Strength in the Storm: Creating Calm in Difficult Times

Strength in the Storm: Creating Calm in Difficult Times

By Eknath Easwaran
Tomales, California: Nilgiri Press, 2005. Paperback, 184 pages.

In the complexities of understanding and practice which often accompany an esoteric spiritual path, it can be very easy to lose sight of the "common sense" so often emphasized by Madame Blavatsky. From time to time, we need reminders of practices which seem all too basic, but actually offer transformation in our daily lives in the world. What good is some profound realization, or arcane knowledge, if it does not lead to a greater expression of love and wisdom throughout each day?

Over the holidays--a time when stress often increases -I have benefited from a number of such reminders, thanks to gifts and review assignments. For example, I was given a copy of Lawrence Lovasik's book, The Hidden Power of Kindness: A Practical Handbook for Souls Who Dare to Transform the World, One Deed at a Time (Sophia Institute Press, 1999). While I sitlightly with Lovasik's rather traditional Catholic theological views, his book is a goldmine for personal reflection, and contains a wide variety of practical suggestions for implementation.

By happy synchronicity, I was simultaneously assigned to review a new book compiled from lectures by the late spiritual teacher and founder of the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, Eknath Easwaran. Easwaran writes from a more universal perspective than Lovasik, and provides suggestions drawn from many religious traditions, so that each reader can choose an approach which resonates with their own background and beliefs. The lectures are also enhanced with introductions to each chapter by Easwaran's widow, inspirational quotes from great world teachers, a summary of the core points from each section, and lists of suggestions for practices. The result is a highly practical manual for anyone who wants to increase their level of spiritual peace, and their ability to respond to all of life from a place of calm wisdom.

As Christine Easwaran writes in her preface to the book, for her husband, "the world's spiritual traditions were not topics for philosophy or religion. They were living waters, practical resources for everyday living." Easwaran's talks, given to his students over a period of years, give substantive guidance for using a mantram, maintaining one-pointed attention, slowing down the pace of life, nourishing our minds, and cultivating kindness, among other topics. He liberally illustrates his points with entertaining stories from his life and the lives of his students. While there is little here that will be new to most Theosophists, Strength in the Storm is a well-done, accessible re-presentation of traditional wisdom for living.


July/August 2006