Book Club: Eknath Easwaran Meditation

Book Club November 24th Chapter 7
Chapter 7, Spiritual Companionship
Thank you to all who came and took part in this great discussion on Spiritual Companionship.  We spent the time discussing the many twists and turns in our lives that have led us to this group of like-minded and like hearted people.  And as was fitting for the time of year, we gave thanks for Sandra coming to Weatherford to give us a gathering place not just for Yoga, but a safe place for learning and growing in ways we needed but had not put into words.  As Eknath says on pg 190, “…an essential part of the spiritual life is coming together with those who are spiritually minded, those who want to promote our growth and who want us to promote theirs.”  Thank you Sandra!!
Along this same line, on page 190 he goes on to compare pursuing a spiritual life as to swimming upstream.  It is challenging and “we need friends, loyal companions”.  “…We have to do the swimming… but it is easier if we swim together with those who encourage us, set a strong pace and will not stop until they reach their destination.”
Spiritual growth requires that we live and interact with others. We can read about it but it requires putting it into action for real growth to occur.  This can create challenges as when close family and friends see change it can create uneasy feelings in them, resulting in teasing, or angry outbursts, yet as he says eventually “…everyone responds deeply to the growth of goodness and wisdom in a child, a partner or a parent.” Pg 192 He goes on to say that “rich relationships with a number of people constitute one of the great blessings on this earth.” (page 193)  It is when we withdraw unto ourselves that we become depressed, it is only in turning outward and being with others that we can turn away from the negative thoughts and forget about our problems.
Having a spiritual household means being mindful towards each other.  Spending time meditating together, saying our mantras before meals, using meal time as a pleasant visiting time with family and friends, and just generally tuning in to each other throughout the day.  On page 195 he says “…every meal should be a sacrament, in which we strengthen not only the body but the spirit too.”  We can use this time to share lovingly with those we care about, taking time with food preparation, and taking time to eat, savor and enjoy the food and the company.
Take time for recreation, it is important to keep the body moving and healthy.  It is also important have fun.  Join with family and friends to engage in things you all enjoy.  Or take a solitary walk repeating your mantra.  Get in touch with nature.  Get up and get moving and give thanks for being able to do so!
Chapter 8, The Mystics
Eknath states that Mystical literature “differs from other forms of writing in that as our understanding deepens, we draw more from it.”  He goes on to say that although it is very important to read these inspiring writings, it is important to use what we receive and put it into action.  “One contemporary thinker put it very well when he remarked that if we had to choose between uniting ourselves with God and hearing a lecture about it, most of us would hunt for a good seat.” (Pg 202) The believe that we can learn all we need to know from books is mistaken. We can and need to read inspirational literature and use it to lay the foundation for how we choose to live our lives.
He lists many sources of inspirational writings;  Saint Teresa of Avila,  Saint Teresa of Lisieux, The Upanishads, the gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, the Bhagavad Gita.  All of these are inspirational and can be used to set the stage for a life lived more fully.  First though we must put the book down and live here and now in physical form, creating and maintaining meaningful relationships with others.  When the challenges occur if we can be more like Saint Teresa of Lisieux (Pg 209) She tells the story of a fellow nun in the convent around whom she felt great distress, there was not anything about this person she felt drawn toward.  Saint Teresa decided that instead of avoiding her, she would seek her out and smile at her.  One day the nun asked Saint Teresa what it was about her that she was so drawn to that in fact made her smile every time they met.  Sister Teresa wrote in her diary that night, that what she saw every time she met up with the other nun was Jesus.  She was able to look beyond and see the best in her.  Let’s all practice this with each other, now more than ever before.  When we feel encouraged to take sides, judge things as right and wrong, and focus on the physical trappings let’s pull back a bit, look beyond the obvious and find the pearls that are all around us.

We will plan to have Book Club again in the New Year. The book is yet to be determined. Enjoy your holiday season and practice grace, love and kindness to all!

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