Swami visiting North Carolina – Sat. & Sun. Jan. 27-28
Swami Yogatmananda will be conducting a retreat on Vivekachudamani (Crest Jewel Of Discernment) at the Vedanta Center of North Carolina, Morrisville, NC. He is to fly back to Providence late Sun. night.
Salutations! – Wed. Jan. 31
Birth-day of Swami Adbhutananda. A special chant in the morning and singing of the birthday-song and biography reading after the evening Arati 7 pm.
Hath Yoga Class – now Fridays (not Tuesdays), beginning Jan. 19, 5:30 – 6:30pm
Appropriate for all levels. $10.00 per Class; $40.00 for a two-month session
Weekly Schedule (in addition to Daily Schedule given below)
|Friday, Jan. 26||7:00 PM: Aarati (devotional music) & meditation
7:30 – 8:30 PM: Study Class by Swami Yogatmananda on Jnana Yoga (based on the book of Swami Vivekananda)
|Saturday, Jan. 27||8:30 – 10:30 AM: Karma Yoga/Cleaning
11:00 AM – 12 noon: Guided meditation and singing
7:00 – 8:30 PM: Aarati (devotional music) & Meditation
|Sunday, Jan. 28||5:00 – 6:00 PM: ‘MAKING OF SWAMI VIVEKANANDA’ – Lecture by Abhijit Sarcar, followed by Vesper Service (Aarati) & soup supper
7:00 – 8:00 PM: Meditation
|Tuesday, Jan. 30||7:00 PM: Aarati (devotional music) & meditation
7:30 – 8:30 PM: Study Class – Swami Saradananda’s book – ‘SRI RAMAKRISHNA & HIS DIVINE PLAY’ (Tr. Swami Chetanananda)
|Morning||5:45 – 6:45 AM: Meditation
6:45 – 7:00 AM: Chanting followed by a short reading from The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda
7:00 – 7:25 AM: A short ritual worship/Puja. Open to all.
|Evening||7:00 – 7:15 PM: Aarti (devotional music), with a short reading from ‘Towards the Goal Supreme’ by Swami Virajananda
7:15 – 8:00 PM: Meditation. Open to all.
Synopses of Past Classes
(All classes given by Swami Yogatmananda, unless otherwise stated)
Study class on Jnana Yoga – Fri. Jan. 19
Class #81: The Atman
In the school of dualism, “God” and “I” are determined to be separate. The dualistic God is conceived of as a beneficent creator. But the Vedanta philosophy has some issues with dualism. First is that of the problem of evil. Without the concept of “Satan,” which is not part of the Hindu tradition, it is hard to reconcile the suffering and evil we see in the world with the conception of a just and all-knowing God. Second is the eventual freedom of all souls. According to dualists, there is an ultimate end to the cycle of birth and death, which culminates in a place where only good exists (like “Heaven”). Dualists do not condone praying for anything for yourself. As Jesus said, “Let thy will be done.” If we pray for something specific, we will get that, but also the bondage that comes with that. We must love God for the sake of God alone, not for anything that we hope God will give us. As long as there are desires, the attraction to God will not be felt. Sri Ramakrishna gave the metaphor of a needle covered with clay which cannot be attracted to a magnet; as soon as it is cleaned, it will naturally be attracted. God is the magnet, the human soul is the needle, and the attractions, vices, bondages, etc. of the world are the clay that needs to be removed.
We will talk about qualified non-dualism in the next Friday class.
Sunday Talk – Norms of Morality – Jan 21
Psychologist Steven Pinker contrasts choices based on likes and dislikes, which we do not universalize, and choices on a moral basis, which we do. Religion is associated with morality. We sense the difference between what IS and what SHOULD BE, and moral behavior is trying to bridges the gap. Only with an ultimate goal in life, can we decide what is right, and what is not right. Swami Vivekananda was in a Tibetan society that had no marriage, and was told that this was so because morality lies in sharing. Vedanta says that what takes you to your goal in life is moral. An action, which is helpful to get you to your goal, is moral for you, but the same action may be immoral for another. Immanuel Kant called morality a universal imperative. Christian goals after Thomas Aquinas have been based on Aristotle. Utilitarianism sees good as determined by the consequences of an act. John Stuart Mill sought the maximum happiness for the maximum number of people. Vedanta sees morality as determined by one’s intentions. No action is good for everyone. We may ask: Why do good to others? We all want love, which is oneness. What increases separation is immoral, and what reduces separation is moral. Annihilation of the ego is the goal of religion. The basis of all morality is: Not I, but you. Eventually, we see that the same ‘I’ is in everyone. One cannot act immorally to oneself.
Study Class – Sri Ramakrishna and His Divine Play – Tue. Jan. 16
Page # 399-401: Sri Ramakrishna in Bhavamukha
We are oblivious of our Divine nature and think of ourselves as little bodies. Doing so, we run after the objects of the world. This is like chasing the horizon near a tree – we get to the tree but the horizon recedes. Similarly we get the object of desire but the fulfillment eludes us. True fulfillment comes to us only by realizing our Divine nature. This fulfillment eludes us because of the loud internal noise of our desires, cravings and irritations that eclipses our meditation. This internal noise is much louder as compared to that the external physical noise.
While talking to Manimohan (whose son had recently died) and other devotees, Sri Ramakrishna narrates His experience of His nephew Akshay’s death. He saw that the sword (soul) left its sheath (body) but the sword was not affected by this. We experience grief due to our attachment with the bodies. Those who hold on to the Lord do not lose themselves in grief. They experience a few blows but regain control. God is the unchanging core in our being that we should seek to find. Our attachment to our bodies extends to our physical relationships as well. E.g. we are intensely attached to our children. This attachment makes parents very anxious for their children. Once children grow up, the same attachment and anxiety is transferred on to the grandchildren. Such attachments lead to misery. But, misery is a great teacher, a teacher that God has sent to everyone. If we learn from the miseries, then we have made good use of them.