Salutations! – Thu. Jan. 19
The birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, the most prominent disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, is on Thu. Jan. 19 this year as per lunar calendar. Nothing special except there will be afternoon food-offering, as a grand day-long celebration has been arranged for the coming Sun. Jan. 22.
Swami Vivekananda B’day Celebration – Sun. Jan. 22, 11AM – 7PM
Program:11:00 am: worship-ritual, 12:30 flower-offering & Prasad-lunch,
2:30-4:00 pm Video, 5:00-6:00pm Symposium, 6:00-7:00 Singing,
Weekly Programs (in addition to Daily Programs given below)
|7:00 PM: Aarati (devotional music) & meditation
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
7:00-8:30 PM – Aarati (devotional music) & Meditation
|11:00AM – 7:00PM: Swami Vivekananda B’day Celebration – See details above
5:00 – 6:00 PM: Symposium on Swami Vivekananda
|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 977
|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.
On Sunday Jan. 15, Children from Unitarian Church, East Greenwich, RI, came for a class with the Swami from 9:30-10:45 am.
Synopses of Past Classes
(All classes given by Swami Yogatmananda, unless otherwise stated)
Study Class on ‘Jnana Yoga‘ – Jan. 13, Friday
Class #47: We can firmly believe that God realization is the goal, but we have to take the next step: orienting our lives accordingly. We must combine the wisdom and our work. Redirecting our lives towards uncovering the Self will make us more effective, successful workers, capable of working for social reform. If we want to work for others, we must be filled with sympathy and compassion, ask ourselves if what we’re doing is really best for others, and apply unwavering commitment.
In our ignorance, we see the One as many, and this ignorance gives rise to misery. Ignorance is the whole problem. None of us wants to be miserable, yet we will remain so until we know the truth. As we progress in the direction of God-realization, the truth becomes apparent to us: all is One. This oneness is God itself: eternal existence, eternal knowledge, and eternal bliss. As aspirants we must combine right understanding with right living, wisdom and work. It is not enough to intellectually grasp the steps one needs to take to achieve Oneness–we have to take those steps. If, and only if, we take these steps, will come SURRENDER – the culmination of spiritual life. This final stage will be discussed further in the next class.
Sunday Talk -Vivekananda’s Idea of Universal Religion – Jan. 15
Swami Vivekananda gave a lecture titled: The Ideal of Universal Religion. We tend to think that if something is right, it has to be true everywhere. Psychologist Steven Pinker says that if something is to my liking, then I am not a fanatic about it, but if there is a moral angle, then I become a fanatic. Poet Mark Van Doren said: “There are two statements about human beings that are true: that all human beings are alike, and that all are different.” Swami Vivekananda embraced acceptance of all religions, and not mere tolerance. The tendency is to say that my religion has to be universal and that all others should go away. Yet it is impossible that everyone accept the same religion. Swami Vivekananda said that religions have three parts: philosophy, mythology, and ritual. Every religion differs in these three. Fanatics are otherwise loving and caring people, but if people don’t agree with their cause, they take out the sword. A woman may be a mother to her child, a teacher to her students, a patient to her doctor, and a wife to her husband. People see her in contradictory ways, yet she is one person. Similarly, the one God too has many facets. A universal religion has space for those who are philosophical, devotional, active, and meditative. They are called Yoga-s. The core of all religions is the same. The universal religion already exists. There are merely different ways of practicing it.
Study Class – The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna – Jan. 17, Tuesday
Page # 978, Feb. 21, 1887
Great spiritual teachers like Sri Ramakrishna come to this world and appear to be one amongst us. They do show some similar human qualities, which form the common ground for us to connect with them. One must make efforts to go beyond those similarities and understand their true, divine nature, which is changeless. Normally we get attached to the ever changing awareness about ‘I’ which is subject to old age, disease and death. This leads to unhappiness. The more we connect to the changeless aspect, happier we become. The great spiritual teachers direct our focus from the ever-changing aspect of the world to the changeless aspect.
A confusion between the changing and the changeless awareness leads to all the problems in the world. The attachment to the ever-changing awareness leads to lust and greed. Lust is the summation of the innumerable desires to enjoy this world and derive the temporary pleasure. Money provides the medium to fulfill these desires. But in reality these two things cause more and more attachment and bondage. It is absolutely difficult to cultivate the spiritual awareness while running after lust and greed. Hence they must be shunned.
Narendra (Swami Vivekananda) and Kali (Swami Abhedananda) were conversing about the nature of ‘I’. Kali mentioned that it is this I who creates, preserves and destroys. As per Narendra, there is a higher power which acts through this I to create, preserve and destroy. One may say -“I am He” – only after he/she has transcended the five coverings/sheaths. Till then one must accept the higher power.