Not-Quite-A-Passage for January


For the past six months, we've highlighted a passage each month, but we thought we'd shake it up this month and highlight another resource: Eknath Easwaran's Thought for the Day. In his book Words to Live By, Easwaran presents a quote from a great philosopher, poet, saint, or sage, and follows it with commentary to highlight how the wisdom of the ages can help us here and now.

The Thought for the Day is a favorite here among the YA Blog Team, and we often hear from YAs that their practice began by daily reading of Thought for the Day.

We recommend exploring the Thought for the Day content on the Easwaran website where you can sign up to receive Thought for the Day via email - or even check out the Thought for the Day App. Here are a few facts: 

  • The Thought for the Day has 8,411 email subscribers. Most subscribers are in the US, followed by Canada, Germany, UK, India, Switzerland, Japan, and Australia
  • The Thought for the Day App was released in October 2012 and has had 2,302 downloads. A high percent users are in the US, and you'll find the rest in UK, Canada, India, Australia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Ireland, Germany, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia

We wanted to share today's thought with you, and we've copied it below. We'd love to hear from you! In the comments below, we invite you to share any reflections on the quote or Easwaran's commentary.

January 7

Genius . . . means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an inhabitual way.

Attention is very much like a searchlight, and it should be mounted in such a way that it can be trained on any subject freely. When we are caught up in some compulsion, this searchlight has become stuck. After many years of being stuck like this, it is hard to believe that the light can turn. We think that the compulsion has become a permanent part of our personality. But gradually, we can learn to work our attention free.

As an experiment, try to work cheerfully at some job you dislike: you are training your attention to go where you want it to go. Whatever you do, give it your best concentration. Another good exercise is learning to drop what you are doing and shift your attention to something else when the situation demands. For example, when you leave your office, leave your work there. Don’t let it follow you home and come into the dining room like an untrained dog, barking at your heels.

All this is the spiritual equivalent of kicking exercises in a dance lesson or knee bends in an aerobics class. By practicing these exercises, anybody can learn to direct attention freely.