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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.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Thoughts on Islam

by Charlie Feldman (Prana)

Because Vedanta says that all religions are paths to God, I have tried to see how various religions could be founded by actual avatars or prophets. I have had a problem with Islam, because, while Christians have fought many aggressive wars, I have felt that they have done so despite what Jesus said, whereas Muslims' aggressive wars seem to be because of Islam, and not despite it.

I read The Heart of Islam by Seyyed Hossein Nasr. This book has cleared up some of my confusion. I know that he does not speak for all Muslims, but what he says makes sense from the point of view of Muhammad being an enlightened soul. Nasr says that the Quran states that the only justified war is a defensive war, and that there should be no compulsion in religion. He says that when people want to fight an aggressive war, they use whatever ideology will appear to give legitimacy to their efforts, be it religious or political.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Reading vs. Meditation

by Charles Feldman (Prana)
 
I was just looking through some of my old Cheri Huber books, and I don't remember which one she said this in, but she essentially said that people tend to prefer to read spiritual books because they feel inspired by them, and they tend to avoid meditation because they are likely to fidget in meditation, yet it is meditation that removes suffering from our lives. She did say that reading spiritual books is a precursor to meditation. Cheri Huber is a Zen teacher and author in California, who has written many books.