Shivaratri – Fri. Feb 24
On the occasion of Shivaratri (the Great Night of Shiva), after 7pm Aarati, there will be chant-singing of Shivanaama Sankirtanam, before Jnana Yoga class begins. All are welcome.
Sri Ramakrishna Puja/Worship Day – Sun. Feb. 26, 11:00AM –7:00PM
11:00 am: worship-ritual
12:30 pm: flower-offering & Prasad-lunch
2:30-4:00 pm: Video
5:00-6:00 pm: ‘Symposium’ on Sri Ramakrishna
6:00-7:00 pm: Sri Ramakrishna Sankirtanam
7:00 pm: Supper-prasad
All are welcome to any/ all of the events.
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;
$20:00 if registered and paid on/before March 20.
(For online registration, $1.00 additional)
Weekly Programs (in addition to Daily Programs given below)
|7:00 PM: Aarati (devotional music), followed by Shiva-Naam- Samkirtan on the occasion of Shivarati
7:30 – 8:30 PM: Jnana-Yoga Study Class by Swami Yogatmananda
|8:30 – 10:30 AM: Karma Yoga/Cleaning
11:00 AM – 12 noon: Guided meditation and Chanting/singing
|11:00AM –7:00PM: SRI RAMAKRISHNA WORSHIP/PUJA DAY (see details above)
5:00 – 6:00 PM: Symposium on Sri Ramakrishna, followed by chant-singing 108 names to SriRamakrishna, brief meditation and supper.Everyone welcome to any/all programs through the day
|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 983
|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.
Music Concert – Sun. Feb. 19
From 6:15PM to 7:45PM, about 40 music enthusiasts listened to Classsical Hindustani tunes and bhajans performed by Sadhika Hiremath and Keerthan Ekbote, accompanied on Tabla by Rajesh Pai and Mukunda on Harmonium.
Click here to see photos.
Synopses of Past Classes
(All classes given by Swami Yogatmananda, unless otherwise stated)
Study Class on ‘Jnana Yoga‘ – Feb. 17, Friday
Class #52: When Nachiketa requests, as his third and final boon, to learn what remains of a person after death, Lord Yama tries to put him off by offering any worldly pleasures he could desire. Nachiketa sees through the superficial covering of these worldly enjoyments and feels no attraction to them; he will not be deterred from his desire to understand the Truth. Although we may feel inspired to seek Truth as Nachiketa does, this search does not progress for many of us because our minds are distracted by so-called “attractive” things. How serious or urgent something is evidenced by how much one is willing to give up for it; clearly, at this stage, we don’t truly feel how much God realization should be prized. Vedanta teaches that the qualifications of the student seeking knowledge of the Self are steadfastness and an unwavering commitment. We should not be willing to accept anything else in place of Self-knowledge. Yama describes how man is constantly confronted with the choice between that which is right or that which is pleasurable. There is no compromising the two! If we want to achieve true happiness and peace, we must choose the right over that which is alluring. The pleasure instinct must be curbed, or else we are little better than animals, whose lives are missing the vital element of discernment. The more we are able to choose what is right over what is pleasurable, the more we perfect ourselves and the more we are fulfilled.
Sunday Talk –The Importance of Celibacy – Feb. 19
The word in Sanskrit for celibacy is in Brahma-Charya, or being established in Brahman=God. Self-realization is equivalent to I am Divine (or God), the experience of I am everywhere and everything (no limitations), I am perfect (I do not need anything more), I am bliss itself and peace itself, and there is no possibility of desire in me. Self-realization implies that I am not the body or the mind. Our true nature equals perfection, and is not changed when covered by ignorance. If I want Self-realization, I have to get rid of attachment to body and mind. The benefits of seeing the Truth are: I find that I am happiness itself and peace itself. We may get money, power, or name and fame, but if we seek these, we miss happiness and peace. The source of sexual desire is the idea that I am the body and the mind, and vice versa. Perfection is our intrinsic nature. With body/mind identification, I run to not-I (the world) to make myself perfect. I add a body. Desire in its densest form is sexual desire. Desire fails to remove imperfection, and sexual desire fails completely. Desire must be curbed, and sexual desire must be curbed more. We are addicted to pleasures, and there are physical and mental practices to deal with this. We must stop our addictions despite withdrawal symptoms. Steady practice will bring success.
Study Class – The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna – Feb. 21, Tuesday
Friday, April 8, 1887
The disciples were living in the monastery ignoring the hardships and following the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna. They had not only lived with Sri Ramakrishna and seen him physically but had gone much deeper to understand how He used to think and what His spiritual essence and teachings are. Sri Ramakrishna taught to realize the unchangeable Self as the goal of life and not get caught by the world. It is not easy to renounce worldly life. Our lives and decisions are driven by our likings, that are subject to change, and are therefore, unlikely to make us happy. We should make decisions by pushing aside our likings. “Will I really be able to hold on to this decision”? Will it really make me happy despite getting what I may like or dislike”? This is what we should discriminate. However, one should not just keep cogitating on such questions. One should think deeply and make a decision within a fixed timeframe so that the opportunity does not pass.
The disciples in the monastery were discussing the need to be careful in offering the food to the Master in the shrine. Sri Ramakrishna couldn’t partake of the food that someone did not appropriately offer (e.g. tasted before him or breathed heavily on it). We wonder if God really eats the food that we offer to Him. Sri Ramakrishna used to see a light come from the Lord and extract essential elements from the food items. If we have the appropriate devotion, we will see it too. So, God does eat the food that we offer. One should follow appropriate rules regarding food offering and not eat the food before offering it to God. Only when one reaches very high level of devotion that one transcends such rules.