Coronavirus Alert: TILL APRIL END, ALL CLASSES AND LECTURES AVAILABLE ONLY ONLINE ON YOUTUBE CHANEL OF VEDANTA SOCIETY OF PROVIDENCE. All other daily and weekly programs (meditations, prayers, Karma Yoga are suspended for the public). STATE OF RI IS UNDER ‘STAY HOME ORDERS’ FOR A GOOD REASON.

These seemingly depressing conditions, could actually be turned into helpful ones, if only we connect to God, our true Self, who never ever leaves us. Since going out has been very much limited now for most of us, let us turn inwards in prayer and meditation, to discover the mine of unlimited bliss there.

Let us also feel for the people who are going through difficulties/sufferings at this time and come forward for their help.

The upcoming day-long retreat of Sat April 4, is postponed till the situation becomes normal. Those who have registered and paid fee for the retreat can either keep it for the future retreat or can get it refunded.

Many in the state are facing huge financial hardships due to business closures, loss of wages etc. Vedanta Society will offer some relief to such people. Please contact 401-421-3960 or email at [email protected] for an appointment.

Weekly Schedule (in addition to Daily Schedule given below)

Fri. Apr. 03 7:20 – 8:45 pm: Meditation and Study Class on ‘Stories from Srimad Bhagavatam’  by Swami Yogatmananda. ONLINE ONLY
Sun. Apr. 05 5:00-6:00 pm: Sun lecture on ‘Is Seeing the Proof of Existence’
by Swami Yogatmananda. ONLINE ONLY
Tue. Apr. 07 7:20 – 8:45 pm: meditation and A Study Class on ‘Sri Ramakrishna and His Divine Play’ by Swami Yogatmananda. ONLINE ONLY

Synopses of Past Classes
(All classes given by Swami Yogatmananda, unless otherwise stated)

Friday, March 27  – Study Class on Stories from Srimad Bhagavatam
Class 11: Parikshit’s Question
As we listen to Bhagavatam, we should imagine ourselves (like Parikshit) sitting in front of Sage Shuka, ready to absorb these great truths. We may not be sages yet, but we are all sages in the making. Satyam param, supreme truth, must be conveyed to the listener in the proper form and concentration that can be absorbed, just as medicine is administered by different forms like pills, syrups etc.  When King Parikshit found out he was cursed, he felt that the concerns of the world were no longer important, and he could focus his energies on God. We do not know when death is coming for us, so we are not at the level of Parikshit, who knows his death is coming; but let us remember that it can come anytime unannounced.
Parikshit asks Shuka the following questions: What is the most important duty of a person facing imminent death? What should he hear about and meditate upon? What should not be done? One who knows death is coming soon knows that he has no time to waste. What is essential can’t be put off until tomorrow. Shuka praises this question and laments how many people seek to hear about things that will increase, rather than sever, their attachments to the world: How to earn money? How to find enjoyment?… The way to gain liberation and attain fearlessness is the constant remembrance of the Lord.

Sunday Service, March 29  –  “. . . And The Earnest Prayer Springs Up”
The opening song was You are my All in All, sung today by Srikanth Srigiriraju.
We ask why our prayers do not get answered. Prayers can be from the lips or from a deep hankering. People struggle, going after various desires that appeal to the senses. These desires end up compelling us to seek them. The desires are not fulfilled, and they increase and multiply. When we see that these desires create misery, we have to know what the Truth is. We are earnest in praying for physical wellbeing. It is never too late or too early to pray for God. The first sign of a qualified aspirant for liberation is the desire to be one with God or Brahman. Then, prayer springs up. When our heart is not in it, prayers have no dent on our inner being. Sri Ramakrishna pointed out that while many have tears for the loss of money or a family member, few have tears because they have not realized God. For Sri Ramakrishna, the pangs of separation from God were like his heart being wrung like a wet towel. Mahendranath Gupta once lost his diary, which consisted of conversations with Sri Ramakrishna. It was dearer to him than life. So, the prayer was springing up from the heart with deep yearning, to find and get it back. Once the diary was found, M found that his prayers were gone. How will the intense need of God become primary in life? We need to see the transitory nature of things of the world. Though we may not be able to see it, we know that we need bliss absolute, and knowledge that is free from all doubt, and we know that these are available in God alone. We need to feel that there is no one else to call our own except for God. We need to feel the yearning for God that a child feels when separated from its mother. We have to keep practicing till we naturally feel that yearning. We should do work that connects us to God, so that work becomes worship. We can practice devotion, through such means as prayer and meditation, even if they are not spontaneous at first. We can see the faults in worldly attractions and refrain from pursuing them. When we do these spiritual practices, the desire for realization of God will become our only desire.

Tuesday, March 31 – Sri Ramakrishna and His Divine Play
Pg 511-513 – Master Bestows Grace on Mathur
Sri Ramakrishna had the rare ability to be at the threshold between the absolute and relative. Due to this, he could clearly see the various stages of spiritual growth of various aspirants with varying temperaments and advise them accordingly. He advised Mathur Babu that samadhi is not appropriate for him as it will obstruct his worldly affairs. Mathur Babu still insisted on experiencing samadhi. When he achieved that state with Sri Ramakrishna’s grace he realized that he was wrong. However that he was saved from any long term damage due to Sri Ramakrishna’s capability to take away that state. One has to be desireless to be able to hold the experience of samadhi otherwise one cannot contain this experience.
In scriptures Guru is described as Bhava-Roga-Vaidya, a physician of the disease of worldliness. Guru can help determine favorable and unfavorable actions for a disciple. Sri Ramakrishna had immense power to differentiate between spiritual experience and expression of pseudo-spiritual emotion. Occasionally aspirants may get some temporary bliss from certain practices but it may be obstructive to their spiritual progress. They may also want to leave some beneficial practices because they find them difficult or boring. Guru can prevent a disciple from making these mistakes. A Guru must have the capacity to look at inner life. Swami Vivekananda said that Sri Ramakrishna is the sovereign emperor of the inner kingdom, an unprecedented great miracle who could mold a person’s mind as a potter molds the clay.
When Swamiji experienced Nirvikalpa samadhi, Sri Ramakrishna advised him not to eat food cooked by the others. We may not understand why Guru is making these types of suggestions but just like we follow doctor’s prescriptions without fully understanding how medicines work, we should follow Guru’s instructions. Sri Ramakrishna gave such advice, applicable to that particular disciple to many others like Gopal’s mother. He used to caution devotees against emotionalism like what happens during Samkirtan etc. One needs to focus on increasing the inner strength and desireless-ness. Another common mistake is to participate in spiritual activities like worship but focus only on enjoyments that come with such festivities (e.g. Durga Puja). Worldly enjoyments are detrimental to spiritual progress but worldly enjoyment in the name of spiritual practice are worse.