Conquest of Mind
Dutch, Indonesian, Korean, Marathi, Portuguese, Spanish, Telugu
|Publisher||Nilgiri Press; others|
|1988; 2010; others|
|Pages||183(1988); 217(2010); others|
Conquest of Mind is a book that describes practices and strategies for leading the spiritual life. Written by Eknath Easwaran, the strategies are intended to be usable within any major religious tradition, or outside of all traditions. The book was originally published in the United States in 1988. Multiple revised English-language editions have been published, and translations have also appeared in several other European and Asian languages. The book has been reviewed in newspapers and magazines.
When Easwaran wrote Conquest of Mind in 1988, he had been teaching meditation in the US for almost 30 years, and had already published a book, Meditation (1978), that systematically explained the details of his method of meditation. This earlier book had briefly described the importance of training the mind as a key part of meditation. In Conquest of Mind, Easwaran provides a much more extensive discussion of how his program can be used to train the mind, and the importance of training the mind.
In his introduction to Conquest of Mind, Easwaran quotes the Buddha's statement that "All that we are... is the result of what we have thought.":7 Therefore, Easwaran says, "nothing... can be more important than being able to choose the way we think.":7 And so, he explains,
In this book I present the art of training the mind how to respond to life's challenges, drawing on almost thirty years of teaching meditation to an American audience. Each chapter was originally a talk given to a select group of students. I touch on theory, but the emphasis is always practical and down-to earth. I have written for those who want to understand not only how the mind works, but also how it can be changed - which means, in this context, those who are interested in the actual practice of meditation.:7
Later, he explains that "This is not a book about the Buddha or his teachings, yet I will mention him often in these pages [because] no one teaches more clearly that mastery of life depends on mastering the mind.":16–17
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Blue Mountain Center of Meditation
Each US edition of Conquest of Mind begins with an introduction. It is followed in the 1988 and 2010 US editions by five major parts, each divided into 14 chapters. The chapters in Part Four were omitted in the 2001 US edition.
Easwaran's introduction explains how he uses the words "meditation" and "mystic." He cautions that mixing instructions from different perspectives can result in confusion. "If you want to become a tennis champion, you don't take lessons from Vic Braden and Nick Bollettieri at the same time; they have utterly different approaches to the game. Meditation teachers have different approaches too.:8 When Easwaran speaks of meditation, he means
a dynamic discipline [for] teaching attention to flow without a break toward a single inspirational focus within the mind... until finally the mind becomes completely absorbed... [and] is still, calm, and clear. This is our native state.... As the Bible puts it, "Be still, and know that I am God.:8
In Easwaran's language, the "great mystics" — who he often uses as illustrative examples — are people who have attained this goal. "Mysticism," a word Easwaran regards as easily misunderstood, refers to "the conviction, born of personal experience, that there is a divine core in human personality which each of us can realize directly, and that making this discovery is the real goal of our lives.":9
Part One is entitled "Taking Charge of Your Thoughts." It consists of 4 chapters. Thinking in Freedom (ch. 1) uses the mastery of a skilled surfer or ballet dancer as an analogy for the type of mastery that Easwaran believes all people would like in the art of living. Such mastery is attainable by training the mind, he says, but it requires great practice. Living Skills (ch. 2) describes Easwaran's method of meditating on a passage, its benefits for being present-focused, and for reacting to other people freely, rather than compulsively. Training the Mind (ch. 3) urges readers to think of the various parts of their week, such as home and work, as exercise stations that each provide a special opportunity to train the mind, and reduce egoism.
In Juggling (ch. 4), Easwaran describes feats of juggling that he witnessed in San Francisco's Ghirardelli Square, stating that "what that young man learned to do with his body, you can learn to do with your mind.":48 Mental juggling involves "likes and dislikes.... Can you change your likes at will?.... We need to learn to enjoy doing something we dislike or to enjoy not doing something we like, when it is in the long-term best interests of others or ourselves.":48 Easwaran describes his own experiences in changing his eating habits, stating that he learned from Mahatma Gandhi that "training the palate is a powerful aid in training the mind.":52
Part Two, "Reshaping Your Life," also contains 4 chapters, entitled Learning to Swim, All Life Is Yoga, Tremendous Trifles, and The Forces of Life. They compare mental skill to swimming, and the mind to a lake; Describe strategies usable throughout the day for deepen meditation; Present examples of the "thousands of little occasions [on which] the mind is taught to be calm and kind: not instantaneously... but in the ordinary choices of the day";:78 and describe techniques for allying ourselves with an "upward drive to evolve into spiritual beings,":87 rather than with past conditioning in narrow, selfish pursuits.
Part Three, "Strategies from the Buddha," contains two chapters. Obstacles and Opportunities describes how to overcome five obstacles identified by the Buddha: sensuality, ill will, laziness, restlessness, and fear/anxiety. Strategies for Freedom discusses five Buddhist "strategies for freedom,":128 including using "a right thought to drive out one that is wrong,":128 reflection, withdrawing attention, and going "to the root.":138
Part Four, entitled "Three Spiritual Strengths," contains 3 chapters. They are titled Determination, Detachment, and Discrimination, and describe tools and opportunities for developing each of these qualities, drawing on examples that range from Easwaran's own life to Teresa of Avila, Thérèse of Lisieux, Jacob Boehme, Mahatma Gandhi, Meister Eckhart, Charles Dickens, and space exploration.
Reviews have appeared in the The Hindu, B. C. Catholic, the Bulletin of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue, The Quest, and Body, Mind & Spirit. Conquest of Mind was listed in The Times of India as one of 3 "best books."
[I]n a simple everyday manner, [the author] talks about the situations where mind can and must control its ups and downs... [and] the key to this is meditation. He suggests ways which he says he has practised himself. The book tells you that there are no quickfixes to anything - self discipline is a lifelong process which is both arduous and satisfying eventually. Perhaps the answer to our troubled times.
Later, The Hindu reviewed the Telugu translation of Conquest of Mind. The reviewer, N. C. Ramanujachary, wrote that Easwaran "draws many ideas from the Buddha, throughout the book, but carefully analyses and establishes the continued relevance of his teachings." Ramanujachary stated that
The book is the outcome of [Easwaran's] long experience of teaching the young and modern minds... The presentation is lucid [and] leaves no sense of ambiguity anywhere.... The radical mind needs a verbal understanding first and then the way to practical understanding opens.
In B.C. Catholic, Paul Matthew St. Pierre wrote that Conquest of Mind "addresses issues of mind control... as it pertains to [finding] one's true spiritual self and avoiding getting caught by the forces of secularism, mediatization, narcissism, and self-interest within the world." He stated that
The [book's] discussion is partly philosophical, an informal commentary on the history of lucid ideas and spirituality, and partly practical, a briefing on the disciplines of centering and concentrating the mind, as in meditation, but also in the simple matters of not losing one's train of thought amidst all the distractions of daily life.
To St. Pierre, "The paradox in Easwaran's discussion is that, to avoid giving over the mind to the world, one must... transcend the way of thinking that is given over to the world and start thinking for oneself, and in the company of Jesus, St. Francis of Assisi, the Buddha, Sri Krishna, the Sufi mystic Jalaluddin Rumi, and many others."
The Quest wrote that the author "has a wonderfully easy style of writing,":96 that Conquest of Mind "offers clear guidance for training the mind,":96 and that "there probably is no better meditation teacher":96 than the author.
In Body, Mind & Spirit, Anne Marie Riccitelli wrote that "Easwaran's work has helped many (including this reviewer) to make subtle but profound changes in their lives.":74 Conquest of Mind "is practical as well as spiritual and offers many tips as to how we can begin to master and harness our power to harm or heal.":74 The author "is not pedantic, and his insights penetrate many levels.":74
In the Bulletin of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue, Pascaline Coff wrote that the book is "an interreligious gift to all," a "very successful effort to present the art of training the mind to respond to life’s challenges and discover the True Self in the process—not just a transformation but transfiguration whereby one is love." She added that
Monastics, especially encouraged to have the “mind of Christ” within them, ought to be indebted to Eknath for the manual of deprogramming or untraining the mind, a phrase once used by Thomas Merton.
The original edition was published by in 1988 by Nilgiri Press, which also published two subsequent US editions. Two English-language editions have also been published in India, and non-English editions have been published in Dutch, Indonesian, Korean, Marathi, Portuguese, Spanish, and Telugu.
The US editions are:
- Easwaran, Eknath (2010). Conquest of mind: take charge of your thoughts & reshape your life through meditation (3rd, revised ed.). Petaluma, CA: Nilgiri Press. ISBN 9781586380472. ISBN 1586380478, OCLC 500801448 (217 pages)
- Easwaran, Eknath (2001). Conquest of mind (2nd ed.). Petaluma, CA: Nilgiri Press. ISBN 1586380052. ISBN 1586380060, OCLC 51937333 (174 pages)
- Easwaran, Eknath (1988). Conquest of mind (1st ed.). Petaluma, CA: Nilgiri Press. ISBN 0915132508. ISBN 0915132516, OCLC 18520298 (183 pages)
The Indian English-language editions are:
- Easwaran, Eknath (2011). Conquering the mind: take charge of your thoughts and reshape your life through meditation. Ahmedabad, India: Jaico. ISBN 9788184952711. OCLC 772499577. ISBN 8184952716 (217 pages)
- Easwaran, Eknath (1999). Conquest of mind. New Delhi, India: Penguin India. ISBN 9780140285727. ISBN 0140285725, OCLC 48089077 (183 pages)
- Eknath Easwaran (2004). Meester over eigen denken (Master of own thinking) (Kaja van Grieken, trans.). Deventer, Netherlands: Ankh-Hermes. ISBN 9789020283280, ISBN 9020283286, OCLC 66532559 (136 pages)
- Eknath Easwaran (2004). Menaklukkan Gelombang Kehidupan dalam Menggapai Sang Diri Sejati (Conquering the Waves of Life in Achieving True Self). Jakarta, Indonesia: [:id:Gramedia Pustaka Utama|PT Gramedia] ISBN 9789792206883, ISBN 9792206884 (382 pages)
- Eknath Easwaran (2006). 원더풀 라이프 (Wonderful Life) (이명원, trans.). Korea: Yemun Publishing Co., Ltd.. ISBN 9788956590691, ISBN 8956590699 (240 pages).
- Eknath Easwaran (2002). Manāvra vijaya (Vaiśālī Jośī, trans.). Puṇe: Mehatā Pabliśiṅga. ISBN 9788177662559, ISBN 8177662554, OCLC 51947477 (267 pages)
- Eknath Easwaran (1994). Conquista da Mente. São Paulo, Brazil: Editora de Cultura Espiritual. ISBN 8585009225 (198 pages).
- Eknath Easwaran (1991). La conquista de la mente (Maricel Ford, trans.). Buenos Aires, Argentina: Editorial Atlántida. ISBN 9789500808927, ISBN 9500808927, OCLC 25139674 (142 pages)
- Eknath Easwaran (1998). La conquista de la mente (Maricel Ford, trans.). Buenos Aires, Argentina: Editorial Atlántida. ISBN 9789500819602, ISBN 9500819600, OCLC 40742916 (254 pages)
- Eknath Easwaran (2004). Manassunu Jayinchandi (Madhurantakam Narendra, trans.). Vijayawada, India: Alakananda Prachuranalu. (173 pages)
- Non-US editions of Nilgiri Press Books accessed 12 October 2012.
- Anonymous (May 16, 1999). "First impression [review of Conquest of Mind by Eknath Easwaran]". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. OCLC 13119119.
- N. C. Ramanujachary (March 16, 2004). "Control of the mind [review of Telugu translation of Conquest of Mind, by Eknath Easwaran]". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 12 Oct 2012.
- St. Pierre, Paul Matthew (April 8, 2002). "Overthrowing the Mind". B.C. Catholic. 72: 9. ISSN 0007-0483. OCLC 2321752.
- Pascaline Coff (May 1989). "Book review: Conquest of mind". Bulletin of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue. 35. ISSN 1097-671X. OCLC 32171834.
- Anonymous (1989). "Untitled [review of Conquest of Mind, by Eknath Easwaran]". The Quest. Theosophical Society in America. 2 (Spring): 96. ISSN 1040-533X. OCLC 18441178. OCLC 705778309 (ejournal), LCCN 94660549 sn 88002619
- Anne Marie Riccitelli (1989). "Untitled [review of Conquest of Mind, by Eknath Easwaran]". Body, Mind & Spirit. Johnston, RI: Island. 8 (5 (October)): 74. ISSN 0895-7657. OCLC 16787390. OCLC 137346962 (electronic).
- The book that describes Easwaran's full 8-point program of spiritual disciplines, originally published as Meditation (1978), states that "Meditation is... a systematic technique for taking hold of and concentrating to the utmost degree our latent mental power. It consists in training the mind, especiallythe attention and will..." (pp. 9-10 in 1978 edition; p.20 in 2008 edition). The book has a section header called "training the mind" (p. 118 in 1978 edition; p. 119 in 2008 edition), and in explaining Point 6, entitled "training the senses," the book states that "training the senses means training the mind as well" (p. 162 in 1978 edition; p. 160 in 2008 edition).
- Similarly, another book that described Easwaran's 8-point program, originally published as the Mantram Handbook (1977), had a brief section that included statements such as "Control of the mind is something that has never occurred to most of us; to some it may even sound cold or rigid.... But when we learn to control the mind, to slow down its feverish pace, to welcome those thoughts we approve of and dismiss those that are negative, we will find what a sense of mastery this brings..... We can all have such control over the mind that calmness becomes our natural state...." (pp. 45-46 in 1977 edition; pp. 71-72 in 2008 edition). In later editions, these paragraphs were preceded by a section-header entitled "the well-trained mind" (p. 71 in 2008 edition).
- Conquest of Mind (2010 US edition).
- "All that we are is the result of what we have thought" is the opening verse of the Buddha's Dhammapada, as translated by Easwaran (see article) (p. 107, 2007 edition).
- The 1988 edition has 15 total chapters, whereas the 2010 edition has only 14. This is because Part Four of the 2010 revised 3rd US edition omits a chapter from the original 1988 US edition, "Voyagers" (pp. 125-131, 1988 edition).
- 2nd edition online at Amazon
- Easwaran later says that when he refers to the "mechanics of meditation" (p. 9, 2010 edition), he is referring to his own method that is presented in the final chapter of Conquest of Mind, and described more fully in his book Passage Meditation.
- Psalm 46:10 states "Be still, and know that I am God."
- "The great mystics speak the same language, for they come from the same country of the soul. Their ranks include such luminous figures as Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Teresa of Avila, Sri Ramakrishna, the Compassionate Buddha, and Mahatma Gandhi, among many others" (p. 9, Conquest of Mind, 2010 edition)
- This is the title of Part One in the first (1988) and third (2010) US editions.
- Billy Gillen, "Remember the Force Hassan!" (accessed 22 December 2012)
- Part Two is entitled "Reshaping Your Life" in the 2010 US edition, and "Deeper Waters" in the 1988 US edition.
- Part Three is entitled "Strategies from the Buddha" in the 2010 US edition, and "Strategies for Freedom" in the 1988 US edition.
- The Pali Majjhima Nikaya (which corresponds to the Sanskrit Madhyama Āgama) is a Buddhist scripture that contains 152 discourses, of which the 20th, the Vitakkasanthana Sutta, is sometimes called the "The Removal of Distracting Thoughts" or the "Discursively Thinking Mind" (Majjhima Nikàya I,2.10) This discourse explains that for "developing the mind five things should be attended to from time to time" (accessed 26 December 2012)
- Part Four is entitled "Three Spiritual Strengths" in the 2010 US edition, and "Inner Space" in the 1988 US edition.
- This chapter is numbered 15 in the 1988 edition, but is unnumbered in the 2010 revised 3rd edition.
- Anonymous (August 28, 1999). "48 hours your weekend hit list [best books]". The Times of India. The Times Group. pp. A7. OCLC 23379369.
- "[T]he Telugu rendering is done in an excellent manner," according to N. C. Ramanujachary (March 16, 2004). "Control of the mind [review of Telugu translation of Conquest of Mind, by Eknath Easwaran]". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 12 Oct 2012.
- Eknath Easwaran (1993). "The joy of detachment [excerpt from Conquest of Mind]". Yoga International. Honesdale, PA: Himalayan Institute. 3 (September/October): 25–27. ISSN 1055-7911. OCLC 23326285. (journal renamed in 2006 as "Yoga & Joyful Living")