Eknath Easwaran (1910 - 1999) is a favorite spiritual teacher of ours whose purview is a special blend of mysticism, the wisdom of all the world's religions, and everyday spirituality. This paperback is part of a three book series released together as "Classics of Christian Inspiration." His focus here is upon Thomas a Kempis who wrote The Imitation of Christ. Easwaran calls it "an entirely practical manual for sincere spiritual aspirants."
Easwaran begins with a meditation on Thomas a Kempis' sense of God as "a holy lover of my soul." The author finds the same spirit in a Bengali proverb that states that the Lord is always waiting for us with his arms open wide; for every step we take towards him, he takes seven towards us. In order to savor that grace Thomas a Kempis challenges us to naught ourselves, which means to reduce everything within us that is selfish and separate. Easwaran believes this process is helped by a regular practice of meditation which slows us down and trains us in one-pointed attention. Another benefit of this practice is that it can help us turn around anger and transform it into compassion.
In The Imitation of Christ, Thomas a Kempis writes: "Love is a great thing, yea, a great and thorough good: by itself it makes every thing that is heavy, light, and it bears evenly all that is uneven." Easwaran notes that we can draw upon this kind of love to animate the heroism that we never thought we possessed. It enables us to become a zero and to serve others. Thomas savors the sweetness of an intimate relationship with God, suggesting that this alone satisfies our hunger. Easwaran continues his exploration of this Christian mystic with successive chapters on other dimensions of the preciousness of love.
Seeing with the Eyes of Love also contains an essay by Carol Lee Flinders on Thomas a Kempis and the burgeoning of mysticism in the late Middle Ages. Here is a brief sampler of the broad range of quotes found in the paperback:
• "Man shall become a seeker of God in all things, and a finder of God at all times and everywhere, and among all people, and in every way."
• "Jesus is honey in the mouth, music in the ear, a shout of gladness in the heart."
• "God has intended us for happiness with greater love than can be imagined."
Mechtild of Magdeburg
• "Prayer is the breathing of the soul. Prayer is our spiritual food and drink."
John of Kronstadt