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Swami to Canada –March 24 -27
Swami Yogatmananda will travel to Edmonton and Saskatoon, Canada to deliver Vedanta Talks. Swami will return later Mon. March 27.
Spiritual Retreat - Sat. April 01, 9:30 AM - 7:00 PM
Topic: ‘Remain in Bhava-Mukha’
Speaker: Swami Atmajnanananda, Vedanta Center of Gr. Washington DC
Prior Registration Necessary.
Registration Fee: $30.00 per person;
(For online registration, $1.00 additional)
Saxophone & Tabla Concert – Sun. Apr. 02
Immediately following the 5pm – 6pm Sun. April 02, Lecture on: ‘The Journey from Doubt to Realization’, there will be a concert from 6:15pm – 7:30pm, of Indian Classical Melodies (Raagas) performed on Saxophone by Phil Scarff, accompanied on Tabla by Amit Kavthekar. All welcome. No entry Fee. Donations appreciated.
Weekly Programs (in addition to Daily Programs given below)
7:00 PM: Aarati (devotional music) & meditation
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
5:00 – 6:00 PM: Lecture: ‘Path to Self-Surrender’ by Abhijit Sarcar
7:00 PM: Aarati (devotional music) & meditation
7:30 – 8:30 PM: Study Class by Swami Yogatmananda on 'The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna', Ch 52, pp 986
|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, Vol. 7'
7:00 – 7:25AM – 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.
Salutations! – Thurs. March 16
The birth anniversary of Swami Yogananda, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, was observed in the morning with a chant and in the evening with a song and short biography reading.
Livingston NJ – Sat. March 18
Swami and some devotees traveled to Livindston, NJ Vedanta Group on Sat March 18, where swami delivered Vedanta Talk at the home of Mihir Saha. About fifty devotees attended
CT Vedanta Society Meets – Sun. March 19
About forty devotees attended the monthly program at Vedanta Society of Connecticut, 100 Cherry Brook Rd, Canton CT from 10:30AM – 12:30 PM, with a discourse given by Swami Atmajnanananda, (from Vedanta Centre Greater DC) on ‘Life of Perfection’ (based Ch 2 of Bhagavad Gita). Swami Yogatmananda performed a short puja, gave introduction and thanks.
Synopses of Past Classes
(All classes given by Swami Yogatmananda, unless otherwise stated)
Study Class on 'Jnana Yoga' - Mar. 17, Friday
The nature of the soul (atman) is incorporeal and unchanging. The body is born and dies, but the soul is not born nor does it die. Whether water is poured in a cup or in a jar, the water itself is the same even if the vessel is changed. Likewise, all bodies undergo change, and ultimately die, but the soul is the same regardless of these changes. The atman is our true nature, and it is life itself, wisdom itself, bliss itself. It is the reality common to all things, eternal and ever-perfect. Nothing can add happiness to our lives, because we are happiness itself. Through ignorance we have identified ourselves with body. Life is expressing itself through the body, but the body is not life. The atman is ever-perfect. “Perfect” means that nothing else can be added unto it. It is unchanging, so it cannot be added to. It just remains as it is. There is no “good” or “bad” in terms of the soul, though the expression of the soul differs from person to person. Even the vilest individual is, essentially the same pure, ever-perfect soul as a saint. The soul is the common thread in us all. Let us remember this and feel that same soul is unifying us with all others. The soul is the source of all love, since the feeling of love comes from the sense of One-ness. What is the “I”? It is the atman. As we will discuss further next class, the atman cannot be realized by senses, speech, intellect, nor by study of scriptures.
Sunday Talk - 'Evolution in Religious Thoughts and Practices' – Mar. 19
Swami Yogatmananda: Evolution consists of changes that happen to make anything better at fulfilling its purpose or goal. In religion, the ideal or goal remains the same, while ideas, thoughts, and practices change, both for the individual, and for religious communities. Some people do not believe in God, but they believe in justice, or absolute happiness. God is our ultimate goal by its very nature, whether we know it or not. We are all seeking the ideal of ultimate happiness, knowledge and existence.
Congregation members were asked to speak of their personal spiritual evolutions:
Teresa Guerra was religious as a child in the Catholic church, broke away from religion in college, and went on to explore avenues such as relaxation, meditation, and visualization. Teresa feels that after coming to Vedanta, she has got deep feeling of Jesus Christ as God.
Charles Feldman grew up nominally Jewish, but felt alienated from religion, until he found that Vedanta is a place where he could find answers. Vedanta gave him the prospect of finding ultimate bliss, as well as a rationale for doing good to others, seeing the same Self in all.
Alagawadi Vishwanatha’s family was guided by a priest, in India, when he was a child. Later on, his cousin had a mentor who felt that God needed to be realized. In America, Vishwanatha learned from Swami Sarvagatananda that the spirit cannot be taught, but can only be caught.
Sarah Phat went to the Vedanta center in France with her family, when she was a little child. Her family also explored Buddhism and Catholicism. In America, she was drawn to Swami Sarvagatananda. A theme in her Vedanta children’s camp, was that if we expect recognition for our activity, then it negates the purpose of karma yoga. Sarah does service in homeless shelters as an offering to God.
Prithwish Basu engaged in ritualistic worship at Dakshineswar as a college student, praying for success in life endeavors. After coming to America, he went from a ritualistic to a meditative attitude in religion. He went from seeking external things, to going within. He also learned to find common ground with other religions.
Chester Boncek had a background that included strong science, math, and reasoning abilities. He came to religion with a questioning attitude. He almost gave up reading Raja Yoga, until he saw in it a statement by Swami Vivekananda that said that it is not the sign of a scientific mind to throw something away without a candid investigation. Through Hinduism, he came to a better appreciation of Catholicism.
Swami Yogatmananda encourages others to write about their own spiritual evolution on the Vedanta Providence blog.
Study Class - The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna - Mar. 21, Tuesday
April 9, 1887 p 585-86
This portion of the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna has conversations after The Master had cast away His body. He still lives through lineage of his disciples; and through this organization that is formed in His name. It is said that this organization is the body of Sri Ramakrishna that is scaled to dispense His message to so many people.
Narendra tells M that Sri Ramakrishna used to call him Narayana. This is a statement with very deep significance – what did Sri Ramakrishna mean by Narendra being Narayana? Ordinary people struggle to meditate despite significant practice. But, when Narendra eagerly asked Sri Ramakrishna for getting mearged in Samadhi (which is a goal of the lifetime for ordinary people), He told Narendra that this is trifling thing for him. Our bodies have very limited capacities and they fall off at even a one-time experience of Samadhi. Narendra (later Swami Vivekananda) experienced Nirvikalpa Samadhi (the experience of one-ness with God) multiple times and was able to withstand it. He could easily pass between the states of duality and non-duality. This is because he was born for a different purpose – to bring the knowledge and illumination to millions of us. The highest experience of Samadhi was his very own – it was just locked up, as Sri Ramakrishna said, till he accomplished Mother’s work. This exceptional character of Narendra was expressed in Sri Ramakrishna’s love of him. Despite being immersed in God and being oblivious of the world He used to cry and long for Narendra, if he did not see him for even a few days. Once when Narendra warned Sri Ramakrishna about His attachment to him, Sri Ramakrishna sought the answer from Divine Mother who told Him He loved Narendra because He saw Narayana in him. While we may meditate on this idea of Narayana in Narendra it is a very mystic idea and beyond our understanding.