Swami Traveling to Florida and Puerto Rico: Sun-Sat Jan 13-19
Swami Yogatmananda will be giving lectures in St Petersburg and Miami area on Sunday 13th and 15th-16th; and a retreat and some lectures in San Juan, PR on Fri-Sat 18-19th, returning back to Providence in the morning on Sunday Jan 20.
Abhijit Sarcar will give Sun Service Lecture on 13th, 5:00-6:00pm
He will be speaking on Vivekananda: The First Global Preacher
Weekly Schedule (in addition to Daily Schedule given below)
|Fri. Jan. 11||7:00 PM: Aarati (devotional music) & meditation.
7:30 – 8:30 PM: Study class on ‘Svetasvatara Upanishad’, conducted by Swami Yogatmananda
|Sat. Jan. 12||8:30 – 10:30am: Karma Yoga (Cleaning & Work-service)
11:00am – 12:00 noon: Guided Meditation & prayers
7:00pm – 8:00pm – Aarati (devotional singing, a short reading and meditation
|Sun. Jan. 13||5:00 – 6:00 PM: Lecture: ‘Vivekananda: The First Global Preacher’ by Abhijit Sarcar, followed by Aarati & soup-supper.|
|Tue. Jan. 15||7:00 PM: Aarati (devotional music) & meditation
7:30 – 8:30 PM: Video – ‘Avatara: Story of Sri Ramakrishna’ by Swami Sarvapriyananda
|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||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.
Sat Jan 05, 12 noon to 8 pm: Monthly Day-long Meditation
It started with 11 meditators, 7 stayed through till 8:00 pm
Children’s Class: Sun Jan 06, 4-6 pm
2 children learned drawing and painting from Chester Boncek.
Tue, Jan 08, 3:00-4:00 PM- Fighting Poverty by Faith; Interfaith Vigil at the State House
Swami and a devotee joined this annual event to remind all the elected officials of the State that they should be ruling with wisdom, care and compassion.
Synopses of Past Classes
Friday Study Class – Svetasvatara Upanishad – Jan. 04
Class 13, Verses Ch. 2: 3-7
In order for us to realize our true nature, which is Divine, we must strive to reign in the senses. In Kathoupanisad, the faculty of discernment is likened to a charioteer, working to control the unruly horses, the senses. If the charioteer is unable control the horses, they run amok. Conversely, if we are able to control our senses, we can stay on track to spiritual achievement. We must not hanker after worldly ambitions; for there is no end to them. We’ll always be looking for the next big thing. We will hunger for more, then have to protect the more that we have hungered for. (In Sanskrit, this is called yoga-kshema) But once we realize that, while we want to be headed in one direction (toward spiritual realization), we are going in the opposite direction (toward worldly achievements), we must apply the breaks.
Sri Ramakrishna taught that everyone has two selves: One is the devotee, and the other is God. In meditation, we learn to merge these two. The “little I” (ego) is to be merged with the Divine. To think of ourselves as “sinners” does damage and keeps us from making progress. We are “children of immortal bliss,” according to Swami Vivekananda. The “Divine DNA” is within each of us.
Sunday Talk – ‘Beginning Afresh’ by Swami Yogatmananda – Jan. 06
Peter Travisano lead the singing of Ring Out Wild Bells, from a poem written by Alfred Lord Tennyson.
The New Year inspires us to pause, introspect, and do our best from now on. Even when we do something for our own betterment, when we skip a day, the omission becomes a habit. Vedanta says that the goal is to realize God. Our goal cannot be less than the highest. The highest is called God. The spiritual practices that we do with this intention are called meditation. Most human beings want money, physical sustenance, and superiority, so they do not meditate. Religion is not needed by animals, who hanker only food, sex and shelter. Yet human beings are worse than animals, because we go after money. Religion is the only distinction between humans and animals. The animal in us keeps dragging us down, so we have to make efforts, like one would to climb up a mountain. The Vedantasara describes four obstacles to spiritual life: 1) Torpidity: The spiritual urge goes to sleep. We then have to call, shake it; real need is to rejuvenate our spiritual life. 2) Distraction: Distractions drag the mind around, so we have to admonish the mind. 3) Attachment: We may cheat ourselves calling attachments as our duty. We need to remove attachments mercilessly. 4) Enjoyment: As one moves up, a little joy comes up, and we get stuck in that, forgetting to make progress. To deal with this, we need to remember Swami Vivekananda’s advice: “Arise! Awake! Stop not till the goal is reached!”
Tuesday Study Class – Sri Ramakrishna and His Divine Play – Jan. 08
This biography of Sri Ramakrishna is special because this not only mentions various physical actions but the underlying mental attitude that drives these actions. Understanding these attitudes is crucial because, unlike us, He has no motive or desire of His own and all His actions are performed out of compassion for the suffering human beings.
All our experiences in the world lead to suffering. We chase joy, probably get an ounce of it, but we get pounds of suffering. When one wave thinks that it is separate from the ocean, it suffers. When it identifies with the ocean, there is no suffering for the wave. The truth is that there an underlying unity in all forms – like the clay in all the cups or other clay-pots. Humans learn from others human beings, hence for us to learn this truth, God takes the form a human. What we see today is infinite variety in the world. We need a tremendous amount of practice to realize this underlying unity. Yoga is the practice to develop the understanding of this underlying unity. Sri Ramakrishna used to say that he has practiced worth 16 annas, we should practice worth 1 anna (a small fraction of what He did). When we are able to see God in everything, our identification with name and form will go away and will lead to the end of our suffering.
The idea of formless reality is very appealing to our intellect. But, in reality we are emotional beings and do better when we establish an emotional connection with forms of God. Narendra was an enthusiastic believer in formless aspect of God. He used to argue that belief in forms was equivalent to superstition. But later in his life Swami Vivekananda admitted that he learned about God from someone who spent most of His time worshiping forms of God.