!!! Merry Christmas & Happy New Year !!!
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Upcoming Events

Monthly Daylong Silent Meditation: Sat, Dec 21: Noon to 8:00 pm:
(Due to other programs, it could not be held on Dec 07 or on Dec 14). The participants have to come BEFORE noon. The doors get closed after that.

Christmas Eve: Tuesday Dec 24– 7:00-8:30 pm
Short Worship, Christmas Carols and other music, readings, reflection, dinner.

Weekly Schedule (in addition to Daily Schedule given below)

Fri. Dec. 20 7:00 pm: Aarati (devotional music) & meditation.  
7:30 – 8:30 pm: Study class on ‘Svetasvatara Upanishad’, A video Lecture by Swami Anubhavananda
Sat. Dec. 21 8:30 – 10:30am: Karma Yoga (Cleaning & Work-service)
11:00am – 12:00 noon: Guided Meditation & prayers
Noon – 8:00 pm: Silent Day-long Meditation
Sun. Dec. 22 5:00 – 6:00pm: Sun Service Lecture on ‘THE SAVIOR’; FOLLOWED BY Arati, Soup Supper.
Tue. Dec. 24 7:00 – 8:30 pm: Christmas Eve Program, Arati, Short Worship, Readings, Christmas Carol singing, Reflections, Dinner

Daily Schedule

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, but one must enter before 7 am
Evening (Except on Sundays)
7:00 – 7:15 PM: Aarti (devotional music), with a short reading from ‘BOOK OF DAILY THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS’ by Swami Paramananda
7:15 – 8:00 PM: Meditation. Open to all.

Past Events

Swami travels to Rochester, NY:
Swami travelled to Rochester NY on Fri Dec 13 afternoon and was back on Sat 14th evening. He gave a lecture on Fri at a devotee’s home (15+ attended) and at the Hindu temple of Rochester on Sat morning (about 40 attended).

Sun, Dec 15, 11 am to 7 pm: Holy Mother’s Birthday Celebration:
Worship, music, readings, Prasad-lunch, video, Symposium. All these programs went well. The attendance was less than normally expected. (About 65). The synopsis of The Symposium is given underneath.

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

Friday, Dec. 13 –  A Video of Swami Anubhavananda’s lecture was shown.

Sunday Service, Dec. 15 – Symposium on Holy Mother
The opening song was Jaya Jaya Janami, sung by Rashmi Joshi. 
Gloria Maite Hernandez: Holy Mother teaches us five aspects of the Divine: the love she has, vulnerability, love transmitted through embodiment, the Divinity of others, and all-embracing love. Holy Mother cried when monks and family members died. She explained that that was because she was 100% human and 100% Divine.
Rashmi Joshi: Is Holy Mother the final word? Growing up, she kept her Divinity concealed. When Sri Ramakrishna asked her if she wanted to drag him down to Maya, she replied that she had only come to help him. She was Divinity in her own right. She was the perfect wife, mother and teacher. The way she lived her life is the greatest teaching. She said not to find fault with others, or we will see faults alone.
Swami Yogatmananda: Love was the vehicle for Holy Mother’s teaching. What appear to be in contradictions to ordinary person, they are not so for Divine. Swami Vivekananda said that he saw the grace of the Mother more than that of the Father. Love is devoid of selfishness and selfishness is impurity, so love and purity are the same. Holy Mother’s life was practical Vedanta.
The closing song was Otho Go Karunamoyee, or Wake Up O Compassionate One, sung by Arunim Roy. 

Tuesday, Dec. 17 – Study Class on Sri Ramakrishna and His Divine Play
As a Guru – His Attitude Towards Mathur Chapter 6 Page # 485-486:
Sri Ramakrishna was aware that He was a puppet – an instrument – in the hands of the Divine Mother. It’s very hard for us to understand this as we think that things are happening because of our will and want our will to prevail over God’s will! Sri Ramakrishna’s teachership was not an act of his ego but was happening through Him because of Divine will. Because of this he had a tremendous power to transform lives. Mathur Babu’s life was one such example of transformation – that happened due to contact with Sri Ramakrishna. Mathur Babu was quite intelligent, very haughty, rich and worldly ambitious and he also had some devotion. When Sri Ramakrishna started to experience divine madness and used to lose control of Himself while worshipping, Mathur Babu did not jump to conclusions but decided to test Sri Ramakrishna. In doing so, he was getting an irresistible impact of holy company of Sri Ramakrishna that was leading to his gradual transformation. This is the law of association in holy company – other’s get influenced by the holy vibrations. Therefore one must practice spiritual disciplines in holy company, it helps aspirants in their spiritual practices.
Sri Ramakrishna’s methods of worship were sacrilegious to others. This is because He had gone beyond the formal bounds of discipline and method. Discipline is needed in initial stages of devotion (Vaidhi Bhakti – preparatory devotion) to prevent the mind from going towards the sensory objects. A spiritual aspirant realizes that sensory objects are detrimental to spiritual progress and throw the aspirant back into the mire of worldly suffering. But, the force of habit controls us and keeps pulling us towards them. Therefore, we must place ourselves within spiritual discipline that pulls us away from the sensory objects and gradually increase our attraction for God. Worship too has a strict protocol where not much is left to haphazard choice. This helps us practice devotion. Once devotion becomes spontaneous, then no rules and protocols are required. Sri Ramakrishna was a genius in this field and a genius appears as insane being far ahead of his/her times.