“We all need joy, and we can all receive joy in only one way, by adding to the joy of others.”
“The method of meditation presented here can be followed equally well in any religion or in none. I think that is the real secret of its appeal. It belongs to no movement, asks for no change of beliefs: it simply allows you to take the ideals you respond to and gradually, gracefully, make them part of your character and your life.”
– EKNATH EASWARAN
“The secret of meditation is simple: you become what you meditate on. When you use an inspirational passage every day in meditation, you are driving the words deep into your consciousness. Eventually they become an integral part of your personality, which means they will find constant expression in what you do, what you say, and what you think.” – Eknath Easwaran
In passage meditation, you choose a spiritual text, or passage, that embodies your highest ideals, memorize it, and then go through the words slowly, silently, and with as much concentration as possible.
This method brings two important benefits. First, by training our mind to stay on the words of the passage, we gradually build the precious capacity to place our attention wherever we choose – the key, as Easwaran would say, to love and loyalty as well as genius.
Second, we begin to resemble and actually become whatever we give our attention to. As the inspired words from the great spiritual traditions of the world slowly come to life in us, they bring with them quiet joy, the capacity to face challenges squarely, and a deep sense of fulfillment.
Choose a time for meditation when you can sit for half an hour in uninterrupted quiet. Early morning is best, before the activities of the day begin. Select a place that is cool, clean, and quiet. Sit with your back and head erect, on the floor or in a straight-backed chair. A back support may be helpful. Close your eyes and begin to go slowly, in your mind, through the words of a simple, positive inspirational passage from one of the world’s great spiritual traditions. While meditating, do not follow any association of ideas or allow your mind to reflect on the meaning of the words. If you are giving your full attention to each word, the meaning cannot help sinking in. When distractions come, do not resist them, but give more attention to the words of the passage. When you reach the end of the passage, you may use it again as necessary to complete your period of meditation until you have memorized others. Resolve to have your meditation every day – however full your schedule, whatever interruptions threaten, whether you are sick or well.
“A meditation passage is not ordinary communication. These are living, winged words full of power, backed by the personal experience of a man or woman who has realized the unity of all life. They speak to us directly, heart to heart, from a place where all of us are one.” – Eknath Easwaran
Passage meditation appeals to modern men and women because there is ample room for choice. Within general guidelines tested by Easwaran in his own experience – that the passages should be positive, practical, inspiring, universal, and authentic – you can select whichever ones most appeal to you.
The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; Where there is sadness, joy. O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek To be consoled as to console, To be understood as to understand, To be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.
The Best The best, like water, Benefit all and do not compete. They dwell in lowly spots that everyone else scorns. Putting others before themselves, They find themselves in the foremost place And come very near to the Tao. In their dwelling, they love the earth; In their heart, they love what is deep; In personal relationships, they love kindness; In their words, they love truth. In the world, they love peace. In personal affairs, they love what is right. In action, they love choosing the right time. It is because they do not compete with others That they are beyond the reproach of the world. – Lao Tzu Let Nothing Upset You Let nothing upset you; Let nothing frighten you. Everything is changing; God alone is changeless. Patience attains the goal. Who has God lacks nothing; God alone fills every need. – Teresa of Avila
Meditating on a memorized inspirational passage is the heart of the program called passage meditation. Seven supporting disciplines are used throughout the rest of the day, helping you go deeper for a lifetime of discovery.
Silent repetition in the mind of memorized inspirational passages from the world’s great religions. Practiced for one-half hour each morning. More . . .
Silent repetition in the mind of a holy name or a hallowed phrase from one of the world’s great religions. Practiced whenever possible throughout the day or night. More . . .
Setting priorities and reducing the stress and friction caused by hurry. More . . .
Giving full concentration to the matter at hand. More . . .
Overcoming conditioned habits and learning to enjoy what is beneficial. More . . .
Gaining freedom from selfishness and separateness; finding joy in helping others. More . . .
Spending time regularly with others who are practicing passage meditation for mutual inspiration and support. More . . .
Drawing inspiration from writings by and about the world’s great spiritual figures and from the scriptures of all religions. Studying Easwaran’s works for general inspiration and for specific instruction in passage meditation. More . . .
These eight steps are designed for daily practice. Though they may at first seem unrelated, they are closely linked. Quieting your mind in morning meditation, for instance, will help your efforts to slow down at work, and slowing down at work will, in turn, improve your meditation. Hurry at work and your mind will race during meditation; skip meditation and you will find it difficult to be both slow and concentrated.
Some of the steps generate spiritual power while others put it to wise use during the day. Practicing all eight creates a balanced approach to spiritual growth, yielding the greatest benefits.
Through a regular practice of the full eight-point program of passage meditation, you can:
sharpen concentration deal effectively with stress shed unwanted habits release deep reserves of energy harness the power of anger and other negative emotions leave behind painful memories and live fully in the present develop unsuspected capacities for insight and understanding learn to love more fully than you thought possible discover your unique contribution to life
Eknath Easwaran developed passage meditation at the peak of a successful career in India. He was a popular professor of English literature, a well-known essayist in national newspapers, and a highly sought-after public speaker. But in early midlife he was haunted by questions no worldly fulfillment could quiet: “Is this all there is? What is life for? Why am I here?”
No doubt many factors in Easwaran’s early years prompted these persistent questions. In his childhood in a traditional Hindu village he received the grace of his remarkable grandmother, whom he later looked upon as his spiritual teacher. In his youth he was profoundly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, who had transformed himself through immersion in the scriptures.
Passage meditation emerged as an answer to Easwaran’s questions. It is now followed around the world. Earnest men and women from all walks of life demonstrate its benefits while leading active lives in the midst of their families and communities.
Passage meditation is the unique method developed by Easwaran for transforming the thought process and uncovering our deepest capacities – all within the context of an active modern life.