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Book Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

Renewal
A Little Book of Courage & Hope
Eknath Easwaran
Nilgiri Press 08/09 Hardcover $9.95
ISBN: 9781586380342


Eknath Easwaran (1910 1999) was the spiritual leader and founder of the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation in the San Francisco Bay area. A Fulbright scholar and former university professor in his native India, Easwaran authored many books including Take Your Time. He was known for peppering his talks and writings with stories and sound advice about the spiritual life, like the following: "Once I asked my teacher, my grandmother, why a certain man in our village never seemed to be happy, even though he had all of life's advantages — he was healthy, he had a fine family and a good job, and he even had a full head of hair. Her reply was simple but profound: 'It is not possible for life to make a selfish person happy, whatever temporary satisfactions may come along. But,' she added, 'life cannot but give you joy if you live for the joy of others.' "

In this brief but substantive work, the author discusses the transformations that can lead to harmony with ourselves, others, and the environment. One key to this process of renewal is moving beyond the spell of separateness and accepting the unity of all life. Open-mindedness is another quality that can put us on the path of well-being. Slowing down the mind enables us to listen to all points of view.

In most western cultures, the pace of life has definitely gotten more hectic. Easwaran recommends the antidote:

"Slowing down is an important spiritual discipline, especially in our speeded-up modern living and working contexts. Hurry makes for tension, insecurity, inefficiency, and superficial living. To guard against hurry through the day, start the day early and simplify your life so that you do not try to fill your time with more than you can do. . . . It is important here not to confuse slowness with sloth, which breeds carelessness, procrastination, and general inefficiency. In slowing down we should attend meticulously to details, giving our very best even to the smallest undertaking."

Hurry also engenders unkindness. We put ourselves first and others must step aside as we take center stage. This just will not do since "kindness is the foundation of a harmonious world."

Easwaran spices this book with wonderful illustrative material from his favorite mentor:

"My grandmother, who was my spiritual teacher, always used the tamarind tree to illustrate the power of ordinary people. The tamarind is a big tree, with very small, thin leaves. On a hot day, the people of my old state of Kerala like to sleep in its shade. The leaves are so numerous and are packed so close together that they protect us from the tropical sun just as if they were one large canopy. 'Little Lamp, you don't have to look for big people,' granny would tell me. 'Look for little people like yourself, then band together and work together in harmony.' "

The lesson in this story: Don't be intimidated by position or power or wealth. Little people working together can transform the world.

This small volume contains profound spiritual teachings that will give you a tremendous boost as you seek harmony in your daily life.

 

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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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