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Book Review: A More Ardent Fire. From Everyday Love To Love Of God

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A More Ardent Fire is a beautiful introduction to an important part of the Bhagavad-Gita, especially for people who have no experience of Hindu scriptures.  It explains the idea of devotional love, an eastern spiritual practice, in a way that builds bridges for westerners.  The author, Eckath Easwaran, takes one chapter from India's most beloved spiritual book, The Bhagavad-Gita, and goes through it verse-by-verse to explore ideas such as how to deepen our love for everyone around us, how to look for the divine in relationships, what devotional love means and how to grow from everyday love, to love of God.  With colorful stories to illustrate he makes these timeless ideas of devotional living accessible to people living in contemporary western lifestyles.
An Eight Point Program

The last part of the book presents simple but effective spiritual practices for learning how to love deeper.  The eight point program he recommends is presented in an easy to understand format, with specific recommendations for practices that westerners will be able to identify with and use.  Meditation, repeating powerful phrases, slowing down, paying attention, training the senses, putting others first, keeping spiritual company and reading spiritual books form the backbone of this recommended path.

After reading A More Ardent Fire, the chapter in the Bhagavad-Gita in which Prince Arjuna inquires about which type of person is most beloved by God came to life for me and has become one of my favorite passages to read.

Not agitating the world or by it agitated,
They stand above the sway of elation,
Competition, and fear, accepting life
Good and bad as it comes. They are pure,
Efficient, detached, ready to meet every demand
I make on them as humble instruments of my work.
Putting Others First
I think it is the sweetness of Easwaran’s personal style that draws me in to the book and lets me think about some of the challenging ideas put forth such as learning to love God through learning to love even those we dislike.  I would say that learning to put others first is the theme of this beautiful book which focusses on the 20 verses of the 12th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita.  Along the way, he reassures the reader, that love is a skill that anyone can learn.  They problem is, most people are learning about the way of love through popular culture, the movies, and through television.  This book proposes that there is another way to learn about love, to look within ourselves and practice loving the people nearest us.

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