The word “meditation” seems to provoke significant apprehension and hesitation in many friends and family members. Yet there is some reluctant curiosity due to all of the benefits cited in the media. Conquest of Mind by Eknath Easwaran may be a benign, gentle introduction for those who fear meditation.
The author was born in South India and educated at a Catholic college. His time there lead to an understanding and appreciation of Christianity. In 1959, he came to the United States as a Fulbright scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. Easwaran began classes in meditation in the 1960s and was also a professor of English literature. Married to an American woman, Christine, he adopted Western ways in addition to his Indian roots.
Easwaran’s style of writing in this book is simple and conversational. The book reads like a contemporary self-help book. His background is apparent in the book. It is liberally sprinkled with quotes from the Bible, Bhagavad Gita, Shakyamuni Buddha, and Saint Francis of Assisi.
Without diving into any uncomfortable depth or terminology, the book covers the important aspects of meditation: observation of thoughts; the importance of thought observation; changing thought patterns; breaking down the rigidity of likes and dislikes; obstacles to meditation as taught by the Buddha; strategies to overcome them; and the spiritual strengths of determination, detachment, and discrimination. These are universal concepts. He ends with his own Eight-Point Program. Easwaran’s program is not a formal, organized process of meditation and should not to be confused with Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga, or the Buddha’s Noble Eight-Fold Path.
For the hesitant, this book could be a safe dip into meditation.