Salutations! – Sun. Jan. 29 and Tues. Jan. 31
The birth anniversary of Swami Brahmananda and Swami Trigunatitananda, direct disciples of Sri Ramakrishna, will be observed on Sun. Jan 29 and Tues. Jan. 31 respectively, with a chant in the morning and a song and short biographical reading in the evening.
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
|5:00 – 6:00 PM: ‘We Are Spiritual Beings’ by Swami Yogatmananda
6:00 – 6:15 PM: Aarati
6:15 – 7:00 PM: Soup Supper
7:00-8:00 PM – Meditation
|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 980
|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.
Swami Vivekananda B’day Celebration – Sun. Jan. 22, 11AM – 7PM
The ritual mudra-chanting-food & flower offering worship for Swami Vivekananda, conducted by Swami Yogatmananda, which included explanation of the process, and a short reading from ‘Practical Vedanta’ by Sarah P, was attended by about sixty-five devotees who offered flowers after the Aarati singing, during which there was devotional singing by various devotees. Prasad luncheon followed. About forty devotees watched the DVD showing of ‘Life & Message of Swami Vivekananda: (animated vignettes/episodes). About fifty devotees attended the three-speaker symposium on Swami Vivekananda (see synopsis below), which was followed by chanting Shiva-Nama-San-kirtanam and prasad dinner.
Click here to see the photos.
Meditation at Temple Habonim – Mon. Jan. 23
From 7pm – 8:45 pm, at Temple Habonim, Barrington RI, Swami delivered a 15-20 minute explanation of Vedantic meditation, followed by a guided meditation session for about forty minutes, which was then followed by Q/A session. About forty-five attended the program, including rabbis from various local synagogues.
Synopses of Past Classes
(All classes given by Swami Yogatmananda, unless otherwise stated)
Study Class on ‘Jnana Yoga‘ – Jan. 20, Friday
Class #48: After emphasizing the need to intensely work in tandem with wisdom, the Isavasyopanisad thenspeaks of ‘grace’. Through God’s grace we are granted realization, only after we have made all efforts humanly possible to reach Him. It is through our exhaustive effort that the ego is finally dissolved and revelation occurs. Therefore, we must do everything we can to reach God, but He ultimately will appear in His own right. It’s important to grasp that God is not an effect of our actions. God is freedom itself and is not bound by the law of cause and effect. Our efforts do not make God realization happen. Spiritual practice is finite and the result of a finite activity will be finite. But God is infinite. It is the grace of God alone that can give us realization. And what is realization? It is the experience of ultimate oneness. This oneness is nothing newly acquired; on the contrary, it has always been with us, but it is only discovered by ‘grace’. One who experiences this oneness becomes aptakama, one whose desires have been achieved, and thus has no desire left in life. As the next chapter, “Realisation,” continues, Swamiji will examine the Kathopanisad and discuss the unshakable faith (sraddha) in the human values of truth, honesty, and integrity.
Sunday Talk –Symposium on Swami Vivekananda – Jan. 22
Pamela Dee: Swami Vivekananda is considered ‘Shiva’ embodied. Before he was born, his mother saw Lord Shiva get up from meditation and take the form of her son. After the pilgrimage to Amarnath, Swami Vivekananda said that Lord Shiva was sitting on his head 24 hours a day. He said that Shiva is in the heart of everyone, and we must be pure and help others for Shiva to become manifest in us. He said if we try to get to heaven or have mukti before others, we are selfish. If we will be last, in order to help others, we are near Shiva.
Sukalyan Sengupta: Swami Vivekananda said that he had devoted more time to Sister Nivedita than anyone else. He was very frank with her, and their relationship was like Sri Ramakrishna’s relationship with him. When first attending his lectures, Margaret Noble, who later became Sister Nivedita, was argumentative, but Swami Vivekananda was convinced that she was sincere. He trained her patiently to serve India, particularly to take up the education of Indian women. At one point, Swami Vivekananda stopped talking to her because he wanted her to be independent.
Ben Baker: Advaita, or non-dualism, simply says that God is the one entity. Vishishtadvaita, or qualified non-dualism, says that God is one but is characterized by multiplicity. An analogy is an ant colony, whose purpose is known only by knowing the colony as a whole. Dvaita, or dualism, is based on our intuitive understanding of cause and effect. We need this perspective in daily life. Swami Vivekananda says in Jnana Yoga, that equilibrium has been destroyed, and we are involved in a struggle to get it back. In qualified non-dualism, we can understand the system only as a whole. In non-dualism, we appeal to infinity, like we do in calculus. Brahman is One without limit. We cannot know this intellectually, but only by experience.
Swami Yogatmananda: Swami Vivekananda saw the same Self everywhere, which has no opposition. He said to Sister Nivedita that his mission was to make everyone aware of their divinity and how to manifest it. A picture of Swami Vivekananda brings to mind tremendous love, and fearlessness. He put up no barriers, so all religions can benefit from his view of Oneness.
Study Class – The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna – Jan. 24, Tuesday
February 21-22, 1887; p 979
After the passing away of Sri Ramakrishna, some of His disciples lived together in the Baranagore monastery. There they lived in accordance with the Master’s teachings. There are two kinds of progenies –physical progeny determined by genetics; and the progeny of knowledge where you learn from your Master and live your life accordingly. Then, your life itself becomes the teacher for others – consciously or unconsciously. Sri Ramakrishna teaches that God realization is the goal of life and His disciples lived with this as their only goal. On this Sivaratri night, the disciples fasted all day and spent the day and night meditating, singing devotional songs etc.
Early morning – the hour at the junction of night and day is called Brahma-muhurta. It is considered a very good time to meditate. After breaking their fast, the disciples imitated Sri Ramakrishna, not only in jest but also with the feeling that He lived in their hearts. The disciples’ focus on God realization and devotion to the Master attracted M and other devotees to spend time in their holy company. Holy company serves as an inspiration to those who live in the world of ‘I and mine’.
Prahlada taught that by the very virtue of possessing the body we are bound to experience pleasure and pain. So, we do not need to exert effort to seek pleasure. But, for realizing God, one needs to do spiritual practice. This way, one will realize God and happiness. One can never experience happiness by chasing the unreal reflections of sense objects in the world.