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Selections from Meditation: A Simple 8-Point Program for Translating Spiritual Ideals into Daily Life by Eknath Easwaran, founder and director of the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, copyright © 1978, 1991. Reprinted by permission of Nilgiri Press, Tomales, California. All rights reserved.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"Mere belief or theory is never enough; we must change ourselves. As one Christian mystic observed, 'Our knowledge is as deep as our action.'"

Eknath Easwaran, Meditation, Part 1

The Three Stages of Meditation

If the whole vista of the spiritual journey lay before us we would see that it divides into three stages, each culminating in a remarkable discovery. These are profound experiential discoveries, not intellectual ones. They bring a different way of seeing life and the power to make our words and deeds compatible with this new vision. Mere belief or theory is never enough; we must change ourselves. As one Christian mystic observed, "Our knowledge is as deep as our action."

Language cannot describe these inner experiences very well. When I say stages, I am only approximating. There are no sharp boundaries; everything takes place gradually over a long period. But perhaps a few analogies will make these discoveries easier to grasp.

In the first stage, we discover experientially that we are not the body.

Not the body? A startling realization! We have been lured into believing precisely the opposite: that we are essentially bodies, and that a worthwhile life is one well packed with sense-stimulation and pleasure, with all the delights of food and drink, sun and surf, luxurious fabrics and devastating fragrances.

What is the body then? Let me put it this way. I have a tan Nehru jacket of worsted wool made about ten years ago in Hong Kong. It fits me nicely, and I give it proper care: I don’t drop it in a heap on a chair; I button it, smooth it out, and hang it up carefully in the closet so it will last several years more.

But when I wear this tan jacket, I always have another jacket on underneath: a brown one made in Kerala, India. It fits even better – not a seam anywhere – and has brown gloves to match. I take good care of it, too.

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