Swami Traveling to India
Swami Yogatmananda is on a 5-week trip to India from Oct 10 – Nov. 13. Click here for his travel details.
Guest Lectures this Week:
Sunday, Oct. 22, 5pm – ‘Songs on Divine Mother’, a Musical Offering on the occasion of Kali Puja by Swapna and Rahul Ray
Tuesday, Oct. 24, 7:30pm – Prithwish Basu will speak on: ‘Mahendranath Gupta ‘M’: Recorder of Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna’
Hath Yoga Classes with Roshni Darnal– Tuesdays, 5:30 – 6:30pm
Appropriate for all levels.
$10.00 per Class; $40.00 for a two-month session
Click here to see the flyer.
Weekly Schedule (in addition to Daily Schedule given below)
|Friday, Oct. 20||7:00 PM: Aarati (devotional music) & meditation
No Class on account of Diwali
|Saturday, Oct. 21||8:30 – 10:30 AM: Karma Yoga/Cleaning
11:00 AM – 12 noon: Guided meditation and chanting/singing
7:00 – 8:30 PM: Aarati (devotional music) & Meditation
|Sunday, Oct. 22||5:00 – 6:00 PM: ‘Songs on Divine Mother’, a Musical Offering on the occasion of Kali Puja by Swapna and Rahul Ray
6:00 – 6:15 PM: Aarati
6:15 – 7:30 PM: Soup Supper
7:00 PM – 8:00 PM: Meditation
|Tuesday, Oct. 24||7:00 PM: Aarati (devotional music) & meditation
7:30 – 8:30 PM: Prithwish Basu will speak on: ‘Mahendranath Gupta ‘M’: Recorder of Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna’
|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 ‘THE STORY OF AN EPOCH: Swami Virajananda and his Times’, by Swami Shraddhananda
7:15 – 8:00 PM: Meditation. Open to all.
On Friday, Oct. 13, Srikanth Srigiriraju spoke on: ‘My Pilgrimages: Outer & Inner’
On Sunday, Oct 15, Swami Sarvapriyananda, Vedanta Society, New York, spoke on: ‘Open Secret’
On Tuesday, Oct. 17, Prithwish Basu spoke on: ‘Mahendranath Gupta ‘M’: Recorder of Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna’
Please scroll down for the synopses of above lectures.
Click here to see photos.
Synopses of Past Classes
Guest Lecture – ‘My Pilgrimages: Outer & Inner’ – Fri. Oct. 13
Definition of a pilgrimage: It’s any endeavor involving travel that leads to fulfillment during the process or at its culmination – places could be holy towns with legends or long tradition, place related to a great personality, monastery, confluence of rivers, wilderness places. Secular pilgrimage, say, a fan’s visit to a celebrity’s music concert, leads to temporary fulfillment like any sense-perception-based endeavor. Spiritual pilgrimage, if done right, leads to transformation of life towards a more blissful nature.
Myriad reasons for a pilgrimage: ranging from fulfilling a vow due to favorable event to the pilgrim, hoping for a better future, family tradition etc. to viewing of deity and simple goal of spiritual transformation. The intensity of one’s devotion or spiritual hunger defines the reason too.
Necessity of a pilgrimage: Human mind looks for a change from its daily mundane experiences by its very nature and a spiritual aspirant therefore performs a pilgrimage to get a boost in his or her daily spiritual practice. Pilgrimage attitude can be brought into our daily lives where we begin to see life itself as a journey.
Two kinds of pilgrimage: Crowded holy places suitable for devotional attitude that invoke oneness through holy company and in wilderness devoid of humans/human-built structures suitable for contemplation and meditation where one can view oneself as a witness in this world.
Preparation before a pilgrimage: Carry a minimum luggage both mentally & physically. Rely on God or adapt to external conditions during the pilgrimage coming out of one’s comfort zone – this same attitude can be brought in to our daily lives. Read holy books and meditate before we take up the journey.
Videos and pictures along with experiences of Srikanth’s trip to Annapurna Base Camp, Lumbini, Kathmandu in Nepal and Bhubaneswar, Puri in Odisha were presented.
Lecture-2 (Oct. 27) will focus on what one must do during the pilgrimage along with description of Srikanth’s pilgrimage in West Bengal and Lecture-3 (Nov. 03) will focus on what one must do after the pilgrimage along with his experiences of pilgrimage in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Guest Lecture – ‘Open Secret’– a talk by Swami Sarvapriyananda, Vedanta Society of New York- Sun. Oct. 15
This talk is about the highest truth, beyond which there is only silence. The Ashtavakra Gita or the Song of Ashtavakra, is the jewel in the crown of Vedic scriptures. One needs a grounding in Vedanta to be able to profit from it. A good translation, called The Heart of Awareness, is by Thomas Byrom. We are only Brahman, but that does not mean we should give up meditation, worship, and prayer.
We discussed Chapter 1, Verse 12. This is Thomas Byrom’s translation:
You are everywhere, Forever free.
Forever and truly free,
The single witness of all things.
Atma, the Self, means you. Vedanta is about yourself. The Self is the only purpose in life, bringing happiness, which most people seek ineffectually in other things. If you know yourself as you really are, you transcend suffering. Sri Ramakrishna, who taught a simple religion of Bhakti, said: When you know yourself, you know God. Sakshi means that you are the real Self, or that which experiences.A technique for proving this is as follows: Let’s say that that which is experienced is not you, and that which experiences is you. In other words, we differentiate between the seer and the seen. We say we are the body. But you experience the body, so it is not you, or the Self. You experience the sensory system, so the senses are not you. You experience the mind, which is an object of experience, so the mind is not you. The awareness that experiences the mind from within is sakshi, or God. You are that which is aware of the person. The person never gets freedom – you become free from the person.
The Buddhist idea is that sakshi is not an object. The Hindu idea, while agreeing with this, says that the void is not nothing. The universe is not different from you. Everything that is experienced is a projection of the same Atman. The whole universe is an appearance in your light. You are the witness. It is like in a dream, in which you appear as a body in the dream. The problems of the body become my problems when we lose the infinitude. When we think we are not infinite and complete (purna), desire arises. You enable the idea that you are the doer, and the experiencer of pleasure and pain. You really experience the body in your awareness. ‘Here’ and ‘there’ are in your awareness. You already are free, but you do not know it. Do not practice non-attachment – realize that you are not attached. It is equally true to say that I am One with everything. To get this knowledge, you need a mind made quiet by meditation and other spiritual practices. These practices do not bring enlightenment, but without them, enlightenment is almost impossible. The witness is a fact, not a theory, as that which experiences the mind cannot be denied.
Guest Lecture – ‘Mahendranath Gupta ‘M’: Recorder of Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna’ by Prithwish Basu – Tues. Oct. 17
Mahendranath Gupta (M) was born with an extraordinary intelligence, a photographic memory and very good past impressions. He had the mandate from the God to do this very special job of recording and publishing the teachings and the message of Sri Ramakrishna. He had a habit of writing diary from a very young age. This habit helped him to keep notes of his meetings with the Master. With great contemplation and meditation M transformed these notes into the invaluable treasure of the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna.
M spent approximately 4 years with the Master. During these four years, he used to visit the Master only on Sundays and holidays. So the Gospel includes only a part of the Master’s teachings but still that book has become a spiritual treasure as well as a practical guide for all the aspirants.
M had vivid memories of all the time he spent with the Master. After Sri Ramakrishna left the body, he enthusiastically took the devotees to visit Dakshineshwar and Kashipur and relived those moments again while showing them around. M used to spend time with the monastic disciples at the Baranagar monastery. At one time he worked on three jobs to support the monastic disciples and Holy Mother. He led a very frugal life but was very generous to fulfill the needs of monks. Even though he was so busy his mind was always fixed on Sri Ramakrishna.