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All the blog posts and comments in this blog are personal views and opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Vedanta Society of Providence.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Christmas 2017: Karma Yoga in Sri Ramakrishna's Room, Part Two

By Vivek

Lesson learnt: Spilling water in a holy place of pilgrimage may make a priest angry 
As I was counting my blessings, devotees continued to file into the small room to pay their respects, to sit a while, but only to be reminded by the temple priest to not stay too long. Sometime after, as I got up to throw out a bit of trash that a devotee had dropped, my water bottle fell open and water splashed across the floor and onto the sarees of some devotees, who needless to say, cried out in alarm. However, I was a tad more concerned about the mess I had caused in Sri Ramakrishna's room, probably as a result of my clumsiness (which was strange, since I am obsessive compulsive about tightening water bottle lids … among other things). And whether I had unwittingly desecrated the sacred room. And about the temple priest glaring at me in visible disgust.

Divine Grace/Guidance: A Karma Yoga opportunity dawns: A glaring priest can't make me cry over spilt water
 
However alarm quickly changed into enthusiasm as an opportunity to do devoted service to Sri Ramakrishna presented itself. I quickly asked for a cloth to clean up the spill. This was reluctantly fetched from behind a usually closed door that I could peek into and I think (unsure) was the Holy Mother’s Nahabat, which I had unsuccessfully looked for earlier. I spent the next few minutes on all fours thoroughly and happily cleaning up the floor, never having imagined in my life I would be given an opportunity  to do ‘seva’ to Sri Ramakrishna in this manner. I stopped only when I was told to … having mopped more of the floor than had been wettened. I  thought in passing of asking the priest if I could do the whole room, but feared being kicked out.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Christmas 2017: Karma Yoga in Sri Ramakrishna's Room, Part One

By Vivek

As a volunteer at the Vedanta Society in my younger days, I used to look forward to contributing my bit to weekend Karma Yoga sessions when we spruced up our place of worship. On Christmas Day (Monday, December 25, 2017), I had a chance to do just that in Sri Ramakrishna’s room, in which I also spent 4 hours (by His and the Divine Mother's Will and Grace), while visiting the Dakshineshwar Kali temple amidst teeming Christmas weekend crowds. That Monday morning, I set out for Dakshineshwar, planning to spend as much time as I could in Sri Ramakrishna’s room in the corner of the awe-inspiring temple complex.

Early morning ferry: Belur to Dakshineshwar to beat the crowds
I had been warned by many about the throngs of devotees who would visit the temple that day, and of the long lines that would ensue. I reached the Ferry Ghat near Belur Math after being treated to a hearty Christmas breakfast at the Belur Math Guest House before 8:00 a.m. It was a pleasant surprise to find myself the lone voyager across the Ganges/Ganga on an empty government ferry. The early morning crowds at the temple were sparse and the entrance lines nice, thin and short. I was comfortably settled in my little corner of Sri Ramakrishna’s little corner of the temple by 8:45 a.m. or so, planning not to lose the spot at least for the next several hours or until kicked out in accordance with the ‘DO NOT SPEND TOO MUCH TIME IN THIS ROOM’ policy boldly displayed on the notice board.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

From Day-Dreaming to Meditation

Blog Administrator’s Note:  We are making an exception to the usual blog policy to share this short article by Swami Yogatmananda, with his permission. We encourage all to read it.


Summary: In this short essay, Swami Yogatmananda expands on the spiritual journey that culminates in God realization. We may frequently get off track when pursuing this journey by fantasizing and daydreaming about how our everyday lives could be different. Daydreaming is a fruitless effort, in that, as even Freud pointed out, it is not possible to fulfill desires in this way. In daydreaming, we are seeking to fulfill desires that are unreal, and as we keep expanding our desires, our lives increasing become filled with frustration. Like meditation, and unlike nighttime dreaming, day dreaming occurs while we are conscious and capable of using our awareness. Yet, by shifting the focus from that which is unreal to that which is Real, meditation enables us to use the imagination to attain God Realization, the journey’s ultimate Goal.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Some Sage Advice

By Charles Feldman (Prana)

Here are some quotes by Rabbi Rami Shapiro (in italics) followed by my comments. Rabbi Rami has spoken at our center before.

On Ethics: Religion posits rules of ethical behavior that help us to live as if we were awake even if we are still asleep.

This is a great explanation of the reason for morality. We do the things that we would do anyway if we were enlightened.

On Truth: Truth is truth. There is no Zen truth or Jewish truth. If something is True, it is true for all. . . . We can learn from all of them [founders of religions], but some will speak more powerfully to us than others.

I sometimes wonder if I am following the right path, or if Sri Ramakrishna is really an Avatar. But whatever doubts I may have, I know that Sri Ramakrishna, and people and scriptures in the Ramakrishna movement, speak to me more powerfully than those in any other spiritual tradition. So I am in the right place.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Contradictions in Matter

By Charles Feldman (Prana)

There is a commonly known experiment in science, where the exact same thing can be measured at times as a wave, and at times as a particle. This is a contradiction in matter.

If you look at or touch a stone or a piece of wooden furniture, it is solid and unmoving. Yet science says it is composed of atoms that are in constant motion. This is a contradiction in matter.

Different elements are composed of merely different quantities of protons and electrons. Yet these different quantities are supposed to be what creates different qualities in nature. This would be like putting various wooden blocks of different dimensions together and getting glass. This is a contradiction in matter.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Evolution in Religious Thoughts and Practices (2)

By Shiva Gardener

I grew up in a typical Indian family in a small village in the proximity of Mumbai. A shrine in house where daily ritual worship is performed, the community temple of Lord Sri Krishna, and the celebrations of major Hindu festivals, was the religion of my childhood, teenage, and years beyond. Celebrations, fasting, food, fun, new clothes, were the major highlights of these events. Visits to religious places distant and nearby, were taken as a combination of pilgrimage and adventure.

The concept of Guru Diksha or spiritual initiation was introduced to me by my parents, both of whom were initiated by Shanti Ma – Bhakta of Lord Vitthal, and at one point my grandmother had asked me whether I would like to be initiated by her as well. Some religious impetus came from watching the TV series on Ramayana, Mahabharata, Shri Krishna, stories of Saints. There were also some self-efforts in terms of devotions, readings of Gita and scriptures, prayers and vespers, these being partly driven by devotion and partly by what Swami Vivekananda terms as formative aspects of religion.

The life of challenges and free choices in a big city was awaiting me. I was putting myself into situations of adolescent life, encountering new people and new attitudes, the Mumbai frame of mind. Between the fun and struggles, I got introduced to Dream Theater, a progressive metal group and the works of Ayn Rand, these two would strongly influence my ideals and perspectives.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Evolution in Religious Thoughts and Practices (1)

By Prasoona

Just as any child raised in a middle-class Indian family, life revolved around activities related to God. My grandfather ensured that the memory was trained well by learning many hymns of Sri Sankaracharya. Daily prayers were a must, even if only as a chore. My dad introduced us to the “concept” of monks, and although he portrayed them as “super humans” I only grudgingly went along! What stands out from those visits was the sincerity and openness he exuded during such trips. My parents were very liberal in their definition of religion, and they introduced us to other faiths through their visits to the places of worship. Although I didn't appreciate any of this back then, I understand that it is to such exposure that I owe my current inclination.

Sometime during my high school years, I got my Guru per chance. I got initiated only because I was at the right place at the right time, without any previous plan or knowledge of it. As I write this, it occurs that this was the one event which I didn't ask for, but was blessed with. I did the Japa only because someone put it into my head that if I didn't do it regularly, my Guru would have to pay the penalty, and I was afraid of my mom’s outburst if such a thing should ever happen!

I turned into a hypocritical rebel during my college years. Although I'd despise my dad's habit of visiting monks/temples, I would secretly pray for good grades, job, money and even boyfriends! What surprises me - God gave me everything I ever asked for; every little desire has come true sooner or later.