In an earlier post we said that letting go is only part of the answer to finding lasting peace and joy in one’s life. We said that letting go will allow you to clear the space to enter deep within yourself by removing the blocks of self-centredness. Here, Eknath Easwaran gives us the rest of the answer in his 8-point program.
A more detailed explanation as to the foundation for this program can be found in his book Conquest of Mind. There you will find the one overarching reason why we suffer. That’s because we actually create our own suffering through our ignorant behaviour that is almost always about I, me, mine. Unless we learn to be more and more other-centered, we can never taste true happiness. Here then is the 8-Point Program by Eknath Easwaran as to how we can achieve that and more, self-realisation.
1. PASSAGE MEDITATION. The program begins with developing a daily routine of meditation of 30 minutes duration using a passage from any of the many spiritual scriptures to help hold your concentration and focus. You develop one-pointedness which is super important in helping you manage the rest of your life away from the cushion. It builds determination and willpower and a laser-like focus essential to success in any endeavour you undertake. You choose a short passage from any spiritual scriptures that holds meaning for you e.g. The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi is highly recommended by Eknath.
2. REPETITION OF A MANTRAM. Constant repetition of a chosen mantram over the course of a day or night, whenever one needs it most, helps to transform one’s consciousness. It has the ability to uplift, calm and harness your emotions for the greater good. You become the living embodiment of the mantram which in turn empowers you to achieve spiritual heights you never imagined. Mantrams can be a word or several. Pick one that appeals to you or matched to you by your teacher.
3. SLOWING DOWN. Learning to slow down and not hurry through life helps us deal with its attending tensions. When we slow down, we also become more aware of the impact our behaviour or decisions have on ourselves and others. Yes, slowing down is essential to being wise.
4. ONE-POINTED ATTENTION. You’d have noticed by now that all the preceding points kind of build on one another to include this point no. 4 to help us build mental strength. Because that’s what one-pointed attention can do for you when your energies are not scattered in a dozen directions. Our greatest bugbear in this age of intense use of technology is distraction. The capability for deep concentration that comes with one-pointed attention is what separates a genius from the mediocre.
5. TRAINING THE SENSES. Ah, this will be a real challenge for you if you have developed the habit of letting your mind or body have what it wants when it wants. Your diet in terms of what all of your senses take in has got to be scrutinized and self-control is going to be your mantra. Not an easy one but oh, so essential! For unless you tame how you feed your senses, you will not be able to go deep within. You have to get past the sense doors and there are at least 6 of them.
6. PUTTING OTHERS FIRST. Hah, another tough one, this because our ego isn’t about to go down without putting up a fight. But it gets easier as you increasingly make the effort to live less for yourself when you realise that being inclusive i.e. respecting and including the needs of others over and above your own will lead to greater harmony. Eknath said that this becomes easier and easier as your meditation deepens (because of your consistent effort) and you come to realise the presence of God not just within yourself but it is the same God in others as well. So how can you not be inclusive?
7. SPIRITUAL FELLOWSHIP. Satsang, coming together with like-minded seekers provide the support and collective energy that help speed up our spiritual growth. Even for those of us who live in remote areas without access to a group, as long as you have the internet, you can still stay in touch with others of the same spiritual leaning.
8. SPIRITUAL READING. By now, you can see that we need to look after our soul’s needs by meditating, cultivating a personality that fosters love and kindness, and constantly feeding it through the right sort of fellowship and now, reading. Great masters have come and gone but thanks to their writings, we continue to benefit from the insights and treasures they have brought back from their inner sojourns.
Together the 8 points make up a map for the spiritual seeker to tend to the body, mind, and soul. In a sense, it is a sadhana, a program for the cultivation of character and the refinement of one’s personality so that how we live our lives on the outside is in harmony with how we live on the inside and vice versa. As Eknath says, the mere act of meditating consistently is enough to transform you but with the other 7 points, it’s like a turbo booster plan for spiritual growth.
~ ॐ ~