Sun, Sept 20, 10:30-11:30 AM– Vedanta Society of CT Monthly lecture by Swami Yogatmananda on YouTube
Topic: Movements of the Mind (Based on 14th Chapter of Bhagavad Gita)
Sun Sept 27, 10:00-11:00 AM: Vedanta Society of Providence and Annisquam Village Church will together present an event to honor Swami Vivekananda. The event will be online on zoom. Please see the details in the next Wed newsletter.
ALL REGULAR PROGRAMS (DAILY MORNING & EVENING MEDITATIONS AND PRAYERS, TUE & FRI VEDANTA CLASS, SUN SERVICE LECTURE) STARTED & OPEN FOR IN-PERSON ATTENDANCE
Entrance door remains open for limited times as follows:
- Tue & Fri lectures: 6:45 – 7:35 pm
- Sun services: 4:45 – 5:05 pm
- Morning meditation : 5:45 – 5:55 am
- Evening meditation: 6:45 – 7:15 pm
Weekly Schedule (in addition to Daily Schedule given below)
|Fri. Sept 18||7:00 – 8:45 pm: Arati, meditation and Study Class on ‘Stories from Srimad Bhagavatam’ by Swami Yogatmananda
|Sun. Sept 20||5:00-6:00 pm: Sun lecture on ‘Truth Does Not Allow Compromise’ by Swami Yogatmananda|
|Tue. Sept 22||7:00 – 8:45 pm: Arati, meditation and A Study Class on ‘Sri Ramakrishna and His Divine Play’
by Swami Yogatmananda
|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 5:55 am
|Evening||(Except on Sundays)
7:00 – 7:15 PM: Aarti (devotional music), with a short reading from ‘Uniqueness of Sri Ramakrishna’ by Swami Bhuteshananda
7:15 – 8:00 PM: Meditation. Open to all, but one must enter before 7:10 am
Swami gave a retreat on zoom on Sun Aug 30 for the devotees of Ramakrishna Vedanta Society of North Texas (Dallas). The Topic was ‘The Prophet – by Khalil Gibran’. 35+ joined.
‘Universal Brotherhood Day’ was observed on Sun, Sept 13, 5 to 7 pm. 33 attended in person, over a hundred joined online via YouTube channel.
Synopses of Past Classes
(All classes given by Swami Yogatmananda)
Sunday Sept 13 – Universal Brotherhood Day – Symposium on Meditation
Swami Yogatmananda: The theme of meditation is important in all religions. It is a central practice in Buddhism & Hinduism and has been historically present in the Abrahamic traditions.
The Mission Song was sung by Devotees
Kwan Haeng Sunim, Head Dharma Priest of the Providence Zen Center:
Zen is understanding yourself and helping others. The Buddha did not pray for anything. He looked within. He showed people the technique so they could experience reality for themselves. When we look inside, we are all connected to the universal self, or God-consciousness. We have don’t know mind. The speaker hit his hand on his leg. We hear before we think. We don’t ask if we should help. We just help. We don’t ask the person we are helping who they voted for. The inside and outside become one. Einstein studied a lot, but he got his ideas from an intuitive leap. He did not depend only on facts and logic. The Buddha said that we suffer because we are attached to likes and dislikes. In meditation, we breathe in and breathe out. We keep the eyes open, so we do not fall asleep. We see things as they are, and not as society says they are. When breathing in, we say clear mind, clear mind, and when breathing out, we say don’t know mind, don’t know mind. When the mind wanders, we come back to what we are doing. We don’t hold onto thoughts, and we don’t push them away. If we think of anger or hunger, we ask: What am I? We get to the point where we do not know.
Rabbi Barry Dolinger, Congregation Beth Sholom:
In Jewish meditation, a wordless song called a niggun, is important. Having no words helps raise up joy. The speaker sang a niggun from Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav. In Hasidism, meditation and joy are not just for the elites. Rabbi Nachman said we have to repent even of our repentance, to avoid spiritual narcissism or feeding the ego. Silence can help us connect. We let go of the sense of self, and we serve others. Things just emerge. Jewish meditation is complicated, like jumping onto a moving train. The four letters of the name of God are Y-H-V-H. The Y represents how things come into being. The first H symbolizes knowing that you know, but you don’t know what it is that you know. The V represents action in balance, or how to actualize love. The second H represents making a deeper actualization real in the world. Saying the name sounds like the breath. Before the in-breath, there is a moment of emptiness, starting the meditation at the head. In the in-breath, we pay attention to the arms. We are now full, before we exhale. When we exhale, we pay attention to the legs. We notice any fear or guilt that we are feeling. We practice in order to feel the holy, through giving and taking.
Olam Chesed Yibaneh was sung by the Ruach Singers, online.
Swami Sarvapriyananda, Vedanta Society of New York:
We will see that the diverse meditation traditions in Hinduism are different, and yet we will see what they have in common. All of them pertain to attention. We live in a world of distraction. Daniel Goleman calls it a crisis of attention. Meditation has the benefits of reducing stress and anxiety and of fostering focus and concentration. Traditional meditation goes much deeper, seeking enlightenment, or connecting with God. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, when criticized for his approach in the west, is said to have said that he gives people what they want so that they will want what he wants. The ancients saw distraction as an evil. Those who heard the lecture on compassion were no more likely to come to the man’s aid than a control group. The study found that compassion is related to attention. Patanjali said that yoga is the cessation of the restless moving of the mind. Swami Vivekananda compared this to being able to see the bottom of a pond in calm water, but not in muddy, wavy water. Samkhya said that we are beings of spirit, and that the material universe is separate. In Samadhi, we see the distinction between the spirit and the material nature. We are spiritual beings having a human experience, as the saying goes. First, we need ethical grounding, such as learning not to take more than what we need. Being still in an asana, is having the posture most suitable for meditation. One meditation teacher told his students: Don’t move, don’t speak, and don’t think. We need to close the eyes or focus them. We take up one thought, be it a mantra or symbol. The Bhaktas felt that this was dry, and they sought to think of the glorious form of the Lord in the heart. They thought of whichever form their tradition worshipped. They could even get up and dance, like the Hare Krishnas. The non-dualists sought to know the relationship between you the knower, and what you experience. Is God separate from you? To the non-dualists, the two are not different. Matter is the dream of consciousness, just like objects in a dream in sleep. Whatever we experience is a pointer toward consciousness. The mind is of no use unless consciousness is behind it. You are That already. In the prayer before meals, the ladle, the fire, the oblation, and the priest performing the sacrifice all are Brahman alone. One who sees Brahman attains Brahman. As long as we are the limited ‘I’, it is sacrilege to say that we are God. As long as we think that we are a person, Brahman is the God of religion. Swami Vivekananda could say I am Brahman, but Swami Turiyananda would say Thou, my Lord.
Swami Yogatmananda: All teachers point to the underlying Oneness. Hindus greet each other by saying Namaste.
Namaste was sung by devotees.
Tuesday, Sept 15 – Sri Ramakrishna and His Divine Play
Page 544-545, Preface to Volume 4:
While we busy ourselves in the pursuit of secular education, money, food etc. these only provide us means to live but not the purpose of life. Divine incarnates to teach the purpose of life to us. Thus, from Sri Ramakrishna’s life, we learn that we too are divine and must realize our divinity. While primarily being a teacher for the mankind, Sri Ramakrishna assumed various roles during His life. One such role was that of a disciple. He formally became a disciple of His gurus but in doing so, He taught them too – revealing to them aspects of spirituality that they were lacking.
Swami Saradananda went beyond stating the material facts and events from the life of Sri Ramakrishna and explained His mental and spiritual states. For example, he elaborately explained Bhavamukha – a state between the absolute and the relative – that enabled Sri Ramakrishna to come to the level of ordinary persons and teach them simultaneously being aware of the Absolute Reality. In reading this biography one may ask: 1) Why was it not written in the chronological order? 2) Why did the author explain Sri Ramakrishna’s mental states, thereby introducing the limitations of author’s intellect and interpretation into the biography and belittling Sri Ramakrishna? Swami Saradananda explains that the biography wasn’t written with a specific plan. It was originally started as articles in Udbodhan magazine describing some events of Sri Ramakrishna’s life. Hence it was not chronological. He explained the mental states so that people may comprehend Sri Ramakrishna’s character and events that were driven by these extraordinary states. In making an attempt to understand Sri Ramakrishna, we do not belittle Him but expand our mind and intellect. The purer our mind is, the more we can understand Sri Ramakrishna by reflecting on the events of His life and His mental states. One should keep in mind though, that Swami Saradananda was endowed with divine realization and had purest of the minds so, his understanding of Sri Ramakrishna is of significance for all spiritual aspirants. We should not only read and reflect on this biography but practice the eternal truth that God is appearing in all things around us and we should make an effort to see this reality all around us.