How to Be like Eknath Easwaran

"1. Meditate. Set aside time to still the mind. Even a few minutes a day can make a large difference. 'Meditation is a kind of glass-bottom boat for observing the mind,' says Easwaran.

"2. Slow down. Ask yourself, 'Why am I constantly busy and battling the clock? What's the point?' Live by this reminder from Easwaran: 'A slower life . . . is more effective, more artistic, much richer than a life lived as a race against the clock. It gives you time to pause, to think, to reflect, to decide, to weigh pros and cons. It gives you time for relationships.'

"3. Be cheerful. Practice this even when the task at hand is one you may dislike. One reason Easwaran was always popular with students was his cheerful nature. He noted that being an English professor was sometimes 'plain drudgery' and he cited having to read '150 freshman essays on Romeo and Juliet and marking the same misspellings over and over.' Yet, he did not permit the drudgery to dampen his cheerfulness.

"4. Grow through the darkness. Everyone experiences challenging times when life seems dim and dark. Easwaran experienced this with the death of his grandmother and the assassination of Gandhi. Be patient, as he was, giving the darkness time to recede. New growth will emerge for you as it did for Easwaran.

"5. Practice compassion to all creatures. Easwaran reminded people: 'Be compassionate to our fellow creatures recognizing that the same Self lives in them as in us.'

"6. Work to reduce your anger. This takes intentional effort and great personal discipline. When we reduce and eradicate anger 'the result is the precious capacity to return love for abuse.'

"7. Use things but love people. In viewing our culture, Easwaran was alarmed to see how easily we love things but use people. Reverse this trend whenever you see it in yourself.

"8. Practice selfless action. Whatever you do for others, free yourself from any selfish motives. Expect nothing in return when you help another person. Easwaran cautioned: 'Work can benefit others and still carry a substantial measure of ego involvement. It may benefit others, but it will not necessarily benefit the doer. Everything depends on the state of mind.'

"9. Learn from saintly people wherever you encounter them. Easwaran loved and learned from Catholic saints, Sufi mystics, Buddhist visionaries, Hindu ascetics and Taoist sages.

"10. Always be a person of hope. No matter how difficult and depressing things seem around the world, hold on to hope. 'I am filled with hope for the coming decades,' Easwaran often said. 'I have been privileged to witness — in my own life and the lives of people close to me — just how much any human being can change.' "