! Have you ever wondered what the Earth is going to look like in 20, 50, 100 years? Sometimes I’m scared to think about it. We have become so harsh to the planet that provides so much to us. Let’s start living a gentler life, and help Mother Earth as much as possible. Just think, our great, great, great, great grandchildren should be able to reap the benefits of this home as much as we do!
  • Meditate, Introspect, Journal. Okay, this is technically a 3-in-1, but they all do similar things, and that’s helping us get in touch with our true selves. When we spend a little time with ourselves, without distraction, we begin to dig deeper. We start to realize who we really are and what makes us, us. Give yourself a little self-love every now and then. We are all beautiful beings.

Book Review: Discovering Your Hidden Spiritual Resources (part 2)

So, thus begins part 2 of my book review for Eknath Easwaran‘s Discovering Your Hidden Spiritual Resources. In the first post, I talked about what the book is based off of. In this post, I want to explain his idea of original goodness via what he calls spiritual laws. These laws are the eight Beatitudes. Like I mentioned in part 1, there are some beatitudes that I want to discuss in detail, and I’ll get around to that at some point other than now.

Purity: We have put so many filters in our life, that we don’t see things as they really are. We see them through these filters, which is essentially distorting our view of the world and ourselves. We have to clean these panes, so that we are able to our true self, our core of goodness more clearly. These filters of feelings, memories, and desires have begun to dictate what we see, what we don’t see, and how we see it. We are basically creating images for ourselves that are not a true reflection of reality. What can we do to start cleansing ourselves mentally and spiritually so that we may become more pure, and truly have a vision filled with love? Meditation. Meditation is the first step to begin looking inward, and to see things as they really are. This will eventually give us the ability to “transform our personality from self-centered to selfless, from unconcerned to caring, eventually from human to divine.”

Humility: We have become so engrossed in doing things for ourselves. I have to go to school for my degree. This is my plan. This is my education, my job, my life, my family. Everything we talk about belongs to us apparently. Have we forgotten about the other individual? Are we essentially isolating ourselves from the rest of humanity by focusing on our personal needs all the time? Easwaran says yes, we are. “Asking life to make a selfish man happy is like asking a banana tree to give you mangoes.” We need to stop dwelling on our personal needs and benefits so that we can experience what true joy is. Here’s a reality check if I’ve ever heard one, “the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” Dang. How freaking true is this? I need to make my ego zero, because when it’s zero, God can fill that void with true love. How amazing does that sound? To be filled with pure love. How can I make myself zero? By losing myself in helping others, selflessly. That is the key here. Selfless vs. Selfish. “If you live today completely in love–hating no one, hurting no one, serving all–then tomorrow has to be good, whatever comes.”

Simplicity: Easwaran defines simplicity as “singling out what is worth living for, and then shaping our lives around what matters and letting go of everything else”. Do you have a list of things you are living for? If I had to think off the top of my head, my list would entail God, spirituality, family, and close friends that are basically family. Ask me if I’m willing to let go of everything else though. The answers no. Man, I have a lot of work to do still. He talks about how simple living is the art of using minimum means to attain maximum results; live gently. One way to do this is to realize that really nothing on this earth belongs to us personally, so we can look at things in a more simpler way. What is ours? “Simplifying your life then, does not mean cutting back on anything of value. It means learning the delicate artistry of making your every action count, taking notice of the needs of the whole.”

Patience: “Life is full of ups and downs. But you don’t have to go up and down with them. You can teach your mind to be calm and kind whatever comes.” Patience is something I’ve talked about before, and is a virtue that I need a lot of work in. Impatience can create a lot of negative energy in your life. Meditation is a tool that you can use to calm your mind, and truly create an inner peace. Impatience can bring stress into our lives, not that our lives can use any more of it. But, we have to learn to roll with what life gives us, and to remain calm in these situations. Again, something that I’m not always the best at. (No one’s perfect here!). Personally, after doing the 10-day vipassana course, I am trying to approach life in a very neutral manner, so that when I do act, my actions are coming from a truly pure and compassionate place. This is really important with patience, and I definitely agree with Easwaran that meditation is the key to creating a calm and patient mind and soul.

Love: “Love is a full-time occupation, a continuous state of mind.”  What kind of love is Easwaran talking about in this chapter? It’s really normal for us to separate love into different aspects. The love you have for your friend is different than the love you have for your family which is different than the love you have for your significant other. But, if we look at the root of all those relationships…what is the commonality in them? Love; the kind of love that we would be willing to do anything for those people because we truly love them. Easwaran points out that love is being able to still be kind to someone after they’ve blatantly been mean to us. Love is going through the rough times with another individual, and being that support during that period. Love takes endurance. But, I think the most profound thing that he points out, is that we claim to love God. But, how can we love this Being who is the epitome of selfless love, when we can’t even love another individual selflessly? We want to have a selfless relationship with God, but when do we go to him? When we want to pass a test, or make it through something. That’s anything but selfless. We have to first learn to love another individual in the purest definition of love before we can even begin to love God. Woah. Anyone else beginning to think that they have a lot to work on?

Mercy: I think that I can summarize this entire chapter into these words: “As we sow, so shall we reap.” Every action that we take, every thought that we think is accounted for. There is a popular modern saying, that isn’t my favorite, but it goes something like “karma is a b-word”. Well, it’s really easy for us to think this way when it doesn’t effect us. When someone else we don’t like or don’t get along with gets a bad card dealt to them, we’re so quick to say “karma is a b-word.” But, everyone gets what they sow. Why don’t we all just realize that it’s always better  to pick the side of mercy? In the end, we’re all fighting the same battle. So, why not help the other person win? “Mercy teaches that all of us in this world are on the same side.”

Peacemaking: “We must active cultivate peace as a virtue, trying to make it a permanent state of mind.” Why should we try to make peace a permanent state of mind? Because our thoughts become our actions, oh so quickly. Not only does this happen, but our perception is influenced by what is our mind is constantly dwelling on. If we are in a permanent state of negativity, consistently say my life sucks, my day sucks, I hate the people around me, then all of those things are going to come true. It’s all about attitude people. I think we all know the old saying, two wrongs don’t make a right. And it’s so true. If there is wrong done to us, we don’t need to fight it. Accept what happened, and move on. “Our children deserve to grow up in a peaceful world, and it is our responsibility to do everything we can to see that they get the chance.” Instead of spreading hate, why don’t we start spreading a little love? We need to personally take responsibility and be the example that those around us need to see.

Desire: The Upanishads say, “You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your deep, driving desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your dignity.” Take a minute to think about what your desires truly are. Are they worthy to be told to the world? Are the worthy enough to live by? To eventually be your dignity? The problem is, is that we let our desires dictate our lives. We’ve let them take control of our mind and intellect, when really, it should be our mind and intellect that control our senses. We shouldn’t run after every single thing that catches our attention. Training our mind though to become in control is a really tough task. Meditation is the tool to accomplish this. It trains your mind to stay in control, and to become unwavering, so that it won’t falter when we’re put in situations that can make our senses go gaga and want everything.

Holy moly that was a lot I feel like. And I didn’t even cover a lot of the stuff that I wanted to. Like I said, this book was dense material-wise. At the end of the day, I think that it is a great book which talks about real-life examples of how we can implement a daily meditation routine into our lives, so that we can truly live out these eight Beatitudes.

Easwaran is an incredible soul and an enlightened individual. Reading his books and understanding his perspective puts these huge philosophical, sometimes daunting, theories into such simple language, that it’s impossible not to grasp. I can only hope that my 2-post review did him and his writing justice.

Please check out this book! Think about ways you can implement these qualities into your life, after all spiritual laws are a good guide for anyone. I think everyone needs a good guide on this journey, and Easwaran is a fantastic pick.

For more information on Easwaran, his meditation technique and center, programs offered by his organization, or to just sign up for Thoughts of the Days, visit http://www.easwaran.org! This is a great resource for many spiritual needs.

Book Review: Discovering Your Hidden Spiritual Resources (part 1)

I just read a phenomenal book that I wanted to share with you all.discovering-your-hidden-spiritual-resources I finished reading Discovering Your Hidden Spiritual Resources written by Eknath Easwaran just a day or two ago. I’ve mentioned a few quotes from the book here and there, but I wanted to do a complete review. There are some things from the book that I want to do entirely separate posts for, but that’s a different conversation for another day. This book covers a lot of material, so I’m just going to talk about the highlights. It’s a great book, so I recommend buying it and reading it for yourself!

So, what is this book all about? Throughout the entire book, Easwaran takes the eight Beatitudes and talks about how we can implement those qualities into our own life, and how meditation makes the process easier. He calls each of these qualities a “spiritual law” which will help us to peel off the layers upon layers we’ve created in our lives, so that we can seriously uncover the “uncreated light” within us.

What are these qualities he speaks of?
Purity: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Humility: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
Simplicity: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
PatienceBlessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.
LoveBlessed are they that are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
MercyBlessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
PeacemakingBlessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.
DesireBlessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.

Easwaran starts the book off by talking about original goodness, and uses this idea as the basis for the rest of the book. What is original goodness? Original goodness is this idea that our core, as humans, is good. That we are inherently good, not bad. Because of this, we don’t have to figure out how to make ourselves good, because we are. All we have to do is get rid of the layers we’ve piled on ourselves that is covering that inner, pure layer of goodness. He says, “…before original sin was original innocence. That is our real nature.” He goes on to say that that we all have the capacity to reach God. But, it takes a lot of effort to meet that end. We are all seeds of God. However, we need to put that goal in our life. Having that goal makes us work hard to attain it. We have to realize that God is our home, and that is where we ultimately belong. Home is where the heart is, and the heart is the seat of love. He quotes Mechtild of Magdeburg, “The soul is made of love, just as the body is made of flesh–and must ever strive to return to love. Therefore, it can never find rest nor happiness in other things. It must love itself in love. By its very nature it must seek God, who is love.” I thought that this was just really beautiful.

How do we know when someone has reached this state? When he/she has “an unbroken awareness of the presence of God in all creatures.” They exemplify the qualities of “unfailing compassion, fearlessness, equanimity, and the unshakable knowledge, based on direct, personal experience, that all the treasures and pleasures of this world together are worth nothing if one has not found the uncreated light at the center of the soul.” I don’t know about you guys, but that state, the state in which you can seriously see God in every single soul and every single living thing on this planet, is really hard to get to. I mean, unfailing compassion. I still have mean thoughts going through my head when someone says something bad to me. But to still love that individual and see the God in them, despite that person being mean to you…that is such a Godly state if you ask me. I’d like to think that I know nothing I own and want and “need” has no worth, but honestly at this point in my life, I would have a hard time parting with my nail polish collection. I need some serious progress folks. But, in the end, this task isn’t easy. It’s daunting, scary, unpredictable. But, I don’t think God would have made it easy in the first place. We have to be aggressive on our spiritual path to find the Ultimate Truth, or else we’ll just do everything at slow, unfinished pace, and that’s not development to me.

Meditation: Easwaran talks about how meditation is a great and powerful tool we can use to start that introspection process, and really begin to see our true selves. (Y’all, I’m beginning to see a pattern here in my life. Meditation is the key to everything. Seriously. I’m hearing it everywhere).

Ok, what I’m going to do now, is write a synopsis of each of the Beatitudes in another post. There are a few that I want to go into in-depth detail in subsequent posts, because there was just a lot of good material in them. For now, however, I’ll try and talk about the crux of each spiritual law.

be kind, be kind, be kind

I’m reading this book “Discovering Your Spiritual Resources” by Eknath Easwaran. It’s fantastic. My goal is to finish it by this week, if not next week. Anyways, there’s this one line that really caught my attention.

“‘Be kind, be kind, be kind.’ That is the prescription for holiness issued by a wise medieval mystic. Half its wisdom lies in its insistence on being kind over and over; for to make kindness the mind’s natural response even in the unconscious requires years of practice.”

The part that got me was how being kind is the prescription for holiness. Being kind definitely makes you a better person (in my opinion) than someone who is mean. And I can’t think of any spiritual leader, person, messenger, prophet, what have you as being not kind. I think it’s safe to say that kindness is a good quality, a desirable quality, a spiritual quality. Interesting. I wonder how many acts of kindness I am really demonstrating on a day to day basis.

But more importantly, I began to think back to a conversation I had several weeks ago, where I was reminded of a statement I heard back in September, “You have to be kind to yourself first.” You have to be kind to yourself first. Really thinking about that, I realize I am not kind to myself at all. And if the old saying goes “do unto others as you would do yourself”, then sure as heck I am not being kind to others. “Be the change you wish to see” says Gandhi. Well, I guess I need to start being kind to myself.

I stress out all the time. I don’t always eat as healthy as I should. I overwork myself. I worry a lot. And the worst thing of them all, I blame myself for my failures, despite my hard effort and persistence. I am not kind to myself.

I have a lot of work to do. And it starts with focusing on the positive attributes…the good things I have going on for myself. I need to stop dwelling on the things that didn’t work out the way I expected them to, and start focusing on all the good things I’ve accomplished (which includes the hard work I put into situations that I wouldn’t necessarily categorize as a “success”). I need to be kind to myself.

Growing up, I struggled with self-esteem issues and self-confidence a lot of times. I think that is one of the best ways to be kind to yourself is having confidence in yourself that you can conquer anything that comes your way.

Take a look at this Ted Talk from Ryerson University on self-confidence. It’s only like 13 minutes, so it won’t take up any of your time!

How are you going to be kind to yourself? I think I’m going to start documenting these moments on my goals board (remember?). And as I document personal kind moments, I’m going to track my acts of kindness to others. There has to be some positive correlation. Try for yourself and see what happens.